It’s my turn on the blog book tour for John Kubiniec’s new book, A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path. When I saw this book, I immediately started thinking: how could I make these designs with my dies? If you have a die cutter, I’m sure you look at patterns & books the same way. Converting patterns can sometimes be challenging, but hopefully I can take you on a tour of this book and help you look at your dies in a fresh way. There’s also a giveaway at the end!
While I can’t cover every technique in John’s book in a single blog post, I thought I’d take a look at a couple of techniques and talk through how to make those quilts using dies. I love the drunkard’s path (DP) block and I’ve made lots of quilts using this shape, coming up with my own twists – but none as unique as what John presents in his book.
One of my favorite quilts in John’s book is one called Tile Floor:
Not only is this a stunning use of color, but it’s also really simple to achieve with both rotary and die cutting. I know I’m excited to play with this technique and make a quilt with a combination of DP and HST (half-square triangle) dies.
Another stunning project in this book – which incidentally uses the same technique but produces a completely different look is Bowties:
Isn’t this quilt simply stunning? I can see a version from a favorite stack of fat quarters or leftover scraps. It’s the solid color background that ties them all together, and the red border is the perfect frame.
Now in die cutting, not all DP dies are created equal. There are several challenges you’ll face in using dies vs. templates, and some of them can be the deciding factor in whether or not you decide to use dies or templates. Not only are you dealing with different sizes across the different companies (very few of which produce the same size unit) but there are also different shapes and die layouts.
Differences in Die Shapes
Some DP dies have a deeper arch, while others are more shallow. Here are two examples from the Sizzix collection:
Notice how the 4″ arch is fairly deep, so the quarter circle takes up more space, where the 3″ arch is more shallow, so there’s more of it relative to the quarter circle. This difference can change the look of your finished projects, so if you’re trying to replicate a quilt from a book or magazine and substituting dies, you may not have the same results.
Differences in Die Sizes
The other challenge I mentioned is that the finished size of the blocks will be different across systems as well, which can add complexity for converting patterns. Often, you’ll need to change the size of the quilt, and make more or fewer blocks, which may have an impact on fabric requirements as well.
One of the biggest issues with die sizes is that each manufacturer measures their dies differently, which can make it more difficult to figure out what dies are available or can be used. This is one reason behind my creation of the Equivalent Die Notation (EDeN™) System, which takes quilting shapes and standardizes them for rotary cutting & die cutting under a common naming system to make the conversion of patterns easier.
Until recently, the EDeN™ System charts did not have notations for things like drunkard’s path, triangle in a square, hexagons, etc. but in our fall update (coming in November) we’ll be updating the chart with new die releases as well as include these new categories. Here’s a sneak peek at the section for drunkard’s path:
If you don’t yet have the EDeN™ Chart, or you’d like to learn more about this system, you can download a chart now at the website, but please check back later in November for an updated chart with these and other changes.
In the book, John recommended the use of templates by Marti Michell for creating the patterns in the book, and I was curious to see if any of the die sizes corresponded at all to the shapes in the template set. What I found was, for the most part, the answer to that question was no.
DP-3½ and DP-4½ correspond to templates C & D respectively, but all other dies were either too big or too small for the other template shapes. So essentially – if you’re going to use the patterns in this book, you’re pretty much going to be resizing the blocks in all the projects. This shouldn’t be too much of a hardship though, if you’ve got graph paper or a calculator handy.
Some quilts like Deco Blue, don’t even need to change much, as you can also adjust the border & sashing to create a quilt that’s the same size:
In this quilt for example, I would use DP-7, which is only available as a GO! die, but will also work in the Sizzix Big Shot Pro or AccuQuilt Studio machines with the appropriate adapter(s). It’s about 1/2″ larger than the template, but is the closest in size.
Differences in Die Layouts
Some of the other quilts are significantly more challenging to produce using dies, because the die layout may not allow for the same use of fabric as a template would. With a template, you can position it on the fabric in any way you wise, but with a die, you might be dealing with nested shapes or adjacent blades that would chop up your fabric in a different way.
