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Exploring the Basics: The Churn Dash Quilt Block and more...

Exploring the Basics: The Churn Dash Quilt Block


ETB Churn Dash Block Badge (1)

Welcome to our new series in Exploring the Basics.  Each month, Kate and I will be exploring a specific quilt block.  Like all of our other series, each of us will delve into a topic on our own blogs, offering our unique views on the topic - in this case, a quilt block.  You'll want to visit both blogs each month and get all the details for each month's block.  This month - Churn Dash.  Ready?  Let's dive in!

Anatomy of Churn Dash

Let's look at the "basic" (ie, traditional) Churn Dash block.  It is made up of four HSTs (half square triangles), four rail fence units, and one center square.  Easy peasy, right?  Right!

As with any block, it can be made in two colors (as shown above), or with more.  You can go scrappy as well.

Want to make a Churn Dash block?  Here are the fabrics and cutting for a 9" finished block:

    White

        (1) 4" strip - cut (2) 4" squares and (1) 3 1/2" square

        (1) 2" strip

    Blue

        (1) 4" strip - cut (2) 4" squares 

        (1) 2" strip

Step 1:

Pair one 4" white and blue square together RST (right sides together) and make HSTs.  Repeat with a second set and trim all HST units down to 3 1/2".  Need a refresher on making HSTs?  Visit my post on seven different ways to make Half Square Triangles!  This is Method 2.

Step 2:

Sew the 2" white strip and the 2" blue strip together along one long side, RST.  Press to the blue strip.  Subcut (4) 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" rail fence units.  Need a refresher on strip piecing and Rail Fence units?  Check out this post on strip piecing and this post on the versatility of the Rail Fence block!

Churn Dash Assembly

Step 3:

Let's put all those units you created in Steps 1 and 2 together.  Use the diagram above as a guide, and lay out all of your units before sewing them together.  Once you have them arranged properly (blue portion of the HSTs toward the inside of the block, blue portion of the rail fence units toward the white square in the center), sew the units together as shown.  

I like to assemble my blocks in horizontal rows (as shown), but you may prefer vertical rows.  Either will work. Sew a rail fence unit between two HST units - paying attention to the orientation of each unit.  Again, use the diagram as a guide!  Sew the three rows together.  You'll need to match up those center seam intersections where the HST units and Rail Fence units meet, as well as the intersection of seams for the Rail Fence units and center square.

Let's talk pressing.  I prefer to press seams open.  I find my blocks are MUCH flatter and look much better.  You'll need to take your time and match seams up while sewing the rows together, but it is easy!  When you are done, your Churn Dash block should measure 9 1/2" square, edge to edge.  This means it will be 9" finished (when sewn into a project).

That was fun!  Want to get more inspiration and some great ideas for other ways to use the Churn Dash block in projects?  I have just the thing! 

Since February, Kate and I have been challenging fellow designers to reimagine basic quilt blocks.  This month's block was - you guessed it - the Churn Dash block!  Where can you see all the designer versions of the Churn Dash? 

Head over to Instagram, and search the hashtag - #churndashblockchallenge.   You can also go to my Instagram feed and click on any of my four Churn Dash block challenge pictures (the final project reveal was Monday, June 28).  I've tagged each of the designers in my post text and you can click on their names to view their posts as well!

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Each month we post four pictures, one each Monday.  The first post is the fabric pull.  I love seeing what colors and prints people are going to pull together for a project.

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The second and third posts are sneak peeks into the project.  Can you guess what technique I used for my Churn Dash challenge, just by looking at the picture above?  Yup - paper piecing!

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For June's Churn Dash challenge, I decided to miniaturize one of my lap size patterns.  Those little churn dash blocks above are super tiny!

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And here's the final project - a 12" x 15" version of my original Modern Churn pattern.  It was so much fun making a 50" x 60" lap quilt super small that I already have plans to miniaturize some of my other patterns!

You can see that my take on the Churn Dash reproportioned the traditional Churn Dash block.  My rails are skinnier in some of the blocks, and the larger blocks are rectangular rather than square.  But seriously - you are going to want to head over to Instagram and check out of all the variations from this month's challenge!  They are amazing!

Head over to Kate's blog to see her insights on the Churn Dash block too!

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis?

Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at www.tamarinis.com!  PS - I'm trying to get to the next milestone number on Facebook and Instagram (I am trying to get 2000+ followers) and would REALLY appreciate your help - so please click and follow!  Thanks so much!

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Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.  

