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This month’s installment in our hand pieced block of the month series is the Drunkard’s Path quilt block, along with a few variations! Drunkard’s Path has always been one of my favorite quilt blocks, however I usually find myself drawn to some of the variations in layout – I think they emphasize the curves more. The cool thing is that all of the units in a block are made of one curved, quarter-circle block, so there are many possibilities! If your not sure which ones are calling your name, then I would recommend looking over some of my suggestions as well as doing some searching on the internet before choosing your fabrics – some variations require all of the quarter-circles to be light and the outer arcs to be dark, whereas others require half to be one way and half to be the reverse. Also note that instead of making a smaller version of the same block, the people doing the 6″ block quilt will just be making 4 units and doing a totally different take on the layout. You can see some of my suggested variations at the bottom of this post.
This will be your first chance to sew curves here and I will tell you that they are easier than you expect – and way easier than sewing curves on a machine! There are two big tricks to making the curves a breeze: pinning well, and patience. I know, I’m not a big fan of the patience thing either, but it’s not as bad as you expect. I’ll show you the trick to pinning these and until you get the hang of things just make sure to be aware of where your needle is going on both the front and back of your work!
Drunkard’s Path Quilt
* Print out the templates here. The square should measure 3″ across. Both quilt sizes use the same size units, but with a different block result.
Once you have chosen your layout, make sure you cut the appropriate number of lights and darks. For my block I needed 8 light quarter-circles and 8 dark quarter-circles, as well as 8 light arcs and 8 dark arcs. Cut apart your templates and trace onto your fabric. The traced line will be the sewing line. Cut 1/4″ past the drawn line.
Once you have chosen your layout, make sure you cut the appropriate number of lights and darks. There should be a total of 4 arcs and 4 quarter-circles. Cut apart your templates and trace onto your fabric. The traced line will be the sewing line. Cut 1/4″ past the drawn line.
Step 1 – Match up a light and a dark as needed for your block.
Step 2 – Now, we are going to pin the curve, carefully. Take one of your pieces, and fold it in half, matching the sewing lines. I usually do this with a pin through the two corners. Crease at the center. Repeat with the second fabric. If you’d like additional pins, repeat this process to create quarter lines – fold the corner in to the center crease, using the pin to align the corner with the sewing line and the crease.
Step 3 – Pin. Insert one pin straight down where the crease meets the sewing line. You should be going through the wrong side of the arc fabric. Pass that pin through the place where the crease and the sewing line meet on the quarter-circle fabric, making sure that the fabrics are right sides together. Once they are aligned perfectly, add a second pin, just next to the first, taking out just a small “bite” – the pin should grab approximately 1/8″ of the fabric and should be done “pinning” just below the sewing line. Repeat this process at the two corners as well. If you’ve chosen to add additional creases to your curves as discussed above, pin there as well. I did sew all of mine with just these 3 pins!
Step 4 – Sew the curves. This part is just as straightforward as sewing straight lines. Don’t forget to back stitch occasionally throughout the curve. I found that I occasionally needed to slide the fabrics a hair to get the sewing lines together, but I was very careful to make sure I didn’t stretch the bias curve!
Step 5 – Once all your units are completed, lay them out in your desired variation. Press the curves in alternating directions so seams will nest. Piece together rows and then piece the rows into blocks. I was able to very carefully spiral-press all of the seams where my units met so that I had an extra-flat block!
For many, many years now, I have been wanting to make the Point Me quilt from Denyse Schmidt. It’s come up on my list of quilts for the blog probably half a dozen times, but it never seemed quite right. Well, the time has come for me to make the Point Me quilt. The first thing written on the back of the pattern is “Pennies on the sidewalk, rainbows after a storm – we all look for signs.” Well, here is my sign. Point Me forward, Point Me towards the future, Point Me towards new quilts and new horizons.
