Ethel’s Treasure Baskets

Ethel’s Treasure Baskets

I really enjoyed studying the mid-nineteenth century scrappy beauty, Baskets & Thousands of Triangles. It is hand pieced with double pinks, browns, madders, homespuns, stripes, calicos, muslins, and shirtings. Variations in basket handle width and placement add to the quilt’s simple charm. It is minimally quilted and shows heavy wear, suggesting that it was finished fairly quickly to be a practical bed covering – and such a pretty one at that!

There is evidence of machine repairs to the sashing. Were these repairs made long after the quilt’s creation – perhaps by Ethel E. Flierl, whose name appears printed on a tiny woven label sewn to the binding on the back of the quilt? Research on Ancestry.com yielded several references to a Mrs. Ethel E. Flierl working and residing in Buffalo NY in 1923 and 1925. I like to guess that Ethel inherited this quilt, and treasured it. Her name echoed in my mind as I pieced my study quilt.

I attempted to choose fabrics that would help replicate the feel of the scrappy original, and I wanted to represent that one rogue blue block in particular. I also really wanted to preserve the subtle angles of the basket bases, and found that templates and appliqué worked best for that. Finding an appropriate striped sashing was a real challenge. At a certain point I needed to call good enough good, and get started piecing!

For the pop of blue, I used some blue cotton from one of my husband’s old dress shirts, for a basket rather than for a background as in the original quilt. Did that one blue block hold special meaning for the maker of Baskets & Thousands of Triangles? We will never know for sure, but we can imagine!