My friend Melissa (WeShallSew on Instagram) tagged me in a picture asking about a way to glue baste individual Drunkard's Path blocks. She is one of my biggest glue basting supporters, so of course I wanted to help. I started taking pics, thinking 2 or 3 might be enough, and I'd just post them on Instagram for her. Yeah, no. That didn't work out. Those 2-3 pics turned into 16, which might as well be a complete tutorial to share with everyone.
A while back, I posted a tutorial on making an inset Piec-lique circle, and showed how to cut it into quarters to make individual Drunkard's Path blocks. This technique is wonderful if you're going to have multiples of the same color combos in your finished quilt. Although, it probably won't suit your needs if you're going for a scrappy look.
Many of us have favorite cutting templates and rulers for Drunkard's Path blocks, but actually sewing the arches can make all of the hard work that we put into cutting so accurately be tossed out the window. There are many techniques out there for sewing these beloved blocks together. In addtion, there are also special feet for your machine. I encourage you to find what works best for you. For me, it's Piec-lique. I am additicted to it's accuracy. I love how easy it is, too. And I don't have to use a single straight pin. Yep, not a one.
Piec-lique is such a versatile technique. It can really be used for so many designs, including the Drunkard's Path. Many moons ago, my mom made a pattern and tutorial called LeAnn's Pinwheel. It comes with pre-printed templates, and very detailed instructions to walk you through using Piec-lique to make Drunkard's Path blocks. What I'm going to show you here, is a slight variation of my mom's tutorial. My tutorial is meant to specifically help you whether you have my mom's pattern, or not.
If you scroll through this tutorial, you might think to yourself, "No way, Cristy! That's too many steps. It's going to take too long. I'll just keep doing it my old way." All I ask is for you to give it a try. I know the pain that a lot of you go through to make Drunkard's Path blocks, only to have the edges of the quarter circles not match up, even though you *know* that you cut it just right. I've seen picture upon picture of people ripping out stitches, or showing how they're just frustrated and unhappy with how their blocks turned out. It's not you. It's the chosen technique. This technique gives you accuracy and precision, without needing to buy additional tools, sewing machine feet, rulers or acrylic templates, which can all be very pricey. Give it a go. You might just like it. ;)
Before I get started, if you're not familiar with Piec-lique I highly recommend reading my post on the Piec-lique circle. In an effort to keep this tutorial as short as possible, I'm going to refer to information here, that is explained in more detail in the other post.
- Washable Basting Glue, with a fine tip.
- Spray Starch and a small cup/bowl. I prefer Faultless.
- Small stencil brush
- Freezer Paper
- Scissors - fabric and paper
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Iron - hot & dry
- Fabric of choice
- Sewing machine - I use 50wt cotton thread and 75/11 machine embriodery needles
Step 1: Create Your Template on Freezer Paper
If you're not comfortable with creating your own template, my mom's pattern comes with pre-printed templates. You can make multiple copies of them as well.
There are multiple ways to make your own:
- Draw one, by hand, using Drunkard's Path rulers or your favorite templates.
- Print one from a quilting program, like EQ.
- Create your own in PhotoShop, Illustrator, or your favorite drawing program.
The template should be the unfinished size of your block, which will include the seam allowances. If you're block is 4", unfinished, the template should measure the same 4".
|This is a pre-printed template from LeAnn's Pinwheel.|
Draw or print your template onto one piece of freezer paper. Be sure to preshrink your freezer paper, first! (I talk about this in the circle post.) To preshrink, lightly spray the paper side of the freezer paper with spray starch, and press with a hot, dry iron. You'll notice it "pulling" in length, not width. Press it until it's dry and is pressed flat to your pressing board. While it's still warm, gently peel it off your board. At this point, it's ready to draw or print your template onto.
After you've put your template onto the freezer paper, iron this piece to the top of another preshrunk piece of freezer paper. Remember, shiny sides down!! Making your template from two pieces of freezer paper will make it stronger, last longer, and reusable.
