Exploring the Basics Series

Exploring the Basics: The Churn Dash Quilt Block

ETB Churn Dash Block Badge (1)

Welcome to our new series in Exploring the Basics.  Each month, Kate and I will be exploring a specific quilt block.  Like all of our other series, each of us will delve into a topic on our own blogs, offering our unique views on the topic - in this case, a quilt block.  You'll want to visit both blogs each month and get all the details for each month's block.  This month - Churn Dash.  Ready?  Let's dive in!

Anatomy of Churn Dash

Let's look at the "basic" (ie, traditional) Churn Dash block.  It is made up of four HSTs (half square triangles), four rail fence units, and one center square.  Easy peasy, right?  Right!

As with any block, it can be made in two colors (as shown above), or with more.  You can go scrappy as well.

Want to make a Churn Dash block?  Here are the fabrics and cutting for a 9" finished block:


        (1) 4" strip - cut (2) 4" squares and (1) 3 1/2" square

        (1) 2" strip


        (1) 4" strip - cut (2) 4" squares 

        (1) 2" strip

Step 1:

Pair one 4" white and blue square together RST (right sides together) and make HSTs.  Repeat with a second set and trim all HST units down to 3 1/2".  Need a refresher on making HSTs?  Visit my post on seven different ways to make Half Square Triangles!  This is Method 2.

Step 2:

Sew the 2" white strip and the 2" blue strip together along one long side, RST.  Press to the blue strip.  Subcut (4) 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" rail fence units.  Need a refresher on strip piecing and Rail Fence units?  Check out this post on strip piecing and this post on the versatility of the Rail Fence block!

Churn Dash Assembly

Step 3:

Let's put all those units you created in Steps 1 and 2 together.  Use the diagram above as a guide, and lay out all of your units before sewing them together.  Once you have them arranged properly (blue portion of the HSTs toward the inside of the block, blue portion of the rail fence units toward the white square in the center), sew the units together as shown.  

I like to assemble my blocks in horizontal rows (as shown), but you may prefer vertical rows.  Either will work. Sew a rail fence unit between two HST units - paying attention to the orientation of each unit.  Again, use the diagram as a guide!  Sew the three rows together.  You'll need to match up those center seam intersections where the HST units and Rail Fence units meet, as well as the intersection of seams for the Rail Fence units and center square.

Let's talk pressing.  I prefer to press seams open.  I find my blocks are MUCH flatter and look much better.  You'll need to take your time and match seams up while sewing the rows together, but it is easy!  When you are done, your Churn Dash block should measure 9 1/2" square, edge to edge.  This means it will be 9" finished (when sewn into a project).

That was fun!  Want to get more inspiration and some great ideas for other ways to use the Churn Dash block in projects?  I have just the thing! 

Since February, Kate and I have been challenging fellow designers to reimagine basic quilt blocks.  This month's block was - you guessed it - the Churn Dash block!  Where can you see all the designer versions of the Churn Dash? 

Head over to Instagram, and search the hashtag - #churndashblockchallenge.   You can also go to my Instagram feed and click on any of my four Churn Dash block challenge pictures (the final project reveal was Monday, June 28).  I've tagged each of the designers in my post text and you can click on their names to view their posts as well!


Each month we post four pictures, one each Monday.  The first post is the fabric pull.  I love seeing what colors and prints people are going to pull together for a project.



The second and third posts are sneak peeks into the project.  Can you guess what technique I used for my Churn Dash challenge, just by looking at the picture above?  Yup - paper piecing!


For June's Churn Dash challenge, I decided to miniaturize one of my lap size patterns.  Those little churn dash blocks above are super tiny!


And here's the final project - a 12" x 15" version of my original Modern Churn pattern.  It was so much fun making a 50" x 60" lap quilt super small that I already have plans to miniaturize some of my other patterns!

You can see that my take on the Churn Dash reproportioned the traditional Churn Dash block.  My rails are skinnier in some of the blocks, and the larger blocks are rectangular rather than square.  But seriously - you are going to want to head over to Instagram and check out of all the variations from this month's challenge!  They are amazing!

Head over to Kate's blog to see her insights on the Churn Dash block too!

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis?

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Disclaimer Statement: This blog is my personal blog, which means it is written and edited by me - and I may sometimes have guest posts (and they will be written/edited by the guest poster - whew!). This blog does accept forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation, which may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in the blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. Sometimes I (the blog owner) may be compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Please be aware that, even though I may be asked to provide opinions, posts or reviews, I do always give my honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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