What Are Barn Quilts?
We quilters sure love our quilts. So much that we like to show off our quilting wherever we can! They look so beautiful laying on the couch, tossed over the back of a chair, or spread across a bed. Some even like to decorate the outside of their homes with them. I’m not talking about quilts hanging on porch rocking chairs, I am talking about barn quilts!
Photo via Old Red Barn Co.
A barn quilt is a large piece of wood that is painted to look like a quilt block.
Even though the name implies that an entire quilt is painted onto the wood, it generally is only a single quilt block. The size of the squares vary, but usually, they measure 8 feet. After they are painted, these blocks are hung on the exterior of a barn, house, garage or other building.
The majority of barn quilts are comprised of simple geometric shapes, like squares, rectangles and triangles. This makes them easier to create. They usually are painted in solid colors, though every now and then, you’ll come across one that has been painted to look like printed fabric. The simplicity in shape and the vibrancy of solid colors make these blocks easily seen from afar. If they are too complicated, the details can be lost.
The earliest versions of barn quilts have been around for hundreds of years.
Just as fabric quilts have their own unique history, so do barn quilts. While barns were not painted back in the day, they were decorated with different types of folk art. This included quilt blocks once paint was readily available and affordable. People chose certain blocks to reflect particular meanings.
In the early 2000s, barn quilts start showing up again, and these are the ones we are used to seeing today. This is also when the first quilt trail began, originating in Ohio.
A quilt trail consists of many barn quilts that are mapped together and visited. Those following along the trail receive a map with all of the locations marked, and viewers drive through the countryside to see all of the blocks. Today there are quilt trails all over the United States. A wide variety of people have created them, including quilt guilds, schools, churches, and 4-H clubs.
Photo via Maureen Cracknell Handmade
Are you interested in creating your own barn quilt?
This is a very doable and fun project to tackle! While it may appear intimidating, it is achievable with careful drafting, taping and painting.
Check out these two free tutorials online:
An easy step by step guide on wikiHow.
Directions on how to make and hang your barn quilt from the Le Mars Arts Council.
If you would like a barn quilt or two but would prefer to purchase one, that’s okay too! Ask around locally, or do a quick search online. Be sure to include your state or county when searching so that you can locate someone close to home.