The rest of the story...

Here's where I tell you all the stuff that wouldn't fit in a 2-minute TV story.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Barn Quilts

There is a cool phenomenon finding its way into the rural landscape.  Barn Quilts.

Click here to see the TV story.

A barn quilt is a simple quilt pattern, painted on a sheet of (usually) plywood and affixed to the side of a barn, shed or some other out building.

My story on Fox focuses on Cydney Willis who has a barn quilt on her horse barn.  I found out about it, when by son, Ben came home with a photo of the quilt on his cell phone.
Cydney Willis works on her next barn quilt.

"Dad, I want to do a barn quilt for Gramma," he said.  "For Christmas."

"What," I asked, "is a barn quilt?"

He then showed me Cydney's painting and I was instantly hooked on the idea of the quilts in general, and specifically for my mother who has been making real quilts for the boys since they were babies.

Ben methodically measured out the squares and chose the colors and painted and painted until he was essentially done.
Cydney works on her patio.

Then we had to strap two, 4x8 sheets of plywood to the top of the mini-van in freezing cold weather so we could transport the gift to my parents' home in central New York.  We hoped there was a place on the side of the barn large enough to hold the quilt and that Gramma 'Laine would want it.

The Boys piecing together the barn quilt.
It's one thing to put the grand kids' coloring projects on the refrigerator and quite another to change the complexion of your property with a huge painting the neighbors might not understand.  Barn quilts are, after all, a bit of a new development in agricultural decor.

My Mother, Elaine Carlin, Ben and my Dad, Jack Carlin.  Ben had just showed them the quilt.
 So we pulled in on Christmas morning.  We enjoyed a huge breakfast of egg casserole, home fries, and other delights my mother makes in her cast iron skillets.  We warmed ourselves by the fire and exchanged gifts.

And then the boys went out, pulled the massive quilt off the car and leaned it against the barn, while I guided my folks out to surprise them.

Mom almost cried.

To be clear, it was tears of joy.  She had labored so long to make Ben, Jonathan and Tyler special quilts, with special patterns.  They had all taken them to college, and sleep overs and dragged them around until they basically fell apart.

Now Ben had made a quilt for Gramma in the same pattern she had made for him.

It now has a permanent home on the side of the barn and has become a great source of family pride. 

Mom sees the barn quilt for the first time.
Cydney is hoping community groups and others will begin making these and attaching them to buildings all over Virginia.  Based upon our experience, that's a pretty good idea.


  1. It would have been nice if you would have done a bit more research on your viewing area. We here in Highland County have a tremendous barn quilt population. One of our new, popular agri-tourism attractions is the Highland Barn Quilt tour.
    Here is a link to the brochure and map:

  2. We own a stable very close to Cydney and I painted a barn quilt last year that is up on that. Check it out at 5068 Stable Road, Roanoke, 24014.