The latest Treadle On Yahoo Group block swap is to make basket blocks – 4 sets, each set to be different fabrics, with the handles completed in any way you like.

Never having made any basket blocks before, initially, I concentrated on how these were made and created a few test blocks.  I discovered that it was important to get the seams in exactly the right place in order to leave a 1/4″ at 4 points around the basket, so that none of the basket was stitched over once the blocks were pieced together.

It occurred to me that there was an easier and more foolproof way to make them than cutting triangles, and after a bit of experimentation I worked out the way I have written about here – Sam’s Basket Block

I then got thinking about all the different ways the handles could be done, including using ribbon, ric-rac, applique, machine embroidery, hand embroidery and other techniques.  I selected 4 techniques which I liked from all the ones I tried and read about and here – in case you’d like to try them – are the results.

Heirloom Chain Stitch

(Heirloom sewing is a technique that imitates fine French hand sewing of the 1890-1920 period.  It uses a sewing machine and sometimes bought trims)

This stitch is worked by cutting a long piece of floss, around 3 times the length you intend to work, and securing the middle of the length to your fabric with a couple of machine stitches.  Then stitch 2 stitches by machine only, cross the floss in front of the needle, then stitch a further 2 stitches, cross the floss again.  Keep repeating for the length you want and fasten off securely.

CIMG1647The technique is quite time-consuming, but of course you can use a long stitch length and cross after more stitches to complete the length more quickly.

The following 3 techniques are all taken from my favorite Embroidery Book – which is quite a few years old now.  Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches published 1989 .  It can be bought on Amazon.

You can also find great tutorials and many stitches on Mary Corbett’s blog – Needle and Thread 

Interlaced Chain Stitch

The stitch is believed to be an old French stitch.  First a row of chain stitches is worked, and then a second thread is interlaced down either side of the stitches.  Finally the loops of the interlacing are anchored to the fabric by small horizontal stitches.

I have worked the stitch in 2 colours of embroidery floss, but this would work well in Perle cotton and using 3 colours.


CIMG1648Pekinese Stitch and Threaded Chain Stitch

For these handles I used two rows of opposing Pekinese Stitch with Threaded Chain Stitch down the centre.

For Pekinese Stitch first work a row of loose Back Stitches, and then lace another thread through the stitches.  I have used either pale blue or cream floss for the Back Stitches and a metallic thread for the lacing.

For Threaded Chain Stitch a row of Detached Chain Stitch is first worked and then a thread is worked in both directions through them to produce the effect.


Ric-Rac, Stab Stitch and Threaded Herringbone Stitch

For the final set of blocks the work combines several things to create what I think is a very interesting handle.

I decided to use Ric-Rac but then I had to work out how to attach it and keep it centred on the handle line I had drawn on the fabric.  I didn’t want to tack it, and I thought working an elaborate stitch over it without it attach would end up looking messy.  In the end I decided to use a simple zig-zag Stab Stitch in a contrasting colour, either mid blue or cream.  This left me free to work the Herringbone Stitch without worrying about the Ric-Rack moving.  The Herringbone Stitch I worked using the dips in the ric-rac as stitching points and used either cream or blue floss.  Then a lacing thread of DMC Blue Satin Floss (a Rayon thread which is much glossier than the normal floss) was threaded through to give the final effect.


Well here are all my blocks ready to send to the US, plus the name blocks which I have now written on.  I am really looking forward to receiving the return blocks and seeing all the different techniques people will have used.

CIMG1646I hope you enjoyed reading about the different ideas for handles and will try some yourself.