Churn Dash – Your First Quilt Block

churn-dash-block-1Are you ready?  At this point, you’ve practiced cutting your fabric, and you’ve mastered the quarter inch seam.  The only thing left to do is just do it!  I tried to pick a block that was easy, yet also visually interesting.  Churn Dash is this block’s traditional name, but depending on your fabric choices, this block can certainly look modern.  I have included some tips along the way.  They appear in italics.  If you’re new to quilting, you should take the time to read them.  If you are an experienced quilter, you are probably to the point where the suggestions I provide  just come naturally.  This is my first attempt at teaching quilting via my blog, so if there are suggestions for improvements, feel free to speak up.  I plan to do at least eight more of these, and I’d like them to be as user friendly as possible.  As always, questions and comments are welcome!


Nikki, In Stitches

White tonal:
Cut 4 rectangles 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″
Brown Paisley:
Cut 4 rectangles 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″
White Paisley:
Cut 2 large squares 4 7/8″ x 4 7/8″
Cut 1 small square 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″
Green Houndstooth:
Cut 2 large squares 4 7/8″ x 4 7/8″
churn-dash-step-11. With right sides together, sew 1 white tonal rectangle and 1 brown paisley rectangle together to make Unit A. Press to the darker fabric. Make 4 Unit A’s.

A note on pressing: “Pressing” and “Ironing” are very different, especially to a quilter. Quilters press. They use an up and down motion, not the typical back and forth motion of ironing. After a piece has been sewn, set your seam by placing the piece dark side up on your ironing surface. Put the iron down on the seam, then bring the iron straight up. Next, lift the top layer up, and moving from right to left, run the iron along the seam with the body of the iron parallel to your sewing. Good pressing skills make quilting easier, so take the time to carefully press your pieces.

churn-dash-step-22. Draw a diagonal line on the back of each green houndstooth square from corner to corner. With right sides together, place 1 green houndstooth square on top of 1 white paisley square. Stitch 1/4″ on each side of the drawn line. Cut the square into two triangles by cutting on the drawn diagonal line. Press to the houndstooth fabric.


When triangle units are made, there are always “dog ears” that stick out from your seams after they are pressed. Cut these little triangles off before attaching another piece to prevent bulk in your seams.

churn-dash-step-33. Sew a houndstooth triangle unit to each side of Unit A. Press towards the houndstooth triangle unit. Repeat this with the other two remaining houndstooth triangle units.

churn-dash-step-44. Sew the remaining two Unit A’s to each side of the small paisley square. Press toward the paisley square.

churn-dash-step-55. Sew Rows 1 and 2 together, pressing towards Row 2. Sew Row 3 on to the bottom, pressing towards Row 2 again.

The importance of which direction you press your seams should now become apparent. If you have pressed your seams in the directions that were recommended above, they should abut to each other nicely as you sew your rows churn-dash-pressing-seamstogether. With practice, you will be able to judge which direction to press, but most patterns offer suggestions. When in doubt, press to the darker fabric to avoid any color showing through your finished quilt.

For other posts from Nikki, In Stitches related to the Relay Quilt, please see the following:

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

Cheap Trick

And For Your Second Block…A Card Trick

Third Times a Charm, or a Sawtooth Patchwork

Back to Blocks…4th: Gentleman’s Fancy?

Block Five: A Dove in the Window

Block Six: A Flower Pot…My Fave So Far

7th Block: Crow’s Foot…And You Can Actually See the Feet!

Block 8: Pinwheel and Squares…Don’t Be Afraid!

Rosebud: The 9th and FINAL Block!

The End is in Sight!

A Quilt Sambo

Bound and Determined

Tagged and Ready for the Relay

Relay Results

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8 Responses to Churn Dash – Your First Quilt Block

  1. Kacie says:

    Hi, Nikki – Thanks so much for this tutorial! I linked to it on the Churn Dash block page on I know other quilters will find it very helpful, too! Here’s the link: Thanks, again!

  2. Barb says:

    Hi, Nikki – Just found this site, I will start the block as soon as I finish this quick note of ‘THANKS’. Barb

    • nikkiinstitches says:

      Thank You, Barb!
      I’m so glad you like my site. Hopefully, this week I will finish up the quilting posts with sashing and borders, quilting, and binding. I hope you enjoy all of the blocks and tutorials!

  3. Pingback: Top 10 Countdown! #10: Churn Dash – Your First Quilt Block « Nikki, In Stitches

  4. Pingback: The End is in Sight! « Nikki, In Stitches

  5. Pingback: 7th Block: Crow’s Foot…and You Can Actually See the Feet! « Nikki, In Stitches

  6. Pingback: And For Your Second Block…A Card Trick « Nikki, In Stitches

  7. Pingback: Let’s Start at the Very Beginning « Nikki, In Stitches

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