Barn Quilts

As I’ve mentioned many times before, my husband and I do quite a bit of cross-country travel via motorcycle and automobile. On each of these adventures, I revel in the scenery I see as we travel down the highways. Of course I always notice the barns and the differences in them as we drive through various states. On our latest trip, which has brought us back home to Iowa, I found a new trend that I have not seen elsewhere. Eastern Iowa has many barns that are now decorated with a very large, painted quilt block (typically 8 foot square) that is usually hung high and proud on one roof peak.

So, of course my curiosity overcame me and I had to know more about why I saw so many colorful quilt blocks decorating these old relics of the farmsteads. A Google search provided me with many answers. Apparently these blocks can be seen sporadically all across the country, and most are a design that holds some significance to the owner of the barn. In Iowa, Sac County leads the quilt block movement and it began as a 4-H leadership project by one member of a Sac City club. An area group of quilters chose several different designs for blocks based on the pattern’s agriculture-related name or heritage. The barn quilt movement in Sac County grew from that project and became part of a tour of the Sac County countryside. Barns to display the quilts were chosen based on their location so that tourists would enjoy traveling through almost all the towns in Sac County while rarely having to venture off paved roads.

Barns are such a rich part of our agricultural heritage and continue on with their legacies today in ways such as this movement. I know that I am honored to decorate my home with the wood of such richly historic buildings, and I’m sure that if you choose to decorate your home with reclaimed barnwood, you would feel the same sense of pride. I’m also sure that you will choose to begin paying much more attention to the barns of the countryside, as I now do. Even if you never travel to Sac County, Iowa to take in the sights of the barn quilts, you can decorate your own slice of Americana with quilts in your own home.

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