How to Make a Split Rail Fence Quilt: A Step-by-Step Guide

Quilting is a timeless art that’s been passed down through generations, and one of the most iconic quilt patterns is the Split Rail Fence. This classic design features long, straight strips of fabric sewn together in a simple yet striking arrangement, mimicking the rustic charm of a traditional split rail fence. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of creating your own Split Rail Fence quilt, from selecting fabrics to finishing touches. So grab your fabric, dust off your sewing machine, and let's get started on this delightful quilting journey!

What Is a Rail Fence Block?

The Rail Fence quilt block is the quintessential example of simplicity and versatility in quilting. Also known as the Fence Post quilt block, it’s constructed by sewing strips of fabric together to create blocks that are then alternated to form a visually stunning quilt. One of the best things about this block is it’s forgiving nature, making it perfect for beginner quilters or those looking to improve their sewing skills.

To create a Rail Fence block, all you need is the ability to sew a good quarter inch seam. This makes it an ideal project for beginners who’re still honing their sewing techniques. The forgiving nature of the block allows for slight imperfections in seam allowances, making it easier to achieve accurate and consistent block sizes.

The construction process is relatively straightforward. Start by selecting your desired fabrics and cutting them into strips of equal width. The width of the strips will determine the overall look of your quilt. Once the strips are cut, begin sewing them together using a quarter inch seam allowance. Press the seams open or to one side, whichever you prefer.

Once the strips are sewn together, you can then alternate them to create the Rail Fence pattern. This can be done by rotating the blocks or arranging them in a specific order. Get creative and experiment with different color combinations and arrangements to achieve a unique look for your quilt.

Different Variations of the Rail Fence Block Explore Different Ways to Arrange and Rotate the Blocks to Create Different Patterns and Designs

  • Different variations of the Rail Fence block
  • Explore different ways to arrange and rotate the blocks
  • Create different patterns and designs

The rail fence quilt block has a rich history rooted in the split rail or cedar rail fences commonly seen along country roads. It’s name derives from this scene, showcasing a connection between quilting and the rustic landscapes of yesteryears. While some quilters define a rail fence quilt as one made from strip units cut into squares and pieced together, others embrace variations that incorporate this iconic block in innovative ways.

What Is the History of the Rail Fence Quilt Block?

The history of the rail fence quilt block can be traced back to early America when settlers required a practical and efficient method of constructing fences to enclose their land. The rail fence, also known as the split rail or cedar rail fence, consisted of rough-hewn wooden rails arranged vertically or horizontally and held together without the need for nails or other fasteners. This type of fencing was not only durable and inexpensive, but it also allowed for easy repair and replacement of individual rails.

Inspired by the sight of these rustic fences lining the countryside, quilters began incorporating the design into their work, giving birth to the rail fence quilt block. The simplicity and versatility of the rail fence block made it a popular choice among quilters, allowing them to showcase their creativity and artistic flair. By utilizing strips of fabric cut into squares and piecing them together in various configurations, quilters could create stunning and visually appealing designs.

Interestingly, the rail fence block is known by different names, depending on the regions and quilters preferences. Some refer to it as the log cabin block, as it resembles the layout of logs in a log cabin structure. Others call it the zigzag quilt block, highlighting the alternating placement of contrasting fabrics. Additionally, some quilters classify any quilt made from strip units cut into squares as a rail fence quilt, encompassing various design variations and techniques.

To make a split rail fence quilt, you’ll first need to gather your materials. Choose fabrics that complement each other and suit the desired aesthetic of your quilt. You’ll also need a rotary cutter, cutting mat, ruler, sewing machine, and thread. Once you’ve your materials ready, begin by cutting your fabric strips into squares. The size of the squares will depend on the dimensions of your desired quilt.

Next, arrange the squares in a layout that you find visually appealing. You can experiment with different combinations and orientations to create unique designs. Once youre satisfied with your layout, start sewing the squares together, joining them with a quarter-inch seam allowance. Press the seams flat to ensure a neat and tidy quilt top.

Continue piecing the squares together until your quilt top is complete. To finish your quilt, layer it with batting and backing fabric, and quilt the layers together using your preferred quilting technique. Finally, bind the edges to give your quilt a polished and professional finish.

Different Variations and Designs of the Rail Fence Quilt Block

  • Traditional rail fence quilt block
  • Square-in-a-square rail fence quilt block
  • Modified rail fence quilt block
  • Diagonal rail fence quilt block
  • Chevron rail fence quilt block
  • Strippy rail fence quilt block
  • Curved rail fence quilt block
  • Zigzag rail fence quilt block
  • Log cabin rail fence quilt block
  • Straight set rail fence quilt block
  • Staggered rail fence quilt block
  • Hourglass rail fence quilt block
  • Irish chain rail fence quilt block
  • Scrappy rail fence quilt block
  • Vintage rail fence quilt block

Source: Block Histories: the Rail Fence –

There are many quilt patterns to choose from, but one popular option is the Jelly Roll Rail Fence quilt. This delightful design combines simplicity and charm, making it a great choice for both beginner and experienced quilters. If you’re wondering how many jelly rolls you’ll need to create this eye-catching quilt, or if you’re curious about any other details, keep reading to find out all the information you need.

How Many Jelly Rolls Make a Rail Fence Quilt?

If youre looking to make a Split Rail Fence quilt using jelly rolls, you may be wondering how many jelly rolls you’d need for your project. The answer can vary depending on the size of the quilt you want to make and the number of strips you include in each block.

For example, if you plan to make a lap-sized quilt measuring approximately 60 inches by 72 inches, you may need around 30 to 40 blocks, depending on the size of your blocks. To make each block, you’d need three strips, one from each jelly roll. Therefore, you’d need at least 90 strips to create 30 blocks.

