The Barn Quilt

The Barn Quilt

One of the recent projects we put together was working through a barn quilt maker in the Midwest to turn our little farm logo into a barn quilt. When I pitched it to my wife, she was a smidge skeptical as it isn't all that popular in our area...or so we thought.

The barn quilt concept is fairly simple.  Make a design, out of wood, with a quilt-like pattern and put it up on your barn, garage, or outbuilding typically in the country.  There are all sorts of patterns and designs a family could use. It could be something personal, historical, local connections and so much more.

Brief History of the Barn Quilt

The history goes something like this (excerpt from here):

"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."

Donna Sue Groves is credited with starting the first ever "barn quilt trail" back in Ohio. You can read (and even watch a documentary) about it here.  Since then, there are barn quilt trails that have popped up around the country, even here in Washington State.  The Okanogan, Kittitas and Snohomish counties all  have barn quilt trails.  The Kittitas county trail seems to be the most active, at least online. You can find some great info here.

The Smiths and Lake Joy Farmstead

Remember when I said I had a crazy idea to have one done for our farm? Well, we did it. I did a little research and found EL Barn Quilts out of Wisconsin via Etsy with a stellar rating and a catalog of beautiful barn quilt pieces. We connected and I commissioned her to design one unique to us, and our farm.  I certainly wanted to keep the connection to our farm and colors (green, black and white), as well as our "logo" of the kelly green shamrock (did you know that our beef cattle ear tags are green with shamrocks on them to identify them from other cattle?) in connection with my Irish Heritage and lastly we needed something to cover an old garage door that works to keep the moisture out, but looked pretty rough no matter how we tried to clean it. So, with a little clean up and some barn door trim and treatment, when the custom made barn quilt showed up, we were thrilled to install it.  Bonus: we found out later that this was EL Barn Quilt's FIRST QUILT sent to our state!

Our barn and barn quilt is the first thing you see when you drive in to our farm. We think it gives a nice "welcome" as you crawl up our driveway to our home.


Michael Smith

Love your barn quilt. I met Emma a couple weeks ago when we picked up a barn quilt. She is a very talented young lady. Hope Washington has a barn quilt tour in the near future. I love when people stop by to see our barn quilt and learn a little about the history of the quilt.

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