Michigan Quilt Project
Michigan Quilt Project

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Cactus Basket
Maker Unknown
Ohio or Pennsylvania
ca 1870
72" x 81"
Photo by KEVA, all rights reserved by the MSU Museum

Whether constructed of a printed cloth medallion, an intricate appliqué, a quilted motif, or a simple pieced block, basket patterns have been popular among quilters throughout American quilting history.

The pattern used in this quilt is known today as a variation of the “Cactus Basket” pattern and is set diagonally with the blocks facing each other. This design setting was typical of utility quilts that were intended for use on beds and not for display on walls. The thick batting and sparse quilting further indicates this was a quilt made for daily use. Exposed to light and washed multiple times, the fabrics used here have aged in different ways. The sashing remains a strong indigo blue, the red and black combinations in the bases and the chrome orange squares remain vibrant. The diamonds, originally deep reddish brown, have faded to varying shades of brown and tan.


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