Saturday, December 29, 2012

Churn Dashing Through the Snow

Well we do not have any snow at my house in California but I still thought a bit of Christmas humor in the post title might be cute.  Yesterday I worked on a variation of a traditional churn dash quilt block.

Since my churn dash variation was asymmetric it was easiest to lay out the pieces in a little tray and transport that from the cutting board to the sewing machine.  I am piecing one block at a time till I get used to the pattern.  I do not want to mass produce a bunch of goofs.

Also, piecing one at a time, I can try out different pressing directions and see which I like best.  The blue and green pressing pattern was tidiest on the back.  My pressing mantra was "triangle down". An added benefit of this pressing sequence is also that I can see the triangle points, so as better not to nip them off in subsequent seams. 

The blue/green block was not the first block I constructed. The pink/blue block, constructed earlier, is much less tidy on the back. I considered going back and picking out the intersections of the other blocks so they all press the same directionally. But none of the triangle tips got nipped off in the seam, even though they were not visible at time of sewing.  I considered ripping out intersections to change pressing direction but decided that was being too anal, even for me. It is the back of the block after all and not visible when batting and backing are there.

Here are the three Churn Dashes, right side showing– the side that counts!

And here are their three complements.

Instead of using fat quarters, I experimented with using pairs of fat eights, blending fabrics that were semi-twin-like in their appearance. The pink is actually two pink batiks and they are so similar as to be barely noticeable in the churn dash. The two greens are a bit more dissimilar but still close and the two blues have the biggest variation. It is really obvious in the upper left triangle of the green background churn dash. (Keep chanting, Diane. Art, not a mistake! Art, not a mistake!)

Each assembled block has a churn dash block, a concentric rectangle block from my previous post, and background. Three fat quarters make six assembled blocks. When adding all these elements I am surmising that there will be a color flow throughout the assembled block that will add interest and not look like I goofed and was too lazy to fix it. I am a mechanical engineer by profession so very left brain dominant– analytic and logical by nature.  I find it difficult to let the creative, intuitive right brain have its freedom. Maybe the exercise of this quilt will give my right brain a break and let it have its way. I will show the assembled blocks later. I suspect I will like the end effect, despite myself.

The fabrics I am using were in my stash from a kit I bought on clearance.  The kit has 30 fat eighths of batiks and came with a totally different pattern. (I will show that kit on a future post.) Here is the six fat eights that I will use for my next set of six blocks. I have made pairs of two blues, two yellows, and two pinks.

The last time I made a quilt that was right brain dominant I kept complaining to my husband that it was awful, ugly, and – had I not bought the kit of die cut, non-45 degree triangle shapes that could be used for little else – I probably would not have completed it.  The pattern directions gave a lot of freedom, reading simply, "Join as desired." But I did complete it. And I loved it. My daughter loved it, too. So I gave it to her. It is called Batik Storm at Sea and is featured on the right side bar of my blog if you scroll down far enough. Here it is again.


  1. Thamks for stopping by to check out my Christmas quilt. I hope to move up to gorgeous projects like yours eventually. I love both of these unique quilts.

  2. Art is not a mistake! And if it were, mistakes add character, anyway. It's like that Amish tradition, where they'd intentionally sew in an imperfection, just to show that they were humble. I love the quilt you are making (and am partial to the color scheme for obvious reasons), and I love the one you gave me! can't wait to see how the whole thing turns out.