Drunkard’s Path Block

BernieLynn wrote questioning the “L” part of the drunkard’s path block – she wasn’t seeing what I was describing. So here it is.

A drunkard’s path block consists of two parts: a “pie” or quarter circle and an “L” or complement to the circle:

Drunkard’s Path block elements

You can purchase acrylic templates of various kinds; you can make your own.

To construct a template first you need to decide on a block size (remembering to add the outside 1/4″ seam allowance – hence 6 1/2″ (for a 6″ block) or 6″ (for a 5 1/2″ block) etc.).

Draw an outline for your block. Next construct a quarter circle (using a protractor, a plate, …) using a radius between 1/2″ to 2″ shorter than your block size, making sure the arc ends are symmetrical. This creates your “pie” shape. The line you’ve drawn is the seam line. The complement is the “L” shape.

To construct seam allowances you draw another line 1/4″ from the quarter circle arc on EACH side of the arc line (I use a different colour pen to draw these two lines to differentiate them from the original arc line). Using template plastic, trace the quarter circle piece using the arc line farthest from the apex of the arc – this is the “pie” cutting line. Reposition the template plastic and trace the quarter circle using the arc line closest to the “pie” corner – this is the cutting line for the “L” piece (it’s a smaller quarter circle).

Drunkard’s Path Templates

You end up with two quarter circle templates, one a half inch larger than the other.

Drunkard’s Path Templates

To cut the “pie” pieces from fabric, cut a strip the width of the 1/4″ circle radius (the length of one side); to cut the “L” pieces, cut a strip from the fabric the length of one side of the desired pre-trimmed block size – this will be wider than the strip for the “pie” pieces. [For my blocks I cut 5 1/2″ strips for the “pie” pieces; 6 1/2″ for the “L” pieces.]

In my block I’ve made my overall trimmed block size 1 1/4″ larger than the radius of the “pie” piece:

Trimmed Block

When I’ve finished sewing blocks together there will be a 1″ border around each circle or partial circle.

Skyline #3 – Blocks Laid Out

But you can construct drunkard’s path blocks that have no border around the quarter circle. These are a bit trickier to stitch because you are working with just 1/2″ of fabric on the ends of the “L” shaped piece to end up with a 1/4″ seam allowance for joining the blocks:

Drunkard’s Path Block from “Let The Trumpets Sound”

It’s all up to you and how you want your final project to look.

In this case I want the circles to be circumscribed within the blocks rather than touch the edges of each block as I did in Let The Trumpet’s Sound.

In my first drunkard’s path quilt I circumscribed the circles. My circles, this time, will be a bit larger in relation to the size of the block.

My First Drunkard’s Path Quilt

Skyline #3 – Begun

Yesterday I pulled a pile of Grunge fabrics from my stash, looking for bright colours to strengthen the bright elements within the  panel.

I’m after a final block size of 5 3/4″ (I’ll go down to 5 1/2″ if I have to). I began by cutting 5 1/2 strips from the panel, cut them into blocks, then cut the “pie” shaped pieces from those.

Next I cut 6 1/2″ strips – enough so far for 48 blocks – then cut the “L” shaped pieces from those (that gives me 48 “pie” pieces to use for another project!). Then I cut 2 “pie” pieces from the grunge fabrics.

Cut Blocks

I paired dark to light/light to dark (more or less) and set them into two piles. Then I began stitching some drunkard’s path blocks. Everything you read recommends doing a lot of pinning – I find I get a better block if I do no pinning at all – just align the “pie” element on top at the end of the “L” piece, then using my 1/4″ right guide quilting foot to slowly stitch the curved seam, aligning the edges carefully as I go along. My resulting block isn’t perfect but close enough that I’ve been able to trim them to 6 1/4″ which will give me a finished 5 3/4″ block.

Skyline #3

I’ve finished seven blocks and as I go along I will play with layout. I’m already liking how the buildings in the panel have disappeared and the colour definitely stands out. That was the effect I had in mind and it looks like it is going to work out as I was visualizing it.

Now I need to construct the remaining 41 blocks. I’m anticipating a 7 x 9 array – 63 blocks in all so after the 48 I will still need to cut out and stitch 15 more blocks. I have more than enough fabric from the panel to do that. I’ll cut them out tomorrow.

Skyline #3 is underway.

Skyline #2 – Quilting Begun

Today, I started “echo quilting” the wedges of the quilt. I decided to use my adjustable guide foot which has markings from 3/16″ to 1 1/8″ – the guide is easy to keep aligned against the right edge of each wedge as I stitch.

Adjustable Guide Foot

I’ve been varying the width of the echo stitching, starting at approximately 1/4″ to 1/2″ and occasionally 5/8″ as the whim takes me. With the guide foot, the stitching is easy to keep reasonably parallel – the only care point is determining the position of the “point” of the wedge as I’m sewing so that it more or less centres in the wedge.

