This time of year, we focus on the harvest and ‘putting’ up for the winter. Agriculture is a big part of daily life on the North Shore and what better way to celebrate Fall than to look at decorating our barns with a traditional barn quilt.

A barn quilt is a large, hand-painted wooden block that is hung on the front or side of the barn and looks like a quilt block. Back in the day, barns weren’t necessarily painted and these barn quilts created colour and personality to the farm yard!


There is something homey and appealing about a barn that has a barn quilt hung high up at its peak. It speaks to simpler times. Back in the day, farmers didn’t necessarily go the expense and effort of painting their barns but these large barn quilts still provided some decoration.

The barn quilt could possibly tell a passer-by something about the family who called that farm home, whether that particular quilt block gave a nod to the type of farming done on the land or even the farmer’s last name. Perhaps the quilt block was named after the location of the farm – for example a farm in Ohio might have the Ohio Star quilt pattern on its barn. Or maybe it was as simple as the block being the Missus’s favourite quilt pattern.

The barn quilts are typically decorated using solid, vibrant colours so the quilt block could be easily spotted from afar. If the pattern was too complicated, then the details become lost. They were typically 8′ by 8′ and have a strong folk art feel to them.

Now-a-days, barn quilts seem to be making a resurgence on the rural landscape throughout North America, but with an interesting twist. Some barn quilts belong to a larger picture, a barn quilt trail that will lead the followers throughout the countryside. Organizations, such as a 4-H group, Quilt Guilds or Art Councils, or even simply members of the community with put together a map for visitors to follow, marking all the barn quilts in the area and tell a little about the location of each one. Currently, here in the Maritimes, there is a Barn Quilt Tour throughout Stewiacke Valley (You can find them on Facebook at Stewiacke Valley Barn Quilt Tour) and PEI is working on developing a tour to celebrate Canada 150 and their agri-tourism.


  • Wood
  • Paint & Brushes
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Quilt Pattern


1. Determine the size of the block you want to do and build your base accordingly. This is 36″ x 36″

2. Decide on the pattern you want to use. The more complicated, the harder the pattern is to see, so a simple pattern is best suited for this.

3. Start mapping out your pattern on the base with pencil and ruler. I would recommend doing this on paper prior to starting on the base.

4. Determine your colour palette and decide what colour is going in each block and mark each quilt piece accordingly.

5. Paint each piece with the correct colour paint – I would recommend using an exterior paint product or one that will withstand the elements. Apply enough coats, letting the paint dry in between, to get good coverage.

6. Depending on the paint you used, you may need to seal the quilt block.

7. Hang your quilt block on your barn securely.

8. Sit back and enjoy your newly decorated barn!