Then cut your template apart to make the outer arch, and the inside arch/quarter circle. Be sure to cut that curve slowly and carefully, to make it as smooth as possible.
Step 2: Preparing Your Fabric
The Drunkard's Path block, that I'm making here, is 4" unfinished. So, I cut some scraps to 4".
Please note that this is not the only way to cut your fabrics for this method. Find the best way for you, whether it be to cut a bunch of squares at a time, or to use your favorite templates. My goal here is to show you an easy and accurate way to piece them together.
Next, line up the 90* edges of each template piece to the edge of the fabric. Press in place with your iron, to make the freezer paper adhere to the fabric (Don't worry, it's only temporary. The freezer paper will peel right off).
Then, trim away the excess from the inside arch, and the outside arch, leaving about 1/2" seam allowance to work with (don't worry, we'll trim it to a nice and tidy 1/4" after we sew).
Step 3: Turning the Edge
At this point, go ahead and spray some spray starch into a little bowl, or even the lid of your can of starch. Dip your stencil brush in the starch, and paint a bit along the edge of the fabric, very close to the edge of the template.
With your fingers, gently pull the seam allowance back against the template, and press it with your iron as you go. (I'm sorry that you can't see my fingers here, but I had to hold the camera and my iron with my only two available hands ;) ). This will create a very smooth crease along the edge of the template.
Be sure that the both ends of the curve are pressed right against the template. This is where I find most mistakes are made. Often, people miss pressing the ends up to the edge of the template, which will make it wing out, and create a wonky block (and not the good kind of wonky).
Oh yeah! Look at that! Nice and smooth. The starch helps make the crease crisp and accurate. And it helps the seam allowance to lay flat.
Step 4: Putting Your Block Together
Peel the freezer paper templates off of the fabric. I find that it's easier if the freezer paper is still warm from the iron. If it's cooled off, give it a quick tap of the iron, and the templates will come off easily.
Draw a fine line of glue close to the ege of the piece that has the allowance turned back.
Lay the piece with the turned seam allowance on your cutting mat, right at the corner. (If you prefer, you can put the glue on your piece, once it's on your mat.)
Lay the outside arch on top of the inside arch, while making sure to line everything up to that unfinished measurement that you decided on earlier (mine is 4").
Don't worry if you have to adjust it a bit. The glue will stay tacky long enough for you to get it in the right spot. I promise that this part will go really quick after the 3rd or 4th time.
Move the block to your pressing surface and heat set the glue, with a quick tap of your iron.
Step 5: Sewing Your Block Together
Clip the seam allowance to open it up for sewing.
See that sweet crease right there? That's your sewing line. You don't have to worry about maintaining a 1/4" as you sew. You simply keep your needle going down the path created for it by the crease. Start at one end of the crease, and stitch down to the other. I highly recommed doing this slowly, especially the first few times. Staying on the crease is key! If you'd like, go ahead and backstitch at the beginning and end.
Remember how I recomended making the seam allowance on this extra wide? Now it's a tool for you. As you're sewing, you can hold onto the edge with your fingers or a pair of angled tweezers, to give you a bit more control.
As you're sewing, be sure to check on the fabric underneath, to avoid making puckers.
And it's sewn!
Now, you can trim your seam allowance to a cute little 1/4".
Give your block a final press. And if you'd like, lay it back on your mat to make sure it's still the right size. If it's not, then somewhere during sewing you probably veered off of the creased line. Check your sewing line, and if necessary, you can easily fix it, buy pulling out a few stitches and resewing along the crease.
If you'd like to make blocks where the outer arch has the turned seam allowance, and the inner arch isn't turned, you can apply the same steps, but switch up which piece you turn in Step 4. You can make blocks that alternate which arch is turned, which can make nesting and piecing multiple blocks together a bit easier as well.
That's it! I hope you give this a try. It will be a great addition to your repitoire of techniques.