Pieced curves, like those found in the classic Drunkard’s Path pattern, add grace and fluidity to the top design of any quilt. But many quilters shy away from curved piecing because of the presumed level of difficulty and the additional cutting and sewing time. It’s true that Drunkard’s Path blocks will not go together as quickly as a Nine-patch, but if you’re ready to go just a bit beyond your comfort zone, there are ways to streamline the construction process.

Until a few weeks ago, I assumed templates were the most reliable method for cutting and piecing curved blocks. I used templates to make my Meditation quilt (pattern in the July 2011 issue of American Quilter magazine). But after attending an AccuQuilt retreat in early June at the company’s headquarters in Fremont, Nebraska, I discovered the ease with which Drunkard’s Path blocks can be cut and sewn—no marking and very little pinning necessary!

AccuQuilt offers Drunkard’s Path dies for its Go! Fabric Cutter in two finished sizes, 3 ½” and 7”. When you cut your fabric with these dies, the resulting patches are exactly the correct size and include a small notch on the curved edge of both pieces to facilitate accurate sewing. After cutting, you match the notches on both curved pieces and pin in place. Add a few more pins at each end and wherever necessary in on either side of the notch. Then stitch an accurate quarter-inch seam, press the seam to one side, and you’re done. This method is quicker and more accurate than using templates—I’m now a convert!

At the retreat, each participant brought her own fabric and used the AccuQuilt cutters and Pfaff sewing machines provided by Country Traditions Quilt Shop to construct an entire quilt top in just a couple days. (Mine is almost complete.) A young mother of twin 3-year-old boys, Mary Ellen Dalhouse constructed her first-ever quilt top at the retreat using fun Dr. Seuss fabrics.

Deonn Stott not only pieced her gorgeous flame-orange Drunkard’s Path top; she also quilted it on one of the shop’s Handi Quilter Avante 18” longarm machines. Not bad for a couple days’ work.

 The retreat concluded with show-and-tell of projects participants had made using AccuQuilt cutters and dies. Among the many beautiful quilts shown that night was this standout by Ellie Starbuck. She used a variety of AccuQuilt applique dies to create this floral design quilt, which she quilted, embroidered, and embellished.

There were 72 quilters at this retreat. I hope some of you will send photos of you and your completed Drunkard’s Path quilts to me at chrisbrown@aqsquilt.com for posting on this blog. Happy stitching!

by Christine N. Brown

Editor-in-Chief, American Quilter Magazine

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Another delightful and easy method is using Inklingo. (see http://www.inklingo.com) Press your fabric onto freezer paper, run it through the printer, and voila! Perfect shapes, stitching lines, matching points and crosshairs at the intersections. Awesome!!


I love inklingo and hand piecing. I do a lot of machine work too, but hand work is my favorite.

Thanks for sharing this article! I’ve been afraid of curves ever since I pieced my first curved block several years ago, and it turned out shaped like a “B” cup. With these perfectly cut curves and a notch to align the center, the blocks lay flat and aligned perfectly! At the AccuQuilt retreat, cutting out took just minutes, sewing these one-seam blocks was a snap, and the quilt came together so quickly that I had time to quilt it up before dinner! I used the strip die to quickly make my binding strips, and finished hand-stitching the binding somewhere in… Read more »

Mary Alice Bates

I do not have the specified tools, but have used the same process to pin and stitch both this pattern and an adaptation of the clamshell which I have used for “ocean waves” as a quilt border. A similar technique can be applied to the problem of attaching an on-grain cut edge to an off-grain edge when the off-grain has a strong tendency to stretch. Just remember to pin the middle and the ends and put the off-grain on the feed dogs. Yup, it pays to practice, but it DOES work!

Barbara Rhoades

I took a class and the instructor showed us this method for making perfect matching circular cuts.

Lay the two pieces of material in a row. Then overlap one piece over the other. Make your circular cut through both pieces and they match perfectly!

Maybe not the best use of the material but the cuts have to match!

Danetta mendenhall

I have never had a lot of luck with this pattern – the pieces end up slightly distorted. I now use freezer paper machine applique with monofilament thread and it works beautifully. Simply applique the pie shape onto a full square of fabric then cutaway the portion that’s underneath the applique. The blocks turn out perfectly!

thank you for share!