The Scarlet Basket

I have owned the original basket quilt circa 1875 for many years. What attracted me to it were the bright salmon alternate blocks and the variety of fabrics. I liked the folk art feeling of it. The scale was good for a smaller quilt. Its original size was 68” x 90”. The baskets were set on point and faced toward the long side. It must have been made for a bed against a wall. I found this rather inconvenient for hanging. My neighbor, who is a fellow quilter, admired the quilt and we decided to share it. I cut it in half so we each had a piece 45” x 68”. We rebound it in different colors.

I graphed a pattern for the basket blocks which measured about 4” x 4”. It was difficult to make the diamonds come out right. I finally chose a pattern based on 1 1/2 inch squares, which was easier to construct. I dithered over what fabric to use. Should I try to match the original with old fabrics unused or used (hard to do), use new fabrics, or use reproduction fabrics? Finally, it was decided when I found a set of late 1800s tumbler pieces in my treasure drawer. The pieces had been carefully cut, starched, and meticulously pieced as needed. Unbelievably they measured 4.5” long and could be divided into three strips for my baskets. Each basket required three tumbler pieces. The next problem was deciding which three pieces in this charm packet might work together.

I spent about a week making the tiny blocks and being careful with my techniques. At the end I wondered if I would have enough tumblers but I just made it. The salmon fabric was in my stash.