Rails II {Aerial Railroad – a finish}

I am not sure why but I was so apprehensive making a second Rails quilt. A few years ago now I created Rails for RjR Fabrics with Fat Quarter bundle they supplied. The quilt was made with 1-1.5″ strips and I bent them into shapes as I sewed to make it represent the railroad junctions. There was little planning and the whole quilt took a couple of days (I procrastinated so much with the idea in my head to the point that I had no choice but to make it quickly so I wouldn’t miss the deadline).

I landed up selling this quilt to a company art collection, in fact it hangs in my husband’s building. A couple of years later, I decided I wanted to teach a class using the same strip piecing techniques. The only problem was I had no sample for the class. To be honest, I was not sure I could really reproduce a similar quilt using the techniques I pulled together last time. When the class was canceled due to COVID, I decided to let it sit a while.

I found an Anna Maria Horner print in my stash, which was rust with pops of yellow and blue. This was what I wanted the palette for the next Rails quilt to be. The bundle then sat on the floor for another year.

Finally, I decided that the worse that can happen is it doesn’t work, so I started out with a plan of 3-4 areas of color.

I was pleasantly surprised how well it came together. This one was a much larger quilt but still based on Neuostheim Railroad junction in Germany.

Once the top was complete, I had a very clear direction I wanted to take to the quilting. All the areas of colored strips, I wanted hand quilted/ embroidered with “X”s (like railway crossing signs), with the crosses forming a diagonal 1/2″ grid pattern. In the neutral areas, I had machine quilted variable grid lines – 1/2″ to 1” lines.

This meant color matching all the strips and switching thread colors often. In total 15-16 colors were used. The back has amazing texture as well from making these crosses.

The hand quilting took a long time, so this quilt also became a travel project. It saw a lot of NC, Germany and Morocco. In someways it made it easy to work on being a travel project.

When making the top, I had assumed I would square up this quilt and have straight edges. Through making and quilting it though I loved the uneven quality of the final edges and wanted to maintain the shape as much as I could. I decided to face the edges of my quilt (using Cotton and Bourbon Facing Tutorial). I did change things up a little as I couldn’t cut the edges without making sure I had secured the hand stitches. So before I cut, I stitched the binding to the front, then cut at the 1/4″ edge with scissors, then zigzagged the edge securing the thread. It seems to have worked well.

The finally finished the quilt almost a year after starting. It was a lot of work all those hand stitches. I love the colors. I love the texture. I am thrilled that I was able to push through and repeat the technique.


Name : Rails II (#aerialrailsquilt)
 Original Design
Fabric: Oakshott Cottons and Kona Cotton
Backing: Scraps and Carolyn Friedlander Print
Binding: Faced with Neutral
~52″ x ~45″
Quilted: Hand Stitched Crosses and Machine Quilted Grid
Start date: 12 February 2022
Finish date: 8 February 2023

7 thoughts on “Rails II {Aerial Railroad – a finish}

  1. Delal

    That is a spectacular piece! I enjoyed hearing about your process and your breaking through the barriers. Thank you for sharing.

  2. heather

    i love your quilt! you’re so talented!! i’ve only hand-sewn one quilt, but it means a lot (more)… congratulations on finishing it! thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. mlwilkie Post author

      Thank you. I am definitely going to try and show it over the next year as I would love having people see it in person. It will be in my solo show July to start.

  3. Pingback: 2023 Guild Challenge- Inspiration is Everywhere – Triangle Modern Quilt Guild

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s