Enhance the skills required for making fun and attractive quilts by enjoying some inspiring, free rail fence quilt patterns today. Rail fence quilt blocks are a great choice for all quilters, whether aspiring beginners or skilled professionals. This tutorial will show you how to make a basic rail fence block and then give you 12 easy pattern ideas.
Free Rail Fence Quilt Patterns Tutorial
If you’re new to the idea of a rail fence quilt, then you’ll need to know that making rail fence quilts requires lots of measurements, cutting, and stitching. However, what makes them a great choice is their sustainability (as you won’t be wasting even a scrap of chosen fabric), easy construction, and visual appeal.
How to Make a Rail Fence Quilt Block, Step by Step Instructions
Rail fence quilt blocks are simple enough for a beginner to make but have a very striking effect when complete. It is the perfect design to give you practice with sewing in a straight line, which is something that improves with experience. It will also give you a good opportunity to practice guiding the fabric correctly and maintaining your ¼” (6mm) seam allowance. How useful, to practice these quilting skills and to create a beautiful quilt at the same time!
Supplies for Rail Fence Quilt Patterns
- Fabric - Quilting cotton.
- Thread - It is best to use cotton thread with cotton fabric. Choose a thread that matches one of your colors or a neutral one that will blend with both.
- Cutting Tools - Rotary cutter, self-healing mat, quilting ruler.
- General Supplies - Sewing machine, straight pins, iron, and ironing board.
Further notes on fabric for rail fence quilt blocks:
- Choose a tightly woven cotton in four colors.
- Strip piecing is ideal for constructing this quilt, so you will need long, thin strips of fabric. Jelly Rolls are perfect for this.
- Color choice is important for maximum effect. The most common choice for rail fence quilts is varying shades of one color. Try playing with your strips before you decide in what order to place them. You could arrange them from light to dark or place two bright colors on the outside and two pale or dull colors on the inside.
- Look at your arrangement of colors and fabrics from close up as well as from a distance.
- If you are using prints, see how the size of the print looks when you are just looking at a small strip of it.
- This quilt also lends itself to being made from scraps, and in fact, probably originated as a scrap quilt, made from necessity. You only need small pieces of each color, but this will mean you cannot strip piece the quilt. You will have to sew it together block by block!
Step 1 - Cutting Rail Fence Quilt Blocks
The final size of your rail fence blocks is not important. It is a matter of personal taste. What you do need to calculate is the proportions of your square. If you are using four fabrics, the width of each strip must be ¼ of the size of your final block. Plus, of course, those seam allowances.
So for example, if you want to finish with 8” (20 cm) blocks, Each strip must be 2 “ (5 cm) wide. To add in the seam allowance, you will add another ½” (1.2 cm )to each strip, ¼ “(0.6cm) on each side. Your final width will be 2”+ ½”=2 ½” ( 5cm +1.2cm= 6.2 cm)
If you plan to strip piece the blocks, you will need long strips of fabric cut to the correct width. So for our example above, you will cut strips 2 ½” (6.2cm) wide across the width of the fabric, perpendicular to the selvages.
If you are planning to use Jelly Rolls, all this measuring and cutting will be done for you!
If you would prefer to use scraps, just cut the scraps 2 ½” (6.2cm) wide, and the length will be the length of your scrap! It must be a minimum of 8 ½” (21.2 cm) long to form your square, though! If your scraps are not long enough, you can always join them into a longer piece. With a patterned fabric, the seams will just blend in and hardly be noticeable.
Step 2 - Strip Piecing
To use this time-saving method, you need to have long strips of fabric cut to the correct width.
- Arrange your strips in the order you have chosen, say from darkest to lightest.
- Stitch strips 1 and 2 together. Press the seam to the darker side.
- Stitch strips 3 and 4 together. Press the seam to the darker side.
- Finally, stitch the seam between strips 2 and 3 together, forming a 4-strip wide band. Press this seam towards the darker side too.
