Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (2023)

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More than just an easy quilt for beginner quilters!

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BACK: Learn to make aRail Fence block

Rail Fence quilt pattern designs are perfect for the beginning quilter because you build skills and create a fun quilt to boot!

For more experienced quilters, this design is fast and easy--perfect for that unexpected baby quilt.

If offers opportunities to play with fabrics and color values and then see the results quickly.

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (1)

When the units are color blocked, it's a scrap quilter's little piece of heaven.

No scrap is wasted.

For hand dyed fabric lovers (Moi! included), playing with gradations conjures up a quilt that looks 'woven' rather than pieced.

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (2)

Whether the block is created from just two strips or many, this nifty, little 'beginner' rail fence quilt pattern has a lot of offer any quilter, no matter their skill level.

All the patchwork illustrations you see on the website are created with the EQ8 software program.

I use it for all my block designing because it makes designing so darn easy...and FUN!

And if you're a MAC user, it works for you, too!

Don't forget to download your free Rail Fence coloring pages towards the bottom of this page!

(Video) Fence Rail Quilting Block - Beginner Block Quilting Series

The Rail Fence Quilt Block

This block is stitched from strips. Sometimes uniform in width (below, left) and sometimes not (below, right).

These blocks can be varied by increasing or decreasing the number of strips in each. As you'll see in the illustrations that follow, changing the order the fabric color values can dramatically change the look of the final design.

And finally, you can make 'wonky' blocks to add even more pizzazz to your patchwork.

Truly a basic block!

If you create a quilt with a controlled color palette using just three fabrics (for example), you'll stitch a long strip of each fabric together into strip sets and then cut those sets into the block. It's rather like doing the sewing test of check the accuracy of your quarter inch seam allowance.

If you choose to make a scrap quilt, you'll make each block individually.

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs

There are two basic layouts of the the blocks. I'll use the simple, three strip block from above to illustrate. To make it easier to see the design, the fabrics are positioned from light to dark.

In this first pattern, the blocks are laid out so that the dark strip (or 'rail') iseither on the left or the top. The odd numbered rows start with the dark onthe left; the even numbered rows start with it on the top.

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (5)

The same layout, except now the blocks have been set on point. Notice how the diagonal rows now move straight up and down in the design.

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (6)

In this alternate layout, the blocks form little pinwheels.

The layout of the blocks changes for the even numbered versus the odd numbered rows. In the odd numbered rows, the blocks are laid out alternating dark strip on the left, then bottom, top, bottom, etc.

The even numbered rows have the dark strip first on the top, then on the right, top, right, etc.

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (7)

Rarely do you see Rail Fence quilt patterns set with sashing, though with the increasing popularity of the Modern Quilt movement, I have seen a few with sashing between the blocks.

[Learn how to make a Rail Fence quilt block.]

Now let's look at some of the options available to you as you design your own rail fence quilt pattern.

(Video) Quilting Tutorials: Rail Fence Quilt Tutorial

Using Fabric Gradations in a Rail Fence...

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (8)

...either hand dyed gradations of single colors or using different values of light and dark commercial fabrics create stunning quilts that have the illusion of depth.

In this first example the blocks are in a straight set layout. Each block is made from 5 strips--four values of the color or hue and black.

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (9)

The placement of light and dark lends a rather 3D effect to the finished quilt.

In this next use of value gradation, two similar but different versions of a 5 strip block are stitched.

I saw this layout in an antique quilt. It took awhile looking at it to realize that the two blocks were almost identical.

The only difference in fabric placement is the center rail. One is yellow. One is brown.

The blocks are set on point to create a zig zig that moves across the quilt top. Instead of setting triangles, partial blocks are used to extend the design to the edges of the quilt.

The yellow rail looks like the highlight on top of the zig zag; the brown rail looks like the shadow underneath.

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (12)

Morphing the idea of gradation just a bit, this next rail fence quilt pattern uses two values of black and white fabric...one looks more white, the other more dark...and a single bright for each set of blocks.

