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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

My Drunkards Path & the Miracle of the First Quilt

This is NOT the quilt I made. I love this one.
As a young teen, I wanted to learn to sew my own clothes. 

My mother had been a State Champion 4-H sewist in her teen years. 

She had taught my sisters to sew.  

(At least I thought she had. Looking back she may have tricked them too.)

I asked if she could teach me. 

Mom was a school teacher with 6 children.

In addition, she was responsible for the weekly youth activities program at our church.

She was also on the board of the AAUW (American Association of University Women) and an active member the local chapter of Phi Kappa Phi.

She was a busy woman!

Mom told me she didn't have time to teach me to sew directly, but instead, gave me an assignment. 

She said if I could complete the assignment, it would give me the experience needed to figure out the rest of garment sewing on my own.
Mom presented me with a large stack of  men's wool suits she'd rescued from a city-wide rummage sale she'd been in charge of.

She showed me how to pick them apart until all the wool pieces lay flat. Then she turned me loose.
Keep in mind these were not the lovely wool suits of today. These were thick, heavy woven fabrics, not launderable in any way.

With that accomplished, she gave me 2 cardboard templates and showed me how to trace and cut with scissors the Drunkard's Path pieces, making notches at the top of the curves and avoiding the moth-eaten spots in the wool.

Mom then showed me how to match the notches, pin and sew the curved seams.

She explained that this was the hardest part of garment sewing, and if I sewed all these wool blocks, I would have mastered the inset seam. 

After that, the rest of garment sewing would be easy.

I pieced all those blocks, almost enough for a full size quilt, then sewed them into rows. 

I felt I'd been “tricked” into making a quilt and I strongly declined to help quilt the finished top. 

I “hated quilting” and wanted no part of that. 

So, as a compromise, together mom and I tied that awful wool Drunkard's Path quilt with red yarn.

It was very ugly and smelled of sheep and old men from the 1940's. YUCK!

I searched far and wide (read: Google and Pinterest) to find a Drunkards Path quilt in a configuration like the one I made. Maybe it's unique, or maybe it's just so ugly no one else would put it online.
I still have that quilt somewhere, I think it's in a space bag (the kind you suck all the air out of with a vacuum.)

The only time its' been on a bed is when we used it for a mattress pad on our waterbed in the 80's.

Because of my own Drunkard's Path experience, I know the quilting bug is not contagious.

I was born into a family with avid quilters on both sides, so I know it's not hereditary. 

It has to be carefully cultivated by the master and the learner.

It took more than 50 years before the bug awakened inside of me.

Now that it has, I carefully nurture it and hope someday I can have quilting experiences with my daughter who now adamantly declares, as I did those years ago, she wants no part of quilting.

To be fair and grateful, I learned a couple of things from my Drunkard's Path experience.

  1. You don't have to love your parent's hobbies...yet.
  2. Inset seams really are the hardest part of garment sewing.
  3. Modern Wool doesn't smell like sheep like it did in the "olden days".
  4. I'm SO grateful for acrylic templates and rotary cutting tools.
  5. I'm not afraid of curved seams like some quilters are.
Curved Seams

I mentioned that I'm not afraid of curved seams because it's one of the first sewing skills I learned.

I know,  as demonstrated in the photos above, it's nothing more than a series of steps like any other project.

I hope to make another Drunkard's Path "style" quilt. It will be in colors I love with quilter's cotton fabric. It's on "the List".
Don't try to pretend you don't have "a List" of quilts you want to make but just haven't.

I'm not giving you a pattern because with the one block repeated you can make a terrific quilt using any configuration you want. There are some amazing ones!

Search Google or Pinterest for Drunkard's Path quilts. There are lots of great ideas like the cozy looking flannel one at the top of the page.

Go ahead, give the Drunkard's path a try. You may be surprised how simple it is.

Here's a good video  and a link to the ruler they use in the video.

OR...Use a string and pencil like you did in elementary school. Draw the "pie section" and background section so they overlap by 1/2".
Here's the Wee Animal Quilt from DaniMiller.com I want to make. It's a tutorial with a downloadable template.

And another tutorial of the same quilt. This one by SewFrench.com that shows sewing and quilting as well.

Don't be scared. It's just a series of steps. Nothing you haven't done before:
  1. Cut
  2. Pin 
  3. Sew
  4. Press


Update: Since I wrote this post 2 weeks ago, my daughter has asked me to help her make a quilt using the Quilts for Kids kits we picked up at the Garden of Quilts event.

That was a small miracle so I jumped on the chance.
She had a day off work and we spent part of it sewing her first quilt. I'm so proud of her and the great job she did.

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Talk to me People, I'm tired of talking to myself!

See you next time.


PS. Wanna see where I hang out when I'm not at Seamless Piecing?

The Quilt Pattern Magazine is an online, monthly magazine where I publish some of my designs.
AND... it's not just a magazine. It's also a delightful, private, online community called Pattern Pastiche. Some of the best and nicest quilters around hang out there along with others, like me, who just want to rub shoulders with them.

It's a safe place to ask questions and get mentoring from those who know and care.
AND... If you go there from here you can use a special discount code just for Seamless Piecing readers. Here's the link. The code is: SP

The You Choose adventure is happening at Pattern Pastiche. It's a FREE event. You just have to stop by during Live Chat times to get your clues.

Come find out what your clue is. It probably won't be the same as mine.

I used my clue #1 to make this simple strippy quilt for Quilts for Kids. -----

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