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Barn Quilt Tutorial

I’ve always loved barn quilts. I’m a horribly impatient crafter and quilting is something that I love the idea of; I just haven’t been able to make myself do it.

handmade barn quilt tutorial

On the bright side I have more paint than a preschool art class and some serious taping skills. A Barn Quilt is a great way to add some color all year round to your outside spaces.

Depending on the size of your barn quilt this project can be completed in a few days to a week. Most of the time is spent waiting for the paint to dry which can take a while if it’s humid.

If the base paint isn’t completely dry it will peel off with the tape. My quilt took three days, one for the base coat, one for marking/taping/painting and then I hung it up the next day after everything had time to dry.

plywood sheet painted cream and maked with blue tape to make a barn quilt

I recommend having a printed out pattern to help you with the marking and taping. The further along you get the easier it is but it can be confusing when you start out. I tried to do all of one color before I moved on the the next.

Most barn quilts I’ve seen are one large block but I like to make my life more difficult so I picked four.

plywood sheet taped in a pattern and being painted to make a barn quilt

The base color is Behr Cream Yellow (I had 3/4 gallon left over from the living room) and the rest of the colors are small sample jars.

I have a paint addiction, aside from 4 craft boxes of craft paint I also have a shelf full of sample jars. I always grab them when I see then on the clearance rack.

six sample jars of paint for a plywood barn Quilt

Despite that I still bought 5 sample jars because I’m picky about colors! I used:

  • La Fonda Copper (orange)
  • Mark Twain House Grey Brick (green)
  • La Fonda Deep Blue (blue)
  • Fairmont Penthouse Garnet (burgundy)
  • Bees Wax (dark yellow) for the border

I randomly picked up a quart of Bees Wax a while later and used it to paint the buffet I found on the side of the road.

I still have more than 1/2 jar left of each color, you could easily do a 2 color quilt with the same amount of paint. In the beginning I mentioned that my quilt is only 4×4, my barn is only one story and an 8×8 quilt would have been monstrous

It’s a nice size that you can see from the road. It was easier to see before I added the chicken run in 2014.

The total cost was around $20 for the paint, brushes and tape. The plywood was salvaged from the turkey pen at the old house (free!)

I bought poly- sealer but the temperature tanked and I never ended up using it. It’s been up all year round since 2012 and it looks like it did the day I hung it up.

It’s protected a little by the overhang from the barn roof and it’s not on the side of the barn that gets the brunt of the rain and snow so that also helps.

picture collage on how to hang a plywood barn quilt

To hang my barn quilt I started by marking the center of the barn. I screwed scrap pieces of 2×4 to the barn along the top and bottom.

Then I screwed the quilt to the 2x4s. I didn’t want the quilt right against the barn. Leaving the gap keeps things drier.

Barn Quilt Painting Tips:

  • Thick and Sloppy is the name of the game. This board was so rough (and sucked up paint like crazy) that I found it best to slap on massive amounts of paint
  • If you use rough plywood – buy some cheap chip brushes.You’ll mangle them trying to get the paint in all the cracks
  • Step back – you’ll drive yourself nuts trying to make the lines perfect. Step back 3 feet, if it looks straight leave it alone!
  • Don’t do ‘Broken Dishes’ (bottom left). I just about went cross-eyed trying to fill that in and it doesn’t stand out as well as the others from far away
  • Keep it simple! Large block of color work best at long distances
  • Don’t worry about spills. They are easy to cover up with a few dabs of paint
  • Don’t be afraid to fudge a bit if your lines don’t meet up

A Barn Quilt is much more forgiving than an actual quilt and takes much less patience and effort.

2018 Update:

I never sealed it. But it still looks brand new! It’s well protected under the roof overhang. I added a chicken run to the front of the barn during the hawk & fox population explosion of 2014.

You can see the run and the barn quilt in the background of the Halloween Ghosts post. I’m planning on growing hops or something with similar vines to add some shade to the run.  Hopefully you’ll still see the barn quilt!

Don’t forget to Pin this Post for later! Check out some other ideas you may have missed:

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Delores Bruyette

Wednesday 15th of June 2016

I don't have a barn, I going to put mine on the front of my house so everyone can see it as they drive by. I live on Route 66 and get a lot of traffic. You can put it anywhere you want to, that's the fun of crafts. Do what feels good.

Delores Bruyette

Wednesday 15th of June 2016

thank you Ive wanted to make one for a long time now. Im so glad you put instructions. Its how I thought of doing it but now I know. I can follow a quilt from a book if I want to. Thanks again . Beautiful job I really like it.

Best of 2012 | Chicken Scratch

Saturday 29th of December 2012

[...] 9. Barn Quilt [...]

Firecracker Centerpiece Tutorial | Chicken Scratch

Saturday 29th of December 2012

[...] painted mine using left over paint, the blue and red from the barn quilt and the white is basic Apple Barrel acrylic. I watered down the paint as I went, painting the tops [...]

Geri Johnson

Thursday 19th of July 2012

I love this Barn Quilt yard art idea! I've been wanting to do something like this to hang on the fence in the backyard so thanks for the inspiration! Pinning this now! :D