About one and a half to two years ago I started making more and curved blocks and piecing them. Every time, I would do this, I would cut and make templates from Electric Quilt 8. As you know, after using cardboard templates a few time, they get a little smaller with every use. I wondered if there was an alternative such as a multi-purpose cutting tool for cutting curves. So I started researching. I not only found one, but several different brands that were helpful.
The following curved cutting rulers are on the market and come in a variety of sizes:
- Circle Savvy Ruler (Creative Grids® Swirly Girl Designs and Karli Alexander)
- Classic Curved Ruler by Color Girl Quilts (Sharon McConnel)
- Cut Around (Phillips Fiber Art)
- Fabric Circle Cutter (Fiskars)
Quick Curve Ruler (Sew Kind of Wonderful) makes two sizes (one size per ruler). I have not confirmed if it will work for this tutorial. It incorporates STEP ONE in their description and use but does not include STEP TWO. To my knowledge, the curve is slightly distorted.
Since I wanted the best solution for my money that could make as many different circle sizes as possible, I decided to purchase the Circle Savvy Ruler. It can make whole circles (diameter) in the sizes ranging from 3" to 15". It was very helpful when I designed a quilt that used ringed circles. You might remember the Retro Circles quilt?
Some of you may fear and avoid curves like the plague, but there really is no reason to fear them. As with everything, practice and a steady slow pace help a lot. There are also a few tricks and tips about sewing curves on how to decrease puckering and reduce pinning. I am not going to talk about those today. There are already lots of tutorials and information out there about that.
We are here to learn about how to cut out Drunkard Patch patches with little or nor waste. Let's begin with a little anatomy of the block. The concave part of the block should remind you of a "cave," because that is where the word originates from. The sun part of the block is convex.
Unlike sewing together squares and rectangles, circles and curved edges will not be the same length when sewing them together. The length of the CONCAVE edge (circumference) will always be slightly shorter to accommodate the seam allowance. This is usually where some have problems, because the edge will have to be pulled to fit to the longer convex edge. You may think that cutting one curved edge from one piece of fabric will work but it does not. There are two more steps involved to make it work to produce an exact quarter circle.
- STEP ONE. Make the lengths of the CAVE edge shorter by reducing the size of the block.
- STEP TWO: Recut the curve on the CAVE edge so it will fit the curve exactly including the seam allowance.
If you have a Quick Curve Ruler from Sew Kind of Wonderful, then you already are familiar with the first step. This is done be sewing the CONVEX part of the circle 1/2" into the CONCAVE edge on both sides. Reducing the size of the block and cutting off the edges is actually done after the patches are sewn together. Step two is not carried out.
So, that's a little bit of the background behind the idea. Now on to the practical exercise. This can be used with any size curve and curved ruler from the four mentioned above.
For Four Inch Finished Drunkard's Path Blocks
1. Cut two (5) inch squares.
2. Mark a 1/4" seam allowance on the bottom and left side. This is where we will be matching up the cutting ruler including the seam allowance. [YELLOW LINES] After you become familiar with this idea, you may eliminate in the future.
3. Mark an ending line on the top and side right sides where you will be lining up the curved cut. [RED LINES] Starting flush at the bottom left corner, draw lines to make a 4 1/2" square. Why? This includes a 1/4" seam allowance on all four sides. I am also right-handed, so this tutorial is showing the right-handed way. For left-handed cutters, you will rotate everything 90° to the left.
4. Line up the edges of the cut square on the seam allowance line of the cutting ruler. Your outer line (4 1/2" square in red) will match with one of the slots of your circle cutting ruler. This is the 8 1/2" line on the Circle Savvy Ruler.
5. Cut through the slot using a 28mm rotary cutter perpendicular to the the mat if possible.
You now have a convex and a concave patch. The fun part begins. We will adjust them for the exact proportion and radius.
STEP ONE: Measure and cut off 1/2" on each side of the CAVE patch as shown below to make the curved edge shorter.
STEP TWO: Adjust the radius. Line up the CAVE patch with the seam allowance lines on the curved cutting ruler. Do you notice the number on the ruler is now 7 1/2"? There is always a one-inch difference of the inner and outer curves. Remember this for future cuts. Why is it one inch? That is four times your seam allowance.
Your CONVEX patch is slightly longer (8 1/2" cutting line) whereas the CAVE patch is slightly shorter (7 1/2"). Now cut again using a 28 mm rotary cutter perpendicular to the mat.
Here is the quick formula to remember. Cut your squares at least ONE inch larger than your finished block size. Draw your lines (finished patch size plus seam allowance on all four sides) on a couple of squares to understand where you will cut. Then mark on your ruler with washi tape or removable marker to eliminate the drawing of lines on your fabric. You can always cut larger than needed and trim down later or make different proportional Drunkard's Patch blocks.
You can refer to this video from Creative Grids that inspired the idea for this tutorial.
I would love to hear what you think about the tutorial and see if how it works for you. Please Leave A Little Love (LALL). Thank you!