How to Sew a Drunkard’s Path Without All Those Pins

 Watch Out Curves Ahead

Curved piecing and matching thread
Time to piece, beautiful Island Batik fabrics and matching Aurifl Threads

Generally when sewing curves for a Drunkard’s Path block assembly there are multiple pins involved as you carefully pin all the fullness of the bias curve of the “pie” shape to fit the “L” shape of the units. I’m going to show you an easier way without all those pins!

It Only Takes Three

No Pin Method for Drunkard's Path
Look ma, no more pins! Two wonder clips and a stiletto are all that’s needed

In my experience, it only takes three locations to secure the units together before sewing – the top, the middle, and the bottom.

What makes this assembly different is placing the L-shaped unit on top of the pie shape. Most instructions have you do the opposite.

The key is to mark the centers of each shape and use a pin or wonder clip to hold into place.  Then line up the bottom edge where the two units meet, making sure that the straight sides stay straight.

Watch Out Curves Ahead
Gently stretch the bias to make the edges line up – go slow as you sew

Begin stitching at the top using a stiletto to keep the fullness dispersed and matching the edges as you gently and slowly sew a quarter inch seam.

Most importantly make sure that the bottom edges meet, preferably making a straight edge connection.

Curved Piecing Without a bunch of pins
Slowly work from the center to the bottom of the curve being mindful of matching the ends
Drunkards path pieced
All the curves came together without any puckering

Press with the direction of the pie shape laying naturally towards the L shape.

Pressing Curved Piecing
Press with the seam allowance going towards the L shape

Small Improvement Makes a Big Difference

I found that sometimes the bottom edges didn’t quite lay perfectly at the straight edge and that resulted in being off just a tad after being pressed open, causing the curved seams from one block to another not to match, and we all know it’s about matching our seams (grin). 

comparing curves
Example to the left didn’t match perfectly along the straight edge, the one the right used a special technique that almost guarantees a straight edge
Careful matching seams in your drunkards path
If the piecing is off a bit it will show when connecting the units into a block – one solution is to trim the blocks or “make them fit” by adding a few tucks and puckers….

My solution was to sew a little from the bottom first to assure they lined up and then go back and sew from the top. This gave me much better results and was worth the extra time spent – still much less time than all those pins!

One Simple Trick to Curved Piecing
This simple extra step of taking a few stitches at the bottom before sewing from the top will assure a perfect alignment of your curved piecing

Design Change

Since this was just a practice piece I decided to make a design change instead of trimming or ripping out and starting over with the newly discovered technique.

I haven’t decided yet what to do with the block – it’s kinda a Christmas color and it also reminds me of an owl. I originally thought of summer watermelons…so many possibilities….I’m sure it will pop up in a sampler quilt some day!

Drunkard's Path piecing
Curved Piecing is no longer intimidating with these easy steps

 

I hope you have found this simple technique useful and will enjoy a little curve piecing.

Stay tuned for my Island Batik Ambassador June Challenge with Curved Piecing!

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, with a simple trick to simplify your curved piecing of the traditional drunkard’s path block.

Have you tried curved piecing? Do you have a favorite traditional Drunkard’s Path layout? Leave me a comment!

 

 

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2 Replies to “How to Sew a Drunkard’s Path Without All Those Pins”

  1. I’ve also found 3 pins work best, and to hold the first pin as I sew 2 stitches, then remove the pin. You can gently stretch the bottom to match, as well, while using the stiletto to help guide the edges together. As for your block, it’s similar to a turtle, which I think someone has done, with the Drunkards Path blocks. Just applique a tail and head. Have fun.

    1. Yes, Maryellen, I thought about a turtle 🐢. I have an old book by Anita Murphy and she did all sorts of critters including a turtle! And don’t you just love 3 pins and a stiletto – so much faster!

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