You will have to make numerous strip sets like this if you are planning to make a full-size quilt. Concentrate on sewing in precise straight lines and on maintaining your ¼” (0.6cm) seam allowance. This is especially important for this quilt, as with so many seams, even a tiny deviation each time will add up to a big difference at the end. This quilt is the perfect example of a suitable quilt to practice these skills!
Step 3 - Cut into Squares
The next step is to cut your long strips into squares. If your seams have been accurate, the width of each strip should be the same measurement as your desired block, plus seam allowances. Did your strips line up to exactly the measurement you were aiming for? If so, well done. You have maintained your seam allowance very well!
If you have gone a little bit wonky (as all of us do, sometimes!), measure the width of your strip and then cut the squares to that same measurement.
Cut the squares all the way across your joined strip. Use the lines marked on your quilting ruler and on your cutting board to make sure that your cutting lines are exactly perpendicular to your seam lines.
You will find that you may have little leftover pieces at the end of each strip. Save these for your next scrap quilt! I have a large box in my sewing cupboard that contains all my little leftover bits and bobs from everything I make!
Alternative - Chain Piecing
If you are using scraps, chain piecing will speed up your stitching considerably. Do not backstitch at the beginning and end of each piece, and do not lift your presser foot in between each piece. Adjust your sewing machine to a short stitch length.
Sew all of your little strips together in pairs, just moving on to the next pair without cutting the thread or lifting the presser foot. Your pieces will be connected by a thread chain. Press the seams toward the darkest piece before cutting the ‘chains’. This will keep them in the correct order.
Once pressed, cut them apart and stitch the pairs together to form a block of 4 strips. To help you keep the color sequence correct, it is helpful to place the ‘pairs’ in two piles next to your sewing machine and take one pair from each pile each time to make a square block.
When sewing the pairs together, you can use the same chain piecing method and cut them apart afterwards. Trim your squares to perfect-sized squares once you have finished joining all the strips.
Step 4 - Stitching The Blocks Together
You now have neat piles of perfectly squared-up blocks. Before you can stitch them all together, you must decide how you would like to arrange them. There are a number of options for Rail Fence Blocks.
Assuming you are going for the conventional alternate direction arrangement as above, place your squares in piles in alternate directions next to your sewing machine.
First, stitch the blocks into rows, using the chain piecing technique explained above, so that your whole row is joined by threads. Press each seam well. Cut the threads before stitching the rows together.
- Sew rows 1 and 2 together.
- Sew rows 3 and 4 together.
- Now join them up, making your seam between rows 2 and 3.
Be sure to match up the seams between each block with the seams in the next row. If you find that one square is slightly larger or smaller, ease the fabric to fit so that the seams match exactly.
Continue in this way until all your units are joined. Press the complete quilt top, making sure there are no folds or tucks hiding inside those seams.
Rail Fence Quilt Patterns
You can see that just by piecing a few simple strips together to make a rail fence block, you have a large variety of different quilts you can make before even doing any research into any other block patterns! Let your creativity take over when playing with this pattern! Remember that inside every quilter is a masterpiece trying to get out!
