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Curves Ahead: a series for 2017

There’s something about a nice curve that you can’t help but love. Smooth, swooping, they are beautiful and this year I’m going to help you learn to tackle them in your sewing and quilting. I’ve long been a fan of them and after asking what you, dear readers, want to learn in 2017, it sounds like a lot (a lot!) of sewists want to master this one.

Together we’re going to take this one on and I’ll give you a little insight into how I work, and hopefully you can take a little bit of that and make it work for you, too.

Each month I’ll post a tutorial on a certain kind of curve sewing and then explore patterns that use it so you can practice each skill.  We’ll learn about:

  • freeform/improv curves
  • curvy needle-turn applique
  • inset circles
  • Drunkard’s Path blocks
  • Double Wedding Ring blocks
  • Winding Ways blocks
  • Clamshell blocks
  • Apple Core paper piecing
  • scalloped binding
  • and garment-making, too

  If you have other techniques you’d like to see, just let me know! I’ll add in some posts that share my opinion and experience with various rulers, rotary cutters, dies, templates, and more.  It should be lots of fun and (fingers crossed) will be helpful to you! Look for the first post in early February when we tackle the Drunkard’s Path block. If you want to make sure and follow along, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter. I’ll include additional tips, the series schedule and post recaps for you in each monthly email.

In the mean time, find some scraps that are at least 8″ square, get out your template plastic (or a cereal box), and get ready to give the Drunkard’s Path block a shot.

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A New Spin on the Drunkard’s Path {book}

I first heard about this book a year ago when I was chatting with John Kubiniec at Quilt Market and he mentioned he was working on a book devoted to the Drunkard’s Path block. Drunkard’s Path?! That’s one of my top five! I love love love this block and its million different combos. I pretty quickly begged him to let me get a sneak peek at the book and he agreed. Months and months down the road, the book was finished and I got a copy to review.

11182_frontcover-1John’s “A New Spin on the Drunkard’s Path” was just released from C&T Publishing and is available directly from John (and he’ll sign it!), as well through many fine shops (and I’d encourage to seek it out at an independent quilt shop or book seller near you).

It wasn’t until I’d started reading it that I realized I’d met John’s work long before I met him. Like many quilters, I’m always tearing patterns and inspiration from magazines. Back in 2013 I found a beautiful red and white Drunkard’s Path in McCall’s Quilting magazine. I tore out the picture and put it into my files, ready to inspire me again when I had the chance. Come to find out, that was John’s quilt design and it was his first foray into the Drunkard’s Path block! That block layout is the one he used on the cover and so, of course, it was the one I had to use, as well.

I started with a half-yard bundle of Indie from Art Gallery Fabrics. I’ve been holding onto it for three years, as well, so I figured it was a great fit. I kicked out a couple of the fabrics in the bundle, choosing eight to work with, then combined it with Kona White.

His advice for manageable bits is wonderful and exactly the reassurance you need to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed. You can do this, really, but take your time and John’s advice to make it a fun, productive process. As he suggests, I simply did the cutting on the first day. And then let it sit there in a pretty little pile for longer than I should have, but hey, at least it was a lovely addition to my view.

You’ll notice that I cut out my triangles. I did much of the construction slightly differently than John, but only because I’m very comfortable sewing curves the way I sew them and prefer trimming before I sew.

His tips on sewing the curves are great and I totally recommend them. You’ll learn ways that make it easier for you along the way.  John suggests you pin at the ends and in the middle. I don’t pin at all, but you can see that I don’t always get it right in the pic to the left.  I have one block that is perfect and another that ended being 3/16″ off. John’s method  But in the end, I had a whole big pile of Drunkard’s Path blocks to play with.

Drunkards Path blocks in Indie
I really like how they play together and create these little bow ties in there.

I love how the fabrics play together and am so glad I held on to the Indie bundle for all this time.The view from above. Right now it measures 48″ x 42″ (approx) and is great crib size quilt. I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep growing it though. :) big-rig-quilting-bow-tiesIt’s fun to compare this quilt to what John originally designed in the red and white combo and what he shows in “A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path” with the black background. And honestly, this is one of my favorite aspects of quilting–the never-ending ways you can put together the same thing. Same block, same construction, totally different look. It keeps quilting fresh and fun and intriguing to me.

In his book, John shows several variation of each quilt to give you some ideas, spark a little creativity in the reader, which is a much-loved feature for me. But I think the winning aspect of the book is his attention to detail and accuracy. It’s clear that John is a teacher who wants his students to succeed.  He walks the reader through each step with clear photos, tackling the curves and adding interesting details to the block.

If you’re nervous about sewing curves and need someone to hold your hand through it, John is there for you, explaining and reassuring you at each step. He shows you just how easy it really can be and then opens a whole new world of quilts for you with 12 beautiful variations of the Drunkard’s Path.

I’ll be giving away a copy of the book to inspire you to get started on your own curvy quilt. Just leave a comment here and tell me what has stopped you from taking on the Drunkard’s Path or if you have, what you love about it. We’ll pick a winner on October 9.

Congratulations to Lori Morton for winning her very own copy of John’s “A New Spin on Drunkard’s  Path” book!

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Running in Circles with Gardenvale

Curved piecing has been a bit of an obsession for me lately. Blame it on finding a little template for little Drunkard’s Path blocks while I was at Sew Expo. I also just happened to have a charm pack of Gardenvale from Moda at last Quilt Market. I figured they should meet.

I sewed all the pieces together, in totally random fashion, as leaders and enders, so it hardly felt like I’d done any actual sewing at all. Then all the sudden the blocks were all sewn together. I gave them all a quick press and squared them up a tad smaller than the template (a scant 3-7/8″), then arranged and re-arranged some more until I got something I was okay with.

We just got the collection in at the shop, which was the perfect impetus to actually finish it up (so we could use it as a display). I  did a little unevenly spaced straight line quilting on the front.

Then made a super simple envelope pillow back and voila a new pillow for the sofa! I love it even more than I thought I would.

I tend to stay within the neutral palette for quilts, home decor and clothing, rarely feel confident enough to start prints.  I love the scrappy look, but dear god, it scares me to death to mix fabrics (I know, it’s weird). That’s what makes Gardenvale a favorite for me. It doesn’t look like a collection. It’s crazy mixed-up colors and prints and scale and I would never in a million years feel like I could mix three different circles with two different florals and stripes.  But Jen Kingwell did and it’s gorgeous.

If you’re familiar with her patterns, you know this is totally her style and I find it entrancing (though, the quilts can slightly overwhelm me if I stare too long). There’s a skill to this mixing and matching that I will never have. And that’s okay, she’s doing it for me now.

Check out #gardenvale and #gardenvalefabric on IG for lots of other projects that people are making, especially the PJ pants by @tinkerfrog. They might just be the  favorite. Next to my pillow, of course.