It is with mixed emotions that I say it is time for me to leave Quilting Adventures. These past 10 years and 3 months have carried every emotion for me. Quilting Adventures has been built on my blood, sweat, and tears, along with hopes and joys. And not just mine, so many others – Phyllis and Joyce, Rick and Dave, Pattie, Wende, Betty S, Robin, Mary T, Mary N, Kelsey, Rebecca, Beth, Becky, Betty R, Andrew, Brittany, Olivia, Karen N, Rhonda, Candy, Patti, Jen, Amy, Maureen, Monica, Shelby, Cheryl, Kristal, Barbie, Tiffany, Janet, Beverly, Holly, Colleen, Elizabeth, Kim, Lara, Chesley, Shobha, Emily, Rey, Nina, Susan S, Ann, Darcy, Susan D, Karen D, Deb, Rachel, my beautiful wife Selina, and so many more that mean so much but I’m sure have been accidentally not named. We have survived so much together, and will always be part of the QA family. I will miss (and do miss) all of these people, along with all of the wonderful teachers and customers that I have the honor of working with in this last decade.
So we head back to Point Me… Just as I suspected, it didn’t come together as I’d planned. My gut told me to do one thing, but I followed the directions, and it didn’t work quite as I’d planned – which is okay. What I would recommend is to piece the rows of the blocks diagonally instead of horizontally, which will make sense once you’re looking at the pattern. Be careful of the bias edges, as always, but I think everything will align better that way. I would also recommend that you always press the seams open, as opposed to one side, when piecing the center of the blocks. The last thing I will pass on is that this quilt is quite easily made with charm squares, which I think is a super bonus! You can make any of the sizes with the 1/8th yards listed, but you could also make the baby with just one charm pack of at least 40 pieces. Perfect! Mine is made with a dark Kona solid background (maybe Indigo or Navy? – two of my favorites!) and an assortment of basics and solids for the triangles.
The really awesome thing about the Point Me pattern is that you can easily make it different sizes, even beyond the options listed. I’ve decided to make mine a lap size by doing 9 geese blocks instead of the 7 listed for the baby size, and then sewing two strips, totaling the width of fabric, to either side. And once you’ve made one, I have to say it’s kind of hard to resist the urge to make a million more – so maybe that’s what I’ll do.
For now, I’ll just say Point Me… Point me forward, point Quilting Adventures forward. And may we all have the best in the future. I’m sure that you’ll continue to see me as I dash in and out of Quilting Adventures – I’ve got a few guest blog posts lined up over the coming months, and I am proud to be part of our new teaching line up which is taking shape beautifully. You can see the schedule on our website here, but know that it’s not quite done yet!
With all the love I can offer,
I love to English paper piece. You probably knew that by now, but I thought I’d remind you. One of the most common questions I get after I get someone addicted to it, too, is what shapes should they try after hexagons? Well, I’ve been eying this Rose Star design for awhile, and now I’m happy to not only talk to you about the Rose Star itself, but also to touch on what to do when basting weird shapes, how to applique your English paper piecing down, and how to deal with those floppy points you get on long shapes.
I also really like holiday fabrics. However, that being said, I don’t ever have time to make a really big holiday project, nor do I really want to have a big quilt that I can only use a few days of the year. I thought the Rose Star would be the perfect opportunity to combine those two loves and make a small wallhanging. I could fussy-cut the motifs that I liked in the holiday fabrics and highlight them this way.
English Paper Pieced Rose Star
- Kit for either 1 or 6 Rose Star blocks – they can be found here
- Fabric for your star. I got fat quarters of prints from our new Mount Snow line as well as some coordinates from the new Net blender. Fat quarters were beyond generous for one star – I probably could’ve gotten 1/8 yard cuts.
- Background fabric – either fat 1/4 for the wallhanging or more for a larger quilt
- Rose Star Acrylic Templates if you’ll be fussy-cutting – these are a life-saver!
- Regular English paper piecing supplies – thread to match, needles, Wonder Clips
- Applique supplies – pins, hand applique needle and coordinating thread OR new machine needle and coordinating thread
Step 1 – Cut out your shapes from the fabrics. You’ll need 1 hexagon, 12 hexagon thirds in two different fabrics, and 18 kits in 2 fabric (12 from 1, 6 from another). I had to lay out the papers first to get an idea of where each piece would go. Then I looked at the motifs on the fabric and chose which ones I liked best. One thing to be careful of is that those 12 kites from one fabric need to be cut with 6 going one way and 6 going another.
