The rail fence block is a simple block - really. It can be made up of two or more rows or rails - of equal or different size, straight or angled. The traditional rail is made up of equal size rails that are parallel to each other - but really - almost anything goes.
So it sounds pretty simple - pretty "basic", huh? And sure - it is. And yet - don't discount the beauty and flexibility of simplicity. Let's look at just a few rail fence options!
Some Types of Rail Fence Blocks
Rail Fence blocks can be as simple as two or three rails, or rows. As I mentioned earlier, often the rails are the same size. This makes the Rail Fence block a PERFECT block for beginners to work with. All of your pieces are the same size AND you can strip piece them! In fact, I suggested a basic Rail Fence block to perfect your 1/4" seam (read more here!)
You can, of course, have MORE rails. Go crazy. Above is a four rail block and a five rail block. In each of the examples so far, each rail has been different, which makes them perfect for using up scraps! But....can you use fewer fabrics with more rails? Of course!
Just look at these two lovelies! Both are five rail blocks, with just two fabrics each. Placement of light and dark, bright and bold, can totally change the look of the block! Still not impressed?
Now look what happens when you put FOUR four rail blocks together! Fun, right? Notice what happens when you shift the placement of lights and darks in the same block - the focus and shape change a bit. But you are still working with that easy peasy block!
Some Rail Fence Quilt Layouts
So we looked at some basic rail fence block options. Now let's explore JUST A BIT some uses of those blocks in a quilt!
Above are two different layouts using the first rail fence block we viewed, the two rail block. Ah....interesting how simply rotating the blocks can provide a completely different look.
So what happens when we use different Rail Fence blocks?
As the blocks increase in "complexity" (more rails), the impact and overall look changes completely!
The quilt on the left uses all 3 Rail blocks, with every other block rotated. The quilt on the right uses the same alternate block rotation, BUT every other block is a 4 Rail block. It adds some more interest, doesn't it?
As the number of rails increase, the design possibilities increase too! Both of the quilts above are five rail blocks, but look at how the color placement makes such a difference in how the overall quilt looks.
What if we mix things up AND put the blocks on point? Ah....now things RELLY get interesting - and fun!
With many of these examples, I've rotated alternate block placements (straight set and on point). But look at the quilt on the left. The blocks are on point, but the the rails for both block color versions in the quilt on the left are all going the same way - but the pink rails provide a break in the action, adding more interest.
You are starting to see all the terrific options the Rail Fence block provides, aren't you?
Let's look at more more (but there are MANY more options!). Remember that block that was made up of four Rail Fence blocks? Look at what happens when you put THAT block on point? And how color placment COMPLETELY changes the overall pattern. Fun fun fun!
As I mentioned, I've just scratched the surface on the possibilities the Rail Fence block provides you! Want to see more? Head over to my Instagram feed and check out the #railfenceblockchallenge and #railfencequiltblock posts from myself and a bunch of other designers, and see how everyone reimagined the Rail Fence block. I think you are going to be inspired to do some reimagining of your own!
Here's my rail fence block - reimagined! I love how the skinny rails provide a bright pop of color against the blue background!
Let me know which is your favorite project from the Instagram Rail Fence block challenge!
Head over to Kate's blog to get her insights on the joys of the Rail Fence Block!
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