Monday, March 10, 2014

Basket Obsesson

Basket Block of Eggleston Quilt
For over a year now I have been obsessed with a basket block in a quilt on display at the Abby Aldrich Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg.  The Eggleston Quilt is spectacular and I plan on interpreting several of the blocks. However - this basket in particular has captured my imagination.  Intellectually, I could make an argument that the simplicity of the design appeals to my artistic sensibilities - or such like nonsense.  The truth is I just love it!  It's like a gesture drawing of a Baltimore-style block.

This weekend I finally had an opportunity to start my version of this block.  Since the block requires about 40 inches of one quarter inch bias, I decided to snap a few photos of how I choose to make and apply bias in order to share my technique with my blog readers.  There are dozens of ways to make bias and lots of gadgets.  What I am sharing with you is the method I enjoy because it's totally portable - no iron, no sewing machine, and no gadgets.  I can make bias anywhere that I can set up to hand stitch. 

To make 1/4" bias I use 3/4" masking tape as a "guide" to cut strips of fabric with my scissors.  Or, when cutting fabric for projects and I see fabric that is a good candidate for bias strips, I will use a rotary cutter and mat to cut and assortment of strips ranging from  1/2 " to 1" and then put them away for later use.
I fold the strip of bias into thirds in my hands and baste the fold.  The basting process goes very quickly and I was able to make all the bias needed for my basket in about 20 minutes while sitting in the living room with my husband watching TV.

Yes I know I can make this same bias in a fraction of the time using my sewing machine and iron.  However, I chose to do as much sewing as possible by hand and in the company of my family. For me it's relaxing and I love how soft and pliable the bias turns out.

I know the next question is going be "Do you back baste bias strips?"  The answer is "kind of."   I mark by entire pattern from the back in the manner of back basting.  However, I only mark a single line, down the middle to mark where a bias strip needs to go.  

I then baste on that pencil line from the back.  The basting line shows on the front and marks where the strip needs to go.  Again, yes, I know I can do this a lot faster using light box or an overlay or ...  This is how I chose to do it.  It's like zen stitching... just me and the fabric and a needle and a length of thread.

I then basted the bias strips in place.  The basket base is back basted in the usual manner.  Everything is perfectly placed.  I laid out and basted the bias strips on the block while enjoying the weather on the front porch. So relaxing.

Until next time,
Best stitches from Mercy in sunny Miami


  1. Processing posts are my favorites. Thank you, Mercy - another way to make bias strips. It's going to be a gorgeous block. Any plans for it?

  2. Thank you! They are my favorite type to. It will be a series along with the Santa Maria block. I have 4 drafted so far :)
    Best stitches

  3. It's a gorgeous block, Mercy. I always enjoy seeing how you do things. Thanks for sharing :)