Rail Fence Block Unit

A rail fence block unit consists of two or more rectangles sewn together to form a square unit. If your project requires numerous rail units that are identical, then a strip method greatly speeds up the process.

The block shown above uses three strips to form the square. My Crosshatch Quilt Pattern uses this same block. Click the pattern image below to learn more about it.

Many times a rail unit uses only two strips.

Image of Rail Unit - 2 Piece
Rail Unit – 2 Piece
Image of Rail Unit - Pressing
Rail Unit – Pressing

What can you make with a Rail Fence Block Unit?

The most common use of a rail unit is for making Rail Fence Quilt Blocks. These blocks are quick and simple to make, and are a great use of leftover scraps.Below are several other examples of blocks that contain rail units of one form or another:

The Rail Fence Block

You can use 4 Rail Units together to make a which is a very classic and simple block Rail Fence Block shown above.

The Rolling Stone Quilt Block

Combine 4 Rail Units, 4 Square in a Square Units and a Center Square to make this Rolling Stone Quilt Block shown above

Image of The Apple Pie Quilt Block
The Apple Pie Quilt Block

Requires 4 Rails Units, 8 Flying Geese Units and a Central Square to make this Apple Pie Quilt Block shown above.


To construct a rail unit, first determine your finished size. Divide the finished size by the number of rectangles your unit will contain. This will be your finished size,

For example, if your finished block is 6″ and you want three strips, divide 6 by 3.  This results in a finished size of 2″ x 6″ rectangles.  Now, you add .5″ to each measurement to get your cut size. The result is that you cut your rectangles 2.5″ x 6.5″

After you cut the rectangles, sew the pieces right sides together using a 1/4″ seam.  Press to the dark side.

To strip piece rail units, cut two strips the width required for your finished unit.  Place the strips right sides together and sew along the long edge using a 1/4″ seam. Press open, with seam going toward the dark side. Then subcut the units into the lengths required. (For example, to make 4″ finished rail units, you would cut two strips that were 2.5″ wide and WOF. After sewing the strips together, you would subcut the strip into 4.5″ lengths.

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