Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Churn Dash by Any Other Name

Everyone loves a Churn Dash.  It's been around forever - mid 1800s - it's simple to piece and it's good design.  A popular block that has been used for over century collects a catalogue of names; Barbara Brackman lists the following:

Broken Plate
Double Monkey Wrench
Double T
Fisherman's Reel
Hens and Chickens
Hole in the Barn Door
Indian Hammer
Joan's Doll Quilt
Lincoln's Platform
Love Knot
Ludlow's Favorite
Monkey Wrench
Old Mill Design
Picture Frame
Puss in the Corner
Quail's Nest
Sheman's March
Shoo Fly
Colonial Design

There are two Churn Dash blocks in the Malaga Quilt.  

Maggie Shaw

Lorena Ray

Maggie's block is an equal nine patch. Lorena's block has a small center block so the nine patches are uneven.  Both variations appear in old and new quilts. Maggie's is easy to make as a finished 6 inch or 9 inch block; Lorena's comes out as a 10 inch if the center is two inches.

These blocks are all antique. The middle one in the top row has a piece of paper attached that says George Kennedy; George never did get his name written on his block.

I also found this collection.  There aren't antique because I made them, but they have been on the shelf for so long they are close to vintage.

According to other bloggers, this block is called Churn Dash because "its name is a result of the resemblance of the triangle and rectangle perimeter of the block to a butter churn and the center square to the stick or dash of the butter churn."  

I don't see it myself.  Google "butter churn dashers" and select images - if you find one that looks like the quilt block I'd love to know.


  1. An interesting bit of block history! Just to show how popular this block still is: When I picked up this post, the link on your Blog List on the sidebar for “Sew Many Quilts” showed a picture of one of two tops made up of Churn Dash blocks that she had just received to quilt for donation (see her 2/3/17 post). Good design is timeless!

    1. I did notice that Vivian - Jan's using churn dash blocks too!

  2. What an amazing number of names for this ever popular block.


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