Monday, 30 July 2012

Crooked Rail Fence Quilt Block Tutorial

I've been trying a new improvisational piecing technique each month while following along with the  Colour My World Challenge. This month was especially exciting because the colour to tackle was pink. I wanted to continue playing with straight and crooked lines, like those in the modern kitty blanket I made earlier this month.

I think this block is really fun and could easily see myself making a whole quilt in this style. I ended up liking it enough to put together a tutorial for anyone else that might want to give it a try. This block can easily be adapted to any size and shape by increasing the number or size of the stripe units, or changing the width of the borders.

Select three coordinated fabrics. I chose three of the same colour but any combination works.

Cut three strips measuring 14" by 1.5" from each fabric.  

Combine the strips into three groups so that each group contains three fabrics. Determine which order you want them in. I put the fabrics for each group in a different order, but two or all three can be the same.
Sew each group of strips together and press seams open.
You should now have three large strips that are approximately 14" long and 3.5" wide.

Make a cut across the width of the strips every 3.5". This will yield 12 pieces that are 3.5" square.
Don't worry about being ultra precise at this stage, I stacked my strips up and cut all three at the same time.

Using a ruler or template, trim each block down to a size of 3" square.
Vary the placement and angle of your cuts as much as you want. This is the fun part!

Lay out your squares, alternating between vertical and horizontal stripes.
Don't put too much thought into this part, just mix them up and lay them down.
Sew those puppies together! You should now have a pretty cool rectangle measuring 10.5" by 8".
The last step is to add borders to make this the size you want. I added a 1.5" border on each side and 2" at the top and bottom for a block that will finish at 12" by 11". Here is the result:

The thing I find most interesting about this block is that there are 5,748,019,200 possible layout permutations for every combination of three colours (6 possible strip groupings, 12 possible positions for each square, and 2 possible orientations per square). No two blocks will ever end up looking exactly the same, especially if you choose a large scale print like the olives above. I think that creates a lot of visual interest, and I look forward to using this technique again on a larger scale.


  1. What a cool block! I really like the end result!

  2. That looks pretty neat! Thanks for the tutorial MC :o) I have a date with my machine this weekend and your hydrant is at the top of the list, I have some great background fabric for it already in my stash.

  3. Great idea, MC, and I love the tutorial! How on earth did you figure out the possible layout permutations? LOVE that!