Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts is one of our all-time favorites. She has been an Aurifil Designer for years and has been sharing her love of our thread with fans, students, and peers for as long as we can remember. Edyta has impeccable taste and her designs are beloved worldwide. We love working with her on collections, both because she always selects a stunning range of colors and because she does so much with her threads that each box functions like a full on thread education.
She currently has two curated Aurifil collections available at shops worldwide — Signature Style & Secret Stash. One boasts her go-to neutrals, the other her go-to range of colors. They are the perfect collections to keep close by in your sewing space so that no matter what pattern you’re working on from Laundry Basket Quilts or which fabrics you’re using from Edyta’s partner, Andover Fabrics, you’ve always got exactly what you need. Find these two via the links below and contact your local quilt shop to reserve your copy.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Edyta just before the world shut down, before these collections were even making their way out into the world. It’s always a delight and we were thrilled to learn a bit about Edyta’s history, her inspirations, and her hoping for moving forward in our industry. She has a good heart and has wonderful plans — we hope that you enjoy hearing about it as much as we did! Thanks so much to Edyta for her time and her stories!
We had the pleasure of chatting with Edyta just before the pandemic, before these collections were even making their way out into the world. It’s always a delight and we were thrilled to learn a bit about Edyta’s history, her inspirations, and her dreams for moving forward in our industry. She has a good heart and has wonderful plans — we hope that you enjoy hearing about it as much as we did! Thanks so much to Edyta for her time and her stories!
(note: this interview was transcribed from a conversation between Edyta Sitar & Aurifil’s Creative Director, Erin Sampson in December 2019)
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself, for readers who might be meeting you for the first time? How did you get started in this industry?
I knew how to sew when I first immigrated to the US. My mom taught me how to sew. I think it’s so important. At first, it was just a hobby, something I wanted to do because my mama did it. I never thought that my mother was building the foundation for something that was going to support my family someday. I think back sometimes about how I’m not actually using my college education. I’m doing what my mom taught me at her kitchen table and I’m loving it. It’s pretty amazing. It’s important that we take the time and we teach others. It doesn’t have to be just children, but maybe someone that is going through a transition, looking for something different and exciting. Teaching them a new skill like sewing, cooking, or gardening. Maybe one day it will become a foundation for them. I’m thrilled that my mom gave me that foundation of sewing and I’m able to use it every day.
That’s amazing — it’s a nice legacy to pass along.
It’s so wonderful. Not long ago, I went back to visit her and was sitting next to her and teaching her how to make a quilt. She knows how to make clothing, but she is now learning how to quilt. It’s come full circle. First I was the student and she was the teacher, but the roles have reversed. Many times in life, we see ourselves stepping up to the role of taking care of our parents and teaching them something new.
Are you passing it along with your family as well?
I’m trying to! I’ve taught my girls and my son to sew and quilt and things… but I’m really trying to show them all different life skills, different crafts and things. You never know what they are going to want to do. My kids are very much into crafting and doing things. They are in college right now so it’s a little harder for them to find the time. But when they are home, oh my gosh, the folding and playing with fabrics and touching and feeling… and what thread is this and what to do where. It gives them something to talk about. My children see me make quilts and they really appreciate the finished project because they know how much work goes into it. They see me sitting for hours and putting in the effort. I think it teaches them that no matter what you do, don’t give up… stick with it! But also, they’ve seen me take a simple skill like sewing and turn it into a thriving lifelong business… It’s very encouraging to them.
But back to the beginning… I started with my mom and then I met my husband’s grandmother. She was an amazing quilter. I never knew about quilting until I met her. I knew how to sew, how to make a dress or a pillowcase, but I’d never made a quilt. The first quilt I made was with Michael’s grandma. She was a wonderful quilter and she took the time to teach me. My journey truly began with making my first quilt, and showing at the local guild, a small group of ladies. They were so excited! Some of them asked me how I made my quilt and from there, my first class was born. Then, there were others who asked me to write out and share the directions and that’s how my patterns were born. The word spread through PA and other places that I lived. People invited me to start doing presentations. When I went to Quilt Market, I had the good fortune to meet the incredible team at Moda, which was just wonderful for my journey. I designed with them for 10 years and then I made this amazing transition to Andover which has been tremendous for myself and my business. It allowed me to express myself in a slightly different way.
