printable version of baby and doll basket quilts

Doll and Baby Quilts From History by Judy Anne Breneman

Many of the quilts during the 1920s and 30s were pieced and quilted by hand. The Colonial Revival idealized handmade products from furniture to quilts. I will leave it up to you whether you want to do your piecing and quilting by hand or by machine. My example is made by machine.

Depression Era Reproduction Fabric

Although the quilt patterns used were typical of the 1800s the fabrics were new. Bright pastels were popular often with floral or geometric prints on them. Charming prints showing animals, children and characters from stories were produced. Many of these delightful prints were also found on flour and feed sacks. These cheerful fabrics gave quilter's spirits a lift during the depression era. What we often call 30s or depression era fabrics are still a delight to sew with today. Almost every quilt store carries them so it will be easy to find fabric for this project.

Baby and Doll Basket Quilt Pattern

This basket quilt pattern is made up of easily pieced blocks. My goal was to give you a opportunity to show off the delightful fabrics of the time. It also gives you a chance to use templates to mark your fabric for cutting. It would not be until 40 or so years later that the first rotary cutter would be developed for quilter! One way templates were made during this period was to trace the pattern on sandpaper Cardboard and paper were also used.

A Basket Like Border

I chose a border with a woven look at the corners that brings to mind the weaving of a basket. The doll quilt border is made with three strips of fabric while the baby quilt has five. The border not only frames the quilt but is also a way to use some of the solids of this period. Solids and prints were often mixed. The solids seem to calm down the active look of the printed fabrics so popular at the time.

Cutting Out the Pieces for the Basket Blocks

Below is the estimated yardage for the baby quilt.
For the doll quilt you only need a fat quarter of each fabric.
*The pink is for the binding and won't take that much if you piece it.
If you bind with bias tape you won't need the pink fabric.

yardage for baby basket quilt

The pattern for the basket block templates is on the Basket Templates PDF. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you set your "PAGE SCALING" to "NONE" before you print out the template page. Otherwise the sizes won't be right.

If you are unable to get a PDF on your computer you can draw this pattern on a 6 inch square then cut the pieces out. In this case be sure to add the 1/4 inch seam allowances. Your basket doesn't have to be exaclly like mine, just use my block as a guide.

I used sand paper templates like some quilters used during the depression years. It really worked well as the templates didn't slip at all. It was fun to try but if you prefer, just use plastic template material. I cut out the paper templates then traced them onto the sandpaper as shown in the picture to the right. Be sure to use old scissors to cut the sandpaper templates out. Next trace the templates on the fabric and cut them out. Cut the basket bottom piece with the longest seam on the grain. Also cut the basket handles with the long edges on grain. That will assure you will always have an edge on grain sewn to any bias edges which will prevent stretched seams. templates for basket quilt

Sewing Together the Quilt Top

sewing basket quilt

To sew together the basket first sew the short part of the basket handle (A) onto the white triangles (E). Then sew on the longer part of the basket handle (B). Next sew the basket body (C) to the small triangle of grass (D). As you can see from the picture to the left you can then sew the bottom and the top of the triangle together.

Next cut the strips for your sashing on grain. The doll quilt has 1/2 inch sashing so cut it 1 inch wide and the baby quilt has 1 inch sashing so cut it 1 1/2 inches wide. Next cut enough strips 6 1/2 inches to sew on the top and bottoms of the blocks except for the very top and bottom. For the sides I sewed the sashing on the entire length from top to bottom. Measure your strip lengths to be sure they match the sides of the row of blocks. Last of all sew the sashing across the top and bottom.

Now cut the border strips and sew them together in alternate colors for the side sections. You will need two sets of strips for the corners with opposite colors. See in the picture how I made strips then cut them the opposite way but the same width. These can then be sewn together to make the woven look of the corners.

Next attach the corner pieces on each end of two of your side borders. Then sew the side borders that don't have the corners onto your quilt. Last sew the sides with the corners on the other two sides. This takes some careful seam matching. Your quilt top is then complete.

Quiting Your Basket Quilt

Our first inclination might be to quilt in the ditch. But quilting in the ditch was rare until the 1970s. More likely this basket quilt would have been quilted about inches from the seams. This was a common way of quilting utilitarian quilts during the middle years of the 20th century. In this case the quilting is done just inside the pieces. Another way this pattern could have been quilted is with a 1 inch or so overall grid. Either would be true to the period so choose which way you prefer quilting your quilt.

Use a thin cotton or mostly cotton batting to replicate quilting of this era. Off white thread was usually used for quilting.

To the right you will see an example of the pieced basket doll quilt along with quilting done 1/4 inch from the seams. The basket blocks are 6 inches square and both the white sashing and the border strips are 1/2 inch wide. The finished doll quilt will be about 17 inches square. I did the border with three strips and interwoven corners but you could do five if you wish. The sample also shows what the quilt looks like with quilting 1/4 inch from the seams. layout of doll basket quilt
layout of crib basket quilt To the left is the layout of the pieced basket baby quilt. The basket blocks are also 6 inches square and the white sashing is one inch wide while the alternating border strips are 3/4 inch wide. The finished baby quilt will be about 37" square. You would probably want to do this border with the 5 strips and interlocking corners as the quilt is much larger but three would be fine if you are short of time. To really give the border the woven basket look you could reduce the width to 1/2 inch and use seven strips. The baby quilt picture shows what the quilt would look like if you quilted it with a diagonal grid.

Binding With Bias Tape

Diane Shink is a quilt appraiser and an expert in the area of historical bindings. She suggested using single fold bias tape to represent bindings of this period. Although quilters still bound quilts with binding cut on grain bias binding for quilts became popular after 1925. So bias binding gives your quilt an added historic touch. But take your choice as you will be historically correct binding your basket quilt either way.

The doll quilt shown above is done with 1/2 inch bias tape but wider bindings were more typical. Especially for the baby quilt, I suggest using the 7/8 inch bias tape. Quilters of the 30s had a much larger selection of tape widths available than we do today.

sew on bias tape

sew in ditch from front

back will be stitched down
© 2006 Judy Anne Johnson Breneman (Each person who comes to this site is welcome to use these patterns. Please check with me for permission before you copy this article or the patterns for others.) If you have any questions write to Judy Anne at and let me know which pattern you are asking about.