Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Charming Basket

The Retro Nine Patch quilt which Lyn from Blue Bird Quilts shared with us included a Grandmother's Basket block.  Lyn provided a template for it but my Retro Nine Patch embroidery blocks were done at half scale, so unfinished they are 5", rather than the 9-1/2" of the blocks Lyn designed.  This meant that I had to down-scale the basket pattern Lyn provided.  Also I wasn't really into the idea of paper foundation piecing so I didn't do it that way.

I thought I'd share with you, by way of tutorial, how I made these blocks.  The measurements make up a 4-1/2" finished block but I'm sure the instructions would work for any size block as long as you calculated the correct measurements.  All the images are available in larger format if you click on them.

Oh, and the finished size of these blocks are the perfect size to match with a charm square, hence the title of my post!

Start off by cutting out the following pieces

Background (cream)
  • (1) 5-7/8" square (this will actually give you backgrounds for two basket blocks)
  • (2) 1-1/4" x 3-1/2" rectangles
  • (1) 2" square
Main Colour (pink)
  • (1) 2" square
  • (6) 1-1/4" squares
Contrast Colour (print)
  • (4) 1-1/4" squares
On the large background square, the 2" main colour square and one of the contrast colour squares, draw a diagonal line with pencil.

Now we can start the sewing.

Place the main colour 2" square on top of the background 2" square and sew ON the pencil line.  Then trim one side 1/4" from the sewing  and press with the seam towards the darker colour.  You should now have a half-square triangle (HST) unit.
Place the contrast colour square with the diagonal line draw on this HST unit, matching it to the corner of the main colour.  Again, sew ON the drawn line, trim to a 1/4" seam allowance and press towards the darker colour.  This completes the corner unit of the basket.

Next, lay out the squares for the main part of the basket.
Sew the squares into rows, then join the rows together, then attach a background rectangle to the bottom
Here is how I have pressed the seams on the back.  This completes the main section of the basket.

Lay out the remaining three squares and a rectangle to make the other side of the basket.  Join the squares together, then attach the rectangle, ensuring that the extra length is at the top right, as shown in the photograph.  Press the seam towards the backing rectangle
You have now completed the three sections to the basket.  Join the corner unit to the side of the basket (press the seam up towards the side unit) and then join this to the main part of the basket (press seam towards main basket).

It's now time to add the backing triangle.  Place the large background square over the top of the basket.  Line up the edges on the bottom and side of the square.  You can see that the basket unit isn't as long on the straight sides as the square.  This is okay, just make sure the bottom corner and the sides match.  Then you need to sew 1/4" from the drawn line on the side of the basket (click on photo to enlarge). Your stitching line should pass through the intersections of the squares along the diagonal edge.
Cut the block along the drawn line and press the seam towards the background triangle.  The spare background triangle can be used to make your next basket block.  And now you have a 5" unfinished basket block. 
If you are using a left-over background triangle to make your block, you will only need to trim off the excess triangles from the basket like so:
On this small scale I chose not to applique a handle, instead I embroidered one using three strands of embroidery floss and chain stitch, which you can see in the first image of this post.  If you are making these baskets in a larger scale and wish to add a fabric handle, refer to Lyn's instructions.


  1. BRILLIANT - thank you Karen!!! I'm not much into piecing but I think I can do this!

  2. Hello Karen, a very warm thankyou for your tutorial on Grandmother's basket block.....Warm Regards, Lyn



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