Rail Fence Tutorial


A Rail Fence quilt is a fairly easy quilt to make albeit a very time-consuming one, or at least for me it was.  This particular quilt took me 7 weeks to make however, I do have a full-time day job and most of the sewing was done between 8-10 at night and on Friday nights when the Mr. went out with the boys and every Saturday night a sporting event was on TV that he wanted to watch.  I am sure if I had more time during the day, it would have been a faster process.

This is my first tutorial so I hope it reads well and is easily understandable to the beginners out there.

After washing and pressing the fabric, I cut out 2.5″ stripes the width (42-44″) of the fabric.  For one complete 12″ square, you need 26″ of each colour you are using. Sew each colour together using a 1/4″ seam and press the seams towards the darker colours.  At this point, I ended up with a 6.5″ x 44″ strip of fabric.

Next, cut your strip every 6.5″.  You can do this in layers of 3 to cut back on the time it takes to cut out. 

You will end up with blocks like these.  I had 192 of them to cut out.  My rotary cutter would have gone on strike with all the cutting if it could. 

After all your strips of fabric are cut into the 6.5″ blocks, you can begin sewing the blocks together.  remember to maintain your 1/4″ seams as accurately as possible so you get a proper 12″ square.  I sewed half of my 192 blocks together as below:  And then I sewed the other half like this.

 Then, I lined up and pinned the 2 halves together to make my first completed 12″ block.  Your dimensions at this point should be 12.5 x 12.5

Once you have all your finished blocks, you can begin to sew them together.  As the quilt I made was 6 x 8, I sewed them in sections of 3 across and then joined each strip of 3 to another until they were 3 x 4 or 1/4 of the finished quit top.  Once all 4 quarters were complete, I matched the seams, pinned and sewed them all into one piece.

Next, I made the backing which I forgot to take a picture of, taped it to the floor with green painters tape to keep it taut.  I layed down the batting Warm & White), put the quilt top on and then basted it every 4 inches using large safety pins.  The recipient of this quilt had 2 requests for me.  #1 – Simple stitching, nothing too fancy.  I ended up ditch stitching on each 4″ block.  Turned out quite well.  I took the time to make sure all my blocks were lined up and I think I only had a couple that were off by a millimeter or to.  I was quite obsessive about this!  Request # 2, no label.  So, I signed my name and quilt details on the edge of the quilt where the binding would cover it up.  Once this was all complete, I sewed on the binding.  I used a zigzag stitch just to be different and I loved the look so much that I zigzagged the binding on another quilt as well.  When everything was all said and done, I washed and dried it, rolled it up, tied it with a ribbon and delivered to the happy recipient.

Here is the finished product.  Generally, a typical rail fence has a border of each colour around it.  I obviously did not do this due to the vast size of this puppy and I think it looks pretty darn good as is.  

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Rail Fence Tutorial

  1. This is absolutely gorgeous!! I love the tutorial…very nice and easy to understand. I am going to print it and put it in my project binder. Thanks for the hard work you put into it!
    BTW, on your “to wash or not to wash” I said that if you don’t wash your fabric before you quilt with it, you will get the “pucker” that is so pretty…but then I did some research and discovered it is the batting that shrinks, not necessarily the fabric. So I have to admit (for the first time in my life..haha) that I was wrong. But I am sticking with the way I was taught by a quilting teacher I highly respect…not to wash. I think your projects are great, either way you have chosen. Bee well!!

    • It’s weird that you bring that up. On the 9 patch wedding quilt, I used poly batting. It did not pucker or crinkle. I think its because of the poly batting. On this one, it was 100% cotton down to the thread and very little of that quilted look. On the Tinkerbell, I prewashed both the fabric and batting (yes, I think I was a little batty) and it crinkled up all nice and quilt like. All my fabric is washed now so its not like I can experiment, but I won’t be prewashing batting anymore. Such a nuisance!

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