Easy rail fence quilt instructions

The rail fence quilt pattern is an old-fashioned design that can conjure up nostalgia or gain contemporary flair by a careful choice of fabrics. Use three highly contrasting fabric colours for maximum impact. The simple patchwork construction of the rail fence design is often one of the novice quilter's first projects. This 42-inch by 54-inch quilt top can be pieced together quickly, thanks to a simple "strip piecing" method.

Cut eight 2 1/2-inch-wide strips of the light fabric to the width of the fabric length with the rotary cutter on the self-healing mat. Repeat for the medium and dark fabrics.

Sew three strips together lengthwise, one at a time, including a light, medium and dark fabric with a 1/4-inch seam. Repeat for eight strip-pieced sets.

Cut each strip into 6 1/2-inch squares, using the rotary cutter and mat, for a total of 48 squares.

Sew six squares into a row, alternating the direction of the strips, keeping the light fabric strip on the top or to the left. Repeat for eight rows, continuing to alternate strip directions for each row. Sew the rows together.

Cut five 3 1/2-inch-wide strips of the dark fabric. Use these strips as a quilt border. Measure the quilt width and length. Sew the strips together lengthwise before attaching them to the quilt with a 1/4-inch seam.

Cut the batting and muslin quilt backing to measure 45 inches by 57 inches each. Layer the muslin, batting and top, centring the quilt top. Attach the quilt hoop in the centre to secure the layers.

Quilt through all three layers by top stitching along the seam lines, beginning in the centre and moving to the edges.

Complete the quilt by cutting all edges even, tucking the muslin over the batting 1/2 inch and tucking the quilt top under 1/2 inch. Secure with straight pins and top stitch 1/8 inch around the entire edge to secure.

Things You'll Need

  • 5/8 yard light-coloured fabric
  • 5/8 yards medium-coloured fabric
  • 1 1/8 yards dark-coloured fabric
  • 1 1/2 yard muslin
  • 1 1/2 yard batting
  • Rotary cutter
  • Ruler
  • Self-healing cutting mat
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Quilt hoop
  • Safety pins
  • Straight pins
  • Needles
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About the Author

Linda Shepard has been staff writer for "C & G Newspapers" for over 10 years, covering local government and crime and serving as the newspaper's food writer. She has written for "Michigan Meetings Magazine" and is also the owner of, an online business of self-guided walking tours.