Barn quilts are painted quilt squares-usually fashioned on boards and then mounted on a barn or other building. While cloth quilts are usually made up of a series of squares of the same pattern placed together, a barn quilt is almost always a single square.
In many communities, an organizing group-an arts council, a quilt guild, a 4-H club, or simply a motivated bunch of residents-work together to organize their barn quilts into a trail. Some are guided walks in a downtown area that includes historical buildings. More often, quilt trails take visitors on a drive through the countryside where barn quilts are mounted on farm buildings, on homes, along fences, and sometimes on freestanding posts. A quilt trail may include stops at galleries, farm stands, wineries and other points of interest that make the journey a day-long event.
The pattern for a particular barn quilt may be chosen for myriad reasons. Often the barn quilt is a replica of a painted quilt that resides on the property or honors a loved one. A pattern may be selected because of its name; Corn and Beans is popular among farmers. Sometimes, the barn quilt is simply one whose pattern is appealing to either its creators or its owners.
The American Quilt Trail is a collection of all of the hundreds of painted quilts-both those that are part of an organized trail and those that have been painted by individuals to decorate their property. There is no formal registry as such; the number of documented quilts has grown past three thousand, but there are hundreds more. Barn quilt painting has become an entrepreneurial enterprise for many, and skilled barn quilt artists are constantly at work.
I hope that this website is of use to those of you who want to find out more about the barn quilt movement. It's a work in progress, and I welcome suggestions and updates. Perhaps you have stopped by because you have experienced the magic of barn quilts; if not, I hope that you find yourself on the quilt trail soon.