Who knew that some history of traditional quilt blocks could be found at the National Park Services website? Check out this Quilt Discovery Booklet posted there.
The Drunkard’s Path from the Curve it Up pattern is the most traditional design in the book (my opinion). “A Drunkards Path” consists of 16 blocks.
According to the Quilt Discovery Booklet, the Drunkard’s Path was popular during the temperance movement. The Temperance Union colors were white for purity and blue for water, the “purist” beverage available. I also made my block in Blue and White. However, if you know the source and how water is processed in many municipalities, I would not call it pure… If you live in the wrong place, you might even be drinking Lead. Maybe we would all be safer drinking Gin and Tonic!
My favorite thing about this block is the fact that there are NO POINTS TO MATCH. If you can match rows with nesting seams, then this block is for you. It is a very forgiving curvy block. Temperance is not required. Cheers!
If you are interested in the math of a drunkards path, read on.
A traditional drunkards path uses a smaller radius of curvature, AND the center of the circle or arc is placed at the corner of the block.
The block created with the Quick Curve Ruler uses a flatter arc, or a larger radius of curvature and the radius is placed further away from the corner of the block. You could create this same effect by creating your own template, but make sure that you have the arc hitting on equal sides of the square.
Here are some example diagrams.
When you cut traditional Drunkard’s Path blocks, the curve shown above is NOT your cutting line. The reason for this is that it doesn’t account for your seam allowance. Since you are stitching a concave piece to a convex piece, if you do not add additional seam allowance, your outside edges would not match.
The beauty of the Curve It Up pattern is that it suggests you start with a larger square than you need, stitch your curve, then trim the block to size. The method is used for all of the blocks in the pattern. I think this could be used for the traditional curved piecing as well, but you would need to increase your original squares of fabric to accommodate trimming to size and would have to be careful to keep curves centered.
If you are a math nerd…
I drew a curve using my Quick Curve Ruler and measured the length of a chord, and the height measured at the midpoint of the arc’s base. Using those numbers I came up with a rough calculation of my Quick Curve Arc Radius.
Quick Curve Ruler
Chord Length = 6.5″
Height (H) = .75″
R = (.75/2) + (6.5*6.5)/(8*.75)
R = 7.416″
“To calculate the radius” above is from Math Open Reference Website: http://www.mathopenref.com/arcradius.html