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The Classic Churn Dash Quilt Block (Every Quilter Should Try This!)

Originated in the 1800s, the churn dash quilt block (also called the monkey wrench quilt block) pattern is a classic that still holds genuine appeal for so many quilters today! It’s quick and easy to sew, and you can customize it with your choice of fabrics to make it simple and straightforward or scrappy and wild.

churn dash quilt block

Let’s sew a 12″ finished (12 1/2″ unfinished) churn dash quilt block with this tutorial! Ready to get started?

How to sew a churn dash quilt block

churn dash block tutorial

Cutting the fabric

For this tutorial, I’m using Lily & Loom Modern Hand Drawn Precuts. You can use any quilting cotton, and you’ll get the best effect by choosing fabrics with high contrast.

Background fabric (white):

  • Cut two 5″ squaresor half-square triangles
  • Cut four pieces 2½” x 4½” for side units

Foreground fabric (black):

  • Cut two 5″squares for half-square triangles
  • Cut four pieces 2½” x 4½” for side units

Center fabric (teal):

  • One 4½” square for block center
  • Note: You can choose a third color of your choice, like I did, or match this center square to the background fabric

Sewing the units

Step 1:

churn dash block tutorial

Place one 5″ background square right sides together with one  5″ contrast square. Draw a diagonal line down the middle of the lighter fabric and sew ¼” on either side of the line.

Step 2:

churn dash block tutorial

Next, cut along the drawn line to make two half-square triangles. Press the seams toward the darker fabric, and trim off the dog ear corners. The units will measure 4½” square. Repeat with the next set of 5″ fabric squares to make a total of 4 half-square triangles.

Step 3:

churn dash block tutorial

Take two non-matching 2½” x 4½” strips and put them together right sides facing. Sew a ¼” seam along one long edge. Press the seams toward the darker fabric. Repeat with the other pairs of non-matching strips to make a total of 4 side units.

Sewing the units together

Step 1:

Depending on which way you arrange the blocks, you can change the look of your churn dash. It can look like this, with the black fabric as a border:

churn dash block tutorial

…or like this with the white fabric as a border:

churn dash block tutorial

I prefer this arrangement!

Step 2:

churn dash block tutorial

Next, choose your center square. You can match it to the background, or choose another pop of color. Insert a 4½” center square of your choice.

Step 3:

churn dash block tutorial

Sew together the units in each row. Press the seams of the top and bottom rows outward and the seams of the middle row inward.

Step 4:

churn dash block tutorial

Sew together the top, center and bottom rows together, and press the seams toward the darker fabric.

churn dash quilt block

I hope you enjoyed this fun and easy churn dash quilt block tutorial!

8 Comments

Susie O

Fun to see the instruction on how to make different blocks. I usually make each block, per instructions. I’m getting close to enough blocks to make a lap quilt. Thanks!

Reply
Bev

What a great idea and a fun one, too! Thank you for sharing.

Reply
Tina

First block I learned and it was so easy I was surprised! My neighbour mucked hers up and I had a heck of a time trying to get it to come right as it was the last bits of material she had, so careful seams to hide the short come, still makes me laugh!

Reply
martha

My grandmother made this years ago and I have the fabric to make one, just never did. This inspires me to go for it!

Reply
Peg Herr

I made one of my own with a few modifications. It is absolutely beautiful
on my bed. You are right it was fun to make.

Reply
Edith Hutchings

Have my mothers churn dash put away. She made it at the age of 15 from materials given to her by her boyfriends mom. All done by hand—-100 years old.

Reply
Elizabeth Steele

Love this block! It’s so pretty, but easy. Perfect! Can’t wait to make a scrap-buster with this one! Thanks so much for sharing!

Reply

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