    

 

Summer Scrap Elimination Week 2: Skinny Strip Buster

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I don't know about you, but I LOVE being super efficient with my fabric and using as much as possible.  Scrap projects are fun and make me feel super frugal and planet friendly.  But....what about those skinny strips - those tiny strings of fabric that come from trimming and squaring up fabric and blocks?  Those drive me CRAZY!  There just HAD to be something I could do with them...SOMETHING!

And then I had an ah-ha moment, and remembered my pre-quilt days when I played around with weaving.  That was it!  A terrific and fun way to use skinny strips....weaving!

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Do you have a scrap basket that looks like this - overflowing with scraps (of all sizes and colors)?  Great!  You just need a few more supplies to get started weaving some fun little projects and use up those scraps.

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I recommend starting with:

  • a frame loom of some sort (I've got some links and suggestions for you below)
  • a small comb (you can use this to beat down the rows of weaving
  • scissors
  • a large eyed blunt tip needle for weaving
  • skinny strips (I find that 1/4" wide or narrower work best, but you can use any width)
  • (NOT SHOWN) heavy weight thread (I like cotton crochet thread) to warp your loom.  FYI the warp is what you weave your fabric strips through.

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If you are just playing around with strips, as I do, it can be fun to create organic shapes and change up your colors across the surface of your weaving.  This is my first attempt - and take a few notes from my experience. 

  • I finished too close to the top of the weaving, so I'm going to have to figure out something creative (maybe a sleeve like we often put on quilts) to hang the weaving from the top.
  • If you are a free spirit, just go with it.  If you have a specific image or shape in mind, plan it out and pay attention as you use your strips.
  • Pay attention to the edges.  It is SUPER EASY to pull the edges too tight, which will make your project curve in on the sides.
  • You don't have to have a fringe, but I thought it was fun to use some of the same fabric strips to make an uneven fringe across the bottom.

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The large eyed needle is useful if you want to change colors and create curves or angles.  Again, I've got some links from weaving experts (I'm NOT an expert) that can get you started!

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Here is another project in the works.  You can see the warp threads (the off white cotton crochet thread) that the cotton strips are woven under and over.  I've also used the cotton thread to create a border at the bottom and at the top of the weaving.  Once I am finished with the weaving, I'll cut the warp threads at the edge of the loom, and tie them off at the top and bottom of the loom to finish it off.

So what are the basic steps?  

  1.  Warp your loom (frame loom or makeshift picture frame, embroidery hoop or cardboard) with chosen thread.  I recommend starting with a neutral heavy cotton thread.
  2. Prepare your strips for weaving.  You will get the BEST results if you cut your strips the same width (or close to the same width).  Longer strips mean you have fewer stops and starts and will result in a smoother looking project.
  3. Thread the strip through the blunt tip needle and weave the strip over and under (you can weave under one thread, over one thread, or experiment with different weaving patterns such as over two threads, under one thread).  You'll alternate the weaving pattern on alternate rows.  IE Row One begins over one, under one, while Row Two begins under one, over one.
  4. Be sure to leave space at the bottom of the loom and at the top of the loom to tie off your warp threads.  When you are satisfied with your weaving, cut your warp threads and tie them off.  I tied four at a time - two top warp threads and two bottom warp threads.  You can tie singles if you prefer.

So let's talk nitty gritty details.  First - do you happen to have a frame loom laying around?  No?  Not to worry!  You can purchase a frame loom (I have an affiliate link at the bottom for a basic frame loom that you can order) - or you can make one from a picture frame.

Hello Hydrangea: Loom from picture frame 2
Hello Hydrangea: Loom from picture frame

 

Hello Hydrangea has a terrific post on creating an easy frame loom from a picture frame.  Check it out here!

Don't have a picture frame handy?  No worries!

How-to-Make-a-Circular-Weaving-Loom-from-Cardboard
Happy Hooligans How to Make A Circular Cardboard Loom

 

Happy Hooligans has a terrific tutorial on creating a circular loom from cardboard.  It is listed as a kid's craft - but honestly I think ANYONE would enjoy this.  It looks SUPER EASY!  You can find her tutorial here.

3 Elements of a Quality Weaving
Mirrix Looms - 3 Elements of a Quality Weaving

 

Want more specific details?  Mirrix Looms has an EXCELLENT detailed tutorial on their blog to get you started!  Check it out here!

Want to just buy a loom and get started?  I've got you!  There's a link at the bottom to a great medium size loom (which gives you a lot of options as to what size your project will be) at the bottom of this post.  Happy weaving!

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I hope you are inspired to put those skinny little strips to good use!  I'd love to see pictures of your scrap weaving projects - so tag me on Instagram at #tamarinis and I'll be sure to check out your creations and share them with everyone!

