17 Eye-Catching Rail Fence Quilt Patterns You’ll Love

The rail fence quilt pattern is a timeless, fun pattern with a lot of variety and playfulness in its design.

If you are a beginner quilter or want to build up your basic quilting skills, rail fence quilts are a fantastic choice for you. 

They are reasonably quick to construct, and you will have lots of fun playing around with layouts and color schemes.

Today we’re going to go over all the ins and outs of the rail fence quilt from its humble beginnings to showing you several different types of this exciting yet simple quilt pattern

What Is a Rail Fence Quilt? 

So often, the author or designer of our most cherished, timeless quilt patterns from days gone by are lost to history, and the rail fence pattern is no exception to this unfortunate fact. 

However, we do know the rail fence pattern has been around since, at least, the mid-1800s. There are several beautiful examples of rail fence quilts made back in the 1860s and 1870s in museums across the US. 

The rail fence pattern is also known as the “Roman Stripe” pattern. These names have been used interchangeably throughout the years.

How Do You Quilt a Rail Fence? 

Piecing together a rail fence quilt top can be done pretty quickly since it is a strip-based design. Here are some basic steps to create a rail fence quilt top:

  • You can use jellyrolls (a precut pack of 40,  2 ½” x 42” strips), or you cut your own strips from the yardage you have on hand. You can get 14, 2 ½” x 42” strips per yard.
  • Choose how wide you want your blocks, and then sew the appropriate amount of strips together lengthwise.
  • Cut your blocks from these long strips. 
  • Choose the layout of your blocks, then sew them together.

When you are ready to quilt your quilt sandwich, you can use a simple quilting style like “stitch-in-the-ditch” or straight line quilting. You could also do some gorgeous free motion quilting designs if you have the skills. Many different quilting styles look good with this quilt pattern. 

How Much Fabric Do I Need for a Rail Fence Quilt?

Rail fence quilt fabric requirements depend on the size of quilt you want to create and how many strips each block will have.

For example, if you’re going to make a twin-size quilt with 3-strip blocks, you will need 6” yards to cut 80, 2 ½” x 42” strips. 

How Many Jelly Rolls Does It Take to Make a Rail Fence Quilt? 

To create the same twin-size quilt from the above example, you will need two jelly rolls. This amount enables you to make a 72”x78” quilt.

Below is a mockup of this example quilt.

Rail Fence Quilt Pattern: 17 Beautiful Designs to Try

Now I’ll show you a compilation of 17 different quilt patterns using this easy, fun design. Beginners and seasoned pros love rail fence quilts, and I hope this list reveals how unique it truly is.

1. Rainbow Rail Fence Pattern

Rainbow Rail Fence Pattern

This free rail fence quilt pattern is an easy-to-follow tutorial on making this gorgeous colorful version of this classic design. The instructions will show you how to make a finished quilt measuring 80” square.


2. Quick Rail Fence Baby Quilt Tutorial

Quick Rail Fence Baby Quilt Tutorial

Here is another well-written free tutorial for you to try out the rail fence pattern. This tutorial will show you how to make a baby-sized quilt measuring 40” square.


3. Wacky Rail Fence Free Pattern

Wacky Rail Fence Free Pattern

If you are looking for something a little different from the traditional strip-style rail fence, this free pattern is a great fit. The cone-shaped “rails” are perfectly wacky. The finished quilt will measure 39”x48”.


4. Popsicle Sticks Quilt Pattern

Popsicle Sticks Quilt Pattern

This lovely pattern gives you several size options to make and suggests using fat quarters or jelly rolls. The example quilt is made from gorgeous batiks. 


5. Triple Rail With a Twist

Triple Rail With a Twist

With a 3D-like design, this pattern is an excellent option for a confident beginner. The pattern will show you how to create a quilt measuring 39”x46”.


6. Off the Rail Pattern

Off the Rail Pattern

Here’s another stunning pattern that gives you several sizes to choose from when constructing your quilt. This pattern is also fat quarter friendly.


7. Zig Zag Rail Fence Pattern

Zig Zag Rail Fence Pattern

Using this pattern, you will have a finished quilt sized 53”x64”. The pattern designer also includes tips and tricks, fabric requirements, and fabric care tips for after you’ve made your quilt.


8. Not Your Mother’s Rail Fence Pattern

Not Your Mother’s Rail Fence Pattern

Here is a different take on the traditional design of the rail fence pattern. This pattern gives you four sizes to choose from as well as fabric requirements and detailed instructions. 


9. Split Rail Fence Quilt Pattern

Split Rail Fence Quilt Pattern

I love the fabric selection in this example quilt. The contrast between the beautiful background fabric with the other two is quite striking. This pattern will show you how to make a lap quilt measuring 38”x54”.


10. Splendid Rail Fence Pattern

Splendid Rail Fence Pattern

Using white as the background gives the appearance of the “rails” floating in midair. This pattern gives you two sizes to choose from — baby and lap.


11. Pick 12 Pattern 

Pick 12 Pattern

The Pick 12 quilt pattern is a unique rail fence design using different sized “rails” for the entire design. With this pattern, you will be able to make five different-sized quilts. 


12. Rail Fence on Point Rag Quilt Pattern

Rail Fence on Point Rag Quilt Pattern

If you have never made a rag quilt before, I highly recommend making at least one. They are a fun new technique to learn, and this pattern will show you how to do everything from start to finish.


13. Spectrum Rail Fence Pattern

Spectrum Rail Fence Pattern

This unique pattern shows you how to cut ombre fabric to create this beautiful rail fence design. The finished quilt will be 54”x72”.


14. Crosshatch Quilt Pattern

Crosshatch Quilt Pattern

Another modern take on the classic rail fence pattern. Crosshatch is a great pattern for beginners and will show you how to make a 66 ½” square quilt. 


15. Rolled Up Quilt Pattern

Rolled Up Quilt Pattern

The combination of these two different-sized “rails” is a great example of how versatile this quilt pattern really is. This pattern will give you two different size options to make. 


16. Jelly Roll Rail Fence Pattern

Jelly Roll Rail Fence Pattern

Simple, quick, and easy, this pattern will be a great option if you need to make a quick gift for someone. The pattern gives two different size options and detailed construction instructions.


17. Off the Fence Quilt Pattern

Off the Fence Quilt Pattern

Wow, this pattern gives you six different layouts for your rail fence blocks. Each layout only needs three yards of fabric, so you definitely get your money’s worth with this pattern.


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I hope this list has shown you how incredibly versatile the rail fence quilt pattern is and how fun it can be to come up with your design. If you are looking for your first quilt project, the rail fence pattern would be an excellent choice for you. 

Happy Quilting!



About the author: 
Miriam Ronne is a lover of all things quilting and sewing. She is a self-taught quilter and is constantly learning and broadening her skill set to create one-of-a-kind quilts! When she's not behind her sewing machine you can find her playing with her fur babies or trying her hand at other crafty things.

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