Echo Quilting The Wedges

I managed to quilt 6 wedges today; I stopped when my back, neck and shoulders were telling me I needed a break!

I can see from what I’ve done so far that I will leave the sashing without any further stitching. Quilting the wedges makes the sashing stand out, the colour strong. Were I to quilt the sashing it would cause it to be diminished. So I will leave it stitched in the ditch and nothing more.

I’ll try carrying on tomorrow. At six or so blocks a day I should be finished quilting in another three days. Then I can trim the quilt to 48″ x 64″ and do a hidden binding using backing fabric leftover from trimming the quilt.

I finally feel I have this quilt under control.

Skyline #2 – Still A Work In Progress

I had started stitching-in-the-ditch on each side of the sashing ten days ago or so – got a few rows done and then put the quilt aside. I just couldn’t carry on – not sure why that was because I knew if I started sewing it wouldn’t take me terribly long to stabilize the sandwich.

Skyline #2

This morning I finally picked up the project and stitched the remaining sashing, and around the outside. The back is nicely flat – the top has a bit of fullness but a good spraying with BestPress and a steam iron and it should be starched and pressed enough to give me a flat surface to quilt.

The question is what do I want to do next. I can’t leave the project as it is – there isn’t enough quilting to make the whole stable so I have to add a lot more stitching. I simply cannot do consistent free-motion work, my stitch length is inconsistent and my lines wobbly; I’m never satisfied with how it turns out which is why I quilt-in-the-hoop. But given the shape of these wedges that isn’t an option here. I’m leaning toward echo stitching the wedges and leaving the sashing alone. Once I start there will be no stopping until each of the 20 wedges is relatively densely stitched. Do I want to echo-stitch 1/4″ or 1/2″? Maybe a combination of both. What colour thread? Probably a mixture of the variegated threads I used on Skyline #1.

Tomorrow, I’ll start the process and see how it looks.

I’ve also been thinking about Skyline #3 – drunkard’s path blocks. Probably 8 1/2″ blocks with some 4 1/2″ blocks as filler. I may even try a “porthole” or two.

I just made an 8 1/2″ pair of templates (I have a commercial pair that size, but the pie-shaped piece is quite a bit smaller / the “L” shaped piece larger – I want the joins to be closer to a 1/4″ seam allowance…)

8 1/2″ Templates

Then I constructed a pair of test blocks:

8 1/2″ Test blocks

which turned out rather well. My seam allowance from the edge of the curved seam is closer to 1/2″ – that leaves me with two options: trim the block to 8″ (giving a finished 7 1/2″ block) or remake the templates. I’ll sleep on that decision.

I want a finished quilt size to match the other two Skyline projects – 48″ x 64″. If I wanted a border then I could actually go smaller or fewer: set up a 5 x 7 block array (40″ x 56″) – actually the fewer might be just fine. I’m better off staying with the finished 8″ block because that makes it much easier to do a few finished 4″ blocks as filler.

I also now have to think about a balance between my Skyline fabric and some Grunge inserts – I want some bright Grunge fabric to broaden my colour range. The Skyline is colourful, but when it’s cut up and reassembled some of the brightness disappears.

I’ll start by cutting the Skyline into 9 1/2″ squares – that’s large enough to cut out both drunkard’s path template pieces without a lot of waste, then mix and match the two elements to see what it will look like… After I finish quilting Skyline#2.

Skyline #2 – Top Pieced

The Skyline #2 top is finished.

I took what I’d done apart – I had to because the panel was not laying flat! I didn’t have to take every seam out, but I did have to take quite a few apart. Now it will lay flat on the batting and cling smoothly enough to permit me to quilt the whole.

Skyline #2 – Top Pieced

I still don’t know how this quilt will turn out. I’m happy with the overall flow of colour. The next challenge is quilting the project. The quilting will pull the piece together (or, frankly, it could kill it).

I’m intending to echo-stitch the wedge elements, including the sashing. I expect the quilting will need to be quite close but not evenly spaced. I plan on using the same threads I used for Skyline #1 – a mix of variegated purple / turquoise / red to blend with the print (instead of contrasting with it).

In the meantime, I need to square the piece – tricky, actually, because although the top is relatively flat now, laying it on my cutting table and keeping it in place while I trim edges will need weights to prevent slipping.

The top is still a bit wide and I think 3-4″ longer than I finally want it to be so I do have a bit of wiggle room as I square it up.

The backing will include an offset uncut strip of the original fabric with sashing to border it as I did with Skyline #1.

 

Skyline #2 – Update

A quick update. Got a bit further this morning – I added 6 wedges with sashing.