Through Quilt Market, I was exposed to other incredible vendors, including Aurifil… but also tools, batting… and all the things that come together. The people at Market, we collect all of those different things and make a quilt. It’s so cool to see how many wonderful companies are behind the scenes to make sure that we, as quilters, have all of the tools that we need to create our art.
Once I got to Market, I really blossomed, largely due to the relationships with these other companies. I ended up working with a publisher, a relationship that has not grown into more than 18 books! Many collections, dozens of patterns, shows, an amazing YouTube channel where we teach quilters some of the techniques that I like to do… Traveling and visiting guilds is SO important. Getting to meet the quilters face to face is my favorite part… to see what they are able to create. I absolutely love that!
It must be wonderful to be a part of all of that — to take your skills and pass them along.
Yes! Over the years, I have focused more on design, but recently the business has been growing and we’ve been able to hire a wonderful staff. The newest journey in quilting for me is to create this small business where I can hire military spouses. We have 7 women who come and work with me. They are all military wives. There was a need… the women would come to this area and they would have a hard time finding a job. I wanted to step up and fill that need. I work hard to make sure that we have a nice business where they can come, work, and be proud of what they do every day. I get such joy… I never realized how much I would get back… all the love and the gratitude. I feel good that I’m finally doing something more than just making quilts. That this business hasn’t just changed my life, but it’s changed someone else’s life too…
It’s so inspiring that you’re able to make such an impact on a local level, while maintaining your worldwide business as well… what an incredible opportunity!
To give back to this area… I wish I could do more, but I have to focus on what I’m able to do. I’m just blown away by what a difference we can make. I never even thought of that before… but I’m thrilled. It’s my goal for 2020 that we create some kind of network so that when the women leave here — the Navy Wives are usually here between one and three years — they are able to take the skills that I’ve taught them– folding, cutting, making kits, etc.– and move forward to a new role in a different area. There may be a local quilt shop who needs someone. Maybe they could find another job there. That’s my dream — to find that kind of network, so that when they leave they have something to look forward to. One of my team members is leaving right now. When she came here, she didn’t know how to quilt. Now she is a quilter– she makes t-shirt quilts– and she just got her first order. I’m so proud of her! She can make quilts for others, quilts for her family, or she could teach others the skill of quilting. Everyone is different… Each of the women who work with me is different. Some of them want to sew, some of them are just interested in folding, cutting, and office work. I’m trying to just show them as much as I can and build them up so that they can do whatever they put their minds to.
We love that you’re doing that. It’s really incredible.
The stages in your life push you in different directions… you want to find meaning. I think I found mine!
I’m sure that you’re changing their lives in a pretty fantastic way as well.
Recently, I purchased a new building and we just moved in. We’re really proud of it. We created a beautiful space — nice office for everyone. A nice place to work. We had our first retreat last September — they loved the threads and the bags!! We are trying to support our quilters, support our military wives, put it all together and still come to work and enjoy every day… and of course find a little time to make a quilt.
I’d love to tell people a little about your book, Pillow Talk— it’s such a fabulous layout of ideas and we just LOVE the pillows!
To me small projects like pillows are an amazing way to share a skill or something new. The book shares 25 pillows– a beautiful range of projects for skill levels from beginner to advanced, including paper piecing, english paper piecing, appliqué and more. You can try them all and if you love them, you can outfit your home with all new pillows, of you can use the pillow templates to create a series of blocks and turn them into a quilt! But you know, sometimes making a pillow, finishing it, and placing it on your couch– displaying it right away– gives you such a boost of confidence. They can build your skills and give you the tools needed for a larger project.
Pillows are great for showing ideas for how to view the design process, you know… what color to choose, what type of decorative appliqué stitch, what thread to use around the edge… Pillows give a certain bit of freedom to experiment and express yourself. They are easy on a small machine which makes it accessible for everyone!
So, we’ve been talking more, as well, about your YouTube channel and what a terrific resource it is in your continued quest to educate and share your quilt passion. What excites you about that type of video communication and being able to share your knowledge with a wider audience?