Step 2 – Baste the fabric around the shapes using your favorite method. I thread baste – I fold the fabric over the paper and take a stitch through just the fabric at every corner. Even with the long edges on the hexagon, I didn’t need to stitch through the paper. I often use Wonder Clips to hold the fabric in place as I stitch.
Step 3 – Stitch the pieces together. Begin by sewing the 6 inner hexagon thirds around the hexagon.
Step 4 – Create your star points: sew 3 of your kites together, as shown, making sure that all of the motifs face the same direction. Repeat with remaining kites until all 6 points are completed.
Step 5 – Attach the points to the center: put the point right side against the center, aligning the bottom edge of the point with the outside edge of the center. There seams centered in both the edge of the point and the edge of the center – line those up so your point fits perfectly! Stitch together. You’ll notice that because of the way the fabric is basted there are little fabric tabs at the end of some of the shapes – just fold those out of the way as you stitch these all together and allow to fall back into place once you’re done. Repeat until all 6 points are attached.
Step 6 – Add the last 6 hexagon thirds: sew them point in in between the star points. If you’re having trouble getting them to line up, line up the end of the shape with the seam between the two kite shapes.
Step 7 – Press the whole star carefully, with a hot, dry iron. Make sure that you don’t catch any of the points and flip them backwards.
Step 8 – Remove the papers from all of the center areas: the hexagon, the inner hexagon thirds, and the inner kites. When deciding what to remove, look at the seams: if they’re completely surrounded by other shapes, it’s okay to remove the papers. To remove the papers I fold the seam allowance back and slide a fingernail under, from there they just pop out! You could also use a small crochet hook to catch them.
Step 9 – Fold your background fabric in half and press. Do the same in the opposite direction – we’re creating registration lines for your star. Place the star down on your background fabric with the wrong side down. There should still be papers in all of the points and outer hexagon thirds! Pin. A lot.
Step 10 – If you are hand appliqueing: remove the paper from just one point or third shape. Because you have pressed it well it will maintain its shape while you do this. Once the paper is removed, pin all along the edges and begin to applique. Remove each paper shape about 1/2″ before you get to it. If you are machine appliqueing: carefully remove all of the shapes, one at a time, pinning as you go (I place the pins perpendicularly to the edge of the star). Stitch carefully all the way around the star.
Here’s how to deal with those points:
First of all, there’s quite a bit of excess fabric there. Trim it down to just under a 1/4″. If you need to cut through any basting stitches underneath, that’s okay! Then, very carefully, trim the flap down so it is approximately 1/8″ past the point and tapers down to nothing towards the block. Make sure you are just cutting the seam allowance!
That’s it! Now if you want to sew together a bunch of Rose Stars you’ll need to add 1 hexagon and 3 hexagon thirds in between each block. I will probably just hand quilt mine with some red Perle cotton and bind it for a fun wall hanging!
When we were at Quilt Market in Minneapolis this May, one of the new patterns that we photographed was the Effie Quilt from Olive Grace Studios. You can see the pictures here, about 1/3 of the way down the entry. One thing I’ve realized since coming back from Quilt Market, though, is that the pattern cover doesn’t do the quilt justice at all. Since it’s such a gorgeous quilt I decided to whip up a wall hanging version of the Effie Quilt so we’d have a little something to show off in the store.
The Effie Quilt by Olive Grace Studios is a combination of hand embroidery and either hand or machine applique. There are 4 different embroidery designs from which to choose for the centers of the “donuts” as they’re called. I chose to just do the birds, facing in two different directions. The pattern gives a list of suggested floss and stitches for the embroidery, but I just did them all with a backstitch in whichever colors I felt like at the moment. I traced the designs and transferred them using the technique I described in last week’s back to basics entry, and used only Presencia brand embroidery floss as I feel it is the most colorfast floss on the market.
