Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Baltimore Basket - Valuable Lessons in Applique

I was just going to make one more block … this Woven Basket, in a two-day workshop (many years ago) taught by Anne Connery; this time, with MAQ - Mid-Appalachian Quilters held at Shippensburg University in PA. We stayed in the college dorms, slept on cots (with no air conditioning in mid-July), shared meals in the Grand Dining Hall, made lots of new friends, and learned more Valuable Lessons in Applique.

Included on Anne’s supply list was: “Several yards of 1/8 inch bias strips, sewn, seams pressed to center. Store the finished strips on an empty cardboard roll to bring to class.” Those bias tubes would form the basket. Supplies also included freezer paper, fabric basting glue, Pigma Micron fabric pens, along with fabrics and the typical appliqué supplies. (Notice that I learned my previous lesson: always bring your own background fabric to class. That way, your blocks are more likely to eventually go together in a quilt!)
Anne first gave a wooden skewer to each student, and got a few puzzled glances.

She also provided a cardboard stencil that she had made, with thin lines cut out to represent each weaver of the basket. The horizontal lines were omitted (not cut out from the stencil), which helped hold its form.

In turn, each student used Anne’s stencil to draw permanent lines for each vertical basket weaver onto their background fabric. The Pigma Micron pen is permanent on fabric – other pens might run, smear, or disappear while working Anne’s method – (another Valuable Applique Lesson).

After the drawn lines dried, a dollop of glue was poured onto the shiny side of a scrap of freezer paper. Then we used the point of our wooden skewer to dip into the glue, and “paint” a thin line of glue along the drawn line, as we laid the bias tube centered along that line and onto the glue – just a little at a time, because the glue dries quickly. All that is left is to do is applique the basket that is all held firmly in place. (P.S. I still use this method to glue baste applique stems along a drawn line.)

Anne taught us how to determine, on such a complex block, what comes first, and what comes next, what goes on top of what, etc. That can be a challenge when looking at a black and white printed pattern.
We practiced a bit of reverse applique …   

inked a few details … 

… and we made one single scrap of white fabric look like a flower by inking details and dimension with feathery strokes of black and brown Pigma pens.

Before this block was completed, I had to (of course) add a tiny bluebird. I would also like to commend, in case you’ve noticed, the careful machine quilting done by my friend, Marty Vint. That couldn’t have been easy, going so carefully around all those appliqué pieces!

This basket block is in my Pride of Baltimore II quilt, along with 11 other blocks and a central medallion with the schooner. I'll write about more of the blocks, and Valuable Applique Lessons in future posts.

Pattern for this basket block can be found in the “Baltimore Beauties and Beyond” series by Elly Sienkiewicz.

(c) 2015 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.


  1. Beautiful block. Thanks for the tip. I also glue my strips down when making a basket but don't draw the lines first. I will try that next time!

  2. Thanks for the tips! I glue my strips down after applying an 1/8" stip of steam a seam to the back instead of the glue - then I place and press it. That way I don't have to contend with glue that dries up. Love that white flower - would like a class in that. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Great to hear how you worked on this - such a beautiful finish! I have used glue too - and it avoids having the threads catch on little pins as you sew. Love the inked details - the colour you have used looks nice and vintage. Great machine quilting too.

  4. Great job! It's beautiful. Thanks for sharing your methods.

  5. Hi, I love your block! Baltimore Album is on my bucket list! I am RenaissanceSandi...and I am one of your fellow bloggers for the American Made Brand Solids Blog Tour. Please stop by and follow my blog, if you like.

  6. Those inked details really do work! I love your block and can't wait to see what you come up with for your license plate. Yes, I'm visiting from the AMB group. So pleased to meet you and to get to see your beautiful work.


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