The Blossom Basket Quilt: A Free and Fancy Quilt Pattern Tutorial
Imagine this… It’s Wednesday evening and you’ve just remembered that you’re attending a baby shower on Saturday. You cringe. In the hustle and bustle of getting your own, older babies to do their schoolwork, feed them, and take a shower every once in a while, you’ve completely lost track of time.
Luckily, you’ve prepared for this kind of emergency. You’ve hoarded stocked up on Riley Blake Blossom Basics in a variety of colors and hidden stored them in a rarely used closet. You also bookmarked this free quilt pattern, just in case of a crisis like this. You’re not sweating it, because you know that you can whip out a really classy baby quilt that will melt the heart of the mom-to-be.
The Blossom Basket Quilt is made using the super-fast strip piecing method, and the blocks are set on point for a bit of sass. Don’t let this scare you off! On-point blocks are just as easy as straight set blocks. I’ll show you how to trim them in a jiffy.
Let’s unpack that fabric and get started! You will need four colors for your Background, Light blocks, Mid-tone blocks and Dark blocks.
1 1/2 yd Background fabric (Cream).
o Cut (24) 2” x WOF strips.
5/8 yd Dark* fabric (Black)
o Cut (9) 2” x WOF strips
5/8 yd Mid-tone fabric (Apricot Cream)
o Cut (9) 2” x WOF strips
1/2 yd Light fabric (Peaches N Cream)
o Cut (6) 2” x WOF strips
3/8 yd Binding (Apricot Cream)
o Cut (5) 2” x WOF strips
1 1/2 yds Backing (Apricot Cream)
*Note: The color itself doesn’t have to be dark, just the darkest of all three blocks.
As you’ll see later, it helps to have a big cutting mat and a 6” x 24” long ruler to trim our quilt top square. When it comes to cutting strips, I like to use the Creative Grids Stripology Ruler because I can cut so much faster than moving and readjusting my standard ruler for every strip. If you’re newish to quilting, you might not have lots of tools and that's OKAY. Make the most of what you have!
Ready, Set, Sew!
There’s something so satisfying about sewing long strips together. Perhaps it's because you can make visible progress while binging a Netflix series and mentally tuning out. At any rate, here are a couple of tips to keep in mind before you get started.
Change your stitch length. The blocks are going to be handled a lot, so using a shorter stich, 1.8 - 2.0 mm for instance, will help prevent the strips from coming apart at the edges once they are cut into blocks.
I know it’s hard but avoid the temptation to put the petal to the metal and sew 1,000 stitches/minute. Straight, consistent 1/4” seams are more important than speed, and this quilt will still come together quickly anyways!
Making the Strip Sets
Block A (Dark)
1. Gather (9) Dark WOF strips and (9)
Background WOF strips. Place a Dark strip on top of a Background strip right sides together (RST) and sew a 1/4” seam.
Instead of cutting your thread at the end of the seam, sew a couple inches off the end and start on the next pair, chain piecing until you have a total of 9 two-strip pairs. Press to the colored fabric, away from the background.
Lazy Cozy Quilter (LCQ) Tip: I don’t pin at this stage because I despise it, but straight seams ARE kind of important. 🙄 Instead, I like to use my iron to press the two strips together before I sew. The heat temporarily bonds them together like invisible pins. I might add a few clips on the opposite edge of the strips if I'm feeling ambitious.
2. Place two of the strip pairs RST so that the colors are alternating. Align the edges and pin or clip (left). You can also nest the seams so that the two sets are snug to help ensure a consistent 1/4” seam (right).
Repeat this twice more and you will have three strip sets consisting of four strips, and three leftover two-strip sets (left). Press to the colored fabric (right).
3. Sew one of the remaining two-strip sets to one of the four-strip sets. Repeat for the remaining two sets and press to the colored fabric. You should now have three strip sets that consist of six rows, like the one below. Label these sets as Block A.
Block B (Mid-tone)
4. Gather (9) Mid-tone strips and (9) Background strips. Repeat steps 1 through 3, pressing to the colored strip.
You will have three complete strips sets, just as you did for Block A. Label these sets as Block B.
Block C (Light)
5. Gather (6) Light strips and (6) Background strips. Repeat steps 1 through 3, pressing to the colored strip. You will have just two complete strips sets. Label these as Block C.
Slice and Dice!
Does anybody remember Fruit Ninja? Just me? I'm dating myself again, aren't I? Nevermind, just know that this is one of my favorite parts of the process.
Before you bust our your rotary sword, give each strip set another quick press on the back side.
Make sure those seams are laying down nice and flat, otherwise you might have some waves in your strip set, and you don’t want that!
1. Align the bottom of one Dark strip set along a horizontal line on your cutting mat (left). Using one of the vertical lines on your mat, trim the selvedges off the left-hand side of your strip set (right).
Now you have a nice, straight strip set to cut your 9.5” blocks from.
2. Using your ruler of choice, cut the strip sets into 9.5" square blocks. I’m using my OmniGrid 9.5” Square Ruler that came as part of a set, but you can also use a long ruler and the markings on your mat to cut your squares. See the examples in the images below.
If your block looks a little undersized when you go to cut it, don't freak out (below left). The fabric doesn’t always lay down super flat because of the number of seams in the strip set. Just make a clean cut and press the block again.
On the other hand, if your strip sets start looking a little wonky (below right), try squaring up your strip set again. Make sure the bottom of the set is aligned with a horizontal line, then trim along a vertical line.
