Easy Railroad Quilt Block Tutorial

Posted by Elaine Huff on

Today let's sew together this easy Railroad quilt block. With only half square triangles and four-patches, this block goes together quickly and easily. I decided to do this block as a scrappy block and I think it turned out great but you could certainly do it with only a light and a dark or medium fabric. Let's get started!

railroad quilt block

Fabric Requirements for a 12" Finished Railroad Quilt Block:

  • Light/Ivory: 2 - 5" squares, and 10 - 2.5" squares
  • Dark/Medium: 2 - 5" squares, and 10 - 2.5" squares

railroad fabric requirements

Sewing Directions:

Half Square Triangle Units:

Step 1:

Using the Light/Ivory 5" squares and Dark/Medium 5" squares, sew together four Half Square Triangle units as shown below. Trim/square up the Half Square Triangle units to 4.5" square. You can find my tutorial for making Half Square Triangles at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-half-square-triangle-block.

railroad 1

Four Patch Units:

Step 2:

Now you can make five Four Patch units using the Light/Ivory 2.5" squares and Dark/Medium 2.5" squares as shown in the picture below. You will find my Four Patch tutorial at https://fabric406.com/blogs/fabric406-blog/how-to-sew-a-basic-four-patch-quilt-block.

railroad 2

Putting It All Together:

Step 3:

Lay out the Half Square Triangle units and the Four Patch units as shown in the picture below.

railroad 3

Step 4:

The Railroad quilt block goes together just like a basic Nine Patch block - sew the units together in three rows as shown below.

railroad 4

Step 5:

Press the seam allowances toward the Half Square Triangle units as you can see in the picture below.

railroad 5

Step 6:

Now sew the three rows together and...

railroad 6

Step 7:

Press the seam allowances away from the center of the block as shown below. You're done! Told you it was easy!

railroad 7


The Railroad quilt block went together quickly with a minimal amount of seam matching. I really like how my scrappy version turned out too. When making a quilt out of these blocks, you could arrange them so the diagonal runs in a straight line, or zigzag it, or make an X or diamond design - lots of lay out options.

You may have noticed that the Railroad block is closely related to the Jacob's Ladder block. All you have to do is rotate the Half Square Triangle units 180 degrees and the middle Four Patch units 90 degrees and you have a Jacob's Ladder block.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial for the Railroad quilt blockIf you liked this post and want to see more quilting tutorials like this, simply click here to sign up for my newsletter and also receive a free PDF quilt pattern called Chained Weathervane.

Happy Quilting!


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  • Hi everyone,
    I forgot to mention in the tutorial that the HST should be squared up to 4.5". I’ve made that correction now.
    Feel free to copy and paste the tutorials into a word processing program so you can print them out. I’d love to be able to make PDFs of all of them, but there are only so many hours in the day!

    Elaine Huff on
  • Doesn’t the HST end up slightly smaller than the 4 patch?

    Kathy L on
  • A great way to use the 5 inch squares and 2.5 inch pieces I’ve been saving. Thanks for the tutorial.

    Margaret J. on
  • Love this block…thanks for sharing…

    Linda Berwaldt on
  • I want to thank you for the Railroad Pattern can’t wait to try it. I like the way you illustrated it. It was easy to see and understand.

    Elaine Huff on

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