Drunkard’s Path tutorial

Here is an easier way to make a DP quilt with no curved piecing.

My quilt measures 64″ x 64″, and has 144 each of the individual Drunkard’s Path block, which measures 4″ square.

drunkard's path quilt

Cut 18 squares of black fabric and 18 squares of various colored fabrics.  Squares should measure 9″x 9″.


Cut 18 circles of black fabric and 18 circles of various colored fabrics.  Circles should measure 6 1/2″ across.

toll house

At first I had used a compass to make a circle template, but look what I discovered that measures EXACTLY 6 1/2 inches!

Excuse me a moment while I go turn on the oven…

Starch the squares and circles, then fold into quarters and press.  This will give you the exact centers of the cut pieces.

pressing into quarters

Insert a pin into the center of the circle, then into the center of the square.

centering 1

centering 2

Slide the circle down the pin onto the square, keeping the fold lines aligned, and press. At this point you may want to pin the circle to the square, but I’ve found that if I press them together they usually behave themselves.

(The white fabric underneath the block is just folded flannel, used to keep the pin stable and upright. Don’t sew your block to it!)


Cut strips of coordinating fabric 1 1/4 ” wide on the bias, meaning at a 45 degree angle.  The strips need to be AT LEAST 22 inches long.

bias strip

Very carefully, press the bias strips in half lengthwise. Try not to stretch them!

Align the raw edge of the bias with the raw edge of the circle, starting at one of the fold lines you pressed into the circles & squares. The folded edge of the bias strip should be on the inside of the circle.

stitching bias

Notice that I have not done anything with the raw top edge of the bias strip. That’s because it will become part of the seam allowance of the block and no one will be able to see it.

Stitch a scant 1/4 inch from the raw edge of the circle. See how easy it is to curve the bias strip along the edge of the circle?

scant quarter inch

This is what it will look like when you’re done.

finished ring

Press the bias strip outwards over the seam you just stitched. The bias will help it stretch. This is where you will be sorry if you forgot and cut the strips on the straight grain.

pressing 2

Here’s what it looks like when you’re done pressing the bias strip outward.

after pressing

Stitch the outer edge of the bias strip to the square. I am using white thread to make it easier for you to see, but in my original quilt I used invisible thread, and I did a zig-zag stitch because I am impatient and it was faster than a blanket stitch.

stitching bias2

zigging on the outer edge


or, blanket stitching on the outer edge

blanket stitch

Here is the finished block. Don’t worry about that spot where the bias edges meet, it’s going to disappear in the next step.

finished zigzaging

Now cut the block into quarters. Use the lines you pressed into the fabrics as a guide, or you can use your ruler and cut at 4 1/2 inches.

cut into quarters

Turn the block over and trim the excess fabric off.

trimming back

Do this 17 more times, then assemble your blocks! I assembled mine so they made X’s.

finished large block

Here is another setting idea:

different block setting

Now on to the border!

Cut strips of your solid fabrics, 1 1/2 inches by WOF. You will need twice as many black strips as colored strips.


Sew 2 black strips on each side of one colored strip. Press the seam allowance to the black fabric. Cut cross strips 1 1/2 inches wide.

strips cut into strips

Align two strips with different colored squares as shown. If you pressed your seam allowances correctly, the seams will “nest” and you will get accurate points where the colored squares touch.

nesting seams

Here is what the strips look like when they’re sewn together.

sewn strips

Trim the excess off. Place your ruler so it is 1/4″ past the corners of the colored squares, which gives you a seam allowance.

trimming border

The finished border. In reality, of course, it would be a lot longer!

finished border

I actually had 3 borders on this quilt:

Inner black border = 2 1/2″ wide

Center diamond border = 1 3/4″ wide

Outer black border = 2 1/4 wide

The black borders are great for making it easy to place the diamonds evenly around the corners.

corner detail

Good luck, and please send me pictures if you make one, I’d love to see them!

What a great tute, Peggi. I just may have to break down and make one of these. I’ll add it to my quilt bucket list!


18 thoughts on “Drunkard’s Path tutorial

  1. I love the quilt that was pictured on the Quilters Board today. I would really like to know how it was done. Do you have a tutorial on it? I also like youur tutorial on the Drunkard’s Path. Is it possible to receive your blog?

  2. Pingback: Can anyone tell me how to make the pinwheels shown in this quilt? - Page 4

  3. Pingback: a milestone | amherst thread tales

    • Hi Emmy,
      No, I didn’t make the block with bias the same color as the circle, because having a different color bias strip was part of the design. Great comment, though. 🙂

  4. this is one of the best ideas I have ever seen!!! Thank you for taking the time to show an old quilter a new trick. I didn’t think I would ever make one, but this puts DP on my bucket list… Now I just have to go buy more fabric … What a great excuse !

  5. So cute and great tip. Do you remember the name of the accent fabric you used? It’s so vibrant against the black.
    Lori Woodel

    • Hi Lori!

      The good news is I still have a bit of that fabric in my stash. The bad news is the selvedge has no name or manufacturer on it, it’s blank except for the color test dots. Since I wrote the tutorial 6 years ago, it’s entirely possible that I purchased it at Joann’s.
      If you are trying to recreate something similar to my quilt, I would suggest any kind of print fabric in primary colors. Bias stripes might be fun and would add a bit of zing!

      Hope this helps!

    • Gosh, Connie, this was so long ago I really don’t remember how much fabric I used! I’d guesstimate about half a yard per color. But it really depends on how many colors you want to use in your quilt, and how big you want your quilt to be.

  6. I have never liked drunkard ‘s path,but now I am eager to try it. You have sparked my interest and your logical and basic instructions have made this possible! I look forward to other e-mails and tutorials!

  7. Thank you sooo much for sharing this technique!!!! I have been looking for it and I just stumbled unto this! What a fantastic idea!

  8. I have just found you – and just love your Drunkards path quilt – love the technique and tutorial too – I am going to have to try it. Thank you so much for sharing and for the brilliant tut – the contemporary colours are perfect !

  9. Thank you for sharing your quilt and the great detailed tutorial on how to make it!!! I adore your fabric choices! Such a beautiful quilt!!! It is quite timeless as shown by how excited people are as we discover it for the first time years later!

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