How to Make a Rail Fence Quilt

Written by amma marfo
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How to Make a Rail Fence Quilt

When it comes to quilting, there are hundreds of patterns and fabric choices out there. A good starter is the classic rail fence pattern. With simple fabrics and easy piecing, it can be finished in a few focused days of sewing and quilting. Take your time choosing fabrics that work well together. Carefully choose border, backing and binding fabrics. Rail fence quilts often have a monochromatic colour scheme, or a large-print focus fabric for the border with complimentary rails. Whatever your choice, enjoy making this simple beauty while perfecting your quarter-inch seam.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1/2 yard of three coordinating fabrics (dark, medium, light)
  • 2/3 yard of border fabric
  • 1 1/2 yards backing fabric
  • 1/3 yard binding fabric
  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
  • Safety pins
  • 45-by-50 inch batting (or larger)

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  1. 1

    Cut your three rail fabrics into 2 ½-by-6 ½ inch strips. Cut 30 strips for each 1/2 yard. Sort your strips into three piles of dark, medium and light fabric--lined up in that order.

  2. 2

    Sew your blocks together. Sew together the light and medium strips and press so the seam lies toward the medium fabric. Attach the dark strips to the mediums to complete the block. Press your seams toward the dark fabric. Complete the piecing of both sets of blocks until you have finished all 30 blocks.

    How to Make a Rail Fence Quilt
  3. 3

    Lay out your blocks as a grid that's five blocks across and six blocks down. Rotate the blocks to create a continuous zigzag pattern that runs diagonally down the quilt. Once satisfied with your placement, begin piecing the blocks by rows.

    How to Make a Rail Fence Quilt
  4. 4

    Cut your border pieces into strips that are 6 inches wide; two strips should be 36 ½ inches long, and the other two should be 42 ½ inches long. Add the shorter border strips to the six block sides and press open. Sew on the longer borders along the five block sides, sewing over the first two borders in the process, then press them open. Your quilt top is now ready to be quilted.

  5. 5

    Trace your quilting pattern as desired over the quilt top. Sandwich the quilt by laying your backing fabric right side down on the floor or a large table. Spread the batting over the backing. Add the quilt top, right side up, over the batting. Safety pin the quilt layers together every 6 inches.

  6. 6

    Quilt by hand or with a machine, working from the centre outward. Cut five 2 inch wide binding strips running the width of the fabric (approximately 40 inches long). Piece the binding to form one long strip. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and press to hold.

  7. 7

    Attach the binding on the front with all raw edges aligned. Turn the folded edge over the backing fabric and tack it down. Finish the quilt by attaching a signature label listing your name, the date and who or why you made the quilt.

    How to Make a Rail Fence Quilt

Tips and warnings

  • For strip piecing, cut each of your three fabrics into long, 2 ½ inch wide strips and sew the strips together. Once pressed, cut your strips into 6 ½ blocks.
  • Pre-wash and iron all of your fabrics before you begin. This will reduce the chance of dyes bleeding into lighter fabrics over time.

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