April 20, 2015

Drunkard's Path QAL: Layout Ideas & Piecing Tips

It's already slipping past the middle of April . . . how did that happen so fast?

April means it's time to sew the fourth Drunkard's Path block for the QAL. Just one block a month and by the end of September you'll have nine blocks done which is enough for a lovely Christmas quilt with  a couple of months left to finish it up. That's my plan anyway.

Here's my April block. This is one of the darker, more red ones. For the other blocks, some lean toward pinkish reds, others toward the orange side. The range of reds and the subtle value shifts will really add to the overall variety when the blocks come together.

As I've worked on my blocks I've noted a couple of tips that might help as you piece your blocks.

1.   Pinning the edge of the quarter circle and the end of the L-shaped leg together so the edges stay even with each other really helps keep everything aligned. I like to pin the edge where I will start sewing at an angle so my machine foot has room to take a few stitches before bumping into the pin. (See below left)  At the opposite end, I pin both parallel and very close to the edge. (See below right)  This works for me, so if you are having trouble with the ends aligning, give this a try.

2.   The second tip is in regard to piecing the Drunkard's units together. As your sewing machine foot nears the curved seam, you may find the bulk of the curved seam tends to push your foot to the right making it difficult to maintain your 1/4" seam allowance. By anticipating this, slowing down and even using a stiletto or the tip of a small pair of scissors, you can ease the foot over this bulk and maintain the correct seam allowance. This seam should end up coming in right along the edge of the curved seam. See the circled area below. If the seam does gets pushed too far off course, you can just go back in and resew this area without any need to rip out stitches.

When this seam is sewn correctly, your curves come together in a nice continuous curved line without any background fabric showing. (see below)  If too much background peeks out, you might want to resew the seam by taking a bit wider seam allowance. I want you to know that not all my seam connections are perfect by any means, so please, please don't stress about this point.

Speaking of blocks coming together, I though it might be a good time to show you a few layout options. Especially since some of you might be surging ahead with making more than one block a month. CJTDecatur on Instagram already has 12 blocks done. WaHoo!! Way to go!! Check out  #drunkardspathquiltalong to see them.

The illustrations below show quilt layouts using nine blocks plus some table runner ideas. If you opt for a table runner, you can add as many blocks as you'd like. I've shown it with three. And of course your quilt can certainly have more or less than nine blocks. Nine just happens to work for my plan.

1.  First up is a borderless arrangement. Most of my quilts these days do not have borders. I prefer the design going all the way to the sides and engaging the edge. This is what I thought I'd do, but now that I see the options, I'm liking some other possibilities. This layout finishes at 48" x 48". A nice wall hanging size.

2.  Here's how it looks if you add a simple border. In this case the width of a single unit.
Final size 56" x 56"

3.  Here it's shown with a scrappy pieced border. The checkerboard border somehow just says Christmas and adds a festive touch. Final size 60" x 60"

4.  Another option would be to add lattice strips and cornerstones? This opens up the design and gives the blocks a little breathing room. Each block now becomes more distinct and stands on it's own merit which can be good if you'd like to showoff the individual blocks and fabrics. 56" x 56"

5.  Here's an option that spices up the border by adding petals into the space along the edge. This idea activates the edge and makes the flowers seem more expansive. 56" x 56"

6.  The last idea expands upon #5 by adding petals and lattice strips between the blocks as well as the outer edges. The flowers look even more expansive and the space even more active. It also creates some interesting white spaces in the middle that add to the swirling feeling. 64" x 64"

These are just a few of the ways you could choose to arrange your blocks. There are certainly other options as well. I hope this gives you something to think about. Play around and enjoy the process.

Keep in mind the finished blocks are 16" x 16". The addition of borders or lattice adds to the overall dimension, so base your decisions not only on the look you like but also the quilt size you need. You could make more or less blocks to fit your needs. A smaller wall quilt with just four blocks might be perfect for the holidays. Or a larger quilt with 12 blocks would make a nice throw quilt. My quilt is meant to hang on the wall of our family room for the holidays, so available wall space dictates my final size. That's one reason why #5 just might be the perfect option. The final size would be 56" x 56". That's a good size for my space and it could work well as a throw too.

To see what others are doing, check out  #drunkardspathquiltalong on Instagram and please add your blocks to the show. You can also now follow me on Instagram  @springleafstudios

See you next month with block five.   Happy QAL.    : )

SpringLeaf Studios


  1. What wonderfully creative variations of this block! And that colour palette is such gorgeous!

  2. Great tips for sewing Drunkards Path, I shall have to give this block another chance now.

  3. I like how each version has different kinds of movement. You could really play around with fabrics to create one of these quilts for each season!

  4. Good stuff here, Anne! You're being very thorough with options offered. Those colors are yummy together. I bet some gorgeous quilts will be popping up on social media.

  5. Thanks so much for posting these layout options. I have been wondering where to go with my -- now -- 16 blocks and this is all sorts of helpful. (Shortly after finishing the 16th I was called to Nepal to help out w/the earthquake response Let me tell you how weird it is to see my blocks via your instagram link while sitting here in Kathmandu.) Cat aka cjtdecatur


WaHoo!!! You're leaving me a comment. Thanks for stopping by and do come back again. Quilt on, Anne.