Be sure to check out all of the other Summer Scrap Elimination posts this summer for more great ideas on how to bust those scraps!

Every Thursday June 17 - July 22        Swam Amity Designs

June 24                                                 Tamarinis (you are here!)

July 1                                                    Vasudha Govindan

July 8                                                    Elizabeth DeCroos

                                                              Allison Reid

July 15                                                  Kathryn LeBlanc

July 16                                                  Leanne Parsons

July 22                                                  Shankari Patel

 

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis?

Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at www.tamarinis.com!  PS - I'm trying to get to the next milestone number on Facebook and Instagram (I am trying to get 2000+ followers) and would REALLY appreciate your help - so please click and follow!  Thanks so much!

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Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.

 

Here's a great option for a frame loom to get you started (larger version of the one I have in my supply picture above):

 

A Quilter's Alphabet: T Terms

A QUILTERS ALPHABET T

Tension

Tension is the stress or force on the top (needle) thread and the bobbin thread.  Perfect tension is a balance between the two threads, with neither being dominant.  So many factors can affect tension: proper needle size and type, appropriate weight and type of thread for the project, stitch length in conjunction with fabric type and/or thickness, and of course the condition of the sewing machine (when did you last have YOUR machine serviced?).

 

Thread

Thread is so much more than just a color.  Weight is an important factor, and matching the correct thread weight to the correct needle size AND project will yield the best results.  With thread, the larger the number, the finer the thread.

80wt is a very fine thread and favored by hand stitchers for English Paper Piecing and applique.  50wt is most commonly used for piecing, but can be used for quilting as well.  40wt is slightly heavier and is a go-to weight for machine quilting.  28wt is heavier, and makes a terrific quilting thread or for machine or hand embellishment.  12wt is a heavy thread, but can still be used on the machine and works wonderfully for hand or machine quilting or embellishment.

 

Thread Count

Thread count refers to the number of threads used in the weave (warp and weft) of a particular fabric.  The lower the thread count, the looser the weave.  The higher the thread count, the more dense the weave of the fabric.

 

Trimming

Trimming is...well, trimming down or removing the excess on a quilt block or a quilt.  One approach popular with many quilters is to make a block slightly oversized and then to trim, or cut it down, to the proper size.

 

Head over to Kate's blog to get her insights on more "T" quilting terms!

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis?

Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at www.tamarinis.com!  PS - I'm trying to get to the next milestone number on Facebook and Instagram (I am trying to get 2000+ followers) and would REALLY appreciate your help - so please click and follow!  Thanks so much!

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Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.

 

 

 

Exploring the Basics: How to Hang A Quilt

ETB Hanging Quilts Badge

After you make a quilt, you have so many options for displaying your quilt.  Depending upon the size, you can:

  • put it on a bed
  • use it as a table topper
  • top a dresser or bookcase
  • use it as a bed runner
  • use as a curtain
  • use as a shower curtain
  • hang on the wall

So many options!  Let's look closer at the last one - hanging the quilt on the wall.  How do you do that?  There's no "right" answer.  I've tried several approaches - curtain clips (not awesome, can put holes in the quilt if you aren't careful - yikes!), sleeves (traditional, but a bit more labor intensive), and curtain rings (my personal favorite).  

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What do I mean by curtain rings?  I like to use the small plastic rings that are generally sold in big box stores and found in the Home Dec department.  They are often used to finish roman shades.  But I like that they are small, light, and provide a great hanging option for quilts.  Bonus - they don't require any special hardware and I can hang a quilt all by myself!

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How do I do it?  I hand stitch the rings at the bottom of the binding, spacing them evenly across the width of the quilt top.  I've done this with small wall hangings all the way up to bed sized quilts - just with more curtain rings!

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How do I hang the quilts?  This is the other "best part"!  I use straight pins - the basic, heavy silver straight pins that don't have plastic or glass heads.  They are inexpensive and easy to find.  Be sure to get the heavier, thicker ones, so that you can treat them like tiny nails.  Yup - I just nail them into the wall, matching up the spacing of the sewn rings.

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I love this hanging method because it is easy AND it places the quilt FLAT against the wall.  When hanging, you  want your quilt to hang level.  How do you achieve this?

  • use a level (it works!)
  • measure up from the floor
  • measure down from the ceiling

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You may want to enlist the help of a friend to help you hold the larger quilts, because you'll need to measure (either up from the floor or down from the ceiling - or use a level) AND you'll need to mark the ring placement for each pin.  Hint: I find it best to keep a bit of tension between each hanging point to keep the quilt flat and smooth against the wall.