Well, I noticed something… I’ve been quilting for about 25 years and sometimes, you open a pattern to get started and need that tiny little bit of extra help… someone to just talk you through it and help set you off on the right path. I’m a visual quilter. I loved when my mom and grandma were able to show me things. In my years of quilting, I have done so many different designs… When I’m able to share a pattern or a technique via video, it often seems more appealing to quilters. They can see it and understand that it’s not that difficult… feel more empowered to make something new! It’s easy to look at a pattern and judge a book by its cover… we stay away from the quilts that appear more advanced because we’re nervous, or unsure. But once we see how it is done, we realize it’s truly just sewing pieces together. Gaining that confidence is huge! Some quilts have more pieces than others or smaller pieces… but when you start a journey with someone by your side telling you that you can do it, it’s easy to keep going. You know that if you fall, you can pick yourself back up, rewatch that video over and over, work on the technique and master a new skill.
I’ve also found that with traveling to teach, the classes go by so quickly. Having a video gives a little bit of extra… if something gets missed in the class, there is the opportunity to watch a video that will help you work through a problem area. And all of the videos are free! My customers can save them, watch the offline, reference and re-reference as needed. Many times we have free patterns that go along with the videos and even step by step instructions on the blog. Ultimately, I’m just trying to share as much information as possible to help set my students and customers up for success. It’s one of my favorite things to do!
I wish I could teach in person all the time, but even if I would travel every day of the year, I would still have waiting lists. There’s no way that I can go and see everyone. This allows me to reach a wider audience, to share my quilts with makers from Australia to Alaska. These days, I have a substantial video library on YouTube, so I would really encourage you to check it out!
I’m working to add a bit of variety in the content as well… You’ll see not only quilting, but tips on decorating and cooking. I love sharing ideas for quilt display and photography. I get excited about holiday decorations and working through a favorite recipe. I see so much potential with this video platform and know that it will just continue to grow!
That sounds pretty amazing and like so much fun. It’s truly getting the full experience. I’m sure people will just love it and your audience will continue to grow!
People are gonna love it. It allows them to come into my home for just a tiny bit and I get to interact with them through their comments. I really do wish I could just invite everyone over, but obviously that’s not possible. So, we adjust and find the next best way!
Well, I’m excited and I’m betting your followers are as well! Thank you so much for taking the time to share a bit of your story with us! Readers, don’t forget to follow the links at the end of the article to learn more about Edyta’s collections & patterns!
— Aurifil: Signature Style
— Aurifil: Secret Stash
— LBQ: Secret Stash
— LBQ: Secret Stash — exclusive small spool set
— LBQ: Signature Style — exclusive small spool set
— LBQ: Touch of Blue — exclusive small spool set
— LBQ: Christmas Collection — exclusive small spool set
— LBQ: Pillow Talk — exclusive small spool set
— LBQ: Patterns, Kits, and Fabric
Edyta’s love for fabric began at a very young age – when she used her mother’s drapes to create her first fabric project! Fortunately, for all of us, Edyta’s mother recognized her passion for fabric and thus began her journey with fabric and sewing. One of Edyta’s biggest blessings is her marriage to husband, Michael. She not only fell in love- she was introduced to a Sitar family tradition of quilting by her mother-in-law, Carol, and grandmother-in-law, Anna.
Quilting has enabled Edyta to express herself about the objects or occasions of her surroundings – her designs are her avenue to release passion! “My children and my husband are my greatest motivation. This is the Cinderella dream for me. Being able to do what I love and share this love with others is the greatest feeling and reward I could imagine!”
The combination of inspiration, a love for fabric, a keen eye for color, and her family teachings blended into the recipe for a talent in constructing amazing quilts, creating innovative quilting patterns for Laundry Basket Quilts, designing beautiful Traditional and Batik fabrics for Moda (10 years) and now for Andover (Present). She has published numerous books to date, been featured in many magazines, and her quilts have been honored in displays around the world.
As the founder and owner of her company, Laundry Basket Quilts, Edyta is proud to carry on her family tradition that fabrics and threads have seamlessly stitched together through the generations. Her true passion and quilter’s spirit shine through her classes, workshops, and presentations. She travels all over the world sharing her experiences and connecting with quilters of all levels through the inspiring stories about the quilts she makes.