A challenge, part 1

Several months ago, my quilting group decided we wanted to do a challenge.  We tossed several ideas around and finally decided that a fabric challenge would be fun!

This is the fabric we chose:

challenge fabric

It’s pretty awful, isn’t it?  Kinda reminds me of – ahem – things we learned about in 7th grade science class. (Snort.  I almost said “things we learned in 7th grade”.  Ha – leaving out that one little word sure would have put a different spin on that sentence!  Snicker!)

The rules were simple and few:  The challenge fabric had to be identifiable (meaning you couldn’t chop it up into tiny, unrecognizable bits – I’m fairly certain this rule was created specifically for yours truly), and it had to be lap or wall size; the perimeter was to be no larger than 200″ around.

We decided we wanted an incentive – prizes!  Everyone participating put $5 into a kitty.  Finished quilts were kept under wraps until our all-day Sewing Marathon in September.  We then voted on the three best quilts, and the top 3 quilts would split the kitty.

Challenge accepted!

My first thought was to simply recreate this quilt that I originally made (and wrote a tutorial for)  back in 2009.

drunkards-path-quilt2I pulled solid colors from the challenge fabric for the drunkard’s path blocks, and used the challenge fabric itself for the bias strips at the edges of the curves.

challenge 1Um.  Yuck!  That’s pretty ugly.  I thought maybe it was because the black fabric was not playing well with the fairly dark reds, greens, and blues, so I tried white fabric instead.

challenge 2No, that didn’t really work either.  I abandoned the drunkard’s path idea.

If you look at the black drunkard’s path picture, the first one, you’ll see on the right edge of the frame, some leaves and flowers in an applique arrangement.  That’s the only picture I have of it because it was so awful, I wadded it up and threw it in the garbage.  My idea was to use the solid colors for the center of the block, then use bead or leaf shapes cut from the challenge fabric to frame the block.  Nope, it was pretty boring!

Then I looked at the fabric.  The print is fairly small and compact, but I wondered if I could play with the movement of the design.

challenge 5Hmm.  It’s sort of interesting, but those leaves are not even 2″ long, and the print is too busy.  Rather difficult to do anything striking with.

One day I was meandering around a fabric store, looking for inspiration, and came across an interesting template.  It was kind of a tessellating pattern and I thought I could do some interesting things with it.

challenge 6I quickly realized there were 2 major problems with this template.  First, there are unavoidable Y seams.  Second, you WILL end up with a big lump in the center.  There is no way of pressing or spinning the allowances like you can on a star block.  Those seams will not lay flat, no matter what.  I scoured the package contents and the internet, looking for instructions, and when I didn’t find any, I looked for other quilters who had experience with this template.  I found one.  And when I contacted her, she agreed with me about the problems and said she just pounded the seams flat with a hammer.  I can deal with Y seams, but that center lump was just too much work and aggravation for me, so I abandoned THAT project.


Okay, I CAN do this. The deadline is looming, but I work quite well under pressure.  In fact, in high school I used to write my English Lit essays (3rd period) during my 2nd period Chemistry class, right before the essays were due.  Talk about coming down to the wire.  And I always got A’s!  Well, in English Lit, that is.  Don’t ask me what grade I got in Chemistry, ha!

Somewhere on the interwebs, I stumbled across an older quilt pattern called “Ferris Wheel”.  I have never seen a quilt made from this pattern, and I liked the uniqueness.  It’s sort of “Dresden Plate” meets “Hearts and Gizzards”.

challenge 3Erm.  Well, it was okay, but it didn’t knock my socks off.  And I really want people’s socks to be flying through the air!

Okay, back to something I’ve tried before, and had success with.  Mini apple cores.

challenge 4This is after I fooled around with it a bit and realized that the red and pale tan just do not play well with the blues and greens.  And I liked the blues and greens together, so that’s what I worked with.  It’s okay.  Not very prize-worthy, though.

Well, I did eventually end up with a pattern that worked.  But I’m not going to show it to you – yet.  Tomorrow I’m going to post pictures of ALL the challenge quilts and have YOU, dear readers, vote on which one you like best.  Then I will reveal which quilt won.

Oooh, this is fun, isn’t it??  🙂

peg large sigI love the way you’re not afraid to waste a little fabric to try out different layouts. You really think things through before you create a quilt, coming up with unique designs and ways of looking at fabric differently. I admire that! It’s a trait I’ve not yet developed – nor even think of when making a quilt – but will certainly try to use more often. You’re a true designer! Looking forward to seeing the challenge of the quilts, and will refrain from voting, as I already know the outcome – and can’t wait until you all see it 😉

Cindi 100 small






Drunkard’s Path progress

Lots of progress made on the Drunkard’s-Path-With-A-Twist quilt – I got the center section assembled!


I absolutely LOVE it!  It seems I say that about all my quilts, but I have to say this one will probably end up being one of my favorites.


Due to a lack of the right fabrics and poor planning on my part, I had to change my layout plan, but I’m so glad I did!  I love this layout.


Not quite finished yet…  borders, quilting, and one last final step!


Drunkard’s Path with a twist

I purchased these fabrics a year ago, when Cindi and I were in Paducah for the quilt show.  We went to Hancocks (also known as Heaven) and I found two of them in the back room on clearance.


The other two fabrics caught my eye as I was making my way to the register.  It made me chuckle – different lines, different manufacturers, but they match perfectly!

I debated what to make with these fabrics for a long time, and finally decided I wanted to make another DP quilt.  It is SUCH a quick and easy quilt to make!

However, this quilt will have a twist.


I added a few Moda Bella solids.  LOVE these colors.  LOVE the fabrics.  I might have to think up a quilt to make out of nothing but Bella solids, but that’s another day.


Squares?  Check.  Circles?  Check.


Bias strips?  Check.

Time for some sewing!

You’ve been a busy girl! I just love these fabrics. I remember when you bought them. Sigh. What a great time we had in Paducah! Can’t wait to see the final result. I’m not much of a pink person, but I’m loving the bright, cheery look of these fabrics. I’m working on a Drunkard’s Path quilt too –  I’ll post mine soon!


Drunkard’s Path baby quilt

This totally made my day.  Pam, a member of a sewing forum I belong to,  saw my Easy Drunkard’s Path tutorial and made her own version!


I love it – such bright, happy colors!  It’s for the first grandchild of Pam’s dear friend. She did a wonderful job!


She embroidered several sayings, quotes, and the baby’s name around the border – what a GREAT idea!


Thank you so much, Pam, for sharing your quilt!  I loved seeing it!

Pam, your quilt is just beautiful! Jacob is a lucky boy. Doesn’t Peggi do a great tutorial? Her instructions are so easy to follow. We’d sure love to see more quilts made from her tute!


Another version of the Drunkard’s Path quilt

A few days ago, Karen, a wonderful reader of our blog, sent me a picture of the Drunkard’s Path quilt she made using this tutorial I posted last month.  I wanted to share it with everyone- it’s absolutely beautiful!  I love that she used just 2 colors.   It’s a Christmas gift for her adult son.  I don’t think I’m spoiling the surprise, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read quilting blogs.  😉wpid-karens-dp-quilt2-2009-12-3-23-50.jpg

Great job, Karen!  Thanks for sharing with us!


Karyn, your quilt is lovely! Like Peggi, I also like your color choices. It’s amazing how many different quilts you can make from one block with just a color change here or there. If anyone else has made one, we’d certainly love to see it!


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!