February 6, 2015

Drunkard's Path Quilt Along 2015, Piecing

Welcome back. It's time to start sewing.

Hopefully, you've all had a chance to select your fabrics and maybe even cut one blocks worth of pieces. The template and cutting directions can be found here in case you still need to do that part. And if you missed yesterday's post on block design exploration, you really should check it out. Really. In the post I show four optional ways the drunkard's path units can be arranged for some amazing looking blocks.

You can also now link to every Drunkard's Path Quilt Along post by clicking on the button above or going to the Quilt Along tab found at the top of this page. So let's begin . . . 


I want to start by telling you not to be afraid of curved piecing. Even though it seems like it would be hard, I promise you it really isn't. You just need to be brave, find your quilting mojo, and jump in. You won't know until you try. There are many great resources available and many techniques, so do what works best for you. 

I prefer to use a minimum of pins and go slowly. If using more pins works better for you then by all means use them. Here's my method:

1.  Make a crease in the middle of both the quarter circle and leg pieces by folding each piece in half and giving it a good finger press. If you can't see the crease, try using an iron just on the edge for a stronger crease. I prefer to make my creases by folding the quarter circle right sides in and the leg piece right sides out. This way the creases nest nicely when the two pieces are placed together.  

TIP: if you feel more comfortable using more pins then I suggest you also make additional creases by folding the halves in half again so you have three creases to align. I've exaggerated the creases here so you can see them.

2.  With right sides together, align the creases and pin in place directly through the crease.

3.  Pull the short leg ends around and align them with the straight edges of the quarter circle. Pin in place close to the edges. I find pinning close to the ends helps keep the top fabric from creeping past the bottom one. It's going to look very odd, but believe me, it all will sew together just fine.


4.  Using a 1/4"seam allowance, sew the two pieces together. I prefer to sew with the leg piece on top so I can see how it needs to be eased into the curve. If you find it easier to sew with the circle on top that's fine. Try it both ways and do what works best.

I use my left hand to pull the leg edge into alignment with the curve while using the tip of my small scissors or a stylus to hold the two layers together just in front of the needle. It may look like you're going to sew in little tucks but most of the time it's just the excess fabric to the left of the needle. If it's a serious tuck, raise the presser foot and ease the top fabric into place.

As you approach the end, be sure the fabric is still aligned with both ends even with one another. This is where I find it tends to end up misaligned. That's why I pin close to the edge in such a way as to ensure the ends stay together.

5.  When you're done sewing it's going to look a little bunched up. Don't worry. No need to clip any curves. A good hot press smooths it all out nice and flat. Press the seam toward the quarter circle. This is very important because the seam needs to be out of the way when it's time to sew the units together.

TIP:  If by chance you did sew in a tiny tuck, try ironing it out with a little steam. If this doesn't work, you can usually rip out just a few stitches near the tuck and then resew that area by easing it into place.

6.  Trimming. Align a small square ruler so the 4 1/2" ruler marks line up with the corner of the quarter circle. Trim the leg sides so there is 1/4" outside the curved seam on both leg pieces. The finished trim size should be 4 1/2" x 4 1/2".  You shouldn't need to trim the quarter circle side unless it stretched a bit during piecing. The most important part here is the 1/4"seam allowance along the leg edges so when units are sewn together the quarter circles meet and no background shows.

7.  If you haven't seen the optional block arrangements in this previous post, now would be the time to take a look just in case you'd like to use one of them instead of the arrangement I'm using. Otherwise continue on . . .

Layout all 16 units into the block design using the photo below as reference. Take care to be sure the placement is correct with like red prints paired together and like green prints paired together including the matching green leg. It can be easy to get them turned around. 

Once you're happy with the arrangement, break the block apart into four quarters as shown below.

8.  Working one quadrant at a time, sew the matching petal units together; red with red, green with green. Press the seams open. Next, sew these two units together to finish the quadrant. Take time to match the seams in the center. Press the seams open.

TIP:  The bulk from the curved seam allowance has a tendency to push your foot off to the right as you approach the center. Taking it slow and watching for this helps.

Check to be sure that no background is showing where the two petal sections come together. If your seam has slipped over due to the bulk of the nearby seam, slowly sew over that area again and repress.

NOTE:  If you normally aren't an open seam presser, I understand. I'm not either. But in this case it really does make for an easier block to sew together plus a flatter finished block.

In the photos below, the first shows how the curves should join together . . . a nice, smooth transition where the curves come together with no background showing. The second photo has a sliver of the background showing. Not the end of the world by any means. With something as minimal as the second photo, I'd leave it alone rather than get too worried.

9.  Sew the units together by matching seams to complete the block. Press the final seams open.

Congratulations!  You've just finished your first Drunkard's Path block for the quilt along. Now it's up to you whether you feel motivated to keep piecing or make them one at a time each month along with me. I'll be posting my latest finished block each month here and on Instagram. You can add your blocks  at #DrunkardsPathQuiltAlong.

As the blocks come along, I'll also be looking at border options and other ways to finish up. And don't be surprised if I start another quilt too. I'm having so much fun with the design, it's hard to not start another.  : )

Thanks for sewing along with me.  I can't wait to see what you make.


  1. What a great tip for the curved piecing. :)

  2. Only just discovered this! Am definitely going to be playing catch up though - want to have this ready for Christmas 2015. Mine will be a little smaller though as Im planning to use my Sizzix to cut the blocks. Just love the arrangement - thanks for sharing.


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