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I talked about this - as well as using the traditional sleeve - in a Designer Tips and Techniques Trunk Show last year.  You can find the video here.

Did you know???  This is our 50th Exploring the Basics post!  Beginning June 30th, we will be posting once per month, focusing on a specific block each month.  Sneak peek:  June's block is Churn Dash!

Head over to Kate's blog to see her insights on adding a sleeve to your quilt!

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis?

Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at www.tamarinis.com!  PS - I'm trying to get to the next milestone number on Facebook and Instagram (I am trying to get 2000+ followers) and would REALLY appreciate your help - so please click and follow!  Thanks so much!

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Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.  

 

Exploring the Basics: The Log Cabin Block

ETB Log Cabin Badge

Blocks almost don't get more traditional than the Log Cabin block.  Easily recognized (or is it? Pinky finger to edge of lip, super villain smile) and simple enough for beginners, but with so many optional variations that seasoned quilters tackle it over and over.

First - mini history lesson.  No, don't roll your eyes.  I promise - VERY brief!  While many attribute the block to our brave pioneer settlers in the 1800s, the design and layout have popped up as far back as Egyptian times.  So it's true roots?  Hey, it's anyone's guess.  But I think you can see how the name came about - the logs (strips) around a center (hearth) - log cabin.  Yeah, makes sense.  Traditional lore says that a red center represents the hearth or fireplace, the center of a home in pioneer times as it served as heat source and cooking source!  A yellow center would represent a light in the window, a candle to welcome the weary traveler home.  And since we are talking about tradition, the block is usually made with the logs (strips) on one side light and the other dark.  So there you go - a Log Cabin block represents hearth and home.  Cozy, isn't it?

Let's look at a few examples and variations of the Log Cabin block!

Traditional Log Cabin

Here is a traditional log cabin - red center, dark logs on one side, light logs on the other.  Simple and yet dynamic.

Uneven Log Cabin

Look at what happens when the size of the logs varies.  This uneven log cabin can create wonderful shapes and the illusion of curves when combined with other uneven log cabin blocks.

Quarter Log Cabin

Do you have to make a full block?  No!  Here is a quarter log cabin, with the center to one corner.  

Streak of Lightening

This fun variation is sometimes called Streak of Lightening - and I'll bet you can see why.  Hint: the red squares running from top left to bottom right would be the "streak".

Courthouse Steps

Courthouse Steps is another fun variation of the log cabin block.  It still builds out from the center, but in a stepped fashion (sides, top and bottom, side, top bottom).

 

Pineapple

The pineapple block is also in the log cabin family.  Just like the traditional block, it builds from a center and can be symmetrical or asymmetrical.

These are just some examples to inspire you.  There are scores more variations of the log cabin block, as well as patterns and books on this no so basic block.

I use many of these variations in my patterns as well.  Here are just a few patterns that use variations of the log cabin block (many of the variations I've shared with you above).  Can you identify the block and the variation?

Boundaries

Folk Art

Logging Trail

 

Paradise Cubed

To the Right

Tropical_punch

Ah....you are starting to see the log cabin block now, aren't you?  And suddenly these quilts look easy, right?

Want more Log Cabin inspiration?  Head over to Instagram.  This month, we (Kate and I) challenged designer pals to reimagine the Log Cabin block.  You are going to LOVE what they did with this simple block!  

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Here's a sneak peek at one of my reveal pics.  See the rest of them - from the fabric pull to the in progress pics to the final project - over on my IG feed.  While you are there, follow some of the tags to see what the other designers did with the block, and get inspired for your next project.

Want more inspiration?  The Ultimate Half Log Cabin Book is just on the log cabin blocks and what you can do with them!

And while you are there, I really recommend a general all around block book for reference.  Some great ones:

    Fons and Porter's Quilter's Complete Guide

       Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns

    Encyclopedia of Classic Quilt Patterns

    5,500 Quilt Block Designs

    Yes I have all of these on my shelf and refer to them often!

I hope you are inspired to try a log cabin block for your next project!

Head over to Kate's blog to get her view on the joy of Log Cabin Blocks and what they can make!

Like what you see here, and want to hear more from Tamarinis?

Like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, and sign up for my newsletter at www.tamarinis.com!  PS - I'm trying to get to the next milestone number on Facebook and Instagram (I am trying to get 2000+ followers) and would REALLY appreciate your help - so please click and follow!  Thanks so much!

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Following is one way to demonstrate your interest in my projects, patterns, and partnerships.  Your comments are also GREATLY appreciated, and provide valuable feedback regarding what inspires you, as well as what you'd like to see explored in future posts.