Monkey Wrench Quilt Block

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Monkey Wrench quilt block tutorial

Skill Level: Beginner

Grid:  5x5

The Monkey Wrench quilt block is a terrific block for the beginning quilter! It's made of just half square triangles and strip sets!

It also makes a GREAT block for block exchanges—either for your quilting bee or your guild because it's simple enough to whip up quickly. (We all know that if it weren't for the last minute...NOTHING would get done!)

You might know it as the 'Churn Dash' quilt block. But this simple, two-fabric block goes by a myriad of other names including:

  • Double Wrench
  • Aeroplane
  • Airplane
  • Alaska Homestead
  • Bear Paw Design
  • Bride's Knot
  • The Broad Axe
  • Maltese Cross
  • Pioneer Patch
  • Square Triangles
  • T Design
  • T Quartette
  • True Lover's Knot

...or just plain ol' Wrench.

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General Instructions

Block Size:  5" (5-1/2" unfinished)

Grid Size:  1"

All seams are 1/4".

When you are 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 to the dark fabric unless otherwise noted.

Step 1: Cut the Monkey Wrench patches

Monkey Wrench patchwork designMonkey Wrench

For this block requires four half square triangles. We'll use Technique #1 to make them two at a time.

I prefer to cut my patches over-sized and then trim after stitching. The squares marked with '**' were cut 1/4" bigger (at 3-1/8" for this 5" finished sample block).

After stitching they were trimmed to 2-1/2" unfinished.

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Cutting Chart for a
Monkey Wrench Quilt Block

~Traditional Piecing ~

PatchFabricQtyFinished Block Size
5" 7 1/2" 10" 12 1/2"
1** L 2 2⅞" x 2⅞" 3⅞" x 3⅞" 4⅞" x 4⅞" 5⅞" x 5⅞"
2** D 2 2⅞" x 2⅞" 3⅞" x 3⅞" 4⅞" x 4⅞" 5⅞" x 5⅞"
3 L 1 1½" x 7" 2" x 9" 2½" x 11" 3" x 13"
4 D 1 1½" x 7" 2" x 9" 2½" x 11" 3" x 13"
5 L 1 1½" x 1½" 2" x 2" 2½" x 2½" 3" x 3"
Unfinished Block Size 5 1/2" 8" 10-1/2" 13"
Grid Size 1" 1 1/2" 2" 2 1/2"
**I prefer to cut my patches extra large for HST, stitch, and then trim them to size. If you prefer to do the same, add a bit extra to the measurements for Patches #1 and #2 above.

There is a chart further down in these instructions where you need it for trimming them to size.

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Cut patches for the Monkey Wrench block

Our patches are cut and we're ready to continue.

Step 2: Assemble the units

Half Square Triangles

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the back of the two #1 squares.

With RST, align the edges of a #1 with a #2. Stitch 1/4" away from the drawn line on both sides.

Stitch on both sides of the line

Cut apart on the drawn line to create two units.


If you've cut over-sized patches trim to 2-1/2" square, otherwise trim off the dog ears.

Repeat for the other pair of squares to create a total of four half square triangles that measure 2-1/2" at this point.

Strip Set

Align the long edges of the #3 and #4 strips. Stitch.

Stitch the strips together

The arrow points to my anchor cloth. Stitch on one first to prevent
your sewing machine from eating your patches' points.

Press with the seam allowance towards the dark fabric.

Use the chart below to check that your stripset is the correct width. Make any needed adjustments.

Square off the end of the strip. (The strips were cut with 1" extra to accommodate this.)

Subcut into four units has directed in the chart below.

StripSet Widths

Block Size
Stripset Width after stitching SubCut Width
5" 2-1/2" 1-1/2"
7 1/2" 3-1/2" 2"
10" 4-1/2" 2-1/2"
12 1/2" 5-1/2" 3"

Step 3: Assemble the Monkey Wrench

Arrange the units for form the Monkey Wrench design.

Layout finished units

Stitch them into rows. Press the seam allowances toward the strip set units for each row.

Nesting your seam allowances helps to make for perfect matches. Use pins if needed.

Nest the seam allowances

Stitch the rows together.

Stitch the rows together

This is the finished Monkey Wrench quilt block.

A finished Monkey Wrench quilt block

Ready for More Blocks?

Your Monkey Wrench quilt block is finished, but 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!

For even more blocks to make...

Maggie Malone's 5500 Quilt Block Designs is my all-time favorite!

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