Churn Dash Quilt Block Pattern Tutorial

The churn dash quilt block pattern is a traditional block and easy to piece. See how with step-by-step instructions! Get 6 inch, 9 inch and 12 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 Yardage 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 fabric cutting measurements for a 6 inch, 9 inch  and a 12 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 and finished block sizes that are evenly divisible by three - 6, 9, 12 inch, etc. - 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 for your chosen block size...

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 2a 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 two strips.) We cut the strips oversized and will trim to size in Step 2c.

Step 2a churn dash quilt block pattern: Make 4 Two-Bar Units.

Step 2b From the strip set, cut 4 bar units the width needed for the size block that you're making.

Step 2b churn dash quilt block pattern: cut bar units to width needed.

Step 2c 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.

Step 2c churn dash quilt block pattern: press 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.

Step 4 churn dash quilt block pattern: layout quilt block pattern next to sewing machine.

Step 5a Stitch the Rows.

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.

Step 5a churn dash quilt block pattern: Stitch the Rows.

Step 5b 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.

Step 5b churn dash quilt block pattern: Sew the units together using a 1/4 inch seam along the right side of the block units.

Step 5c 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.

Step 5c churn dash quilt block pattern: Step 5c 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.

Step 5d Finger press the seam towards the bar unit, towards the center. Row 1 is sewn together.

Step 5d churn dash quilt block pattern: Finger press the seam towards the bar unit. Row 1 is sewn together.

Step 6a In the same manner as Step 5, sew the units of Row 2 together, finger pressing the seams towards the bar units, away from the center.

Step 6b Sew the units of Row 3 together, finger pressing the seams towards the bar units, towards the center.

Step 6b churn dash quilt block pattern: sew the units of Row 2 together. Finger press the seams towards the bar units, away from the center. Step 6c stitch and press toward center.

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 8a Sew the Rows Together.

Place Row 1 face down over Row 2 with right sides together. Nest the seams, pinning on both sides. Stitch the seam.

Step 8a churn dash quilt block pattern:  right sides together stitch Row 1 to Row 2.

Step 8b Flip Row 1 right side up. Press the seam upward, toward Row 1.

Step 8b churn dash quilt block pattern:  Flip Row 1 right side up. Press the seam upward, toward Row 1.

Step 8c Stitch Row 3 to Row 2 in the same manner. Press the seam downward, toward row 3.

Step 8c churn dash quilt block pattern:  Stitch Row 3 to Row 2 in the same manner. Press the seam downward, toward row 3.

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

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 patternbackside of block pattern
backside of churn dash quilt block patternbackside 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.


  1. Home
  2. >
  3. Quilt Block Patterns
  4. >
  5. Churn Dash


Top