If each jelly roll contains 40 strips, you’d need around three jelly rolls to have enough strips for your project. However, keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to have a few extra strips on hand in case of mistakes or variations in block sizes.

Some jelly rolls may contain narrower strips, in which case you may need more to reach the desired width for your blocks.

It’s always a good idea to calculate and plan accordingly before starting your project to ensure you’ve enough materials to complete your quilt.

How to Adjust Block Sizes in a Rail Fence Quilt Using Jelly Rolls

  • Step 1: Unroll the jelly roll and separate the fabric strips.
  • Step 2: Decide on the desired block size for your rail fence quilt.
  • Step 3: Measure and cut the fabric strips to the desired block size.
  • Step 4: Arrange the cut blocks according to your design preferences.
  • Step 5: Sew the blocks together using a ¼ inch seam allowance.
  • Step 6: Press the seams open or to one side, depending on your preference.
  • Step 7: Continue piecing the blocks until the desired quilt size is achieved.
  • Step 8: Trim any excess fabric or uneven edges from the quilt top.
  • Step 9: Layer the quilt top, batting, and backing fabric together.
  • Step 10: Quilt the layers together using your preferred quilting method.
  • Step 11: Square up the quilt and bind the edges to finish the rail fence quilt.

Watch this video on YouTube:

When it comes to creating a Rail Fence quilt, the number of strips needed can vary based on personal preference. Whether it’s two, three, four, five, or even six strips per block, the choice is entirely up to the quilter. In the image provided, a block with three strips is showcased as an example.

How Many Strips Do I Need for a Rail Fence Quilt?

Rail Fence blocks can be made with two, three, four, five, or even six strips – it’s a matter of taste. The photo at the top of this post shows a block with three strips. To determine how many strips you need for your Rail Fence quilt, youll first need to decide on the size of your blocks and the overall size of your quilt.

To calculate the number of strips needed for each block, divide the desired finished width of the block by the width of your fabric strips.

Next, youll need to determine how many blocks you want to make and how many strips you need for each block. Multiply the number of blocks by the number of strips needed for each block to get the total number of strips needed for the quilt top.

If youre using multiple colors or prints for your Rail Fence quilt, you can also calculate how much fabric you need for each color. Determine the number of strips needed for each color and multiply it by the length of the strips. This will give you the total yardage you need for each color.

When cutting your fabric strips, make sure to add a little extra length to account for any errors or variations in your sewing. It’s always better to have a little extra fabric than to come up short.

Overall, making a Rail Fence quilt is a fun and versatile project. You can create different variations by playing with the number of strips, colors, and block arrangements. With this step-by-step guide, youll be able to confidently make your own Split Rail Fence quilt. Happy quilting!

When it comes to creating a Rail Fence Quilt, using the right size strips is key. Our Rail Fence Quilt Size Guide recommends using precut 2.5” x 6.5” strips. However, if you’ve longer strips available, there’s a time-saving option. By sewing 6.5” wide strip sets, you can quickly create the necessary squares. Want to know more? Check out our Jelly Roll Twirl video tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

What Size Strips for Rail Fence Quilt?

When making a split rail fence quilt, one of the key factors to consider is the size of the strips. Our Rail Fence Quilt Size Guide recommends using precut 2.5″ x 6.5″ strips, which are widely available in many fabric stores or can be easily cut from your own fabric. These strips are ideal because they allow for easy piecing and create a visually appealing design.

However, if you’ve longer strips available, you can save time by sewing 6.5″ wide strip sets instead. This means that instead of cutting the strips into 2.5″ widths, you’d keep them at 6.5″ wide. From these strip sets, you can then subcut them into 6.5″ squares.

To create strip sets, the process is relatively simple and can be easily learned by watching a Jelly Roll Twirl video tutorial. This technique involves sewing together different fabric strips of the same width to create a long, continuous strip set. These strip sets can then be cut into squares or further divided into narrower strips to suit your design.

Whether you choose to use precut 2.5″ x 6.5″ strips or create your own strip sets, it’s essential to pay attention to accuracy and consistency in your cutting and piecing. This will ensure that your quilt blocks fit together seamlessly and create a stunning finished quilt.

Remember to press your strips or strip sets carefully to ensure sharp and crisp piecing. This will help your quilt blocks lay flat and make the assembly process much easier.

How to Choose Fabric for a Rail Fence Quilt

When it comes to choosing fabric for a rail fence quilt, there are a few factors to consider. First, think about the overall look and feel you want for your quilt. Consider whether you want a bold and bright design or a more subtle and calming vibe.

Next, think about the color scheme. Rail fence quilts typically feature strips of fabric in different colors or patterns. You can choose a cohesive color palette or go for a more eclectic mix.

Consider the scale of the prints as well. If you’re using patterned fabric, think about how the prints will look when cut into strips. Small-scale prints can create a more intricate and visually interesting design, while larger-scale prints can make a bold statement.

Finally, think about the fabric quality. Quilts are meant to be used and loved, so choose fabrics that are durable and will hold up well over time.

By taking these factors into account, you can choose the perfect fabric for your rail fence quilt and create a beautiful and unique piece of art.


By following the step-by-step guide and utilizing the necessary materials and tools, individuals can create a beautiful and unique quilt that won’t only provide warmth and comfort but also serve as a testament to their crafting skills. The process allows for personalization and the opportunity to showcase individual style and creativity. Whether you’re a seasoned quilter or new to the craft, this guide provides valuable instructions and tips to ensure a successful and enjoyable quilting project. So, gather your supplies, set aside some time, and dive into the world of quilting as you create your very own split rail fence masterpiece.

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