3. Repeat this process for the remaining strips, one strip set at a time. Do NOT stack the strips and try to cut multiple squares at once. It will not end well. Ask me how I know. #facepalm
You should be able to cut (4) 9.5” blocks from each strip set, with a little room to spare. You will need:
(12) Dark blocks
(11) Mid-tone Blocks
(8) Light blocks
Quilt Top Assembly
Lay out the blocks on a design wall or design floor, using the illustration below. The Background strip is the "top" of your block.
“Take a picture, it will last longer… than your memory”
Seriously...Snap a photo on your phone of the layout on your wall/floor before you start sewing the blocks together. Why? Imagine if you drop your stack of blocks on the way to the sewing machine and they land scattered every which way. Or your dog decided to roll all over your design floor and eat a block while he's at it. I speak words of wisdom from painful experience, my friends.
Use the layout diagram above and the photo you just captured to sew your blocks together.
Sewing the Blocks Together
Row 1 is made up of the two uppermost blocks in the top, left corner. Remember when I said earlier that I despise pins? This is where pinning becomes necessary for the seams of your rows to match up. Luckily for you and me, there aren’t a lot of blocks in this pattern where seams match up, but Row 1 is s one of them, and pinning is key.
Lazy Cozy Quilter (LCQ) Tip: Place your pins 1-2” away from the edge so that you don’t have to remove them as you sew (below left). #becauseimlazy
Pin and sew the Row 1 blocks together. You'll notice my seams still don't match up perfectly (below right), and I'm okay with that. Actually, I'm allergic to perfection. 🤧 When it gets quilted and washed, nobody will be able to tell. I'll try my best again on the next set of blocks!
Press the seam to the left. For easy reference, press odd numbered rows to left and even number rows to the right. Why does this matter? It will allow you to nest the seams of the rows together later, which makes for nice points.
Repeat for each row. When the row is complete, put it back on your design area, being sure that the leftmost block is on the left, etc. It's easy to accidentally flip it upside down.
Sewing the Rows Together
This part is simple, but it can look intimidating at first glance due to the offset blocks. For this reason, I like to have my rows laid out exactly how I will sew them. For example, Row 1 is aligned with the center of Row 2. Row 3 is aligned with Row 4 the way it will be sewn together. Note that Row 4 is one Block longer than the previous Row.
Starting with the uppermost left-hand row (two blocks) and the one below it (four blocks) center Row 1 on top of Row 2 and sew. Press towards Row 1and put it back on your design area. See pictures below.
Another tip: backstitch at the beginning and end of each pair of rows. This will help prevent unraveling as your handling the quilt top during the trimming process.
Carefully place Row 4 on top of Row 3 (note we’ve reversed which row is on top). The top Row will overhang the bottom Row by one block on the left, as seen below. The right end of the two Rows will align. Pin and sew, starting from the right (aligned) end of your Rows. Press towards Row 3.
Before moving on to finish the rest of the rows, go ahead and sew the two sections you just created (Rows 1/2 and Rows 3/4) together.
Place Row 6 on top of Row 5. (There will be one block of overhang on each side of the bottom row.) Pin, sew and press toward row 5.
Place Row 7 on top of the Rows 5/6 you just sewed together. There will be one block of overhang on each side of the row directly underneath it. Pin, sew and press toward to Row 7.
Last seam! Place the section you just made above, Rows 5-7, on top of the section containing Rows 1-4. The leftmost blocks will align, and there should be one block of overhang on the right-hand side of the bottom row. Pin and sew, starting from the right end.
Squaring up the Quilt
This is the part that terrifies most people, but not you. You are a fruit/fabric ninja!
Lay out the top on your cutting mat with the Row 1 to upper left-hand corner. You’re going to trim three blocks at the top. Pretend that the first block of Row 1 isn’t there. Using your longest ruler, trim from the starting point shown in the photo below to the opposite corner of that block. Slide your ruler to the next block and repeat two more times. Voila!
Next, we’ll trim the sides. Fold the top in half so that the right and left sides are aligned. Take your time here because you'll be cutting two blocks at once.
To ensure you'll be making a 90 degree cut perpendicular to the top/bottom, place the bottom left hand corner of the folded quilt top on a horizonal line on your mat (below left).
Align your ruler so that one of its horizontal lines is on top of the line on the mat. I'm using the ruler's dotted 1 1/2" line (below left). If this sounds as clear as mud, just follow along with pictures! The other end of your ruler should line up over the opposite corner of the block (middle).
Trim from the starting point to the opposite corner of that block, just like you did earlier with the top/bottom. Slide your ruler to the next block and repeat to trim the rest of the blocks. See? That wasn't so scary, was it?
Give your quilt top a good press before basting it, there's a lot of seams back there!
This is a great pattern for hand quilting if you're new to it because the rows are relatively narrow, allowing you to stitch down the middle without having to mark it. Because I was short on time and attention span, I used the curvy zig zag stitch and my walking foot. When paired with a poly-blend batting, it creates a really nice texture!
To simplify things, I chose just four colors for the entire quilt. It's a lot easier to hide your stash when you have just four fabrics, so I've heard. The Blossom Peaches N Cream was perfect for the backing and binding. For something different, I decided to finish my binding on the front, using a less wavy zig zag stitch to mimic the quilting. I'll definitely do that again!
By choosing neutral basics, like Blossom Cream and Black, and adding a couple of colors, you'll always have on hand what you need for a last minute gift that will be cherished for a lifetime!