1. Jelly Roll Rail Fence Quilt
This would be a great choice for quilters looking for options to incorporate leftover jelly rolls. You can use cheerful prints and vibrant colors or opt for solid prints and darker tones. If you have any leftover fabric by the time you’re done with the quilt front, you can incorporate it into the backing of the quilt. Rail Fence Quilt Patterns from Material Girl Quilts
2. Rainbow Rail Quilt
Go bright and bold this season with a Rail Fence Quilt that features all the colors of the rainbow. The modern twist in this pattern is bound to make this quilt a hit among both the conventional and contemporary quilters alike. Trying out this pattern is a great opportunity to play with color schemes and glorious batiks. Rail Fence Quilt Patterns Connie Kresin
3. Easy Rail Fence Bed Quilt
In the mood to enjoy a brand-new, handmade, and aesthetically pleasing quilt made in your favorite color scheme? Focus on a color contrast that you prefer and create strip sets from different fabrics to put together the Easy Rail Fence Bed Quilt. The possible combinations are endless. Rail Fence Quilt Patterns The Spruce Crafts
4. Twisted Rail Quilt Block
Jump onto the rails with these Twisted Rail Fence Quilt Blocks. This pattern is designed to make a classic rail fence quilt block, which will be cut in half on the diagonal. You will then replace it with another rail fence quilt block half, and that way, from just a tiny, double-toned square in one corner to two large, mitered strips in the other corner, you will have a brand-new block. Rail Fence Quilt Patterns from Exuberant Color
5. Picnic Rail Fence Quilt
The Garden District Picnic Rail Fence Quilt is a pattern as pretty as its name. It is designed especially for fabrics with floral and dainty prints. This means the Garden District Quilt would be perfect for quilts with summer themes. The pretty floral fabric pieces in this quilt will be pieced similarly to those in a traditional rail fence quilt. Patterns from Fave Quilts
6. Rolling Rail Fence Quilt
Using your favorite jelly roll and the Rolling Rail Fence Quilt tutorial, you can make an attractive Rail Fence Quilt to spruce up your bedroom. You don’t need to stress even if it is your first time making a rail fence quilt as this tutorial comes with a full layout of the design. The design layout has an intricate pattern broken down into simple quilt blocks. Rail Fence Quilt Patterns from Jo's Country Junction
7. Quick Rail Fence Baby Quilt
Choose some rosy pink and grassy green fabric pieces to adorn your room. This quick Rail Fence Baby Quilt Pattern has some great strip-piecing hacks that will aid you in finishing up the quilt rather quickly. You can piece together this rather cute baby quilt in just a day with some dedicated effort, using some fun strip-piecing techniques. Rail fence quilt block patterns from Diary of a Quilter
8. Easy Rail Fence Quilt Patterns
Ready to enjoy the easiest ever Rail Fence Quilt Block? You can whip up a whole Rail Fence Quilt Block for The Alex in just a few minutes. While experimenting with this pattern, you will find it fun to play around with different colors. Patterns from Sew Preeti Quilts
9. The Dizzy Lizzy Rail Fence Quilt
The Dizzy Lizzy Rail Fence Quilt is an exciting and energetic bed quilt pattern for someone with a cheerful and equally exciting personality. With this rail fence quilt pattern, you can make a gorgeous 65 by 81 (inches) quilt that is suitable for a queen-size bed. It is easily customizable. Rail Fence Quilt Patterns from Patchwork Bliss
10. Rail Fence Quilt for Beginners
Opt for four different shades of color to produce an ombre-effect Rail Fence Quilt that is a treat for the eyes. Cut up some 2 ½ inches wide fabric strips, and get to work. If you use jellyrolls, the hardest work is already done for you. This will be an enjoyable design for quilters of varying skill levels. Rail Fence Quilting Patterns from Scrapish
11. Rail Fence Quilt Pattern
The Crossed Paths Rail Fence Quilt is a playful quilt pattern: the sort you would want to make for a cheerful soul. Make this quilt for an absent family member to serve as a gentle reminder of your presence. Free Rail Fence Quilt Patterns from A Crafty Fox
12. Little Picket Rail Fence Quilt
Here is a dainty version of the classic rail fence quilt pattern. The Little Picket Fence Quilt features soft tones of pink, lilac, green, and turquoise fabrics zig zagging across the quilt. You can opt for a different color palette or a basketweave addition to personalize it. Either way, this rail fence quilt will look amazing. Free Rail Fence Quilt Patterns from Fave Quilts
Free Rail Fence Quilt Patterns – In Conclusion
Living in the colder parts of the world, it is hard to say no to warm AND attractive quilts. These rail fence quilt patterns are great for putting together pre-cuts and fabric scraps into detailed and intricate-looking pieces.
There are no hard and fast rules for Rail Fence blocks, although usually, the strips are all the same width. Combining rail fence squares alternately with plain squares creates an interesting look.