Churn Dash Quilt Block Pattern Tutorial

The traditional churn dash quilt block pattern is easy to piece. See how with step-by-step instructions! 6 inch and 9 inch block sizes.

Churn Dash Quilt Block PatternChurn Dash Quilt Block Pattern

History tells it this block was named to depict an actual butter churn.

As a kid I grew up on a farm. We did churn butter, but this block does not remind me of an actual churn. But judge for yourself!

This block is known by many names - double monkey wrench, hole in the barn door, broken plate and many more.

Because it's very geometric it would look great made with bright colors in a quilt for a teen.

To have a more modern look use solid color fabrics.

Block Fabric Requirements

Traditionally, this block is made with two different and usually contrasting fabrics.

The greater the contrast the more the block design stands out.

In this tutorial I have designated the fabrics as follows

  • Fabric A = primary, or focus (print fabric)
  • Fabric B = background (white solid fabric)

Use your scraps, fat quarters or yardage.

Block Measurements

Here are the unit cutting measurements to make a 6 inch and a 9 inch churn dash quilt block pattern.

churn dash quilt block pattern measurement chart

(Note: To increase photo size, on your keyboard hold 'Ctrl' and hit the + key.)

Simply choose your block size, cut your fabric accordingly and follow the instructions below to make the block.

Block Layout

This block is laid out on a 3 x 3 grid - 3 rows and 3 columns.

This means that finished block sizes that are evenly divisible by three - 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 inch finished block sizes - will be the easiest to make.

The nine units that make up the block are

  • 4 half square triangles (aka HSTs)
  • 4 two-bar units
  • 1 square

Churn Dash Quilt Block Pattern Instructions

Step 1 According to the measurements in the chart above...

Make 4 half square triangles (not pictured here, but click the link for how to instructions) from fabrics A and B.

Press the seams open or towards fabric B, the background.

Step 2 Make 4 two-bar units.

Make a strip set from fabrics A and B. With the right sides together, sew a 1/4 inch seam down the longest side of the strip set.

churn dash quilt block pattern Step 2Make bar units

From the strip set, cut 4 bar units the width needed for the size block that you're making.

churn dash quilt block pattern Step 2acut bar units to width needed

Press the seams inward, toward fabric A, the churn dash.

With the bar unit open, trim the bar unit to the height needed for the block size that you're making.

churn dash quilt block pattern Step 2bpress seams and trim to needed height

Step 3 From background fabric B cut one square (not pictured) the size needed for the block that you are making.

Step 4 Near your sewing machine layout the block in the grid format as pictured below.

Fabric A, which makes up the churn dash quilt block pattern, should be pointing to the inside of the block.

churn dash quilt block pattern Step 4lay out quilt block pattern next to sewing machine

Without changing the orientation of the patch units sew the block together row by row.

Step 5 Assemble the block row by row.

Sew the units of row 1 together. With right sides together, place the bar unit from row 1 column 2 on top of the half square triangle from row 1 column 1.

churn dash quilt block pattern Step 5a

Sew the units together using a 1/4 inch seam along the right side of the block units. Finger press the seam towards the bar unit.

churn dash quilt block pattern Step 5b

With right sides together, sew the HST unit from row 1, column 3 to the bar unit in row 1, column 2, using a 1/4 inch seam.

churn dash quilt block pattern Step 5c

Finger press the seam towards the bar unit.

Row 1 units are now sewn together.

churn dash quilt block pattern Step 5d

Step 6 In the same manner as Step 5, sew the units of row 2 together, finger pressing the seams towards the bar units.

Then, sew the units of row 3 together, finger pressing the seams towards the bar units.

churn dash quilt block pattern Step 6

Step 7 Take the sewn rows to the ironing board and press this seams (not pictured).

For flatter seams, use a starch alternative pressing solution if desired.

Step 8 Now sew the rows of the churn dash quilt block pattern together.

Place row 1 face down over row 2 with right sides together.

Nest the seams and pin on both sides of the seam.

churn dash quilt block pattern Step 8

With rows 1 and 2 sewn together, press the seam upward, toward row 1.

churn dash quilt block pattern Step 8b

Now sew row 3 to row 2 in the same manner. Press the seam downward, toward row 3.

churn dash quilt block pattern Step 8c

Once the block is sewn together, take it to the ironing board and give it a final press.

Step 9 Here's the backside of the churn dash quilt block pattern. You can see how the seams are pressed.

backside of churn dash quilt block pattern Step 9backside of block pattern
backside of churn dash quilt block pattern Step 9backside of block pattern (a better view)

Enjoy making the churn dash quilt block. It's so versatile!

You can make it out of fabrics with a design that suits the style - modern, traditional or somewhere in between - of quilt you want to make.


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