What is a quilt barn?
A quilt barn is a barn or other farm building that displays a quilt square. Often these barns are very old and have historical or landmark significance in the area.
Usually the quilt squares are hand-painted to resemble traditional quilt blocks (or patterns) that have been used by generations of quilters.
Traditional quilt block patterns are very popular and are easily recognizable from a distance by their primarily geometric patterns.
Many of the quilt square patterns chosen for display on the barns reflect an affinity the owner has for an aspect of rural living.
Most of the quilt squares in the countriy are painted by hand on plywood, measuring 8-feet by 8-feet. A few were painted directly onto the wall boards and some are made from other materials such as steel, aluminum and polymers.
Most quilt barns in the U.S. are part of officially-recognized trails organized by individual communities.
What is a barn quilt?
A barn quilt is another name for a quilt square -- a square-shaped sign, painted in the pattern of a quilt block, and made for display on a barn.
So, are they called Quilt Barns or Barn Quilts?
People paint quilt squares and place them on barns, which then become quilt barns and part of the American Quilt Barn Trail.
The originator of quilt barns, Donna Sue Groves, (watch the video here) says that she has always referred to the barns and the phenomenon she sparked as quilt barns, and to the squares as quilt squares. She started the whole thing, so we follow her guidance in this matter.
For marketing reasons, some state and regional groups choose to differentiate themselves by calling their squares "barn quilts."
Are the names Quilt Barns and Barn Quilts interchangeable?
When she originally conceived and designed them, Donna Sue Groves called her creations "quilt squares" because they closely resemble the square-shaped quilt blocks (or patterns) that quilters piece together to make quilts. She called the barns where they were placed "quilt barns."
As the original trail in Ohio expanded beyond the 20 original squares and spread throughout the country, some people who didn't know what they were called them "barn quilts." Today the two terms are used to refer to the same things.
For marketing reasons, some state and regional groups choose to differentiate themselves by calling their squares "barn quilts" or even "quilt murals." Generally speaking the further you travel on the trail, away from its beginning in Ohio, the more you'll see the term "barn quilt" used.
What is the Quilt Barn Trail?
Each of the 27 states has a Quilt Barn trail, and most of those are sub-divided into county trails. Find links to all the trails to the left
The American Quilt Barn Trail is our informal name for the entire collection of trails, strung across the country exaclty in the way that
Donna Sue Groves envisioned it -- like a "Clothesliine of Quilts" here
Most of the individual state and county quilt trails were established to promote agricultural tourism. The Ag-tourism movement encourages people to visit our rural areas, enjoy time "in the country" and renew an appreciation of rural life and rural economies.
The quilt barns are waypoints through some of the most beautiful parts of the country, and the colorful quilt squares are there to catch your
eye -- just as you're about to pass something special.
Are the quilt squares designed for each barn?
Most of the squares are painted to resemble blocks of very old traditional quilting patterns that were popular in the local region. Usually a great deal of forethought is invested in selecting interesting barns to include on a trail and choosing exactly the right quilt squares to suit them.
We think a special kind of magic is created when an historic barn is matched with a quilt square, in a way that tells a story in the combination.
One of the best examples is the Cherry Basket qult square hung on a barn next to what used to be a working cherry orchard. Another favorite is the Ohio Rose quilt square placed on the barn at Clary Gardens, a rural botanical garden founded by a family who ran a florist business in the local community for 100-years.
How many states have quilt barns?
At the beginning of 2011, 27 states have community-organized quilt barn trails displaying almost 3000 quilt squares
Where is the first quilt barn square?
The very first quilt square hangs on a barn in Adams County where it was placed in 2001.
Where are all the quilt barns located?
The American Quilt Barn Trail is vast, spanning 27 states and 2 Canadian provinces, and is still growing. We are working very hard to catalogue all the quilt squares, quilt barns and quilt trails into one place and to build trail maps with easy driving directions for everyone.
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