For example, to produce Test Pattern, one of the tips is to use the scraps left from cutting the quarter circle to cut finished HST squares. However, some die layouts may not produce usable scraps in the same way because the blades are set too close together for adjacent shapes or they aren’t laid out in a way that produces scraps in the same shape you would if you were rotary cutting using a template.
In his quilt Peacock, John takes advantage of the templates to create a double-sided arch, which eliminates a seam between two DP blocks and makes it look like a scalloped border:
This would be a really challenging shape to achieve using dies, but not wholly impossible; I’m already noodling on a way to do this that I’d consider doing a tutorial video on later. Still – even without a new technique, you could just create a strip set to insert between these blocks to create the same look; there would be extra seam lines, but this isn’t necessarily a terrible thing.
In both cases, I personally wouldn’t let this stop me from making either of the quilts; I would just plan extra fabric and stitch up the extra pieces I needed to mimic this shape.
Stitching Up the Drunkard’s Path
I know curved piecing intimidates a lot of people, and in fact I’ve been teaching my technique in classes around the country (including the now sold-out Whirly Swirly class at Houston Quilt Festival this fall). One of the things that bothers me about traditional methods for stitching DP blocks is the copious use of pins; who has time for that?
So in the event you can’t make it to an in-person class, I’d like to mention that I have a couple of videos on my YouTube Channel showing you how to cut & stitch the Drunkard’s Path without pins (I’ve queued up both videos here, but if you want to just play one or the other, go directly to my channel to see it.)
I will say though… if you’re making some of the blocks that have additional seams in the arch and/or quarter circle, you may want to use the pinning method, because the shapes may not stretch in a predictable way, making this technique more of a challenge.
Overall, I think this book has some really great ideas for changing up the drunkard’s path block and exploring new territory. I also love it for the way it challenged me to look at my dies in a different way, to see how I could create more complex drunkard’s path shapes using dies I already own – and you can too!
Would you like to win a copy of the book? John is giving readers the chance to win a copy of his book and a set of the Drunkard’s Path templates he uses – so whether or not you have a die cutter, you can still make the projects in this book – not to mention there are templates you can copy in the book even if you don’t win the templates.
To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post and tell me what other die cutting videos you’d like me to make about curved piecing. It could be a technique, a die, or even a specific project! For extra entries, like my Facebook page, subscribe to my newsletter, and/or subscribe to my YouTube Channel, and then leave separate comments once you’ve done so. (And if you already like & subscribe, just leave a comment stating so!)
Two winners will be drawn on October 8th and notified via email (one for the book, one for the template.) If you win and you’re in the US, you will receive a hard copy of the book; otherwise international winners will receive an e-book.
For the rest of the blog tour (and extra chances to win) be sure to visit these other stops on the tour!
September 26, 2016
Jenifer Dick www.42quilts.com
C&T Publishing http://www.ctpub.com/blog/
September 27, 2016
Sara Lawson www.sewsweetness.com/blog
Heather Kojan http://www.heatherkojan.com
September 28, 2016
Bill Volckening http://willywonkyquilts.blogspot.com
McCall’s Quilting http://www.mccallsquilting.com/blogs/
September 29, 2016
Teri Lucas https://terificreations.com
Bonnie Hunter http://quiltville.blogspot.com
September 30, 2016
made by ChrissieD http://madebychrissied.blogspot.com
LoveBug Studios https://lovebugstudios.com/blog/ (that’s me!)
October 1, 2016
Kathy Patterson http://hillstreetquilts.blogspot.com
Teresa Coates http://www.crinkledreams.com
October 2, 2016
Carl Hentsch http://3dogdesignco.blogspot.com
October 3, 2016
Generation Q Magazine http://generationqmagazine.com
Lisa Calle https://lisacalle.wordpress.com
October 4, 2016
Linzi Upton https://thequiltquine.wordpress.com
Nicole Daksiewicz www.modernhandcraft.com/blog
October 5, 2016
Marti Michell http://frommartimichell.blogspot.com
Debby Brown http://higheredhands.blogspot.com
October 6, 2016
Melody Crust http://melodycrust.blogspot.com/
Kim Niedzwiecki http://www.gogokim.com
October 7, 2016
Patrick Lose http://www.patricklose.com
John Kubiniec https://bigrigquilting.com/blog/