Sewing with curves may seem slightly intimidating, but what if I told you it’s much easier than it looks?
Many quilt patterns utilize a fun curvy design, and one of the classics is called the drunkard’s path quilt.
In this post, we will tackle the dreaded curved seam and, more importantly, take a deep-dive look into this unique and quirky traditional quilt pattern: the drunkard’s path.
It looks like a complex pattern, but it is simple once you get the basics of sewing a curved seam.
- What Does the Drunkards Path Quilt Pattern Mean?
- How Old is the Drunkards Path Quilt Pattern?
- How Do You Make a Drunkards Path Quilt?
- Drunkard’s Path Quilt Pattern: 15 Deliriously Beautiful Designs
- 1. Modern Flowers
- 2. Double Time
- 3. Mosaic Drunkard’s Path
- 4. Drunkard’s Path Variation Quilt
- 5. Solids Drunkard’s Path
- 6. The Ogee
- 7. Squiggly Drunkard’s Path
- 8. Flying Doves
- 9. Windswept
- 10. Squircle Drunkard’s Path Variation
- 11. Traditional Drunkard’s Path
- 12. Stars and Stones
- 13. Wall Hanging Drunkard’s Path
- 14. Drunkard Roses
- 15. Autumn Garden
What Does the Drunkards Path Quilt Pattern Mean?
There are several theories on the meaning behind the drunkard’s path quilt pattern, and the truth may be a combination of all.
Let’s take a look at some of the theories.
- Prohibition Promotion: From 1920-1933, there was a nationwide ban on alcohol in the United States called Prohibition. During those years, women didn’t have the right to vote, but many wanted to show their support for this national ban. To do this, they created quilts using the drunkard’s path pattern, using them like a flag or banner of support.
- Underground Railroad Symbol: A more popular theory is people who were helping enslaved people escape for their lives during the 1800s would use quilts to send them information, warnings, and instructions. The drunkard’s path block would symbolize going in a zigzag formation and leave a confusing trail for any trackers trying to find them on their way to freedom.
How Old is the Drunkards Path Quilt Pattern?
The origins of the first drunkard’s path quilt are unknown; however, they were definitely around during the mid to late 1800s since they have been referenced in several different underground railroad quilt paths.
The actual zigzag shape has been dated back to ancient Egypt and Rome.
Interesting how many quilt patterns have been inspired by centuries-old design and architecture.
We know that the design has been used in quilt form for the last 150 years and shows no signs of losing popularity anytime soon.
How Do You Make a Drunkards Path Quilt?
You can use many different layouts to create a drunkard’s path quilt; we will look at those briefly.
In this section, I want to show you how to create a drunkard’s path quilt block. Since most drunkard path quilts use one block type, this tutorial will help you make any size quilt you want.
- Choose two coordinating fabrics. I will use 2- 5” squares, but you can use whatever size square fits your needs.
- Choose a template. I will use the free 4 ½” template from Sarah Griffiths at gathered.how. I printed the template onto cardstock to make it more sturdy than regular printer paper. Cut out the two template pieces.
- Label the smaller piece “A” and the larger piece “B.” Trace and cut out one “A” piece from one of the fabrics and one “B” piece from the other fabric.
- To create a visible crease, take the “A” and “B” pieces and fold them in half.
- Line up the creases like the image below.
Place the two fabrics right sides together and pin where the crease is. This will hold the fabrics together.
- Moving from the center pin, pin the fabrics around the curved edge to ensure the fabrics stay together. I know it looks a little crazy, but it helps a lot to have a bunch of pins holding the pieces together.
- Take the fabric pieces to your sewing machine and begin sewing with a ¼” seam allowance around the curve. Take it slow; it’s not a race. When you are pivoting the fabric, ensure there aren’t any wrinkles or creases in the fabric, and you sew.
Remove it from the fabric as you approach a pin, and ensure the edges are still lined up correctly.
