Making Your Own Barn Quilt

Making Your Own Barn Quilt

Follow these easy steps to create a piece of art for your home or barn.

Wood pallet painted cream color with yellow and brown sunflower quilt pattern painted on it.

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The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

By Larri Jo Starkey and Becky Newell

If you’re like us, when you have free time, you like to fill it with DIY projects and crafts you can share with children.

We were inspired to make barn quilts after we saw one hanging on the wall behind a co-worker when we were in a Microsoft Teams video meeting.

If you have some time, you can try as well. This project would be good to share with older children. It also makes a great gift for any occasion.

What Is a Barn Quilt?

A barn quilt is a replica of a quilt square, painted on a board.

barn quilt

When you travel through Pennsylvania, Ohio and nearby states, you’ll see these paintings covering the entire sides of barns, sometimes 30 and 40 feet high.

These colorful artworks pay tribute to the region’s heritage and are often memorials to a particular loved one. In some areas, neighbors band together to create barn quilt trails for hikers, bikers and travelers to enjoy.

Recently, in the west, families have started painting wooden boards to hang in their houses, many times with family brands as part of the quilt pattern.

The Journal staff decided to give barn quilting a try. Becky chose a sunflower pattern to pay tribute to her Kansas roots, while Larri Jo chose a churn dash pattern because it’s simple and the open center leaves plenty of room for a family brand. The churn dash is a variation on a traditional nine-patch.

Becky repainted a wooden pallet, while Larri Jo purchased a board at the hardware store.

Becky paints a sunflower design on a pallet to create a barn quilt

Supplies You’ll Need to Create a Barn Quilt

  • A heavy board. The board doesn’t have to be fancy, but it’s going to hang in or on the barn, it needs to be sturdy.
  • Acrylic paint. If you plan to hang your barn quilt in your barn, choose exterior paint. If you plan to paint by hand, you’ll need brushes. Larri Jo actually used spray paint.
  • A straight edge
  • A pencil
  • Painter’s tape
  • A clear sealant
  • A hanger sturdy enough to attach the barn quilt to the wall.
  • Optional: Acrylic paint markers for touch-ups

a straight edge and a pencil create guidelines on a pallet when designing a barn quilt

How to Paint a Barn Quilt

  1. Choose a quilt pattern. You can make your pattern as detailed or as simple as you like. You can search the internet for ideas, or your local quilt shop or quilting guild might have some ideas.

  2. Clean off the board.

  3. Paint the front, back and sides of the board a base color.

  4. Let it dry, then use your pencil and straight edge to mark off your pattern.

  5. Using painter’s tape, mask off the colored portions of the pattern, then paint them with your chosen colors. Let it dry, then apply a second coat.

  6. After the paint has dried, use a paint pen marker to touch up any areas that are less than perfect. We also chose to use paint to outline our designs. Let all the paint dry for 24-48 hours.

  7. Apply a clear coat of sealant and let that dry.

  8. Attach your hanger to the back of your project and admire your handiwork.

spray paint around masking tape to create a barn quilt