Barn Quilts Are Covering Barns Across Rural America

"Summer Sunday" Barn Quilt in Monroe, Wisconsin

Located on the farm of John and Amy Bartlett
Located on the farm of John and Amy Bartlett | Source

Beauty of Barn Quilt Art

Bright and colorful quilts are covering barns across the heartland of America. No, these are not the fabric quilts that grandma used to make and looked so beautiful draped across her four poster bed. These unique works of art, known as barn quilts, are quilt squares made of wood and mounted to the sides of barns and other farm buildings.

Predominantly found in rural areas, barn quilts are meticulously designed and hand painted by craft hobbyists as well as artists who are making a living selling barn quilts.

Barn decorating dates back to the 1800's when the Pennsylvania Dutch painted hex signs on their barns. The small colorful patterns were of traditional folk art designs. They were thought by some to be talismans for good fortune while others displayed them merely for decoration.

The barn quilts are not only a delight to view, but the fun starts with the "thrill of the hunt" to find them!

Barn Quilts and Quilt Barns

You might ask, "What is the difference between a barn quilt and a quilt barn?" The quilt barn is the name for the barn that has the painted wooden quilt attached to it. The wooden quilt is known as a barn quilt. Makes sense, doesn't it?

Source

Barn Quilt Trails

Much like the recent interest in the sport of geocaching, quilt barn hunting is really catching on. It has become a hobby popular with traditional sewing quilters as well as people that don't even know how to sew.

To aid in the scavenger hunt for these unique art forms, quilt trails have sprung up in over 30 states and 2 Canadian provinces. These quilt pathways were the brainchild of Donna Sue Groves of Ohio who, in 2001, placed a wooden quilt block on her barn as a tribute to her mother, an avid quilter. She then organized a community project in Adams county which resulted in 20 barn quilts being displayed along a driving trail, now known as barn quilt trails.

"Rooster" Pattern

One of Many Patterns from Heritage Barn Quilts
One of Many Patterns from Heritage Barn Quilts | Source

"Henry's Star" Pattern

Another Beautiful Original Design from Heritage Barn Quilts
Another Beautiful Original Design from Heritage Barn Quilts | Source

Barn Quilts and the Economy

Quilt barn trails have encouraged a surge in rural tourism in many areas. The trail organizers provide tourists with self-guided trail maps and GPS coordinates to locate the quilt barns. This gets visitors off the beaten path into areas which would not normally be frequented by out of town guests. The result is exposure for gas stations, motels, restaurants, and other businesses along the way. Many times, tourists return for repeat trail visits to enjoy the countryside and see quilts that are added to the trail. Tour buses provide group trips for a day in the country viewing the pastoral scenery and the beautiful barn quilts.

Another economic benefit that has come out of the barn quilt craze is the formation of "cottage businesses" that make and sell barn quilt squares. One such venture is Heritage Barn Quilts of Chesterfield, Missouri (www.heritagebarnquilts.com). Owner Karen Parrish makes her quilts out of wood in a variety of sizes and patterns or she will paint a custom order in a pattern that you provide. Karen says, "Many people have a quilt pattern that is meaningful to them and want it duplicated to honor a special person or time in their lives".

Heritage Barn Quilts was recognized by Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee when four of their barn quilts were selected to be showcased in the Dollywood 2012 Harvest Festival.

"Sunflower" Barn Quilt in Brodhead, Wisconsin

Located on the farm of Doug and Laura Zettle
Located on the farm of Doug and Laura Zettle | Source

Trail in Green County, Wisconsin

One example of a county taking advantage of barn quilt tourism is Green County, Wisconsin located on the Illinois/Wisconsin border. Lynn Lokken of the Green County Barn Quilts Committee explained they are proud that they still have many small family dairy farms and want to promote their agricultural area to tourists.

The group of volunteers paint wooden quilts and seek farm owners willing to donate the space to hang the art where it is visible from the road. They have developed criteria for the structure to be eligible to host the quilt and the committee makes the decision as to where the quilts will be located.

Many Green County businesses and residents have sponsored the quilt trail program through monetary donations. In exchange for their contributions, the donors are recognized on the group's website and on the trail maps. According to Lynn, it typically costs $250 to make and install one of their barn quilts.

If you can't visit Green County in person, stop by their website at www.greencountybarnquilts.com where they feature each one of the quilts from their trail.

"School House" Barn Quilt in Blanchardville, Wisconsin

Located on the farm of Dean and Rae Reeson.
Located on the farm of Dean and Rae Reeson. | Source

Not Just Art but a Signature of Rural America

Barn quilts have certainly redefined the term "public art". They not only are a kaleidoscope of color but they also exude a certain nostalgic charm with their quaint names such as Star Puzzle, Farmer's Daughter, America's Pride and Tumbleweed. Each one you find gives you the urge to find the next one. They appear out of nowhere on quiet country roads like a beacon of color beckoning you to stop and take the time to "smell the roses".

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Slide Show Featuring More Beautiful Barn Quilts

I learned much about how to make barn quilts from this excellent pattern sampler available on Amazon.

Barn Quilt in Calhoun County, Illinois

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© 2012 Thelma Raker Coffone

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Please Share Your Comments On "Barn Quilts ... Covering Barns Across Rural America" 17 comments

Carol Singleton 8 months ago

Your article was great. I enjoyed learning more about these amazing barn quilts and seeing the pictures.


whatwhenwhereandwhy 10 months ago

Really enjoyed this article. ...Thanks so much for sharing...


Lacey Taplin profile image

Lacey Taplin 21 months ago from Highlands Ranch, CO

Very interesting article. My mother-in-law is an avid quilter but not this kind of "quilting!" I will be keeping my eyes out for these interesting pieces of art.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

RTalloni I love that little bird house with the barn quilt on it. Glad you enjoyed the hub and video. Thanks for your nice comments.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Midget38 I forgot to thank you for sharing my hub with your followers. I really appreciate it!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

How delightful! Thanks for highlighting barn quilts and the quilt trails for us. I may never make more than the little birdhouse design in the video, but I do intend to have at least that! :)


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Moonlake the barn in your picture is just screaming for a barn quilt! I envy you living on an old farm. I look forward to following you and reading more of your stories. Thanks for your comments!


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Midget38 I am planning to add more pictures soon. I really had fun making the little video that I have here. I am so excited about barn quilts and will be doing much more writing about them. I will keep you informed. Thanks for your comments!!!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

I love barn quilts if I had the energy I would put one on our barn. Thanks so much for sharing this interesting hub. Voted up.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Wish we could see more barns here, Thelma. Beautifully rustic! Sharing!


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Thanks so much Randy. The UP, coming from you, really means a lot!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia

These are really great, Thelma. I'd never heard of these barn decorations but I may have observed some and didn't know what I was seeing at the time.

Very well written and researched, Thelma. Rated up, of course!

--RG


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

lrc7815 you have to watch for them where you live in Central Virginia. I'm sure you will find some! Thanks for the follow!!


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 3 years ago from Central Virginia

What a wonderful hub. As a lover of old barns and quilts, this is near perfection. I have not seen barn quilts but thanks you you, I will have a new obsession. Great job!


Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

I have seen these all of my life without giving them a second thought. Wonderful hub.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author

Eddy,

I'm thrilled with your comment. Thanks!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

So interesting;I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

It has to be an Up up and away!!!!

Eddy .

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    ThelmaC profile image

    Thelma Raker Coffone (ThelmaC)333 Followers
    48 Articles

    Thelma Raker Coffone is an award winning writer who enjoys writing on a variety of topics. She is working on her first fiction novel.



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