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It’s hip to be square! Cutting and sewing rail fence blocks

by Michael Smith

As a beginner, you likely won’t have a lot of specialized tools at your disposal, but a 12½” x 12½” square up ruler is one you should invest in right from the start. You’ll use it constantly, as in the following step.

Cutting the blocks

Yesterday I showed you how to press the strips of Banyan Classics Collection, pieced together to make rail fence blocks. Now it’s time to take them to the cutting table and align one long edge with a grid line on the cutting mat. You’ll likely find it easier cutting through the fabric with the bulk of the seam allowances going away from you.

All 5 enticing colorways of the Banyan Classics Collection are featured in the strip sets which are ready for cutting this quick and easy rail fence quilt.

TIP: For easier cutting, lay the bulk of the seam allowances going away from you.

Square off the left edge, cutting off the wide selvages in the process. Next, position your 12½” x 12½” square up the ruler along the bottom edge of the strip set, with the left edge aligned with the newly trimmed edge of your strip set. Ideally, the width of the ruler and the width of the strip set will be the same. If they’re not, now is the time to position the ruler to cut the right edge to the same measurement as the width of the strip set.

The Banyan Batiks Banyan Classics Collection Rail Fence quilt comes to life as the strip sets are cut into 12½" square blocks. Free pattern

Cut your blocks whatever the width of your strip set so they are square.

This will yield 3 blocks from each strip set.

Bonus Project!

What’s extra fun about making this quilt is the cute little stack of ‘scraps’, or, as I think of them, ‘the beginnings of a free BONUS project in the making’, which is comprised of all the leftovers after cutting out the blocks. I rarely let anything go to waste in my sewing room, and, with fabrics as delicious as these Banyan Batiks Banyan Classics Collection, my mind is racing with ideas of what decadent treat I can create with them. Send me some ideas! I see another blog post in the offing!

With fabrics as beautiful as the Banyan Batiks Banyan Classics Collection, you won't want to waste a scrap! Turn the leftovers into a fun and free bonus project! Free rail fence quilt pattern

Scraps or bonus project? It’s your call!

It’s hip to be square

As you square up and cut the blocks, don’t be surprised if the strip set goes a little wonky, and isn’t as straight and square as it should be. It happens sometimes with long strips. There’s plenty of extra fabric in your strip, so simply square-up the left edge again and continue cutting the blocks.

Keep rail fence blocks square by squaring up the left edge of your strip set as you cut your blocks across the strip.

Square up the left edge again to keep strips set straight.

Once the blocks are all cut (you should have 30) double-check that all the seam allowances are pressed flat and away from strip 1, which, in my case, was Pearl. PRESS with the iron if need be, then we’re on to the really fun part – sewing the quilt together!

Quilt Layout 

Lay out the blocks on a design wall, a large table, bed, or even the floor. Start in the upper left-hand corner with strip 1 turned facing left with the seams of the block running vertically. Next, to it, place another block with strip 1 across the top with the seams of the block running horizontally. Alternate in that order as you layout 5 blocks across to complete Row 1.

Go back to the left, but this time start with strip 1 going across the top with the seams horizontal, which is opposite to how you laid it out in Row 1. Your next block will be placed with strip 1 pointing towards the left with the seams running vertically. Continue to alternate in that order until you build all 6 rows.

You’ll easily see the graphic zigzag pattern form across and down the quilt as you lay your blocks in the classic rail fence pattern. The beauty of this pattern is that with the blocks going horizontally and vertically, there are no seams to match! It makes for a very quick and easy project; a great beginner quilt.


A dynamic, graphic zigzag pattern emerges with the beautiful Banyan Classics Collections fabrics in tones of black, white and grey.

Lay out your blocks in the classic rail fence pattern, alternating blocks vertically and horizontally.

Step back, or, if possible, take a photo of your quilt which gives you a better perspective to make sure everything is in line and going in the direction that it should. A photo also helps as a reference point to stay organized if you find you get muddled while sewing the blocks together.

Sew your blocks into rows, then sew the rows together.

With these striking Banyan Classics blocks in hand… I’ll meet you at the finish line.

This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3: Easy pressing tips for a perfect square rail fence blocks

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Linda Webster February 23, 2019 - 2:54 pm

Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing!

Michael Smith February 25, 2019 - 1:14 pm

Thank you for your feedback, Linda. I’m glad you enjoyed the articles.


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