Jul 14, 2013

Going along a Drunkard's Path!

No, I didn't start drinking of anything of the sort... Drunkard's Path is the name of a curve unit of a quilting block. It is made up of two pieces of fabric with one round edge that can be arranged into a bunch of different shapes and figures. Just to give you and idea, type Drunkard's Path quilt pattern, and you'll see what I mean.

A very interesting fact of this quilt, it that it has been linked to the Underground Railroad and the Women's Temperance movement. Kimberly Wulfert has a very interesting article about the Drunkard's Path on her blog.

Let's get to the sewing part... Start with a bunch of squares; mine were 3.5". Remember to use fabric combinations that will allow you to showcase the drunkard's path unit. You can either use print/solid fabric, or even play with value. In this case, I chose cotton prints and a neutral linen fabric. Later on, because of all the bias edges and curves, I sort of regretted using linen; I had to be super careful when handling the units because of the linen open weave.  You don't want to distort any of the pieces. 

Using a template, you need to cut the squares into shapes that look like pie slices.  I used Marti Mitchell's Drunkard's Path templates because they are thick, last longer and are super accurate. There is no need for trimming, which makes the process even easier.  And almost as everything else I buy, I got these at a very good price, so what could be better?  :)  You can also look up free templates to download.  This will give you the chance to experiment and find out if you like this shape so much that you would actually consider buying an acrylic template.

These templates come in different sizes. I used sizes C and B to form 3.5" Drunkard path units. The green fabric was a strip, and I you can change the template orientation to have a minimum amount of waste - which is another feature of these templates.  I guess that I'm trying to make a point and say that these are a good investment.  They also come with a guide to form different patterns, and if you visit the webpage, you can even download practice pages that you can use for coloring and experimenting.

Anyway, once you've cut the squares, you'll have two different pieces, one that looks like a funky "L" and one that looks like a pie slice. 

Find the center of each piece and, right sides together, take an itty bitty pin pinch in the center.  Take the sides of the "L" and pin them to the edges of the pie slice.

Take the piece in between your fingers and place two or more pins in between the first three pins you used.  Although it looks weird at the beginning, you can actually match the edges because of the bias cut.  Also, and maybe because of the warmth in your fingers, the fabric sort of sets into each other.  Once you have the fabrics lined up, stitch a 1/4" seam.  A little trick is to reduce your stitch length - this helps with round edges.  You can also try sewing slower than you usually do. Once this is done, press to the side that you want to emphasize.  In this case, I chose to press to the linen, and you can see it sort of seems to be on top of the print/color fabric.

Once you have the number of units you need for your design, stitch them in rows and columns, so that you can form the block of your choice.

But I just could not stop there. These little units are SOOOO addictive and fun to make, that I ended up with two more blocks, one to each side of the previous one. I also added a linen paper-striped border; I made it using the same technique for the paper pieced strip blocks.

And voilà!

Somehow I ended up with a super funky, modern Drunkard's Path runner!!! It's only pieced and patiently waiting to be quilted.  I still have not decided on a pattern for this runner.  I would like the quilting to enhance the piecing, not to distract from it. Of course, I'll be stitching in the ditch to emphasize the diagonal lines and give it a little bit more of body for the actual quilting. I also thought of echoing the shape once inside and once outside the diagonals to "frame" them.  Don't know yet... I will probably print a picture and start doodling on top of it, just to get an idea of what it would look like.

I actually thought of making it as a sort of runner to drape over a cart we have at the entrance. It would make things look cleaner and will also hide any unsightly views. With this in mind, it ended being very long and difficult to photograph - just keep in mind it's a tad over 50" long...  

It sound crazy because I'm all undecided about the quilting, but a part of me wants to have it ready to be draped on that cart...  I know it will be really cute there. The best part is that it can also be used as a table runner, so the possibilities are endless with such a versatile piece!!

So... the woman on the hill scores another "Yiya" with the first time making something!!!  Woohooo!!  (Remember the part where I said that I just got these templates?).  And with so many arrays, I wish I didn't have to do anything else so that I could quilt all the time... lol

I just thank God for the creativity and ability to work on such beautiful projects.  Now to ponder - how will this be used to glorify Him?

I guess it's time to go from practice pieces to blessing pieces... Who knows! :)

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