Thursday 5 January 2017

Happy New Year and Back to the Drawing Board!

Happy New Year everybody! Hope everyone enjoyed the break over the holidays.  I had a wonderful time with family and friends and the only bit of sewing done was demonstrating how to use my first sewing machine to a friends daughter, (I gave her my Lidl Lervia machine that I made my first 4 quilts on!)  And I got a thank you present in return - hopefully she'll have great fun with it - she is certainly off to a great start!

In other news, it's not been a complete avoidance of sewing related activities.  I am on the committee for our branch of the IPS (Irish Patchwork Society) so one of the things I'm charged with doing is providing articles for our society newsletter (published 4 times a year).  Every quarter, I write up the branch news and one other article that might be of interest to our society which is a mixture of quilting styles and experience.  This month I have been working on writing about the Drunkards Path block.

I think it has been on my mind as I am slowly getting to complete bee quilts from blocks received in past years and before Christmas made this little baby quilt and I am still thinking of the last 5 blocks as tall flowers!

For the article I have been exploring the shape of the basic unit of the Drunkard's Path.  It is basically a quarter circle pieced into a square shape.  The traditional ratios are 2/3 or 3/4 circle to background square.  A modern approach to the block is to use a full circle to background square as a finished unit in the block.

So I've been playing around with it a bit and love how 1970's the flower or vintage bloom block looks just by changing the ratio of circle to square. And adding a bit of colour gives a fun repeating pattern!

I am considering this as a block for Modern Irish Bee this year.  It's not my turn until later on in the year but we are going big this year with a maximum 18" block and this bloom block is a 4x4 patch construction and easy to size up to 16".

The wandering path home is a little bit lost in the first design but I think this one with a half drop repeat keeps the feeling of the traditional block design (supposedly named for the weaving way a person with too much of the merry stuff on him takes on the way home!)

And if they go by A&E on the way (kidding!) this exploded block with the 2/3 ratio gives a nice fractured approach!

Am I being a bit too cruel in asking a bee group to make a curved block?

To get that modern full curve look, it is easiest to make bigger and then trim back the excess on the outer piece to only the seam allowance after you have made your unit.  Allowing a good bit extra above and to the right of the blue lines helps handle the piece easier when adding on the convex curved piece so be generous with your templates!  Trim the excess away as the last step leaving only the seam allowance on both sides.

I learned this the hard way when, after resizing this design to a much smaller dimension than in Angela Pingels book : A quilters Mixology, I had a devil of a time getting the pieces curved and flat.  I ended up hand sewing this little guy in the end!

There is a cheat to making the Drunkard's Path units using applique.  Sew a circle onto a background square (reverse applique or mono-filament thread will hide the stitches) and then cut into quarters giving 4 units.  Trim afterwards to whatever ratio you want!  Maybe this could be a way to make the blocks Bee friendly?

Of course, having started to play with shape and colour and having more than enough for my article, I should have stopped but just couldn't resist a few more designs.

I'm quite liking this rope effect - can't see myself making that many curved pieces though the blocks are quite big 30" in this one below.  A bed quilt, Granny square style, in an ombre effect anyone?

The article for the magazine is now written and I need to get on with finishing those UFO's from last year, so this will have to sit for a while.  I really enjoyed this process though and this is what I had been missing towards the end of last year.  Just having fun and playing with shape and colour!  2017 is off to a good start!

Linking up with Let's Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday and Design Wall Monday!


  1. I love the idea of using the drunkard path block for flower heads! Planting the seed of sewing is a great idea, and I am sure your friend's daughter is off to a great beginning with that sweet little machine!

  2. I found myself giggling at your fractured version!! Love the design and HAPPY HAPPY new year to you!

  3. Happy New Year, Ruth! I have been playing with the drunkard's path block for my most recent quilt (tying off the quilting threads just now) and I can say they are addictive! Looking forward to your article.

  4. I've made a few curved blocks for Bees. They are achievable just scary for some. Love how you've played with the layouts. So much eye candy xxx

  5. Wow...didn't realize how versatile this block was. All great layouts you've shown. Happy New Year.

  6. It is fun to see how you play with the shape, color, and layout throughout the post. I don't think it's too cruel to ask for a curved block from a bee, but then again I've gotten over being scared of them!

  7. Love your designs! Hope you are making them all ;)

  8. I would love to make you a curved piece! I always love the challenges a bee brings with it so just do it. The trick cutting bigger is great. I have also seen someone glue basting (glue and iron on before sewing the curve). That would make you super fast ... after hours of gluing :D

    Love the flowers. Hope you make them

  9. That was my first sewing machine too!

  10. I can laugh at the thought of the curved block as I'm not in the bee this year . Though that was what I liked , making myself try new things - go for it . I too hadn't realised this was as vertsatile


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