December 2015 my cousin Rick asked me if I knew anything about barn quilts. I’ve seen them all over the place where I live, but had no idea how to create one. How hard could it be? A quick Google search yielded very detailed instructions complete with a list of supplies and the necessary steps to get the job done.
Rick came up with an interesting idea that strayed away from the traditional pattern-style of barn quilts. We still incorporated a pattern, but instead of there simply being different colors, he wanted to add images to it. I had not seen anything like that at all where we live (MN & WI), in any of my travels or on the Internet. This notion intrigued me.
We settled on the size and general pattern design quickly. It is easiest to create and 8’x8′ design because you can join 2 sheets of 4’x8′ board. That wasn’t going to work for this application as it would be too large for the space it would occupy. Instead, Rick requested a 5’x5′ design.
After the size and pattern was determined, we explored the design further. There were so many shape ideas to ponder.
Rick grows corn, makes maple syrup, raises steers and drives John Deere tractors. All of which we were able to portray in the final design. The T in the center is for their last name, Traun. The more intricate designs were easy to rule out as making and painting the stencils would be very difficult. Another factor to keep in mind is how far away this quilt will be viewed from. Small tiny details will not easily distinguishable from far away. You’ll notice the corn kernels below; that didn’t translate well to a stencil and we decided on a solid yellow cob of corn in the end.
Once we arrived at the point of creating the stencils I was happy we went with fairly simple shape designs – the steer being the most challenging in the end, with the corn cobs being a close second. Each stencil was printed out actual size and cut out with an Xacto knife.
The next step was to layout the design on the prepared board. We cut out cardboard triangles and squares to size to visualize the design. I am glad we did this step as my original measurements were off some; I don’t think I was taking into account the width of the border. That was easily remedied.
To be double-sure of our measurements we went on to measure out the design and mark with a chalk line. That worked well. Once we were satisfied, the lines were committed them to the board with a Sharpie. The taping and painting of the base colors began shortly afterwards. Five – Six coats of color. With the tape removed, the design was starting to take shape.
After letting the coats of paint dry we resumed work the following weekend. The next step was to cut out all the stencils and begin placing and painting them on the design. I used a Sharpie to trace each design on the board. The black lines from the Sharpie covered in a few coats. I used sockets to weigh the paper stencils down while I painted the initial coat. I learned quickly that once I painted a stencil design on, you need to lift the paper off right away so it doesn’t stick. The subsequent coats were all done free-hand. I found that altering a makeup brush with a scissor worked well; especially on the steer.
After all the shapes had several coats the borders were taped off and painted with several coats of black.
The finished quilt after sealing.
Raising the barn quilt into place (photos by Debbie Traun)
Here are some photos of the barn quilt in place on the syrup shed.
This was a fun project to work on. This was also a great example of not just simply reproducing a project that someone else has done. Rick really made it his own with the barn quilt design change. He is quite happy with the result and has received several compliments.