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 #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.

Improvisation #6: Japanese Quilt

IMG_7452

Finished dimensions: 52″ X 64″

Just this minute finished this quilt top. I haven’t yet finished quilting the tipsy squares – the fabric for this quilt called out to me and I had to cut the blocks, then the circular portions leaving an “L” shaped piece, and I couldn’t leave the pile of “L” shaped pieces sitting there so I started working on the blocks.

The blocks are what is called “drunkard’s path”. It’s a classic quilt block with a curved bite removed from one corner. There are a gazillion possible arrangements for these blocks, but I thought this fabric collection called out for complete and partial circles – bubbles.

Sewing drunkard’s path blocks is not for the faint of heart! The challenge is to smoothly fit a convex curve to a concave one. Cutting the corner piece was relatively simple – I’d bought an acrylic template that allowed me to cut consistent 5″ circular pieces with my rotary cutter. To end up with a 6 1/2″ block I actually began with 7″ squares of fabric, cut the 1/4 circle, then trimmed the ends of the “L” 3/8 of an inch so when I aligned the two antagonistic curves they would actually match up. I sewed a bunch of practice blocks before tackling these ones for the quilt. By the time I got to sewing this fabric I had pretty good control over the process and almost all of the blocks could safely be trimmed to 6 1/2″. My finished block size is, therefore, 6″. It took some fiddling to get the block to work – 1/4″ seam on the curve was essential – actually just a tiny bit shy of 1/4″ worked best. The instructions I read recommended using 5 pins along the curve – I found I just needed two – one in the middle of the curve, the second at the end – then carefully fitting the “L” to the 1/4 circle (the latter on the bottom) allowed me the best control. I was surprised how quickly I could construct the blocks.

While I was making blocks I did enough for an insertion in the backing. That strip is also assembled. Tomorrow, I’ll construct the backing and set up the quilt for quilting. THEN I have to get back to the tilted squares to get the quilting on that quilt done.

I have four more quilt ideas waiting their turn. I have fabric for some of them – the difficult part is being patient and not starting anything else until these two quilts are finished.