The applique is done either by hand or machine, but either way the Effie Quilt pattern gives you directions on how to have the edges be turned under for a no-fray applique. I chose to do hand, needle-turn applique because I enjoy doing it. For the embroidery backgrounds I used a new linen-cotton blend, and it was actually fairly easy to hand applique. I left a slightly larger seam allowance than usual for turning, but it was nice to work with. For the donut shapes, I used an assortment of our basics, chosen to coordinate with the floss I’d chosen. The great thing about this pattern is that you only need 10″ squares of fabric for the donuts, so you can use a wide assortment without a huge investment. The background was just my favorite solid, Kona White. Of course, since I was hand appliqueing, I pre-washed the fabric. Even if you’re not usually a pre-washer I would highly recommend doing so when working with different weights and substrates of fabric such as the linen-cotton blend. By pre-washing everything you make sure that nothing will shrink at different rates.
I know that my Effie Quilt isn’t done yet, but I sure am enjoying the process. Both the applique and the embroidery move very quickly. I’m sure this would be done right now if I didn’t keep getting distracted by our upcoming fall class schedule… Once I’ve done the four blocks I’ll sew them into a square and probably add a border – we’ll see how it all looks!
Hand embroidery is a great summer technique – it’s soothing, requires little in the way of tools, and is highly transportable. I love that I really only need my fabric, a hoop, floss, a needle, and a pair of scissors. But the thing that always deters me from embroidery projects is the actual work of getting the design onto the fabric. Now, I know I could purchase patterns that come with iron-on transfer sheets, but I often like to tweak the designs a little bit, which you can’t do with a sheet like that. Thank heaven I’ve found a new favorite tool for transferring embroidery designs – Sulky’s Iron on Transfer Pens. They work kind of like regular markers, but the ink will transfer to your fabric with heat! The pens are not guaranteed to be permanent, which is good, it means that with time the marker lines may fade away after washing.
The Sulky Iron on Transfer Pens are available in a 4 pack or an 8 pack with 8 different colors. For transferring embroidery designs onto fabric I like to first consider how I will be stitching and with which colors. I like to try and choose a color of pen that will either blend with my floss color, or not stand out too much from the fabric. Lately I’ve been stitching on our new, natural-colored linen-cotton blend, and I’ve found that the brown marker stands out just enough from the fabric to be seen, but blends in a bit in case I stray from the line.
When you open up these markers for the first time, or after a long period of storage, you’ll need to get the ink going again. Press down on the tip a little bit until it retracts for just a second to get the ink flowing. Repeat until the marker works on a test piece of paper. Trace the design from a book or print-out (or just free hand it!) onto regular copy/printer paper or loose-leaf notebook paper (I always seem to have some). Keep in mind that any mark you make with these will transfer to your fabrics, so try to avoid doodles or notes. If you make a mistake, it’s easy enough to recycle the paper and start over (way easier, and cheaper, than starting with new fabric). The darker your lines, the darker they will be on the fabric. I’ve discovered that if I don’t get the ink flowing all the way when I open the marker, I can get a fairly thin line, which I like because I only use two strands of floss when stitching. If you like thicker lines, just use the marker as is. Feel free to experiment with pressure and angle to achieve the desired darkness and thickness!
Once your design is traced, heat your iron on the cotton setting with NO steam. Place a completely clean, blank sheet of scrap paper on the ironing board to prevent bleed-through, and then place your already-pressed fabric on top. Place the sheet of paper with the design face-down on top of your fabric, making sure it’s placed where you want it. Iron over the design for a few seconds – I would start with around 5. Peek to make sure your design is transferred. The longer you iron, the darker the design will be. If you like a light line, you may be able to use your traced design for more than one transfer. Now you’re ready to stitch!
Now, there’s just one or two things to keep in mind when using the Sulky Iron-On Transfer Pens for transferring embroidery designs: first of all, if you are doing anything with words, they need to be traced backwards. My favorite method of doing this is as follows:
- find the letters you like in a book or as a printed font
- using a dark-inked fine-tip marker, like a Sharpie, trace the desired letters onto your paper
- flip the paper over, and trace the Sharpie-d letters with your Sulky Transfer Pen in the desired color
- transfer as directed above!
The other thing to keep in mind is that these need to be stored carefully. Store the pens horizontally!
Now I’m off to embroider!