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Americana Churn Dash Quilt

Wahoooooo I finished my 1850s Churn Dash doll quilt.  The churn dash, named after a butter churn thingy called a dash, is a nine-patch quilt.  That means you sew 9 squares, then sew them together.  Nine-patches come in all kinds of patterns.  This one is also called a Monkey Wrench.  No wonder it only took me at least 5 years to finish!  Remember this sad-looking bunch of bias tape?  Those weren’t to tie the quilt to the wall or on the seat of a chair.When I went to see Carmen, she calmly told me that, yes, I WOULD have to rip it off and redo it.  The size of the stitches were about 1/32 of an inch long, if that.  So you can see why it sat in my sewing drawer for five + years.

See this quilt stitching?  It is done by machine, but it looks like it’s hand-done.

As we chatted, she taught me about bias tape.  “You always cut strips 21/2 inches wide, sometimes cut on the bias, sometimes not.  Always sew the strips together on the bias if you want to impress judges.”  I hadn’t even thought about judges.

Don’t sew over your pins  See the pink magnetic pin holder? Sew right up to 1/4 before the end. Stop. Stop. Stop.

I’ve got to have one of those magnetic pin holders.  Pins jump right in, and don’t end up on the floor where you poke them through your toes.  I think sewing bias tape is like racing.   You can go really fast down the straight lane, but when you come to the corners, you get yourself into trouble if you go too fast.  If you go past the 1/4 inch mark.  You have worse than puckers!  I did that, and had to rip some more after I got home.

Carmen buys these little clippy thingies to use instead of pins. I think she really DOESN’T like to get poked!

Now we were ready for the back side.  (Of her quilt – not mine.)  Cover the stitches on the back side with the folded edge of the bias tape, and pin or clip.  Easy as pie – until you get to the corner.  Again, you have to play with it a bit to get it to miter, but no matter.

Even with 2 and 1/2 inches of bias tape it’s hard to picture.

So my Monkey Wrench/Churn Dash top had bias tape sewn all the way around it so  was time to do the back side.  Guess what?  All hand done using a blind stitch.  Sewing so much when I was younger is probably why I am so blind – even after eye surgery, but I can do a blind stitch blind folded, just about – but it takes me FOREVER. I used pins, and did poke myself a few times.  So two days later it is done.  When you finish mitering, the binding has a diagonal line up the corner.  (and a few puckers)

Judges might like my miters, and my blind stitches, but not my puckers.  However, my Americana delight had other problems that I didn’t see until I finished hand quilting it.  That was another reason it sat in the drawer with its face hidden from me for so long.  I decided it would be my humble quilt.

Can you see the error?  Ok, the main error?

You know what humble squares are, don’t you?  I didn’t until Carmen told me the Mennonite tradition.  Each quilt should have a square with a mistake to keep the quilter humble.  That would not be a problem from me.  I’m very ‘umble.

My favorite 9-patch square.

Here is the really ironic part of this whole story I think funny.  The quilt came out of Better Homes and Gardens WEEKEND QUILTS book!!!  Design is by Jo Morton (She has a website, and has sold lots of quilting books).

So what do you think of it?


41 replies »

  1. Well done on finishing your quilt. I like the colours, and the idea of a humble square – I’m sure the quilt I’m doing will have at least one of those! (it’s my first).


    • I haven’t had one yet that didn’t, and even at that I still do a lot of ripping! Good luck with your new quilt. I love it so far! I’m afraid I’m one of those interrupter-type people. I hate that in myself, and I try to control it.


  2. WOW! 5 years!? Are you serious, or just joshing like I do? 😀 That’s a lot of patience, determination and persistence…. and a lot of motivation and passion. WOW!

    Know you hit the nail on this post…. Love that you include tutorials instead of just plain celebratory post.

    Congratulations, anyhow. Quite inspiring.

    It looks worth everything that are intertwined with the its completion. No baloney.


    • No joshing – mostly it sat in a drawer. I wasn’t working on it day and night!!!! Just so you don’t get the wrong idea!!! I do get frustrated and put things away for a long period of time, but I don’t THROW them away!!! thanks for your kind and encouraging words. Your comments make you a GREAT blogger!


      • I am going to have a go at this. Now I know as much about needlework as I do about knitting. The bottom left hand cream square with coloured lines has the printer’s name on it. What do I win ?? Ralph x


        • I’m sorry, that wasn’t an error in the work itself. Maybe someone will notice. Everyone gets unlimited guesses. I didn’t notice until I got the entire piece quilted!


  3. Maybe everyone was being too polite to mention the error? 😉 The offer of bonus points is too tempting though. You’ve sewn one of your points into the seam (its most obvious in last photo). I guess that one’s your humble square? Good spotting too Ralph – I didn’t even see that until you commented, and then I had to zoom way up on the photo!


  4. Totally!!!! Tripple Gold Stars Janice!!! I was so discouraged when I saw that after I had it all quilted that I put it awy for MANY years!!!! But now I have to look at the picture again and see my second humble pie making error. So now the quilt it is done for better or worse – complete with elements that keep me humble. Thanks for all the wonderful comments!! I’ve been thinking about what I might offer for give aways. I could do squares. Janice, I know you are looking to get squares. I visited your new friend’s site, and thought about signing up, but don’t think I want to put myself under the pressure to finish something within less than 5-6 years!!! What size are you collecting for this new quilt? 2 inch, 2.5 inches? Ralph, if you want to make a quilt, (or give them to a quilter friend) I’ll cut you some squares, too! Marsha 🙂


    • Thanks for the offer of the squares Marsha and I shall give you the same answer as a lady who asked me to take over and make Lapghans. I replied by saying “where do I plug in my cement mixer” 😉
      And Janice… are no beginner 🙂
      Hugs to both of you. Ralph x


    • Wow, thankyou! I was expecting a virtual prize not a real one. 🙂 Though I’m not sure its appropriate to receive a prize for finding someone else’s mistake! 😦
      I’ve asked for 2.5inch squares on the other site, I’m not sure what to use them for yet, whether I do something small like placemats or a table runner, or save them up until I have enough for a quilt.
      Re your doll quilt, you might have thought your error was very obvious, but when I first saw the quilt (and even now), its the pattern and the lovely colours that attracted my attention so I didn’t even notice the borders. Now I understand why you were discouraged and put it away for so long. Well done for finishing it! I’m sure any doll and her owner would be very happy with it. 🙂


      • Thanks. I keep it on my new desk table. I thought about giving it away, but it’s too valuable to me. I’ll cut you some squares if you want to send me your address. This really isn’t a prize for finding my mistake. I just have lots of fabric that I probably won’t use all of, and you might as well have some of it since you are newly into quilting. It won’t be enough for a new quilt, just something to remember me by. Maybe I’ll make Ralph a little star. I may even already have one. Just because, not for any winning!! The Hand Written Life is offering a wonderful give away right now. I think some people just to it. So nice!!!





Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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