DIY Block of the Month #2 – Churn Dash

February is Gayle’s choice for block of the month and her choice was Churn Dash. This is a quick and easy block to piece. Instructions are for a 12 inch finished block but you can change the size up pretty easily. To help with that, I’m going to explain some of the formulas for cutting. This block is based on a nine-patch grid of three equal sizes across and down which means it breaks really easily into number you can divide by three. For instance, in our twelve-inch block, each of the nine units finishes at 4″. For a nine-inch block the squares would finish at 3″ and for a six-inch block they would finish at 2″. Clear as mud? Let me show you instead….

The Churn Dash Block

The churn dash is made of up one center square, four 1/2-square triangle squares and four squares made of 2 rectangles. First, we’ll make the rectangle squares.

I was “born” into the quilting world just as strip piecing was making its debut. In fact, there were still a lot of quilters who considered strip piecing somewhat blasphemous and I heard from a few that it wasn’t a quilt if you didn’t pencil trace around your templates, cut them out with scissors and piece them by hand!  Well, being the renegade I was, I delighted in strip piecing from the get go so even with this small a section, why cut and piece rectangles when you can cut strips?  I cut 2.5 inch strips, one the width of my fat quarter and the other width of my fabric (I’ll save the other half of the strip for later.)  With a cut unit size of 4.5 inches we need a strip that is longer than 18 inches to cut all four units.  So, here’s the math lesson – skip this if you don’t need it – since our square made of two rectangles is going to finish four inches, you take 1/2 of that four inches and add seam allowances.  If we want to make the 9″ version of this block the square is three inches which would mean strips of 2″. 

After you’ve sewn your strips right sides together (ok, confession time, it took a while to decide which side of the yellow I liked better!) then press the seam to the dark side, like this…

Sewn strip set


Then cut four 4.5″ sets from the strip like this…

Rectangle square units

Now, on to the 1/2-square triangles.  I’m trying to train myself to use the Easy Angle ruler which allows you to cut strips instead of squares that are subcut but, frankly, old habits die hard, especially late at night, when I’m in a hurry and I only need to cut two squares of each color!  So, cut four squares (two background, two print) at 4 7/8″ square.  Cut these once on the diagonal and you’ll have two lovely stacks of four triangles,like these…

1/2-square triangles

Now, back to the math lesson…whenever you are using 1/2-square triangles to make squares, you add 7/8″ to the finished size of the unit you want.  This allows for seam allowance and a little extra for those dog ears we trim off.  So, if you are scaling this block down to 9″, you would cut 3 7/8″ squares and cut them into triangles.  You can also cut 1/2 square triangles from strips that eliminate that pesky 7/8″ measurement and I would recommend you hop over to where Bonnie explains it much better than I could!

Next, stitch your triangles together, right sides together (rst) being careful to use a precise quarter-inch seam allowance and to start sewing far enough along the triangle to make sure you don’t let your machine eat the tip of the triangles.  If you do have a consistent problem with a triangle-munching machine, you can get a single stitch throat plate for many machines.  Just make sure you change the throat plate before you change to a zigzag stitch…voice of experience, can you tell?

Once you’ve sewn your triangles, press the seam to the dark side and trim off the dog ears.

1/2 Square Triangles


You will need one final piece and that is a 4.5 square of your background material.   Lay out your block pieces like this…

Then stitch it together in columns starting by laying the center column rst on the far left column.  Stitch the units together and when you reach the end of the first pair, sew off for a few stitches, then add the next set.  This will make your piecing easier by letting the block “hang” together.  It’s much harder to put a piece in backwards this way!  After sewing the center column to the left column, add the right column on to the center.  Press the seams so that the top and bottom row go toward the center and the middle presses to the outside. 

Now stitch the rows together and, voila!, you have month #2 of the DIY Block of the Month completed!

Again, the finished block!

So, with that completed, I’m off to work on the border blocks for the memory quilt I’m working on unless I get sidetracked by a long, hot bath! 

Sometime this weekend, I’ll be posting my first ever book review.  I’d really love to know what you think when I do!

Happy quilting,


P.S.  If you want to see a block that is similar to a churn dash hop over to Bonnie Hunter’s blog at…she’s just finished a monkey quilt that is just too cute and was probably my inspiration for my yellow background, although I didn’t realize that until after I got it home.  Oh, well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I’m sure Bonnie wont mind!

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