A Brief History of American Barn Quilts

A few days ago I was hand­ed a box of scrap wood. lit­er­al­ly. A small box full of left over pieces from a col­lab­o­ra­tion for the SCRAP WOOD MYSTERY BOX and was chal­lenged to see if I could come up with a way to make use of them. Imme­di­ate­ly a barn quilt came to mind, and I knew I would try to recre­ate the beau­ty and cul­ture behind this Amer­i­can coun­try sta­ple. It came from a sim­ple sug­ges­tion to think out­side of the box…pun intend­ed. I hope to encour­age you to do the same before you toss some­thing to the side…tutorial and images com­ing soon…stay tuned.

scrap wood triangles and rustic farmhouse sign

From the box of left­overs we were able to fash­ion an adorable ver­sion of a barn quilt, which I now offer on my online wood shoppe. 

What is a barn quilt? 

I’m glad you asked. When these ques­tions were first brought to me I hon­est­ly did­n’t know how to answer. My ini­tial thought was well I dun­no, they have always been around for as long as I could remem­ber but I had­n’t giv­en it a sec­ond thought. 

Dri­ving through the coun­try in Ken­tucky you will see these large geo­met­ric star-like pat­terns paint­ed and dis­played on barns. They are very com­mon and oh so charm­ing. I real­ize now that this is one of those sim­ple plea­sures that I have often over­looked with­out real­ly stop­ping to soak in the beau­ty and tra­di­tion behind it. 

So, in true Kaycee fash­ion, I had to go dig­ging around to find out for myself where exact­ly did barn quilts orig­i­nate. I need­ed to know the whole sto­ry, and this is what I discovered.

The his­to­ry of the Amer­i­can Barn Quilt can be traced back almost 300 years, to the arrival of immi­grants from the cen­tral regions of Europe; Ger­many, Aus­tria, and the Netherlands. 

It is wide­ly believed that barn painting/quilting orig­i­nat­ed in Penn­syl­va­nia with these immi­grants and then spread too much of the New Eng­land and Mid­west­ern states. Paint was very expen­sive in those days and paint­ing a dec­o­ra­tive yet dis­tinc­tive quilt pat­tern on their barns was a won­der­ful way of allow­ing for dec­o­ra­tion. It also became an excel­lent way for trav­el­ers to find par­tic­u­lar fam­i­lies or cross roads, as towns peo­ple would just tell them which pat­tern to look for. 

*read the full arti­cle by click­ing the link below


I have learned that many rur­al com­mu­ni­ties come togeth­er to dis­play their quilts as part of the Amer­i­can Barn Quilt Trail The first quilt trail was estab­lished in Adams Coun­ty Ohio in 2001, as a col­lec­tion of quilts dis­played with­in walk­ing or small dri­ving dis­tances from one anoth­er, meant to serve as a tourist attraction.

You too can get in on the fun and tra­di­tion, CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

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