The result is an eye-popping rainbow quilt...perfect for a child or any lover of bright, dynamic quilts. Add a black border and quilt with those super-luscious, fully saturated rayon and polyester threads. The finished quilt will be a show-stopper...and still a basic, easy to piece rail fence quilt design.

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (13)

Woven Effects

Staying with a 5 strip block, now grade from the outside to the center, either light to dark or dark to light results in these basic quilt blocks.

(Video) How To Make The Disappearing Fence Rail Quilt Block (variation 2)- #ThursdayThreads

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (14)

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (15)

Again, in this rail fence quilt pattern design we set the blocks in horizontal rows and the results with light fabric on the outside...

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (16)

...or with dark fabric...

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (17)

Using hand dyed gradations will produce a subtler effect. So much so that you might consider having the horizontal rows in one color family and the vertical columns in another.

Click here to learn how to calculate the needed fabric yardage for a Rail Fence quilt pattern.

Reduce the number of strips and vary the width

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (18)

Next we reduce the number of strips to 3, and increase the size of the middle strip to get a block like the one shown to the right.

This is a great way to showcase a particular family of fabrics or a collection of like fabrics (i.e. food fabric or florals or bugs or Christmas, etc).

Set the blocks in vertical columns and the blocks appear to be weave in and out of each other.

Fun effect. Simple construction. What more could a quilter want?

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (19)

Were your eyes fooled by this design?

Doesn't it look like the blocks are different sizes?

But they're not. They are square blocks just like all the examples on this page.

(Video) Rail Fence Watermelon Quilt Block Tutorial, Beginner Friendly!

Take note that in order to 'complete' this design, I've added a border equal to the width of the black strips. Otherwise it just doesn't look finished.

For Applique Lovers...

...sometimes there's just not enough time to applique all the quilts that exist in your mind--I know--I belong to that club!

What's an appliquer to do?

My suggestion is to applique just a panel for your next quilt.

Now border this panel with a field of fast and easy rail fence quilt blocks in subtle fabrics so that all your hand stitching takes center stage like this...

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (20)

Or use that same panel of applique to top an assembly of those same blocks like this...

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (21)

I think this second rail fence quilt pattern design would be a wonderful way to showcase a redwork embroidery. Don't you?!

Goodies: Free Downloads

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern Designs / Easy Beginner Quilt Pattern (22)

You'll need the most current version of Adobe installed on your computer to download the pattern.

  • Straight set, zig zag pattern, 3 rails

  • Straight set, pinwheel pattern, 3 rails

If you've enjoyed these ideas...

...we've got lots more!

Just go to Quilt Design 101 to see the blocks we've covered (no pun intended :D !!) so far! And then bookmark that page...we're always adding to it!


What is the easiest quilt pattern for a beginner? ›

One of the easiest quilts for a beginner to make is a simple patchwork quilt. A square patchwork quilt is made from fabric squares that are sewn together in a simple grid pattern. You can cut squares from your own fabrics, or start with a precut fabric bundle called a “charm pack” or “layer cake”.

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.

What is the most common quilt pattern? ›

Stars are probably the most common motif used on quilts. Homesteaders traveling West used the stars for guidance; and they looked upon stars as religious symbols of their faith in God. There are hundreds of star patterns.

Which sewing patterns are best for beginners? ›

Top five sewing patterns for beginners
  1. Tilly and the Buttons – Cleo. Great for: Easy to follow instructions. ...
  2. Grainline Studios – Scout Tee. Great for: A quick, simple sew. ...
  3. Leisl & Co – Everyday Skirt. Great for: A well-drafted, wardrobe staple. ...
  4. Tilly And The Buttons – Coco. ...
  5. Sew Over It – The Ultimate Shift dress.
9 Oct 2018

Which border goes on first on a quilt? ›

Generally, the side borders are added first. Measure the length on each side, and also measure the center of the quilt. If the measurements differ, take an average of the three.

Should quilt borders be cut crosswise or lengthwise? ›

CUT two side border strips the length of the average measurement of the quilt. Borders cut on the crossgrain have a little 'give'. Borders cut on the lengthwise grain do not have 'give'. If your border needs to be eased to the quilt use the crosswise grain.

