April 25, 2017

Week 7: Long Time Gone Sew Along | Churn Dash Blocks

Templates Used

From Marti Michell Template Set N, Product #8956, pieces #79 and #80

Selecting Fabrics

Select 21 contrasting fabric pairs for the  Churn Dash blocks. You only need a 2-1/2 by 7-inch strip of each fabric to cut all of the pieces for the 3-inch finished Churn Dash blocks, but working with 42 pieces of fabric gives you a great opportunity to cut additional strips for the rest of the quilt.

Look at our strip chart from UK Flag blocks (week 3) and check your strip stockpile to get an idea what additional widths you will need.


1. For each block, put the fabric pairs right sides together. I found it easy to cut 6 layers (3 blocks) at a time. Press and line up the fabrics at one edge and one adjacent corner of the fabric pieces.

2. Cut 2-1/2 by 7-inch strip sets. Cut the strip sets into two strips: 1 inch wide and 1-1/2 inches wide by 7 inches. (My strips are 10 inches long because I had several layer cake fabrics in the sets photographed. No problem, the extra 1 by 3-inch and 1-1/2 by 3-inch strips go in the stockpile.)

3. From the stack of 1-1/2 inch strips, cut 4 N-80 triangle pairs and 1 N-79 square.

Sewing and Pressing

1. Take cut units to machine and chain piece triangle pairs into squares and strip sets along the length.

2. Press toward the dark triangles and toward the dark strips. They are shown on my “Steady Betty” at the ironing board. If you haven’t tried the Steady Betty products we recommend them. They provide an excellent foam surface for pressing that prevents fabric from slipping or more importantly from stretching while pressing. Great for anything, but you will love it for small pieces.

3. Use template N-79 to measure and cut 4 squares from each strip set.

4. Arrange the pieced units and center squares into blocks. I stacked all 3 blocks to make the chain piecing easy. You will have one extra dark square from each combination. It is the correct size for the checkerboard strips in the finishing sections.

5. I like to chain piece the second vertical row to the first vertical row. Leave them connected. Press toward the squares with two strips.

6. Then add the third vertical row. Press toward the squares with strips. The seam allowances in each row will go in opposite directions and butt together. Leave the rows connected.

In the photo below you can see that the third vertical row is being added to the first Churn Dash block and the second block is ready to have its third row added.

The pressing is a little awkward but when the rows are connected it should prevent your from accidentally making this block:

7. Finally take advantage of the opposing seam allowances in the rows, (I call it automatic pinning), as you join the horizontal rows to complete the blocks.

When the rows are joined, press toward the top and bottom rows toward center row.

Unfortunately, every block does not have a perfect pressing plan that creates opposing seam allowances on EVERY seam. When you get ready to join the blocks, you no longer have opposing seam allowances. Be careful as you stitch across the stacked seam allowances while you join the blocks.

TIP: In another project, you might try joining Churn Dash or similar blocks with narrow sashing strips and pressing toward the strips. They frame the blocks nicely and reduce bulk. (See the bonus PDF at the end of this article.)

8. Here are my first 9 Churn Dash blocks. Aren't they cute?

Looking Ahead

I promised a picture of Section 4 from the finishing section (page 29 in the book) and here it is! I’m really happy with the way it is looking and it feels good to have some of the units joined! (This is called Psych Yourself Up…you can finish this quilt and it will be your happy quilt!)

I made a couple of small changes. I like the UK Flags touching, not separated with the gray sashing strips as in Jen's quilt. I joined the flags and then added a 1-1/2 by 4-1/2-inch strip of my checkerboard gray (not quite the same fabric as my sashing gray fabric) to the right end of the flags. Then I extended the sashing strip on the right end of the Trip Around the World block to go the entire height of that block. Those two changes meant my size was still correct.

Next week we are making Courthouse Steps blocks. Then, in next week’s Looking Ahead I’m including tips for chain piecing checkerboard pieces. Jen tells us about making the checkerboards on page 25. The #1 tip: Remember that the gray squares in the diagrams are gray fabric or whatever you chose for sashing. The white squares are prints and for most of us, the prints will be darker than the gray, not lighter. So keep that reversal in mind!


In case you like Churn Dash blocks as much as we do, we are including a PDF to make a fun Churn Dash Checkerboard quilt with Set Q that we used for the Bow Tie blocks. You will see that the method we used for cutting and piecing the Long Time Gone Churn Dash blocks was adapted from this pattern.

Click here to download the PDF.

More About the Churn Dash Blocks

Visit these other Long Time Gone Sew Along blogs, too, for tutorials, contests and other info:



Use the hash tag #LongTimeGoneSAL to share photos on Instagram.

Long Time Gone by Jen Kingwell. Copyright 2016 by Jen Kingwell Designs. Available on From Marti Michell website, www.frommarti.com

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