Barn quilts are a well-loved tradition in rural areas and have gained more popularity in the past couple of decades.
Whoever came up with the idea to use quilt patterns for barn art was a genius.
Though the origin of the first barn quilt is unknown, what is certain is that barn quilts exude a warm, cozy, homey feel to everyone (even those who may not quilt or live on a farm).
In this post, I will show you the steps to making a barn quilt and answer some questions you may have about how to make barn quilts.
What Kind of Wood Do You Use to Make a Barn Quilt?
The answer to this question is a personal preference. If you prefer to use solid wood, you can purchase planks to build your own board. Even better, if you can get your hands on reclaimed barn wood, how cool would it be to make a barn quilt from that?
The most popular wood to use is likely treated plywood for barn quilt painting. It is relatively inexpensive and can withstand the elements if you display it outdoors.
Another option is MDF (medium-density fibreboard), which I will be using for my example today. MDF is extremely smooth, so that should make the painting process much smoother.
If you prefer to see the wood grain, I would not recommend using MDF since it isn’t a solid piece of wood and won’t have wood grain.
How Big Should a Barn Quilt Be?
The size depends on where you plan to display your barn quilt. If you choose a barn to display it like a traditional piece, you’ll want a large piece, probably at least a 3’ square.
The size is totally up to you, so if you just want a small piece to hang in your home, you could do a 12” square, for example.
What Do You Use to Seal a Barn Quilt?
The sealer depends on the type of paint you use. For example, I use “weatherproof” acrylic paint. Now it may say “weatherproof,” but I also recommend using polyacrylic or water-based polyurethane just to be safe.
Make sure that you use a water-based solution, not solvent-based if you are using acrylic paint. The solvent-based type can mess with the acrylic paint.
If you use regular exterior paint from a home improvement store, you can use a sealer or solvent polyurethane.
Materials and Supplies Needed
- Quilt block pattern of choice. Here is the block I designed for this project.
- Wood of choice: I use MDF
- Paint: I use acrylic paint
- Pencil: For marking the outline of the blocks
- Ruler or tape measure and straight edge
- Painter’s tape
How to Make A Barn Quilt: An Easy Tutorial
I’m sure you’re thinking by now, “Okay, Miriam, enough with talking about it. How do you make a barn quilt for beginners?” I’m excited to show you the step-by-step process of how I made my beautiful barn quilt so let’s dive into it, shall we?
Step 1: Prep your wood.
If you are using hardwood or plywood, you will want to sand it and make sure it is smooth and won’t give you any splinters. In this step, you will also need to cut your wood to size.
If you don’t have a saw or someone who can help you, another great option is to purchase the wood at a home improvement store. A worker there will cut it to size for you. Just make sure you know the correct size when you go to buy it.
For my example, I am working with a 32 ½” square. All I needed to do to prep was cut it to size and sand the edges, so they weren’t sharp.
Step 2: Prime your wood. (optional)
You don’t HAVE to do this step, but I chose to do it because this MDF is pretty dark, and I’m using quite a bit of white and a pale blue. I don’t want to have to do six coats of paint for each color.
I only primed the centerpiece of my barn quilt since my border will be a dark blue.
Since I primed my piece, I only needed to do two coats of each color.
Step 3: Draw your quilt block outline.
Using a pencil or pen, draw on your quilt block outline. Take your time and make sure you are drawing perfectly straight lines. I like to use my cutting ruler for this as a straight edge. You can use a tape measure and anything with a straight edge if you don’t have a ruler like this.
Step 4: Tape off your first blocks and paint.
The order in which you paint is up to you, but I suggest painting all the pieces of one specific color at one time. Then you don’t have to wash your brushes as often. I started with the pale blue blocks.
Tip: Don’t forget to put your brushes in a cup of water or wash them off between coats so the paint doesn’t get all gummed up on the brush heads. That can be a nuisance to try to clean up later.
Step 5: Continue taping off your different colors and painting.
For the best, sharp results on your paint edges, pull the tape off while your last coat is still wet. Pull the tape away from the paint slowly, but remember, you can always touch up the paint after with a small detail brush.
Also, wait for the paint to dry completely before you lay tape over it. If you don’t, the paint will bleed between the two colors under the tape, and you will have more to touch up later.
Step 6: Touch up any imperfections. (optional)
You may not have any imperfections to fix, but if you do, now is the time to touch them up.
Here is a section I needed to touch up.
Step 7: Add your hanging apparatus.
There are several different ways you can hang a barn quilt. Depending on how large and heavy your barn quilt is, you may be able to use simple picture frame hanging prongs from your local craft store.
Since my barn quilt is so large but not super heavy since I used MDF, I used a couple of screws with metal wire to hang it.
Here is my final project hanging on my beautiful grey barn.
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This barn quilt was such a fun project to work on, and I hope you enjoyed following along with me. Barn quilts can come in all shapes and sizes and make a big difference in your home decor, whether inside or outside.
Add a few small pieces to your living room decor.
Dress up the outside of your house with a large barn quilt leaning against your front porch, or hang it above your garage door. The possibilities are endless and exciting for the barn quilt, and I hope this has inspired you to go make your own.
About the author: Miriam Ronne is a lover of all things quilting and sewing. She is a self-taught quilter and is constantly learning and broadening her skill set to create one-of-a-kind quilts! When she's not behind her sewing machine you can find her playing with her fur babies or trying her hand at other crafty things.