Skyline #2 – In Progress

Not easy to do and keep the panel flat. The angle at the apex of each wedge causes a wobble in the developing edge – you can see it at the bottom of the image. I had to figure out a way to overlap each new wedge with the previous ones in order to keep the panel flat.

I think I’ve figured out I have to lay out the sashing strip, trim the panel so the sashing is applied straight, then trim any excess from the panel edge so I can sew a straight seam. When applying the next wedge, I can play with the width of the sashing so it narrows either at the point or at the outer side of the panel whichever seems right at that spot.

I’m about half done at this point. I have another 9 wedge pieces to add. I’ve squared the top and sides – the width is still around 52″ – I will trim it to 48 1/2″ (maybe 49″) when I’ve completed the whole panel.

I’m still not sure whether I want to use the piece with this horizontal layout, or whether I will rotate the panel 90° – that would necessitate adding something to either end because the panel at 52″ is not long enough – I’d need another 12″ or so.

I want to finish at close to 64″ in length whether the wedges are horizontal or vertical….

Skyline #2 – Starting The Panel

I spent some time this morning beginning to assemble the panel – some interesting problems to solve here. I don’t want all the points at the same level so I have to figure out ways of staggering them in both directions!

Also the width of the navy grunge “sashing” is something I’m going to have to work out piece by piece. I’ve cut sets of 1″, 1 1/4″, 1 1/2″, 1 3/4″. I think the easiest solution is to apply a strip to the ongoing edge as it is, but graduate it when I apply the next wedge so the dark blue is also present as a wedge – sometimes wide/narrow other times narrow/wide.

Skyline #2 – assembly beginning

It’s going to take time to assemble this panel because each adjacent wedge has to be attached in a way that doesn’t distort the panel – I need to keep it flat. I may have to add small wedge inserts as I go along to even out the joins between sections.

Anyway, I’ve got the panel started. I’ll try getting further tomorrow.

Skyline #2

So here goes…

I took my second panel of the Hoffman “Skyline” fabric and cut it into wedges – some narrower than others.

I laid them out on my floor in alternating directions, spreading the array a bit wider than 50″ – close to the width I’d like to end up with (allowing me room to trim after I’ve assembled the panel).

Skyline #2

I didn’t cut the lightest end of the fabric and I see now I may want to include at least one very light wedge in the array. I’ll leave this fabric on the floor and move wedges around over the next couple of days trying to decide on colour flow.

My next step is to cut my dark navy grunge fabric into strips (slightly wedge shaped, maybe) and attach those pieces to one edge of the coloured wedges. That will set up a stronger colour contrast and make the print colours brighter.

The inspiration for this project comes from Debbie Jeske’s 10″ block “Loosely Connected

Loosely Connected by Debbie Jeske

I’d come across the image on Pinterest after I’d bought the Skyline fabric and thought it was an interesting idea – I wouldn’t need to piece the wedges – just use the colour flow within the print. I’m not planning on solid end pieces, but who knows – once I have a panel assembled I might decide to include a grunge contrast at the ends, even along the sides.

I’m aiming for a finished panel about this same size as “Skylines #1” – 48″ x 64″.

So now to cut the dark blue grunge strips and begin adding them to the wedges….

Skyline #1 – Completed

Here it is. Finished. I just hand-stitched the hidden binding and the label in place.

Skyline #1

I’m quite pleased with how this piece turned out. Final dimensions: 48″ x 64″ – not a bad size for a throw quilt and still reasonable to be hung on a wall should anyone be interested.

I used three different colours of variegated Aurifil (50wt) to quilt the project – on top a darkish purple (with mauve) in the purple corner, a medium turquoise (with light turquoise) in the lighter sections, and a red blend in the peach sections. You really have to look hard to see the differences but it was necessary – a occasional dark purple segment in the turquoise or peach sections would have stuck out; same with a turquoise or red in the dark purple on the bottom right. I used a green variegated thread for the back throughout. That worked well.

I was fortunate, that when I trimmed the backing/batting off, I had enough backing fabric from the four sides that I was able to use the offcuts to bind the quilt. So the hidden binding matches the quilt back!

Skyline #1 – Back

This is the third quilt I’ve used a hidden binding on. I elected to do that here because I felt a regular binding would “frame” the quilt top and I wanted it to be open, without limits. Same with the back, the hidden binding brings the elements to the quilt edge nicely.

Now on to the second in this series.

Black Rock Beach – Completed

Just finished. Unfortunately, the photo doesn’t do the piece justice – I’ve tried lightening the blue of the frame and can’t get close to the real colour without distorting the body of the  piece.

Black Rock Beach

I’m happy with the balance of the whole. The piping, which doesn’t show well in the photo at all, pulls out both the orange of the vest and the blues of the water.

Now to find a place to hang it in my apartment – there isn’t obvious wall space in any room. I’m going to have to walk around and decide what to take down so I can display this piece of art.