How to Piece a Love Ring Quilt Block
The Love Ring, also called Drunkard's Path, is a block using only two curved templates. This article covers drafting instructions, fabric selection, and a video showing various pattern layouts.
- Drafting the Templates
- Fabric Selection
- Preparing the Fabric
- Marking and Cutting the Fabric
- Sewing the Block
- Variable Designs (Unlinked: Click title below and scroll up to the video.)
- Finishing Touches
Drafting the Templates
If you are a beginner, you'll want to work with larger templates for your first project. As you might be aware, a very common size for a quilt block is 12" (30.48 cm). So, we'll use this for our love ring templates.
What you'll need:
- newspaper, drafting paper, or vinyl template sheet
- a ruler, hemmer, or 1/4" (0.64 cm) quilter's guide
- drawing compass or medium sized plate
- pencil or marking pen
- utility scissors
The Love Ring's proportions can vary and will achieve different effects visually. The basic pattern of the center (quarter circle) goes beyond the half-way point of the edge's side, but not quite 3/4ths of the way. In the drawing, I have made a dot at the six-inch grid of my drafting paper and then two inches beyond. I set my compass for an 8" diameter circle.
When cutting along the curve, you use utility scissors because you do not want to dull your good fabric scissors--save those for cutting fabric!
The standard seam allowance in quilt making is 1/4". When actually cutting the fabric, ALL sides of the template piece need to have this seam allowance added. If you don't, you won't have sufficient fabric on which to sew, and your proportions will be wrong.
If you think you will be using your Love Ring pattern for several projects, you may want to transfer the pattern pieces to a more durable material, such as cardboard or vinyl. Vinyl sheets are available in most crafting stores.
In the picture above, I am adding the seam allowances so I don't have to add them in the future.
The fabrics you like are an individual choice. Patchwork can be made from any durable fabric, including basic-weave cotton, cotton blends, denim, flannels, light-weight wool, and even silks or satins. If you have never made a patchwork project before, 100% cotton with a high thread count works best. The reason is that more threads per square inch will last. Pure cotton, too, holds a seam crease when you iron it. This is helpful when sewing fabric pieces together.
Below is a table of the primary and secondary colors with their compliments. You may wish to refer to a color wheel to help you when selecting your fabrics.
Secondary Color Compliment
Preparing the Fabric
I always wash the fabric in cold water on a gentle cycle or a normal cycle with other things of like color. Washing and drying helps shrink the fabric so you don't get rippling after the project is completed. Cleaning also helps remove any residual commercial fire proofing, a source of allergy concerns for some people. White vinegar in the wash water helps retain colors in the fabrics. Use about one cup of vinegar for a full load. I recommend 1/4 cup for front-loading and water-saving washers.
Now its time to remove the selvages, the half-inch-wide edges of the fabric. Selvages have a tighter weave than the rest of the fabric. So, it is best to remove these; otherwise, rippling can occur should your project get washed again.
There are several ways of removing the selvage. If you have a rotary cutter, cutting ruler and mat with grid markings, you can line up the selvages vertically, place the ruler along the selvage line, and cut the two layers of fabric to remove the selvages. This method gives a very clean edge.
You can also cut away the selvage with fabric scissors. This takes a bit of time, though.
The quick method is to snip the fabric where the main color and selvage meet, then tear off the selvage along the grain of the fabric. The edge won't be as clean as if cut by the scissors or rotary, but it's quick and effective. Pressing the raw edge with an iron will smooth out an rippling creating by the tearing process.
Next, you will smooth all wrinkles and folds with a steam iron or spray water and dry iron. The setting for cottons is "4," a medium heat.
Marking and Cutting the Fabric
There are several ways to cut the fabric. If you have a paper pattern template, you can simply pin baste the piece to the fabric and trim around the pattern. Be careful not to cut into the pattern piece.
Another method is to use dressmaker's carbon paper and tracing wheel. I've never had one of these, but I have used carbon paper and pencil to mark fabric.
Chalk or chalk pounce can also be used. Chalk wipes off easily from fabric and can be sharpened in a regular pencil sharpener for a fine drawing tip. Chalk is inexpensive and requires little to no pressure when marking. If you use chalk, pick a color that is not present in the fabric. The odd color will stand out for easy viewing.
The method I use here is to outline the pattern template with a washable ink pen. You can also use a number two (No. 2) pencil. In the case of very dark fabrics, a soap bar that has well worn to thinness works quite well (photo to right).
Sewing the Block
If you prefer, you can hand stitch the pieces together by using a running stitch reinforced every third or fourth stitch with a back stitch. When hand stitching, you have an extra step of marking the seam line (1/4" from edge of fabric) to help you keep your hand stitches straight. The marking is made lightly on the wrong side of the fabric.
Sewing by Machine
Notice that the cut pieces appear to not fit each other. This is normal because the seam allowance has been added.
I get ready to sew the pieces by folding each piece in half and finger pressing a crease. This gives me a reference point for aligning the raw edges to each other.
When I sew, I go slowly and stop at each pin to remove it. I "eye" my seam line and use the engraved brackets found on the base of most modern sewing machines as a guide. If you don't have these, you can measure the distance from the needle tip to where the raw edge of the fabric should rest (to the right of the needle). Mark where the raw edge should align with masking tape.
There are quilting aid products on the market now that bear a 1/4" width. One of these is quilter's, or seam, tape with a light adhesive on both sides. This holds the raw edges together while you are sewing them and eliminates pin basting.
The following video gives a quick visual review of the steps in making a Love Ring, or Drunkard's Path, block, followed by quilts with different layouts. The design possibilities are endless!
All the captioned pictures and detailed explanations may seem complicated at first appearance, but if you follow these steps for your first block, the others that follow will be easy. In time, you develop a creative knack for combining many harmonious fabrics together using a light-dark, dark-light scheme and mirror-image pattern placements. You can even combine different size blocks, such as two 6" blocks with a 12" one, similar to some of the designs in the video.
The Love Ring (I much prefer this name to Drunkard's Path) makes really a beautiful quilt. If you're not ready to make a bed quilt, try a pillow sham or small wall hanging. These make great gifts, and you gain a sense of accomplishment that no shopping spree can give. Creative sewing is great therapy. Enjoy your sewing time!
© 2013 Marie Flint