Saturday, October 11, 2014

Drunkard's Path Quilt Along - Week 1

Cross the Drunkard's Path Quilt Along is being hosted by Vicki Welsh at Field Trips in Fiber.
Cross the Drunkard’s Path Quilt Along
This is my progress post for the Dad's Plaids quilt I'm making.  This is a pattern by Elsie Campbell in her book String Quilts, using thrifted shirts for the fabrics.

I finished sewing the shirt strip strata (plural, as there are several couple-yard-long pieces), with each strip about 22 inches long and between 1.75 and 2.5 inches wide, alternating dark areas and light about every 10 inches or so in the strata.

Then I starched the strata.  I'm not a big spray starch user normally, but with these shirt fabrics of various weights and flimsiness, I understand the importance of starching for this quilt.

I used a tip about covering your ironing board with freezer paper if you don't want to mess it up with loads of starch, and I did that.  Worked great!  You lightly press the freezer paper on and the heat melts the wax on the back of the paper just enough to stick it to the ironing board so it stays put.  I also put an old sheet down under my ironing board to protect the carpeting from any over spray.  It's enough I have to vacuum once in a while, you know?

Then I made freezer paper templates for the Drunkard's Path block.  It sounds like it'd be a fiddly thing to do but, conveniently, a sheet of freezer paper is 18 inches wide, so you can cut two 9-inch squares from the width of a sheet, then trace an arc 6 inches from the corner along one right angle.  You cut these pieces out and position them on the strata, allowing for a 1/4-inch seam allowance all the way around.  Press them down and then cut out the pieces.

It's not a fast process, but I like taking my time with positioning and cutting. 

So far I've got—well, I don't actually know how many—cut out.  Quite a few, but not all, probably not even half.  The freezer paper templates are reusable several times before you have to make new ones.

This is how four blocks will go together for this quilt.  I don't have a whole lot of variety in this sample because I haven't cut out all the pieces yet.

Once they're all cut, I'll lay out the quilt on the design wall (or floor, as the case may be) before sewing it together.  But just to get an idea of how it is going to go, with all those many seams in the strata, I sewed two block.  I pinned in a couple places and took my time, using the flat edge of my seam ripper as a stiletto when necessary to keep the edges together as it went under the presser foot, and they turned out fine.

Which way do you press your DP curve?  This pattern suggests pressing it toward the smaller curved piece.  I wonder if that will cause any grief when sewing the blocks together (since they won't butt together if they're all pressed the same direction).  Guess I'll find out!


  1. Wow! What a lot of work you're putting into this - and it will be so worth it in the end! A very unique and striking DP quilt!
    I always press towards the larger outside piece. That way the curve always seems to lay quite flat.

  2. I like your process and it sure is working well for you. Your units are looking great! I have found I can press in either direction, altho I'm currently just pressing towards the convex piece. You could try pressing both ways so you do have seams that butt up together - see how it works for you. Then let us know how it goes. ;-) This is going to be a great plaid DP!

  3. I am so glad that you showed this, with the suggestions about the sheet on the floor, and the spray starch. I have been cutting my strips, so am quite a bit behind you, but I am having fun learning as I go.

    Thanks again, Paulette!

  4. That is so seriously cool looking!!

  5. I love the idea of using freezer paper to keep everything nice and flat to sew...I've been avoiding a DP quilt forever because I thought the curves might drive me mad....what a brilliant idea !

  6. Love the way you've used strip piecing for your blocks.

  7. Love, love, love your plaid strata and the blocks you're making.

    For what it's worth, I press toward the quarter circle so that it gives the centers a bit of lift in the quilt.

  8. For pressing it depends it you want your circle just a tiny bit higher (good for trapunto) or not.

    And I LOVE the yellow plaid which matches your cutting mat!! (Picture with the full circle sewn block).

  9. Love!! What a great quilt this will be with the light/dark contrast. You had quite the setup with your ironing board and templates! I iron the direction the fabric leans and don't force it. It'll work out. Cannot wait to see more!

  10. HOLY! COW! My mouth is literally watering while reading your blog post! But, seeing the photos is just DELICIOUS! This is going to be a stellar quilt! When I took Victoria Findlay Wolfe's class, she recommended to let the fabric go the way it wants to when working with curved seams and iron it that way? Perhaps this will help? Your seam looks awfully good to me on this one though!

  11. This is going to be a KNOCK-OUT quilt . . . love the plaids, the strips, the contrasts - everything!!

    So far, I am finger pressing to the quarter circle. The test blocks I stitched didn't seem to have any issues (and I've been known to flip a previously oriented seam allowance to the other side at the last moment when things get cranky --)

  12. I love plaids so this one really appeals to me.

  13. This is going to be a spectacular quilt!


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