An Intoxicating Quilt: Introducing the Drunkard’s Path
By Ebony Love, Quilt Possible!
Did you know there are over 80 documented variations of the Drunkard’s Path block layout?
With so many options, this block is truly one of the more versatile quilt blocks on the planet. The Drunkard’s Path block has been around since at least 1895, but it continues to be one of the most beloved quilt blocks for today’s quilter.
Let’s Get Started
It’s unknown how the block got its original name, but some quilters joke that sewing any block with curves will drive one to drink. For that reason, a lot of people shy away from the Drunkard’s Path block, but it’s easy when you use the AccuQuilt GO!® dies. There are notches on each shape to help you align the pieces as you stitch them together, and there are two different sizes of Drunkard’s Path that coordinate together and expand your possibilities for quilt layouts.
The smaller Drunkard’s Path die (55070) cuts pieces that will form a 3-1/2" finished square. You then take four of these squares to assemble a larger unit that is 7" finished.
The larger Drunkard’s Path die (55034) is twice as big; that is, the die-cut pieces will form a 7" finished square, and four of these squares will make a 14" finished block. This larger Drunkard’s Path is really nice for making BIG quilts quickly; only 16 of these 14" blocks makes a generous lap sized quilt.
Because these sizes are multiples of each other, you can use both blocks in the same quilt. This is one quilt layout that shows one way to combine the larger and smaller Drunkard’s Path dies into the same quilt.
When cutting the Drunkard’s Path shape, you need at least two colors; alternating those colors is what gives the block its unique appearance. You can use both color variations in the same quilt, or use them in separate projects. Each layer of fabric will cut two Drunkard’s Path units; one layer of each color will yield two blocks in each color way (4 blocks total), and two layers of each color will yield four blocks of each color way (8 blocks total.)
To stitch these blocks with curves, you don’t need any special tools, feet, or pins. My favorite method to sew this block is to align the two shapes, right sides together, with the smaller shape on top and the curve on the right. Hold the smaller piece in your hand—take about 3-4 stitches to secure the pieces together—then swing the top piece to the right, holding it up above the lower piece, and stitching a 1/4" seam as you go. The pieces should just meet under the needle, and your notches should line up automatically.
From the back of the square, press the seams toward the larger piece— your unit will tend to lay a lot flatter this way. Try not to stretch the piece out of shape as you press. Once you get to this point, the curves are nicely contained inside of a square, and the rest of the quilt will go together like a normal quilt.
Don’t have the Drunkard’s Path die?
You can get a similar effect with appliqué. Just use the 5" circle on the AccuQuilt GO! Circle die (55012), fuse it to the center of a background fabric that is 8" square, secure the edges of the circle with a decorative stitch, and then cut the block into quarters!
About this Blogger
Award-winning quilter Ebony Love is the owner and designer behind LoveBug Studios, a custom quilt and long-arm quilting business; and Quilt Possible!, a quilt pattern design and die-cutting venture. She is also the publisher and editor-in-chief of a new digital publication, Blocks to Die For!, which is launching this fall. Ebony is recognized as one of the leading experts in fabric die cutting techniques, and she regularly produces free videos featuring AccuQuilt dies for both the Studio and GO! cutters. You can find dozens of her videos on YouTube under the username “LoveBugStudios.”
Blocks to Die For!