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Tutorial: Drunkards Path Template

Recently, the Drunkards Path was the chosen block of the month for the Mindful Quilt Along group. I’ve made a few Drunkards Path Templates over the years – I either lose them or want a different size! – and thought I would share with you how I make them, just in case you’ve found a project that you Have To Start Now but don’t have the right templates to hand (or is that just me?!).

Drunkards Path block - how to make cutting and marking templates of any size for hand and machine piecing

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Drunkards Path Block

If you’ve not come across it before, the Drunkards Path is a traditional block with a quarter circle set into a square. The surrounding square can either be sized the same as the quarter circle or larger.

Drunkards Path Blocks

With both variations, you can create many different patterns that have lots of movement. Initially, the idea of curves can seem scary but I promised that they really aren’t as bad as you think and offer the opportunity to create so many fun designs!

What you will need

To make your own Drunkards Path templates, you only need a few things;

If you don’t have a circle cutter to hand you can, of course, use a standard compass and cut the template out with scissors but the cutter gives a much smoother and more accurate finish (as well as being quicker!).

It is worth noting that if a template is going to be used a lot, it may be worth investing in acrylic templates. Cardboard/plastic templates can soften/get nicked with use over time which will reduce the accuracy of your cutting and therefore the piecing and finish of your quilt.

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Make a Drunkards Path Template

To make a template, you need two measurements to start with;

  • The size of the finished quarter circle (the radius) (1)
  • The size of the finished square (2)

For this example, I am making a finished quarter circle of 3″ set into a finished square of 4″.

I am also using a standard quilters seam allowance of 1/4″.

Now that we know the finished measurements, we need to make a couple of other calculations to make the templates;

  • Quarter Circle Radius (1) – Seam Allowance = 2.75″ (3)
  • Quarter Circle Radius (1) + Seam Allowance = 3.25″ (4)
  • Quarter Circle Radius (1) + (Seam Allowance x 2) = 3.5″ (5)
  • Finished square (2) + (Seam Allowance x 2) = 4.5″ (6)
Drunkards Path block - how to make templates of any size for hand and machine piecing

Make the Square Drunkards Path Template

Start by drawing a square that includes the seam allowance (6) – I like to use the corners of the cardboard sheet so that I am minimising my cutting and only need to cut two sides! Mark the 1/4″ seam allowance inside the square.

Take the circle cutter, and set the radius at 2.75″ (3). Align the centre point of the cutter with the inside corner of one square (shown with the red ‘X’), and cut a quarter circle from edge to edge.

Drunkards Path quarter square block - how to make templates of any size for hand and machine piecing.
Example using measurements for a 4″ finished square with 3″ quarter circle. Substitute (n) for your own measurements.

Make the Quarter Circle Drunkards Path Template

Draw a square that measures the size of the quarter circle + (seam allowance x 2) (5).

Take the circle cutter, and set the radius at 3.25″ (4). Align the centre point of the cutter with an inside corner of the square (shown with the red ‘X’), and cut a quarter circle from edge to edge.

Drunkards Path quarter circle block - how to make templates of any size for hand and machine piecing.
Example using measurements for a 4″ finished square with 3″ quarter circle. Substitute (n) for your own measurements.

On both templates, I like to label them and draw in the seam allowance to prevent any confusion when I am cutting/marking.

Drunkards Path block - how to make cutting and marking templates of any size for hand and machine piecing

If you are hand-piecing your Drunkards Path blocks and want to mark the seam allowance, make another two templates, but cut the arc (numbers 3 and 5) at the finished quarter-circle measurement (1).

Drunkards Path block - how to make templates of any size for hand and machine piecing

I hope you’ve found this useful and don’t forget to check out tips for sewing curves and how to make and applique circles which you might find useful.

Back soon,

S x

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you very much! These instructions are terrific. I had cut a quarter circle and then realized I had no idea how to figure this out.

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