Monday, January 18, 2016

Simple Baskets in Old Cambridge Pike: Free Pattern

A Simple Basket

I have been looking for simple patterns for my Old Cambridge Pike collection, which has a lot of pinks and browns in it. 

The theme is the generation called Young America, particularly the people in Massachusetts, where the Old Cambridge Pike ran, so I looked through some of the mid-19th-century quilts documented by the Massachusetts quilt project Mass Quilts.

Basket quilt top made by Anna Swain Coffin (1849-1915)
Nantucket, Massachusetts

And here's the perfect 19th-century quilt, a simple basket. It looks like the baskets are a variety of sizes---smaller ones on the left, larger on the bottom. This is one of three tops Anna's family brought in for documentation. 

I found the picture in the Quilt Index.
The record:

Then I looked around for more simple baskets

and found these two discovered by the Connecticut project.

Old Cambridge Pike is primarily reproductions of fabrics from the mid-19th century. I was glad to see basket quilts dated before the Civil War, the same time as the prints in the line.

Here's one date-inscribed 1858 from my file of dated quilts

It differs in the way the base is constructed but it's a simple,
empty basket.

Same construction: Perhaps 1860-1890 from the Quilt Index.

Four baskets in a sampler made in Rahway,
New Jersey, date-inscribed 1864, from Laura Fisher's online shop.

Another date-inscribed example from 1890.

Three from the early 20th century perhaps.

The pattern was popular before it was published and given a name. It's in BlockBase, my computerized quilt ID and drawing program. There were three basic variations published,
differing in proportions, how the base is pieced and the shape of the handles.

Some names and dates of publication:
Fruit Basket - Hearth & Home, about 1915
Little Basket - Hearth & Home, about 1915
Basket - Dakota Farmer, 1927
Baby Basket - Mary McElwain, 1930s
Tiny Basket, Carrie Hall, 1935
The May Basket, Kansas City Star, 1941


A square handle from the 1930s.

Terrific color from the 1960s (?)
From Buckboard Antiques

Below is a free pattern for an 8" baby basket.

I'd alternate the light/dark shading in the blocks
and do a half-drop strip repeat to echo Anna Swain Coffin's.

She made 99 baskets.

The Handle Templates
How to print:
Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11".
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". The top side of the block should measure about 8".
Adjust the printed page size if necessary.

Rotary Cutting
Cutting an 8" Basket
A - Cut a light and a dark square 6-7/8". Cut into 2 triangles. You need 1 triangle of each color for each basket.

B - Cut 2 rectangles 2-1/2" x 4-1/2".

C - Cut a square 4-7/8". Cut into 2 triangles. You need 1 triangle.

D - Cut a square 2-7/8". Cut into 2 triangles. You need 2 triangles.

E - The basket handle is appliqued to A before you piece the block together. There are two choices
on the pattern. Cut 12" of 7/8" bias strip (3/8" finished)

How to piece it.


  1. Can't go wrong with baskets! I adore this line! Cyndi only had the charm packs last week so I am looking forward to getting more when the whole line comes in. Thanks!

  2. Baskets are by far my favorite pattern. I was trying to resist the temptation to buy a FQ pack of Old Cambridge Pike - then you go and post this. Oh, Barbara! I was lucky enough to find a FQ pack of your Butternut and Blue line from some time ago. Can't wait for that to arrive then select some blocks from my block base program. Thank you for your wonderfully educational quilt books and posts.

  3. How about the one used for the post office stamp?

  4. Wendy in NH
    I was surprised to see the basket quilt made by my great grandmother Anna Coleman Swain Coffin. She was born Feb 23,1853 on Nantucket, & married Levi Starbuck Coffin in 1873. She died March 8,1930. It's nice for me to be able to see her work, thanks!
    Wendy Coffin ( Wcoffin7@aol.com)

  5. How delightful. I think I'll use my Old Cambridge Pike with the 4" baskets using a Alex Go! die, should be terrific fun (and so cute!)