A Barn-side Salute to American Quilters!


yellow on black barnHave you wondered when and where the unique tradition of barn quilts began?

The first use of colorful designs on barns in America dates back as early as the 1800s. German and Swiss immigrants settled in the Pennsylvania Dutch region of southeastern Pennsylvania, building family farms that were often spruced up with small painted patterns on the barns.

The patterns were traditional folk art symbols that celebrated white barnthe heritage of the people – and were often thought to bring good fortune.

Recent lore indicates that today’s barn decorating revival became popular through the efforts of a woman named Donna Sue Groves from Adams County, Ohio. In honor of her mother, she initiated a community project in 2001 including 20 quilts displayed along a driving trail.

red blue on red barnNow, barn quilt trails have sprung up all over America, as rural communities re-ignite quilting’s important national presence.

Traditional block patterns like Bear Paw, Log Cabin, Wedding Ring, and many kinds of star designs—as well as custom geometrics—are becoming familiar sights on barns and other buildings along rural driving trails, often designated on tourism maps.

Urban areas have picked up the theme and you may see barn quilts on garden sheds, front porches, and garages! What a wonderful way to honor one of America’s most honored handcrafting traditions!

Do you have a barn quilt? Does your region have a barn quilt trail?
orange on red barnTell us about it in the comments below, or post it to the American Quilter’s Society Facebook page – we love photos!

If you’re in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area for QuiltWeek, March 12-15, 2014, be sure to keep an eye out for them; you’re near the birthplace of America’s barn quilt phenomenon.


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Sandra S. Palmer

Vermont Now has a quilt trail started. Franklin County in Northern Vermont has a large number of them up along route 105 from St Albans to Montgomery and then on to Richford. You can find many listed on the Green Mountain Quilters Guild Web page.

Fern Mercure

Hello Sandra, Shirley Jewett told me you had some barn quilts for sale last year. The St. Albans Raid committee has requested we set up a booth during their event in Sept to sell and/or display barn quilts. Are you interested in participating? Fern

Maryland has a lovely Barn Quilt Tour. I did it last summer in an afternoon. I plan on making nor for my shed at home.

Karen Funk

I haven’t seen them in person, but I know there are some in Northern Michigan. Hope to see some soon. They are so beautiful.

Barb Onnen

Shelby County, Iowa, has a quilt trail with nearly 100 barn quilts. Large ones – 8′ x 8′ on barns and machine sheds and smaller ones 4′ x 4′ on garden sheds, houses and garages. All are traditional quilt block patterns.
Our committee has produced a color broghure with driving map.

I am a bit curious as to the connection between the folk images on PA Dutch barns and the barn quilts that decorate thousands of barns across America. Were those ‘small painted images’ (often known as hex signs) taken from quilt patterns? Hex signs are lovely and so wonderful to see–especially, as you point out, in Pennsylvania. But none of the quilt historians whom I consulted has stated that hex signs are actually replicas of cloth quilts or patterns used to create cloth quilts. Can you let us know the source of your information here? In short, how is a… Read more »


Tillamook, Oregon has a barn quilt trail!!!

Barn Quilts of Fillmore County-NE gas a trail of about 60 quilts at the present time, with more in nearby counties. We have been proud to add a little more color to the countryside and give travelers a reason to get off the main highways to visit the little towns of South Central Nebraska. Feel free to visit Nebraska or check out our Facebook page (Barn Quilts of Fillmore County-NE) or our website visitfillmorecounty.org, or go to barnquiltinfo.com to find a trail near you! Thanks!

I started a quilt trail in Historic Downtown Maysville Kentucky. A few years later I began organizing a yearly Maysville Quilt Gathering which brings the whole town together to celebrate quilting.
http://www.maysvillequiltgathering.com March 21-22 2014.During the show, We will be screening a trailer from the new film documentary about Donna Sue, “Pieced Together, the story of Donna Sue and the Quilt Square. The screening will take placed in the Historic Russell Theatre,, which premiered “the Stars are Singing” starring Rosemary Clooney.

The Florence Woman’s Club started a barn quilt trail in 2006 (ongoing) as a community service project. We now have 78 boards hung. You can view most of them at BooneBarnQuilts.com. Joyce Foley (joyce.foley@twc.com) gives talks and a power point presentation to organizations in Boone County, Kentucky.


There is a trail in Carver County, MN

michael alving

do you have address for these barns that are my assignment to take pictures of barns


Check out this barn quilt in Lancaster County, Nebraska!
Location: https://goo.gl/maps/b5W5VBjyW6L2
Picture: comment image

Just seen a barn quilt trail near Lancaster,KY. That’s what led us to this website. We are from Arkansas and here for work and We didn’t know what it was. Thanks for the info. Very interesting.