From our Free Quilt Block Patterns Library
Skill Level: Beginner
Grid Size: 5x5
The Churn Dasher quilt block is made all of half square triangles and cut squares.
It's a good block for the beginning quilter to try out a method for making half square triangles eight at a time. A great technique for every quilter to have in their 'piecing arsenal'!
The block design lends itself to a number of variations. You'll find a-whopping nine of them further down on this page.
As always, instructions are included for several block sizes.
This time including 5", 7-1/2", 10" and 15".
Let's get started with this two fabric block!
The sample in this tutorial is a 10" finished block.
All seam allowances (SA) are 1/4".
When you're instructed to press, first press the pieced unit flat to set the seam. Then open the patch, pressing from the front.
Seam allowances are pressed toward the darker fabric unless otherwise noted.
I use several common abbreviations on this page:
Patches #3 and #4 are marked with 2 asterisks (**). These squares are used to make our half square triangles (HST) eight at a time.
Some quilters prefer to make their HST larger than required and then trim them down to size. I'm one of those quilters. So when I make this block, I add an extra 1/2" to each dimension of my #3 and #4 patches. Instead of cutting them 5-3/4"x5-3/4" for my 10" finished block, I'll cut them at 6-1/4"x6-1/4".
If your 1/4" seam is always spot on, use the measurements in the chart. If you want a bit of extra insurance add a bit.
There's a handy chart for you to download with all the numbers on it for this 8-at-a-time technique. Click here to download it.
Cutting Chart for a~ Traditional Piecing ~
|Patch||Fabric||Qty||Finished Block Size|
|1||BAC||8||1½ x 1½||2" x 2"||2½ x 2½||3½ x 3½|
|2||A||9||1½ x 1½||2" x 2"||2½ x 2½||3½ x 3½|
|3**||BAC||1||3¾ x 3¾||4¾ x 4¾||5¾ x 5¾||7¾ x 7¾|
|4**||A||1||3¾ x 3¾||4¾ x 4¾||5¾ x 5¾||7¾ x 7¾|
|Unfinished Block Size||5½||8"||10½||15½|
|**These patches are for the HSTs. You may want to cut them larger. Then trim to size after stitching.|
My go-to thread for all my piecing is...
Two Patch Units
With RST, stitch one #2 square to a small background #1. Press with the SA towards the dark fabric.
Repeat for a total of 4 pairs.
Half Square Triangle Units (HST)
We'll use a method that makes 8 HSTs at one time. You can find detailed instructions how to do this in our Beginner Quilt Block Patterns series under Half Square Triangles: Technique #4.
On the back of the large background square #3 draw a pair of perpendicular lines from corner to corner to form an 'X'.
With RST, layer the large dark #4 and background #3 squares and stitch a quarter inch away from both sides of both lines.
After the stitching is complete, the squares look like this.
Find the midpoint measurement or center of your #3/#4 squares. It is simply the size of the cut squares divided by 2.
Because I started with larger #3/#4 patches cut at 6-1/4" I had to do the math myself. The mid-point is 3-1/8" or 6-1/4" divided by 2.
If you cut your #3/#4 patches the exact dimension of 5-3/4", your mid-point is 2-7/8" or 5-3/4" divided by 2.
If you are making another block size, use the chart below to find the Midpoint measurement.
| #3/#4 squares|
|Trim HST to...|
Cut your block in half at this midpoint both vertically and horizontally to create four squares. Then cut along the drawn diagonal lines.
You now have eight HSTs.
Check your HST against the 'Trim to...' size in the chart above. Trim as needed.
Again, for more detailed instructions on this technique go to Half Square Triangles: Technique #4.
Layout the patches for a corner unit. (Photo 1)
With RST, align the edges of a HST with a BAC square. Stitch and press with SA towards the light fabric. (Photo 2, top) This is the only time in this block where you press towards the light—this is so the seams will nest and to reduce bulk.
Take a quick check from the front of the sewn unit to make sure the darker fabric isn't shadowing through to the front. If it is, trim the seam allowance of the dark so that it is shorter than the light one.
Repeat for the HST and #2 patch. This time press with SA towards the dark. (Photo 2, bottom)
Sew the to sub-units together, nesting the seam allowances and pinning if needed.
Press this seam towards the #2 square. (Photo 3)
Lay out the pieced units.
Stitch into rows. Press with the SA as shown by the red arrows below.
Stitch the rows together.
The finished Churn Dasher quilt block is ready to be pieced into your next quilt.
No one was more surprised than me to see all the variations on this simple Churn Dasher quilt block drawing.
You will be, too!
And here they are...
A two fabric version that looks completely different from the Churn Dasher quilt block, simply because of the color placement.
Three fabrics—a dark, a medium and a light—come together to create a star design.
Also known as: Two Crosses
Click here for instructions to make it.
Another three fabric block, with the addition of the dark squares on the sides it looks more like a bow, don't you think?
You may know it by one of its other common names: Churn Dasher quilt block, Five Patch Star,
Four & Star, 4X Star, Star and Cross
In this variation, I'd choose to piece the brown fabrics as rectangles instead of 2 squares to simplify the piecing.
The star theme continues with a reverse nine patch (the lighter patches are in the corners) in the center.
Piece the center as one unit, and you've got the perfect place to display machine embroidery collections.
Star and Cross
Simplify the piecing by using a rectangle instead of 3 patches in the very center.
The star almost disappears, with the turquoise creating almost a 'tulip' design.
Nine Patch Star
It completely transforms with this two color placement.
All those variations from the simple Churn Dasher quilt block—who knew!
There's plenty more to keep you busy! Just check out our Free Quilt Block Pattern Library to find blocks for your next quilting creation!
These are my go-to resources for quilt block ideas.
Can you tell?
It's in color.
It's got a ton of blocks.
What's not to love?
Next on my 'must-have' list is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
Unlike the Maggie Malone book, the blocks in this volume are hand-drawn and in black and white—no color—personally, I prefer colored drawings to work with.
This book is no longer in print.
If you can come by a copy expect it to be wickedly expensive. Once in awhile you can find it here on Amazon.com.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt, in cooperation with Barbara Brackman has announced they plan to republish the Encyclopedia sometime in 2020.
However, all is not lost if you can't find a hard copy.
BlockBase is the computerized version of the Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
It contains designs for over 4300 blocks—pretty much every block published from the 1830's through the 1970's.
It can be used with Electric Quilt and is a Windows based program.
In fact, there are instructions included so that you can pull up the digital patterns within Electric Quilt (PC version for now) without having to open up BB program.
UPDATE: Electric Quilt has announced that they will be rereleasing the standalone BlockBase software for BOTH PC and MAC in 2020.
This is terrific news.
Finally there's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer.
Lots of detail and in color, it is a beautiful volume. That said, I check it out of my local library on a regular basis instead of purchasing it—can you see the library sticker on it's spine. Yep, it's from the Plainfield Public Library.
Simply because I own the previous three references and find this the least user-friendly of the group.
And it does make a fabulous coffee table book!