Curved Piecing a Drunkard’s Path….Don’t be afraid

This is a Drunkard’s Path quilt I finished last year.  The top is from the late 1800’s. I cleaned up the fabric and hand quilted it.

I have seen articles written and patterns designed to avoid the “scary” curved piecing required to make the blocks.  I thought I would show how to do curved piecing.  I am beginning a red and white quilt so I will use it as an example.

First I have templates to cut the fabric.  In the old days they would make their own template (with cardboard or sandpaper).

The secret is to line up the pieces that don’t look like they would ever fit together. Fold the pieced in half and finger press the center of each curve .

line up the creases and pin in the center (If you hate to pin this is not the block for you!)

Now add a pin to each end lining up the straight edges

Looks like a mess and you did something wrong?  perfect, then its going fine.

Now starting at the pin sew a 1/4 in seam….go slow and keep lining up the 2 layers….sew with the small wedge-shaped piece on top

When its done it looks like this

Notice there is no clipping needed.  Now press to the dark

That’s all there is to it.  If you prefer to hand sew the idea is the same but I start sweing at the center pin and sew to one edge, then go back to the center and sew to the other edge

Here is a top I made where over 1/2 of the blocks are hand pieced and half machine pieced.

One of the silly “tricks” that I have seen (popular quilting magazine name withheld, but think pbs ) is to sew the 2 pieces together just stacked on top of each other and then cut out the extra fabric and then make coordinating bias tape, and then top stitch the bias tape over the raw edge seam.  Sounds like 4 more steps than just sewing the curve the right way! 

Anyway Its noting to be afraid of, either by hand or machine it’s actually an easy block to make.

Happy Quilting


Note:  see my post  on UFO’s for more drunkard’s path quilt layouts

UFOs…not a new phenomenon

I’m sure that many quilters out there have a supply of UFOs (unfinished objects).  Recently I have begun collecting antique and vintage UFOs.  I find it so interesting that quilters from the past also had a bit of trouble finishing a project before moving on to another. There are a lot of UFOs out there, some have been waiting for over 100 years to become finished! 

My primary source for unfinished quilt pieces is eBay.  Here are just a few that I have recently purchased.

Not really enough of these ocean waves blocks to make a full quilt.  They are quite old (my guess is late 1800’s)  Perhaps some day I will find some more to add, or maybe I will have to piece some blocks myself to fill in.  Either way I will post what I decide to do.

This beautiful set of blocks in the “all hands around” pattern will make a great top. They are also quite old and beautifully done.   I plan to set them on point and use muslin in the blank squares.  The blank squares will leave me plenty of space for hand quilting which is my real passion.

These stars will make a great top some day, in this picture they are laid out on a piece of yellow fabric, I still can’t decide if it that is the right color to set them in.

I have plenty of these appliqued flowers to make a quilt.  I think they need some green sashing, set like they are it looks to busy to me.

This set of blocks has me stumped…I have laid them out in several configurations and have yet to find jut the right one.  I will be inspired when the time is right.

I love these blocks, but I wish I had more. The thing with antique UFOs is that you have to make it work with what you have.

I don’t know what I will do with these embroidered blocks but I feel like I need to add some color.

This is the UFO I am working on now.

Notice that the green block in the center still has the original quilters needle in it….that block is being saved as is and will always stay with the finished product.  I have been taking pictures of the progress and will post a full story about it when I finish.

A while back I bought a pile of blue and pale yellow fabric, and some completed blocks, and some templates.  The quilter had planned to make it into a Drunkards path.

Templates looked like this

I finished piecing all the blocks, now the question became how to set them.  There are so many ways to set these simple blocks

Here is a traditional drunkards path I did last year.  Hand quilted on an antique top.

Here is one from a few years ago in the “fools puzzle” setting

Here is a UFO in a different Drunkards path setting

This one has a lot of repair work needed.

I love the double pink in this one.  The pattern is so much stronger when done in just 2 colors.  This one came from Canada.

I finally decided that I would just start placing the blocks in different ways and see where it led me.

Here is the finished top

I did make a few mistakes that I will have to fix.  Can you see those  that need to be reoriented?

I thought I could live with is as is but I can’t.  It must be fixed.

Now I need to plan the backing and get to quilting.  I will post about that when I start.

Update note 3/31/11

I just purchased another UFO drunkard’s path from eBay, this one in red and white (the red and white show excited me so much That I just couldn’t help myself) I will post about that one when I get to work on it.  I will show my take on how simple it really is to sew those curves.