Sunday, July 31, 2011

Drunkard's Path

Here is a quilt I'm working on that includes today's basic unit, the Drunkard's Path. I was aiming for a Card Tricks look, but it ended up looking like PacMan!
The iPad version of BlockFab (BlockFab-HD), includes some patches and blocks with curves. The two basic curved patches included are the pie and the crust, names often associated with the two pieces used in the Drunkard's Path block and its variants. For those of you who haven't dealt with curves before, we'll spend some time helping you to master this technique.

When placed next to each other, the two pieces of the Drunkard's Path block don't look like they'll fit together. Never fear: that's the nature of arcs and curves, and once they are sewn together, they will fit perfectly!

After cutting out the shapes, fold the pieces in half along the curved edges and mark the midpoint of each curve. You can use a pin, a marking pencil, or a tiny notch. These marks will be used to match up the center points of the curves.

The key to success is pinning the pieces properly. The straight edges at the ends of the curves of the two pieces should align exactly. So first lay the crust piece on the pie piece, right sides together, with the straight edges aligned as shown. Pin the pieces, with the pin parallel to the straight edges. This will keep them properly aligned while sewing.

Next, swing the curve on the top piece (the crust) around and align the straight edges at the other end of the curves and pin as on the first side. You should now be able to match up the midpoints that you previously marked, aligning the edges and inserting the pin perpendicular to the edge, as shown below.

Depending on the size of your pieces, you may want to insert 2 or 4 more pins. Be sure the curved edges of the fabric are lined up where you pin. The fabric between the pins will be eased in as you sew. Now sew your 1/4" seam allowance. Go slowly, and remove the pins as you approach them and ease in the fabric as needed. (The line where you sew will match up exactly with the bottom piece, but the top seam allowance will fan out just a bit.)

When finished, the seam can be pressed to either side, depending on which fabric is darker, or which way the seams on adjacent blocks lie.

With practice, you may want to try it without pins! Check out this YouTube video to see a video of how one quilter accomplishes this. Myself, I'll stick with my pins!

Now that you have the basic unit down pat, we'll  soon be looking at some of the larger standard blocks based on this unit. If you'd like to have a reference book, Pepper Cory's "65 Drunkard's Path Quilt Designs"  (you can purchase it at Dover) has many variations and alternate construction methods.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Carpenter's Frame

We have now completed the first year of Block of the Week, covering all the blocks in the original iPhone/iPod Touch version of BlockFab. If you've kept up, and made a sampler with all or with a subset of the blocks, send us a photo -- we'd all love to see it!

Meanwhile, the later iPad version of BlockFab (BlockFab-HD), which came out last November, added some more blocks. By now, you can probably figure out a lot of them on your own, but some warrant a little more explanation. In particular, one of our readers has requested some details on the Carpenter's Frame block.

The Carpenter's Frame block is really a variation/simplification of the Carpenter's Wheel block. With its large open center, the frame variation works very nicely for designing your own combination block. If you put a LeMoyne Star in the center, it becomes the traditional Carpenter's Wheel block.

Although there are a lot of pieces, there are only two basic units: the Square, and the Half Square Triangle (HST).

For a 16" block, you'll need 2 colors plus a background color. If you are going to put your own 8" block in the center, you can skip the 8 1/2" center background square.

(12) 2-7/8" squares Color 1 (for HSTs)
(12) 2-7/8" squares Color 2 (for HSTs)
(12) 2-7/8" squares Background (for HSTs)
(12) 2-1/2" squares Background
 (1) 8-1/2" square Background (for center of block)

On the wrong side of the Background  2-7/8" squares and the squares of Color 1, draw a diagonal line from corner to a corner with a pencil.

With right sides together, pair the following 2-7/8" squares:
(6) Color 1 and Color 2
(6) Color 1 and Background
(6) Color 2 and Background

Sew a scant 1/4" seam on both sides of the drawn diagonal line of each pair of squares.  Cut on the drawn line, fold back the darker of the fabric triangles and press open to make a square.

Alternatively, you can make the half-square triangle units using your favorite method, perhaps one of the methods mentioned in the BOW #1 post for the Bear's Paw.

At this point, you can lay out the squares, using the finished block as a guide for placement.  Alternatively, you can join the squares into larger units as follows, and then join these larger units like an uneven nine-patch, as described below.

Make four each of sub-unit 1 and sub-unit 2.  Carefully follow the colors layout and orientation.

Once you have the sub-units made, arrange them as shown:

I've always loved the look of the Carpenters Wheel, but been daunted by all those points coming together. I'm finally working on a quilt with some of these blocks, using Cindy Blackberg's stamps, and hand piecing.  It works great. But this version of the Carpenter's Frame block eliminates a lot of those y-seams and joining points.

This block does make a lot of interesting combinations.  Try it out on your iPad in BlockFab-HD with the Combination Layout feature using the Slideshow.  I'm working on making a video of such a slideshow, and I'll post it here.