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

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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.

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

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:

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:

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:

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:

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

I prefer this arrangement!

Step 2:

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:

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:

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

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

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