Wonky Baby Baskets and Narrow Stem Applique

Vietnam War Memorial Statuette

(momentos left at the Wall–I am grateful to those who have fought in service of our country.)Arlington Cemetary Mem DayHappy Memorial Day, to those of you who are in the United States.  We spent a year back in Washington, DC some time ago, where I toured every monument I could (going to the Vietnam Wall on Memorial Day and waving on the East Coast Rolling Thunder motorcycle riders on the bridge near the Lincoln Memorial; today I’ll be waving on the West Coast Rolling Thunder).  I also joined a lovely little quilt guild, named the Mt. Vernon Chapter of Quilters Unlimited (which covered the entire state of Virginia), where I learned this technique.

Basket Blocks Quilt Top

I recently made a wonky basket quilt with some baby baskets (below).  Here’s some basic guidelines for the baby baskets.

Baby Baskets

Baby Basket Dimensions

Follow the directions for the Wonky Baskets, cutting the base pieces smaller, as the finished size is shown above.  So maybe cut the upper part in the 5″ by 3″ range, and the lower part the same (it will be bigger after you splice in the basket).

Sewing the handles mini baskets

Follow the instructions for the bias strips for the bigger basket, but sew these narrower–about 3/8″ wide.  I’m using leftover handles strips for the big baskets. The woman who taught me this. in our Mt. Vernon Guild, made very narrow stems for her flowers by using this method.  So I call this the Narrow Stem Method.

trimming the handles baby basketsTrim close to inner stitching.

pinned handles baby baskets

Laying the basket below (to gauge for the width), pin on the handles with the raw edges facing towards the outside.  Place the handle edges at least 1/2″ inside the basket to allow for turning.

Narrow Stem Applique 1

Stitch on sewing line.

Narrow Stem Applique 2

Narrow Stem Applique 3

Now press the bias strip outward–letting the fabric fall back over the stitched line and the raw edges.

Narrow Stem Applique 4

Narrow Stem Applique 5Stitch down both edges, then finish block as for the bigger wonky block.   If you were doing a stem, you would hand-stitch down that outer edge invisibly.

Trim as shown in above photo–to 4 1/2″ by 5 1/2″.  I combined two to fill out those rows without the wider basket blocks.

Dumpling Bags

I had some leftover little baskets, so used them to make tiny Dumpling Bags, using a free pattern from Michelle Patterns.

Basket Blocks in the garden

WWII Lincoln Memorial One of my favorite memorial sites in Washington, D. C.  

My mother remembers this day not just for the Veterans, thinking instead of its original purpose: that of taking a day to remember our own deceased relatives.  She still calls it “Decoration Day.” My parents would go around to all the graves of their deceased ancestors and leave flowers.

Memorial Day 2014

I went up last year to see them on this weekend, but they’d already done most of the graves.  I did get to go with them for a couple of my great-grands, my father anchoring the pot of mums with bamboo skewers so it wouldn’t tip over.


This week is also my mother’s 87th birthday, and so I celebrate her as well.
Happy Birthday, Mom!


12 thoughts on “Wonky Baby Baskets and Narrow Stem Applique

  1. 87???? She looks fabulous. Wow. Once again I love the baskets. So cute. Will you keep it? Enjoy your time with family. Love those dumpling bags. Might try one of those

  2. First of all….your mom is beautiful. Happy birthday to her.

    We always called it “Decoration Day” too. My uncles still (in their 90s) put their uniforms on and go to the town cemetery to decorate each of the veteran’s graves. We were married (DH in his uniform) on Memorial Day weekend back in 1969 so it has always been a special weekend for us.

    Our flag is out flying in memory of all of those who have given so much.

  3. What a lovely post. I was amazed at the precious items placed at the Vietnam Memorial. The GI Joe figure at the makeshift wall is extraordinary. Very moving.
    Thank you for your stems tutorial. It is the clearest I’ve seen.
    And, Happy Birthday to your mom – she could easily pass for 67! Truly!
    Enjoy the holiday. Oh, my Mom would be 92 now, and she always said Decoration Day, too:)

  4. A beautiful post and Birthday greetings coming her way!!!!! The “stem” tutorial is awesome and has made its way to my Pinterest board!!! Thanks so much!!!!!

  5. A wonderful post. I remember my folks calling this Decoration Day, too. You covered a good amount of area today. Sending a happy birthday greeting to your mother, who looks so young! I really must try out the baskets.

  6. Thank you for this lovely post. My father was a WWII and Korean War veteran. When we went to D.C., I spent some tender time at the WWII Memorial and appreciated seeing your photo here.

    In our family, today was always Decoration Day. I’m 51 and have such happy memories of the extended family gathering to take roses to the different cemeteries in Southern California, “visiting” with beloved relatives. I live near Portland, OR, now, so far from our cemeteries. Today I had the idea of making a Decoration Day quilt. Baskets of flowers, like the ones we used to carry from one quiet, green place to another.

  7. You write about such interesting things, Elizabeth. I always enjoy reading what you have to say. Good idea as to how to do the basket handles. When I made Postage Stamp baskets, I used this method… at least the first part. After making the “narrow stems,” I hand appliquéd down both sides to attach them to the block.

    It’s so nice that your family visits family graves. I live too far from any of them to do that… and haven’t been back to visit my mother’s resting place in Kansas since interring her ashes nearly 13 years ago. Sad.

    Your mother is a stunning woman! And nearly 87?! Amazing! I will never look that good, if I live that long. Bless her!

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