When this nineteenth-century green and red basket quilt came up for sale, I knew I had found a great inspirational quilt for the 19th Century Basket Quilts study. The quilt has no provenance and is in faded condition, but close study of the quilt revealed the quilt maker’s charming design of miniature baskets and cherries and her methods of construction and quilting. The original has over one hundred miniature cherry baskets that are placed in strict vertical and horizontal lines surrounded by a wide floral appliqué border.
Construction of the study quilt began by replicating the pattern of the miniature pieced baskets. Each basket is made up of twenty-one pieces in green and white with five baskets placed in a nine inch block, which is set on point. I have never worked on such a small scale! What the close study revealed was, surprisingly, that the five “cherries” in each basket are miniature yo-yo’s placed so their raw edges are facing up.
Instead of replicating the original design of over a hundred miniature baskets surrounded by a wide floral border, I pieced only twenty baskets but set them around a larger version of the basket with flowers as a medallion. As I pieced all of those tiny pieces by hand as the original quilt maker had done, I felt that she may have worked on her quilt as I did at many times and places, the kind of mobile project that could be done when time or a break in routine allowed. I wonder if she lost some of the tiny triangles as I did, or ever regretted designing the quilt with so many baskets. She must have received final satisfaction, as I did, when she created a quilt that she’d be proud to own and display.