Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Adventures in Sewing

My first sewing adventure dates back to eighth grade Home Economics class. The teacher gave us a catalogue of stuffed animal kits to flip through. In typical Kate fashion, I bit off more than I could chew and chose a gigantic stuffed panda kit. I enjoyed sewing that oversized panda, but by the end of the semester, I still hadn’t finished it. I turned in a headless panda and feared the worst, but, for some reason totally unbeknownst to me to this day, I got an A. 

Fast forward ten years later to late 2007, and sewing wasn’t even on my radar. I had graduated college, moved to Washington, DC to be with my long-distance love, and moved back to the Midwest in Ohio. I was working a graphic design job and was, more often than not, bored out of my mind. So I took up blog reading to pass the time. I can’t even recall whose blog I was reading (though I do know it wasn’t a sewing-related blog), and I stumbled upon photos of a quilt they were making. They were using fabrics by someone named Anna Maria Horner, and I was smitten. Oh man, those colors! Those bold graphics! They were fabulous, and I had to have them. I googled Anna Maria Horner. I googled local quilt shops. I basically did no actual work at all. 

So I did what any normal person without a sewing machine would do. I started hoarding fabrics, particularly my beloved Anna Maria Horner prints. I had no plan of what to do with them, and I didn’t remember much from my eighth grade Home Ec. class. I just hoarded them…for two years. And let me tell you, you can accumulate quite a stash of fabric if you’re not actually making anything with it. Ha! Of course, by then, I had started to read more sewing-related blogs. I was taking it all in and gathering ideas of what I hoped to one day create. But it wasn’t until late 2008 that I actually purchased a sewing machine — a decent Singer on sale at JoAnn’s. It was basic yet had plenty of stitch options. (It’s the machine I still use on a daily basis.) Are you ready for this? I didn’t even open the box until 2009. I was too intimidated. I’m not really sure why, except that I didn’t know anyone who could show me how to actually use it, and I was pretty sure that I’d somehow manage to break this machine that I’d just spent several hundred dollars on. 

A few weeks before Mother’s Day in 2009, I decided I wanted to make something for my mother. I purchased a great patchwork pillow pattern online, and with my dear husband in the room for moral support and some cheap fat quarters of fabric to practice with, I put my first patchwork pillow together — piping and all. When the time came to turn the finished pillow right side out, both of us were prepared for disaster. But it had worked! It was beautiful! Certainly not without some minor flaws, but it was pretty and functional. So I did what any sewing newbie would do. I made a TON of pillow covers. Anyone who’s been in my little home can attest, there are colorful patchwork pillows on every seat in the house.

I didn’t venture into quilting until 2013. The first quilt I made was for my sweet little girl’s second birthday. In keeping with her bedroom color scheme, I chose a fun variety of red, yellow, blue and grey prints, and opted to keep it simple by making it a throw-sized basic patchwork quilt. In the last year and a half since, I’ve made a few larger quilts and plenty of mini quilts thanks to my swap addiction on Instagram. I’d say I’ve grown the most as a quilter just in the last year, and I’m finally pushing aside all of the self-doubt and learning loads of new techniques. 

My current work-in-progress is my Anna Maria Horner quilt. Remember that crazy stash of Anna Maria Horner fabrics I’d started hoarding back in 2007? I had rarely cut into them. I was so determined to wait and use them for just the perfect project, that I never actually got around to using them. A few months ago, I realized they weren’t doing me any good sitting in storage bins. Why not make something and enjoy seeing them every day? I wanted a pattern that would showcase the fabrics and chose to make an economy block quilt. Over the last month or so, I’ve been making 120 economy blocks using ONLY Anna Maria Horner fabrics. When finished, it’ll be a queen sized quilt and feature every single AMH print that I own — well over 100.

I would describe my style as a mix between modern and traditional. I’ve not gotten into crazy paper-piecing patterns. Don’t throw rocks at me, but I’m not even interested in them. I very much appreciate what others create with them, but they’re just not my style. I’m drawn to more simple geometric patterns that use larger cuts and showcase the gorgeous fabrics I’m using. It’s also no big secret that I love love LOVE color. The more the better! I mix bright, bold prints together without reservation, and prefer not to keep my work too matchy-matchy. 

To give you an idea of my style, here are a few of my finished quilts and WIPs, as well as a few mini quilts I’ve created:

My first quilt made in 2013 

A current WIP, "Between the Lines" by Denyse Schmidt

 Berestain Bears quilt made for my daughter last year

 My current WIP, "AMH Quilt". Only a dozen more blocks to go!

 One of my favorite mini quilts. I made this for my husband for Christmas. It's the stars as we saw them on the night we met in Washington, DC. I found a site online that allows you to enter a location, date and time to find the night sky exactly as it was on that day. I hand stitched all of the stars and constellations.

 My completed Rainbow Mini Swap mini quilt. My partner should have it in the next day or so.

 A current mini quilt WIP. This one is for the Spring Mini Swap. I created a plus quilt complete with the earth (with flowers), sky and Spring sunshine. The rays of sunshine are hand stitched.

Where you can find me:
Instagram: @katebasti
Easy: www.etsy.com/shop/stitchnkitsch

Post by Kate Basti - Week #12:   Kate lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and three-year-old daughter. Though a graphic designer by trade, she's currently a stay-at-home mom. When she's not chasing after her feisty kiddo, she enjoys sewing, knitting, cooking and baking. She's not ashamed to admit her addiction to Instagram and all things colourful. And shiny. Follow her on instagram


  1. Beautiful quilts. I love all the color! I too, collected fabrics before I actually sewed. Sometimes I still think I'm collecting fabric, but eventually I chop into them!

  2. Great story thank you - I really love what you're doing with those AMH fabrics. I'm following your progress on IG. At least you didn't rush into things and have regrets! You waiting for the perfect idea to come along and now you love what you're making. I'm like that too. I collect fabrics for a year before I made my peacock quilt.

  3. Beautiful quilts! I love that Bearenstein Bears one so much. ❤️

  4. I loved reading your journey to quilting. Bring on the colour!