What is the spacing for fence rails? ›


On two-rail and three-rail fencing, there is 11 inches between rails. On four-rail fencing, there is 9 inches between the rails.

How do you stagger fence rails? ›

Attach the top rail to the first post. Stretch it across the second post and then attach it to the third post over. For the second rail, start at the second post, cross the third post and attach to the fourth post. Continue staggering the rails in this fashion until all the posts are surrounded with rails.

How tall should a 4 rail fence be? ›

Four rail fences are 4.5-5 feet tall.

Do you start binding on front or back of quilt first? ›

Traditionally, the binding is sewn to the front of the quilt and wrapped to the back and sewn down by hand (or machine). By starting on the back and wrapping to the front, you'll be able to do the final stitching by machine and it will look awesome (front and back.) I'll walk you through the steps below: 1.

What size strips for a strip quilt? ›

Accurate strip piecing using precut fabric strips

Quilt patterns using 2.5 inch precut strips are very popular. These strips are typically 2 ½″ wide x Width of Fabric (40″-42″) and are sometimes called Rolie Polies or Jelly Rolls.

What is the first step in making a quilted project for beginners? ›

Steps to Making a Quilt—By Hand
  1. Decide on your quilt pattern. If this is your first quilt, go for a simple pattern for a small quilt. ...
  2. Collect your materials and tools. ...
  3. Prewash your fabric. ...
  4. Iron your fabric. ...
  5. Measure and cut your patchwork. ...
  6. Lay your quilt out. ...
  7. Sew your patchwork into rows. ...
  8. Iron your rows.

What is the oldest quilt known? ›

The oldest surviving example of a quilted piece is a linen carpet found in a Mongolian cave, dated to between 100 BCE and 200 CE. It is now kept at the Saint Petersburg department of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Archaeology Section.

What are the 3 types of quilts? ›

The three basic styles of rallis are: 1) patchwork quilts made from pieces of cloth torn into squares and triangles and then stitched together, 2) appliqué quilts made from intricate cut-out patterns in a variety of shapes, and 3) embroidered quilts where the embroidery stitches form patterns on solid colored fabric.

What is the most famous quilt? ›

The Jane A. Stickle Quilt is probably one of the most famous quilts in America, if not the world.

What's the easiest thing to sew for beginners? ›

Useful Beginner Sewing Projects
  • Fabric Bins for Your Sewing Supplies. ...
  • Easy Sunglasses Case. ...
  • Cute Envelope Clutch. ...
  • Oh-So-Chic Napkin Tutorial. ...
  • Wristlet Key Fob. ...
  • Fruit Slice Purses. ...
  • Diy Laptop Bag. ...
  • Makeup Bag.

What is the easiest design pattern? ›

Singleton (Creational)

This is probably the best known and the simplest to implement design patterns in software engineering. Overuse of the singleton pattern can be a sign of poor architecture but used strategically the singleton pattern is a tried and true solution to a lot of commonly reoccurring scenarios.

Should quilt borders be dark or light? ›

Generally, we put the darker color next to the body of the quilt and the lighter color on the outside. Again, look for colors that are already in your quilt for a cue for the borders. If there were a minor color in the quilt that you love, this would be a great color for the outside border.

Should I square up my quilt before adding borders? ›

Once your piece is quilted, you need to make the edges even and square before adding your binding. It is easier and more accurate to trim the quilt sandwich if the three layers are sewn together at the edge. Otherwise, the bottom layer can shift and you end up with edges that are not the same.

Do you stitch around quilt before quilting? ›

Many quilters stay stitch their quilt tops before machine quilting. But what is stay stitching, and why would you do it? Essentially, stay stitching is simply sewing around the edge of your quilt top to stabilize seams.

What does LOF mean in quilting? ›

Yes! Of course you can cut your strips the LOF (length of fabric) instead of WOF or width of fabric.

