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Sew a Simple Rail Fence Quilt Block With Pre-Cuts

The rail fence quilt block is a great traditional quilt block for beginners, but everyone can appreciate its versatility and dynamic design.

rail fence quilt block tutorial

Learn how to sew a traditional rail fence quilt block with pre-cut fabric strips.

Finishing at 12″ (12½” unfinished), this quilt block is also a great size for sampler quilts and bees!

 rail fence quilt block tutorial

What you need:

  • Using a roll of pre-cut fabric strips: Select 3 different strips that are 2½” x width of fabric. I used Lily and Loom Modern Hand Drawn Pop Art Fabric.
  • Cutting strips from fat quarters: Cut 2 strips each from three different fabrics; each strip should be 2½” x 14″.
  • Cutting strips from yardage: Cut 3 strips that are 2½” x 28″ long.

Step 1:

rail fence quilt block tutorial

Lay out the three different fabric strips side by side. Sew two strips right sides together using a ¼” seam allowance. Press the seam toward the darker fabric. Add the third strip to the strip set and sew right sides together, again with a ¼” seam allowance. Press toward the darker fabric. The entire strip should measure 6½” wide.

Note: If you’re piecing your strips from fat quarters, you’ll need to sew more than one long strip set. Just make sure to sew both strip sets in the same order (for example, white-purple-blue).

Step 2:

rail fence quilt block tutorial

Using your ruler and a rotary cutter, cut 6½” sections of the strip set. Be careful to cut straight across, so that the cut is perpendicular with the seams. Cut a total of four blocks that are each 6½” square.

Step 3:

There are two different arrangements you can make with your blocks. With mine, I can choose to arrange the blue stripes radiating from the center:

rail fence quilt block tutorial

Or I can turn the blocks so that the white strips touch and radiate from the center:

rail fence quilt block tutorial

There’s no right or wrong here. Just pick the one you like best. I think I prefer the arrangement with the white in the middle.

Step 4:

rail fence quilt block tutorial

Stitch together the blocks in each row.

rail fence quilt block tutorial

Then press the fabrics away from the block with perpendicular seams. When you do this with both strip sets, the seams will nest together nicely in the middle of the rail fence block.

Step 5:

 rail fence quilt block tutorial

Stitch together the two rows, making sure to line up the center seam. Press this final seam to one side.

Step 6:

rail fence quilt block tutorial

If needed, trim the block to 12½” square.

rail fence quilt block tutorial

Have fun playing with different color arrangements! What happens when you put the lighter colors on the outside, or create an ombre effect? Can you make it scrappy, or use only solids?

3 Comments

Ann Pattenden

I have really enjoyed this series of techniques for traditional blocks. Although I have made many of them in the past, I have picked up some ideas on how to make them better and have been inspired to revisit and try them again. Thank you for the clear instructions and great step by step photos.

Reply
Janet Griffin

thanks for providing pictures which really helped me better understand this traditional block. I was introduced to it last all by the wonderful quilters on Deer Isle, Maine who were making dozens of comfort quilts for hurricane victims. Can’t wait to try it again with some of my stashed jelly rolls!

Reply
Rene’

Great instructions and pics to go with them. Visual person here:) Thank you for sharing!

Reply

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