BLOCK Friday: Basket Quilts

Petite Baskets by Marianne Fons

Quilts depicting basket shapes have been part of the American quilting lexicon for nearly two centuries. Whether represented as a quilting motif, a trapunto design, a realistic appliqué pattern, or as stylized patchwork, the basket designs found on quilts are old favorites and serve as welcoming symbols of hearth and home.

Basket quilt patterns vary widely in their design elements and difficulty levels. From elaborate Baltimore Album basket blocks to modern versions with minimalist piecing, there are basket quilts to delight quilters of all interests and skill sets.

The Fons & Porter archives have many lovely examples of basket quilts. The pieced, no-handle style is beautifully represented by the little quilt above. Petite Baskets was the cover quilt of the May/June 2007 issue of Love of Quilting magazine. The blocks finish at just 4″ square, and the sample quilt features fabrics collected in France – trės jolie!

Chickadee Baskets Quilt
Chickadee Baskets by Jackie Robinson

Chickadee Baskets, the beautiful throw size basket quilt above, is featured in the current Nov/Dec ’16 issue of Love of Quilting magazine. In this example, the basket shape is created by setting a pieced square, very similar to a Log Cabin block, on point. Careful placement of fabrics creates the basket bottom, handle, and open space between the two. It’s a super easy way to make a basket, and very effective!

Pinwheel Baskets by Kathy Munkelwitz

In some basket quilt patterns, it’s what’s inside the basket that makes the biggest impact. In her Pinwheel Baskets quilt (right), Kathy Munkelwitz created interest and charm by filling simple pieced baskets with pinwheels. Clever piecing even gives the illusion of the pinwheels overlapping the basket bottoms, creating depth and a heightened sense of realism. 

Kathy used feedsack fabrics for this design, and added appliquéd flower blocks and petals to complete the quilt. But those spinning pinwheels in their sturdy baskets really steal the show!

Other common fillers for quilted basket shapes include flowers, fruit, hearts, vines, or patches specially cut from a focus fabric. Some older examples feature a technique called broderie perse, in which select motifs are cut from a feature fabric and then appliquéd to the block. In this way, intricate floral or fruit motifs could be added to the baskets without needing to individually appliqué each petal, leaf, or other element of the design. Genius!

Bed-Size Quilt Patterns
Fat Quarter Baskets by Lynette Jensen

There’s no basket filling at all in Fat Quarter Baskets by Lynette Jensen of Thimbleberries fame (left). The simple geometry of the pieced basket blocks, along with warm, inviting fabric choices, carries the day here. This basket quilt pattern starts with fat quarters (of course), and it’s free on our website! Download your free quilt pattern here, and get started on this bed-size beauty as your first, or next, basket quilt project.

This design includes a special piecing trick that turns very basic framed-square patchwork into handle units with one swipe of the rotary cutter – very satisfying, very fast, and kind of addicting!

Yo-Yo Basket Pillow by Evalee Waltz

There are nearly as many ways to make basket quilt blocks as there are quilters. Download our free Basket Quilt Patterns eBook for even more examples, including the sweet Yo-Yo Basket block shown at right.

And if you’ve ever made a basket quilt of any type, we invite you to post a photo of it to the Fons & Porter Facebook page. You can also post your quilt stories as comments below. We’d love to see your work, and to hear about your basket quilt adventures.

Happy Quilting!
The Fons & Porter Team

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