What is a good size border for a quilt? ›

Borders should be in proportion to the size of the finished quilt. As a general rule of thumb, a small wall hanging should have a border of less than 6" while a king-size quilt can handle a 12" to 14" border. Borders that are too wide diminish the quilt center design.

What order do borders go on a quilt? ›

Place the border along the side of the quilt, right sides together and midpoints matched. Pin through both layers at the match to keep fabrics from shifting. Match and pin the bottom end of the border to the bottom edge of the quilt, then match and pin the other end of the border to the quilt.

Should fence rails face in or out? ›

The 'quick' answer is that the finished, or good side of the fence faces the outside of your property, visible to neighbors and the outside world. That being said, the fence posts (or poles), rails, and other hardware are installed on the inside of the fence line and face you.

How do you layout fence rails? ›

Typically, the top rail is placed 7-8” from the top of the fence. The bottom rail is typically 7-8” from the grade. And the middle rail is placed even between the top and bottom rails. Do not place your rails any further from either the top or bottom of the fence.

How high is a 3 rail fence? ›

3 rail fence is about 4' high at the top rail. 2 rail fence is about 3' high at the top rail. Most 3 rail posts are 7' long (A 3 rail western red cedar post is 6.5' long).

How far apart are posts on a post and rail fence? ›

From the centre of each post to the next, they should be no greater than 2400mm apart. Horizontal fencing does not require any rails as the fence sheets are fixed directly to the posts.

Should fence stringers be vertical or horizontal? ›

Fence Stringer: Stringers are horizontal boards, usually two-by-fours, that run at the top and the bottom of the fence. Often, there is a third stringer in the middle. Only vertical fences have stringers. Fence Board: Fence boards are the long, narrow boards that constitute the face of the fence.

What gap should be between fence posts? ›

The standard spacing for fence posts is 8 to 25 feet apart, depending on the type of fence. A standard wood fence would require posts 8 feet apart, while a high-tensile wire could span 25 feet.

How do you build a fence that looks the same on both sides? ›

You can achieve the same look on both sides of a wood fence by adding pickets to both sides of the fence or choose a shadowbox design that has alternating pickets on each side.

Is it better to be short or tall for fencing? ›

This is one question with a quick answer: It doesn't. It does not matter if a child, or even an adult, fencer is much shorter or much taller than their opponent. The nature of fencing is such that you can be successful whether you are small in stature or whether you are large in stature.

Which is thicker 11 gauge or 9 gauge fence? ›

The higher the gauge number the smaller (thinner) the wire diameter. The most common gauges are 6 gauge (. 192″), 9 gauge (. 148″), 11 gauge (.

Do you put batting in the binding of a quilt? ›

Binding a Quilt: a Complete Tutorial. Binding a quilt is the final step in finishing. Before you bind, you need to somehow “quilt” your quilt. This means to attach the front and back, with batting in between.

Should quilt seams be pressed open or to the side? ›

Pressing quilt seams to the side is faster than pressing open and makes it easier to lock seams in place, sort of like a puzzle. It gives you that little added help in a clean seam intersection. This occurs because seams are pressed to opposite directions when sewing sections together.

Do you use a walking foot for binding? ›

Binding. Binding is a big deal with quilting, and you always want to end your projects on a good note. Because binding is the final step you need, a walking foot that punches through the many layers of fabric and the binding layer is key.

How wide are strips in rail fence quilt? ›

To start with, all of my directions will be for fabric strips that are 2½ inches wide, by 40 inches long. However, this a rail fence quilt pattern can be made with strips of any size, and I will address that later in the post. All seams should be sewn ¼ inch and ironed.

What is a good pattern for a beginner quilter? ›

Little Houses Baby Quilt Pattern

Sometimes the best way to learn to quilt is to start with something small. A baby quilt is the perfect size if you are machine quilting for the first time.

What is the easiest quilting design? ›

Straight line quilting is simple, its minimal, and always complements a quilt top. It can be done in so many different ways that its always a go-to for an easy quilting motif for beginners. For perfectly spaced straight lines don't forget to get a quilting guide for your walking foot.

