Block 2019: Drunkard’s Path Variations


Welcome to the Block 2019 Creative Challenge! We’re exploring different classic quilt block each month all year long. Before we get to the Drunkard’s Path variations, we want to be sure you get to see the Block 2019 Sampler Quilt!

It’s 72″ x 72″ and suitable for quilt-as-you-go. Get fabric requirements for the sampler or look at the kit. It’s another fun way to participate in Block 2019. Okay, back to Snail Trail variations!

Last week we met Drunkard’s Path. This week, we’re going to play with variations of Drunkard’s Path and learn along the way what essential parts from Drunkard’s Path must exist in its variations. Let’s start by look at the original.

Drunkard's Path quilt block

Drunkard’s Path is traditionally a two-color block, but color placement doesn’t totally determine this block as it sometimes can. The building block unit of this block, the Quarter Circle, is the main throughline in Drunkard’s Path variations. According to Barbara Brackman in Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, the traditional Drunkard’s Path block was first published by Farm and Home in 1888 and called Wanderer’s Path in the Wilderness. Ladies Art Company popularized the block in 1896, publishing it as Drunkard’s Path. Since then it’s picked up a few extra names, like Wonder of the World, Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, Solomon’s Puzzle, Endless Trail, Country Cousin, and the Pumpkin Vine. But its seemingly endless variations all come down to a single common unit: the Quarter Circle.

Arranging the Quarter Circle unit in different ways is the key to Drunkard’s Path variations, and we have templates for you in two sizes.

We gave you the templates to make a 3″ finished Quarter Circle for the Drunkard’s Path block, and this week we have a 6″ finished Quarter Circle template for you. Click Here to download the 6″ Quarter Circle Template!

Let’s take a look at some block variations, and because a lot of the blocks create secondary designs, there are also mock-ups of what they look like set into quilts.

Drunkard’s Path Traditional Setting

Drunkard’s Path is actually traditionally a two-block design. In the first block, four Quarter Circles all point to the outer corners. In the second block, the Quarter Circles spin in the outer corners like a Pinwheel. Alternating the blocks creates Drunkard’s Path as a secondary design as seen laid out in a quilt below.

Sachiko Tezuka and friends made a quilt using the traditional coloring of the Drunkard’s Path block and embellish with a floral applique that emphasizes the tumbling, breezy energy of the block.

Falling Timbers

The Falling Timbers block first appeared in a column published under the pseudonym of Aunt Martha in 1932. Aunt Martha was one of several pattern psueds from Kansas City’s Colonial Patterns, Inc. according to Brackman. Quarter Circles set in a 4 x 4 grid seem to create an X, but set them all together in a quilt and a secondary shape appears. This is a really fun option for showing off a print like in the quilt below.

drunkard's path variation


drunkard's path variation

Nonesuch is another Aunt Martha pattern. Quarter Circles in a 6×6 grid are arranged like an Around the World, with rings of colors. This is a fun design to apply to a whole quilt, like Lynn Horpedahl did for her contest quilt, Caribbean Dreams.

Pictures in the Stairwell

This block originally appeared in the Kansas City Star, according to Brackman. It’s a 4×4 grid block with two Quarter Circles and two Four-Patches. It’s fun to play with the design in a quilt.

drunkard's path variation

Ohio Sunset

drunkard's path variation

Here’s a hybrid block of my invention. It’s a 3×3 grid with four Quarter Circles, four Quarter Square Triangles, and a Nine-Patch all of equal sizes. Set them together like an Ohio Star to make this block. Quarter Circles are a fun unit to add to traditional blocks to elevate them and create something unexpected. I don’t love setting Ohio Stars right next to each other, so I played with sashings. One is a simple sashing, the other is a sashing of Nine Patches. Experiment with setting this block in a quilt in a way that appeals to you!


The Dove

drunkard's path variation

Another block originally found in the Kansas City Star. The Dove is a 2×2 grid block, and the way the Quarter Circles are set creates the outline of a bird. Embroidery embellishments or quilting could really emphasize the bird shape. Brackman notes that the block is originally set with a plain alternating block, but try setting them together with a small sashing for a fancy effect.

If you would like to make any of these blocks, use the 3″ or 6″ finished Quarter Circle templates to get you started. These variations are a starting place for your creativity. There are so many ways to play with Quarter Circles and with Drunkard’s Path.

Check back next week, May 15th, for quilt-as-you-go ideas for quilting your Drunkard’s Path block.

Looking for the rest of Block 2019? Click Here to return to the main post!

Show us your Drunkard’s Path blocks and variations in the AQS Project Parade Facebook group, or use the hashtag #Block2019 and tag us @aqsonline because we can’t wait to see what you make!

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