Block 2019: Basket Variations


Welcome to the Block 2019 Creative Challenge! We’re exploring different classic quilt block each month all year long. Before we get to the Basket variations, we want to be sure you get to see the Block 2019 Sampler Quilt!

It’s 72″ x 72″ and suitable for quilt-as-you-go. Get fabric requirements for the sampler or look at the kit. It’s another fun way to participate in Block 2019. Okay, back to Basket block variations!

Last week we met Basket. This week, we’re going to play with variations of Basket and learn along the way what essential parts from Basket must exist in its variations. Let’s start by look at the original.

Basket quilt block

Basket is almost more of an umbrella term in quilt blocks. There are so many different basket block. According to Barbara Brackman in Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, Basket blocks pre-date the U.S. Civil War. They come in different sizes, shapes, styles, and techniques. Basket blocks can be pieced and combined with applique. The only limit on what makes a basket block is that it looks somewhat like a basket.

With that in mind, let’s look at creations from quilters entered in the Paducah quilt show through the years. There’s so much to learn from these different contest quilts.

basket block variations

30’S FLOWER BASKET by Linda Rasmussen

According the Brackman, this block is simply “Basket.” It’s a pieced basket and as is common to see in basket quilts, the blocks are set on point to orient the basket in an up and down position.

Rasmussen used 30’s reproductions to great effect in this quilt. The reproduction fabrics evoke the history of this simple, scrappy block.

basket block variations

A TISKET, A TASKET by V’Lou Oliveira

This is a really fun combination pieced/applique basket block. The backgrounds and the basket is scrappy. The quilt is straight set, which makes it look like the baskets are tipping over. This tipped over orientation is really common in basket blocks.

Oliviera has taken the basket handle from traditional to whimsy with the additional wavy red applique motif by the handle. Paired with the scrappy, slanted border and yellow background, everything about this quilt says FUN.

basket block variations


This pieced variation is “Simple Basket Block” according to Brackman. Again, the blocks are set on point and Cable has created a sashing with cornerstones that are a little darker than the background of the blocks, helping frame the scrappy pieced baskets.

The fabric choices are somewhat low volume, which helps create a sense of peace and evokes a faded vintage touch. The quilt feels soft just looking at it.

basket block variations


This basket variation leaves behind the common Half Square Triangle look inside the basket, trading it out for strips of fabric. Then the handles are evoked with an applique that actually turns into a budding flower.

The blocks are set on point and alternated with a setting (blank) block. This creates a very restful, organized composition and allows for beautiful feathered wreaths to be quilted in the setting squares and triangles.

basket block variations

DONE PICK’N by Thelma Childers

This quilt offers yet another way of dealing with the sideways orientation of most basket blocks: set it like a Square in a Square block. Each basket block has four triangles sewn onto the corners which then allows the blocks to be straight set.

This is another scrappy basket quilt, and a really stark, limited color palette helps create visual unity so the scrappiness doesn’t become overwhelming.

basket block variations

ENCHANTED BASKETS Jean Brueggenjohan

This basket creation has a lot of whimsy built into each part of the quilt. The pieced basket blocks are scrappy, and then they’re set in a frame with fun pieced elements in the corners. The blocks are set on point against a dark blue field and embellished with applique shapes. Pieced, scrappy borders round out the sparkling effect.

Notice how Brueggenjohan used a floral print in each of the baskets. It’s a fun detail that shows the intention behind the whimsy.

basket block variations

EPOCH-MAKING by Chizuko Kojima

Epoch-Making is actually a basket sampler with many different baskets. Alternating between all pieced, pieced combined with applique, and even one with an embroidered heart creates a varied unity. The bold color palette features complimentary colors–orange and blue–which pop against each other. The strong color contrast in the basket backgrounds and the surrounding blue, plus the lighter orange striped setting squares help you stop and look at each basket.

basket block variations

FOUR & TWENTY BLACKBIRDS by Geannine Ott & Marcella Pickett

The basket block in this quilt is traditionally called Flower Pot and the flower part of the pot is made with diamonds. Diamond construction is more common to hand quilting, which makes traditional blocks featuring diamonds appear all the more special and old-timey. While the stars of this quilt are the titular 24 blackbirds, the baskets lend a rustic, folk grounding to the quilt.

basket block variations

HANGING BASKET by Kazuka Funabasama

This quilt features the Hanging Basket block, a vintage pattern from the Kansas City Star. Funabasama has created a very traditional 30’s reproduction look, but brought the quilt into a totally fresh space with the setting of the blocks and the applique border.

basket block variations


These teeny tiny baskets along with the scrumptious floral panels and bright periwinkle and lemon yellow stripes invite you to stare and enjoy. The uniform basket base creates a restful unity, but interest is build with different colored handles, and then your eye is spurred into action following the ombre in the handle fabric from lightest at the bases to darkest at the center point.

basket block variations

PINWHEEL BASKETS by Kathy Munkelwitz

These baskets are a fun, updated twist on a basket block and really evoke a basket of flowers as the petals of the pinwheel spill over the basket sides. Set on point and paired with appliqued setting squares, the quilt is full of floral fun.

basket block variations


The baskets of this quilt feature the smallest base and lowest handle in this roundup of contest quilts. Along with their dark, nearly black coloring, the baskets create an almost somber tone. The variety of sizes and “chains” from which a few baskets brimming with applique flowers add lots of interest without affecting a more lifted mood. Note how the handles are made with ric rac, an easy alternative to making bias strips.

basket block variations


At first glance, these baskets beg a question. In pieced basket blocks, the half square triangles around the edge can be interpreted as a handle or as flowers depending upon the context of the block. The presence of an appliqued handle where the “flowers” usually goes can give you a moments pause. Luckily, the answer is in the name of the quilt. The half square triangles are the strawberries bursting from the low-handled basket.

The way Tignor played with the orientation of the baskets in this miniature quilt creates interesting relationships between the baskets (focus on any four at a time to start to see this) and as a whole composition.

basket block variations


Roy’s quilt features totally appliqued baskets embellished with embroidery. The treatment of them in the quilt, as a sampler showcasing a different fabric with each basket, comes from the tradition of pieced basket blocks as a motif in quilting.

basket block variations

WACKY BASKETS by V’Lou Oliveira

Another potentially all appliqued basket (although it could be somewhat improv pieced) this time set on a scrappy black background and punctuated with bright scraps.  The high contrast, high saturation color palette creates a twinkling Lite-Brite effect.

Each of Oliveira’s baskets is unique to itself, while part of a unified basket family that creates a striking quilt.

Ready to try your own Basket variation? We’ve put together an old-timey pattern for you. Meet the Old Fashion Fruit Basket block.

Four of these with the handles turned into the center make up the block. According to Brackman, the block comes from Nimble Needle Treasures. “A periodical edited by Patricia Almy from Sapulpa, OK from 1969-1975. Old Fashion Fruit Basket appeared in the publication in 1970.

The block measures 6″ finished, so make four for a 12” block that fits with the rest of the Block 2019 blocks, or make a bunch for a fun quilt!

Click Here for the free Old Fashion Fruit Basket pattern!

Cut with templates and assemble following the block picture for suggested color placement.

And you’re all set!

Check back next week for ideas to quilt the Basket block. You can always find links to all the previous Block 2019 blocks and see when the next installment is coming out in the main Block 2019 article, just click here.

As you finish your blocks, share them in the AQS Project Parade Facebook group, or use the hashtag #Block2019 and tag us @aqsonline because we can’t wait to see what you do!

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