Do you start in the middle when quilting? ›

Start quilting in the middle of the quilt and work your way out. This will eliminate pleats and puckering that may form if you try to work from one side to the other. Place the sandwich underneath the walking foot and hit the needle down button. Lock the stitch.

What is the easiest fabric to sew for beginners? ›

Linen is your answer. It presses easily and has sides that stick together, so there's less pinning to do. This fabric is excellent for making warm weather clothes. Strong and absorbent with properties that make it very breathable, linen is a fan-favorite fabric that's also great for beginners.

What are the 4 basic types of quilting? ›

There are four basic types of quilting, though there are all sorts of patterns that use more than one of these techniques. Our four basic types of quilts are: Pieced, Appliquéd, Paper Pieced, and English Paper Pieced.

Where do I start with quilting? ›

Start quilting in the middle of the quilt and work your way out. This will eliminate pleats and puckering that may form if you try to work from one side to the other.

What do I need for a beginner quilter? ›

Basic Quilting Tools & Notions
  1. Sewing Machine (& Maintenance Kit)
  2. Rotary Cutter.
  3. The Right Sewing Machine Foot.
  4. Needle.
  5. Seam Ripper.
  6. Bobbins.
  7. Basting Pins or Spray.
  8. Acrylic Rulers.

What is the most simple stitch? ›

The running stitch is the most basic and most commonly used stitch, in which the needle and thread simply pass over and under two pieces of fabric. It's exactly the same as a basting stitch, except it is sewn more tightly to create a secure and permanent bind.

Which seam is the most basic and easiest to stitch? ›

Plain seam.

A plain seam is the simplest type of seam and can be used on almost any item. A plain seam is defined as any seam that attaches two pieces of fabric together with the wrong sides facing.

What is the easiest kind of stitch? ›

The running stitch is probably the easiest of all stitches and a great way to get kids started. My kids loved making little Lavender Bags and Heart Ornaments using this stitch. It is also great for when you need to GATHER fabric, such as when making these pinwheels or flower brooches.

Whats the best stitch for a quilt? ›

The average machine quilting stitch length chosen is between 10 and 11 stitches per inch. This length complements both delicate designs as well as bolder quilting motifs. However, your stitch length may need to change as you increase both your batting thickness as well as your thread thickness.

What is the most important thing in quilting? ›

Thread choice is important for any quilting project, because it holds everything together. It's best to start with a simple, strong thread, and wait on specialty threads like metallic or monofilament thread (made for invisible stitching), which are more difficult to work with.

What order do you put a quilt together? ›

Assembling a Quilt
  1. Introduction: Assembling a Quilt. This is my technique for layering a finished quilt. ...
  2. Step 1: Lay Out Backing Fabric. After sewing together your backing fabric, lay it down on a flat surface (right side down). ...
  3. Step 2: Tape Down the Edges. ...
  4. Step 3: Layering. ...
  5. Step 4: Lots of Pinning. ...
  6. Step 5: Finished Quilt.

Is it better to quilt by hand or machine? ›

Some people prefer quilting by hand, some prefer machine and some do a combination of both. There's really no right or wrong way to do it, because the art of quilting is just that — an art. At the end of the day it's about what brings you enjoyment.

What is the average age of a quilter? ›

Most quilters are female, with an average age of 55. They spend an average of 11 years quilting, and some own more than $5,000 worth of equipment.

What is the hourly rate for a quilter? ›

Avg. Base Salary (USD)

A To Z Quilting pays an average hourly rate of $53 and hourly wages range from a low of $46 to a high of $60.


1. Easy Quilting: Rail Fence Baby Quilt!
(Erica Selman)
2. Rail Fence quilt block tutorial
(Aunt Em's Quilts)
3. Love of Quilting Preview: Rail Fence Baby Quilt Pattern (2708)
(Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting)
4. Learn to Quilt Block by Block - Block 1 Rail Fence
(The Broken Needle)
5. Rail Fence Quilt Block Tutorial 12.5 Inches
(Made By Sue)
6. 6 Easy Rail Fence Quilts!
(Fabric Cafe)
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