Saturday, August 17, 2013

Tiny Churn Dash Blocks

Churn Dash is a variation of the simple nine patch block. I love this one because you can make use of the smaller scraps! It makes for some very charming blocks and when they are put together the block looks more complex due to colour selection.

3" finished Churn Dash block

Yesterday I showed you several 3" (finished) Churn Dash and I promised to show you how I make them. There are quite a few of these blocks in my quilt (49 of them). In all 49 there are two constants: a striped fabric from Northcott and my Picadilly fabric by Free Spirit. The rest of the fabrics are scraps. I cut a strip of striped fabric that is 6 1/2" by the width of the fabric from my Northcott stripes. From that I cut 1" strips. 

Northcott striped fabric

The stripes are used to frame the tiny patch in the centre and it is cut from the Picadilly fabric. You don't need to use striped fabric but I can tell you that it does add interest to your block. If you are only making one block to try it out then use the scraps you have on hand!

Picadilly fabric by Free Spirit

 When making small blocks there are several things I highly recommend for stress-free precision sewing:
  1. Sew with a scant 1/4" seam allowance which means your sewing line should be one or two threads less than a 1/4". If you sew a precise 1/4" the block will finish too small
  2. Use spray starch when pressing. This will keep the block flat and precise
  3. PRESS - don't iron. I always press my sewn piece to embed the stiches before pressing the seam allowances open or to one side.
  4. Pin your fabric pieces - they are small and it will keep them together right to the end of the seam.

You will need the following fabrics to make a block that finishes at 3":
  • 1 1/2" square (my Picadilly fabric)
  • 1" x 6 1/2" strip of light colour fabric
  • 1" x 6 1/2" strip of striped fabric
  • 2 - 2" squares of print
  • 2- 2" squares of light fabric

Pin the 1 1/2" x 6 1/2" strips of fabric with right sides together and stich with a scant 1/4" seam allowance. Be sure to shorten your stitch length because this  strip will be cut down. Press to embed the seam and then press the seam allowance open with a little spray starch.

Draw a pencil line from corner to corner on each of the 2" squares of light fabric. Pin them to the 2" print squares with right sides together and stitch a scant 1/4" away from either side of the pencil line. You are making half square triangles.

Cut the 2" squares in half on the pencil line. Press to embed the seam then press the seam allowances open. A little spray starch will help with this.

Trim these blocks so that they are 1 1/2"square. To do this line up the 45 degree mark on your ruler on the diagonal line on your block and trim.

Take the 6 1/2" strip of light and striped fabric and trim one end so that it is straight and then sub-cut four 1 1/2" squares. In the photo below the top row is the centre patch, the second row is the green stripe that will frame the centre patch and the bottom row is the half square triangles that will be placed in the corners (the two on the left are pressed but not trimmed to size whereas the two on the right are pressed and trimmed to size).

Now it's time to lay out the block in preparation for sewing.

The pieces will be sewn into rows. The seam allowances in the top and bottom row are pressed toward the centre patch as indicated by the red arrows. The seam allowances in the centre row are pressed away from the centre patch  as indicated by the red arrows. When pressing use a little spray starch.

Finally the rows are stitched together and the seam allowances are pressed open.

And this is the block from the back.

And there you have it - a tiny Churn Dash block that finishes at 3"!

I've decided that the outer border of this quilt will be made of 2" finished hourglass blocks in assorted greens. I am going to need quite a few of them so I had better get sewing!

Until I post again, happy sewing!


  1. Ooooooh - I'm a sucker for tiny blocks and I just love this one.

    1. Tiny blocks are so much fun. It is a great way to use small scraps and better yet, really ugly fabrics get much more attractive when they are cut up into smaller pieces!

  2. Thank you soooo much for sharing this with us!! I LOOOVE Churn Dash! & these are soooo cool!

    Ohio Hugs!! :)

  3. Looking good! I bet that starch on the seams would help them stay in place so they don't shift before the sewing machine needle gets to them. I have a few that always flip the wrong way as I am sewing. Great idea! Thanks!!