Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cactus Basket quilt block

Cactus Basket quilt block
January 23, 1933-The first quilt block introduced by Nancy Cabot is the Cactus Basket design.  She describes the block as being "inspired by the brilliant blooms of the American desert"  and suggested it be made of  "gay diamond shaped prints" with the basket being brown or green and the background cream.  Her black and white illustration indicates a different print for each diamond.

This is not the common way to make a block by this name and it is not an easy block to make.  The only example I could find is an antique quilt in a museum.  You can see it here.  It has three "Y" seams which I try to avoid but it does go together nicely so I think it's worth the extra little effort to make.

My pattern is for a 6" finished block.  The best way I could figure out to make this block is by using templates.  The dimensions are a little too odd to try to rotary cut I feel.  You can download a copy of the templates here.

Here's a basic tutorial-

Print your templates.  I printed mine on freezer paper because I think it makes the process a little easier.  Be sure to cut double layers where you need to.  I stacked up all four layers of the diamonds also.

Preparing templates to be cut

Iron your freezer paper templates to your fabric scraps.
Cut out your block pieces.  
Remove the freezer paper and you are ready to sew.
Templates after cutting
Block layout of cut pieces with freezer paper removed

Before beginning to sew the pieces of the block together, you will need to know how to sew a "Y" seam. This video by Ginny Beyer is helpful.  Here is the general order you should sew the pieces together-

Sew 2 diamonds together along 1 side and then add the corner triangle.  Repeat for the other 2 diamonds.  You need to use a "Y" seam to make this all fit.  

Next sew the 2 diamond units together along the side of the diamonds.  Make another "Y" seam to add the corner square.

Next add the corner triangles.

Add the large triangle of the basket.

Sew the smaller triangles of basket fabric to the ends of the background strips as shown.

Sew each of these strips to the sides of the basket.

And lastly add the final triangle of background fabric.


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