- Once you’ve reached the end of the curve, backstitch to hold the stitches in place.
- Press the seam to either side. I recommend pressing to the dark side (the darker fabric.)
- Trim any excess fabric from the ends.
There you have one completed drunkard’s path quilt block. Use this tutorial to create as many blocks as you need for your quilt project.
Drunkard’s Path Quilt Pattern: 15 Deliriously Beautiful Designs
Now that you know that creating a drunkard’s path quilt block is a simple process, let’s check out some awesome layouts for this unique design. These examples should hopefully inspire you and get the wheels turning to help you figure out your next quilt project.
Here is a beautiful example of a scrappy-style drunkards path quilt with a floral layout. As you can see, by placing the different color blocks strategically, you can create a fun mid-century modern design. You can use this layout for an all-over look or mix it with other layouts for a one-of-a-kind design.
2. Double Time
Here is another adorable quilt that features a scrappy fabric selection. If you have a bunch of scraps from previous projects, this would be a great way to use them. The loopy quilting done on this quilt gives it a whimsical look.
Isn’t this small quilt gorgeous? The designer laid out the blocks to make it look like a mosaic floor. She also used Accuquilt’s drunkard’s path templates die-cuts to cut out the pieces to save time. Very smart!
This fun quilt mixes drunkard’s path blocks and squares in a checkerboard layout. It’s simple yet eye-catching with all the different patterns and colors. This would be an excellent option for a beginner who doesn’t want to do a fancy or complex layout.
I love this vibrant, modern take on the drunkard’s path pattern. The design looks complex, but you only need to know how to make one block to achieve this beautiful result. Use this layout to make any size quilt you want.
6. The Ogee
How excellent is this design? If you look closely, you can see the blocks are created by having a large center square surrounded by smaller drunkards path quilt blocks. This quilt measures 48” x 60”.
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Here is another fun layout that has a lot of movement. The squiggly lines are such a fun way to use this block, and this is a great beginner-friendly design. You could even use this layout just for the border blocks.
8. Flying Doves
“Flying Doves” cleverly uses the drunkard’s path block. This pattern mixes traditional piecing and applique techniques to create these beautiful birds. The pattern includes instructions for large and wall-hanging quilts.
This modern quilt pattern features large drunkard’s path blocks that are placed to create gorgeous flowers across this quilt top.
The pattern includes all the template pieces you need and three size options. You should have some quilt-making experience before you tackle this project.
This pattern is a fun variant of the traditional drunkard’s path. The designer sums it up perfectly in the pattern’s name, “Squircle.” In the pattern, you will receive all instructions to create the blocks, templates, and size options.
Here is what a traditional drunkard’s path quilt layout looks like. The quilts usually used two colors for the blocks, which quilters placed to mimic a zigzag pattern. This pattern gives instructions for a 10” block that you can use to make any size quilt you want.
12. Stars and Stones
A modern quilt pattern features stars and stones created from simple rectangles and the drunkard’s path quilt block. This pattern has well-written instructions for every step of the quilt top-making process. There are three sizes to choose from included in the instructions.
Here is another pattern that features the traditional drunkard path block layout. The pattern includes written instructions and video tutorials for those who like to learn by watching someone else make it. The finished wall quilt will measure 40” x 40”.
14. Drunkard Roses
This pattern features gorgeous rose blocks created using the drunkard’s path block. The border also uses small drunkard path blocks to create a cute confetti design around the quilt centerpiece. The finished quilt will measure 40” x 40”.
15. Autumn Garden
This quilt is a fantastic beginner-friendly pattern with sweet flower blocks. The pattern looks beautiful in this multi-color palette, but imagine how cool it would look in a black-and-white colorway. The pattern will help you make a 56” square quilt top.
I hope this fabulous compilation of quilts has inspired you to try sewing with curves. The drunkard’s path is the perfect beginner-friendly curve block with endless possibilities.