"You don’t have to be a quilter – or own a barn!"
September 13, 2016 7:27 PM   Subscribe

A barn quilt is a quilt block which is painted on a barn. Maybe you've seen one or two. A quilt trail is a driving route featuring a series of painted barn quilt blocks, often emphasizing architecture or landscapes and to attract tourism. There are quilt trails in 43 US states (large and small) and three Canadian provinces. Check to see if there is one near you.
posted by jessamyn (19 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for posting this! I drive up to the mountains of West Virginia/Virginia and North Carolina a couple of times a year or more, and have long noticed these. I first thought they were some sort of hex sign, but they weren't in areas that I would expect to find them, and as the son of someone who is well versed in textiles and fiber arts, they struck me as looking like quilt squares. In a couple of instances I have seen them near antique stores advertising quilts and so wondered if it was some sort of promotion. Had no idea it was such an organized endeavor. Will definitely share this with my mother, and be on the lookout for these barns when I head that way next February.
posted by TedW at 7:48 PM on September 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

posted by wenestvedt at 7:53 PM on September 13, 2016 [13 favorites]

Here is a map that I am somewhat familiar with; Pocohantas county is on the way to Snowshoe where I take my daughter skiing each year.
posted by TedW at 7:54 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

TedW, I learned about quilts from my mom and grandmas, too. I know these would catch Mom's eye -- so now I will have to figure out whether the nearest trail is close enough for Mom & Dad's next visit.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:55 PM on September 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

This was a big deal when it started in Sac County IA: http://www.barnquilts.com My mother owned a quilting store in Sac City & was involved in the planning of the quilt blocks. It was quite competitive to be one of the first quilted barns--had to meet the criteria listed in the FAQs. We have done the tour many times over the years--it is a beautiful drive in summer with the million shades of green in all directions. Sac City & the surrounding towns have an active arts community that does an annual Chautauqua Days, among other things. Sac City is the Popcorn Capital of the World, too, and has the World's Largest Popcorn Ball. Small town Iowa life is great.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 8:00 PM on September 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh, awesome!

(Incidentally, my girlfriend makes fun of me for getting really excited and saying "oh awesome" about stuff like barns.)

Anyway, this is great! I didn't know anything about this. Thanks for posting it!
posted by teponaztli at 8:02 PM on September 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't have a barn, just a tack shed, a hay shed, and two run-ins, but I have a chicken palace that really needs one of these quilt squares!
posted by BlueHorse at 8:26 PM on September 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

TedW, if you get as far as Pennsylvania: Hex sign tour.

jessamyn, you are giving me ideas for the road-facing side of my barn...
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:59 PM on September 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

We have a quilt trail a couple of miles away, and I always wondered about it but concluded it was neighborhood fad. Now I know better! Thank you.
posted by branravenraven at 10:19 PM on September 13, 2016

This is so American. I love the art and the celebration of who we are.
posted by samthemander at 12:23 AM on September 14, 2016

These things have been popping up here in WNC for the last 10 years or so; my spouse and I have made a game when we're driving around where whoever sees a new quilt square first gets to punch the other in the arm. It adds an element of menace to barn quilts, which is just what they need!
posted by Red Loop at 3:18 AM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

I have seen a few of these in west, but I had no idea it was anything other than individual artsyness.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:09 AM on September 14, 2016

These are all over east TN... I think they started popping up in the 90's. In fact, the one on the top of this page is right by my mom's house. I've always thought they were charming.
posted by kimdog at 7:02 AM on September 14, 2016

Favorite tourist question: "What's with the tangrams on the barns?" These are very popular here in northwestern NC. I love them because I bike a lot and they are sometimes the only landmarks for many miles. They're also a nice signal to out-of-towners that the barn's owner probably won't break out a shotgun if you pull over to take a picture of his barn. (Legitimate concern around here. Also one of the reasons we don't have a barn quilt.)
posted by xylothek at 7:35 AM on September 14, 2016

We're working on another one for Ontario.
posted by LegallyBread at 10:20 AM on September 14, 2016

I have seen a few of these around Tillamook, OR, and they always make me smile, as they remind me of when I used to live in Lancaster Co, PA. AKA Quilt Central.
posted by medeine at 12:46 PM on September 14, 2016

My husband and i saw a few of these on a trip to wisconsin last month. I scratched my head really hard over what the heck they were. Cool to know that there's a community around them!

I wondered if maybe the pattern is like a farmer coat of arms. Is there any meaning beyond "i like this pattern"?
posted by rebent at 3:48 PM on September 14, 2016

With all the digging around I did, I don't think so, just "hey I liked this" as opposed to the Dutch hex signs which they resemble which definitely do have meanings.
posted by jessamyn at 7:00 AM on September 15, 2016

I am seriously thinking of doing one of these. I would be focusing on the quill aspect rather then the barn location. It would have to go on my chicken coop, or perhaps on one on one of the run-ins, if not the hay shed. A quilting friends is also thinking of doing one and going to present the idea to her quilting club.

Perhaps there is meaning significant to the owner--I'm thinking of Idaho Beauty as being appropriate for me.

There's no quilt trail listed on the web map in Idaho, but I'm told by one of my peeps there's a small one in Council, Idaho.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:35 AM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

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