Boy Was I Inconsiderate!

After posting my blog “Celebrate Independence Day the Vinyl Way”, I had people asking me more questions about barn quilts. I have to apologize because where I live, they are common, and you just assume everyone understands what they are and how they started. So let me explain a little bit more of where they originated and how you don’t have to live in the country to have one!

First the history:

Barn quilt squares came over with the colonists and have continued on in the tradition of the Pennsylvania Dutch. The quilt blocks provided an opportunity to celebrate their heritage. Quilt patterns on barns date back to colonial America. After the colonists became established and had spare income, they painted small patterns on the ends of the barns as a way to celebrate their heritage.

According to Marilyn Carrigan , executive director of the Truman Museum in Truman, MN, “The history of the barn quilt begins about 300 years ago with the arrival of immigrants from the Rhine region of Germany. They came here for religious freedom. These groups included the Amish, Mennonites, Lutherans, and other Reform groups. Many settled in Pennsylvania, especially in Berks, Lancaster, and Lehigh counties.”. The designs can still be found in the Amish communities today. The designs were also believed to protect the farm and bring good fortune.

A woman named Donna Sue started what are now the oversized, brightly colored barn quilt squares appearing on barns throughout the Midwest and East. In Ohio in 2001, she made the first remodeled block of a barn quilt square in honor of her mother and to help a friend draw attention to his business from a nearby highway.

A majority of barn quilt squares are based on traditional quilt blocks. Others incorporate monograms and fancy designs into their block pattern.

So now that you know the history of a barn quilt you may be thinking “I live in town and don’t have a barn.”. Truth is, you don’t need a barn to have a barn quilt. A smaller 2’x2′ or 1’x1′ size is perfect for a shed or garage. I have even seen people put them on a spot of their house that needed a special touch.

I love the vinyl barn quilts that we make at Rose City Canopy & Sign because they are a printed vinyl. For several reasons this is the better way to go when deciding on your barn quilt. By using sign material and not traditional plywood for the backing, our’s are lighter weight, and won’t deteriorate. We use a laminated printed vinyl which will last longer than using paint. Unless you have the ability to access sign grade paint, your paint will not last more than a couple of years, and the color will fade fast. Plus, with the use of printed vinyl, you can design any pattern you want and easily add anything you want to personalize it. For instance, for the quilt I did  for my father, we inserted our family initial and the year the family farm was established. Another family wanted their quilt to represent a windmill, but not use the “windmill pattern”. The beauty of printed vinyl is – free reign!

So think about your heritage, look up what they might have used as a barn quilt pattern. Think about doing a tribute to your parents, grandparents, our someone else special in your life. Add a photo, initial, special date, or use special colors. No matter how you look at it, barn quilts are a colorful way to express yourself, and you don’t have to keep it traditional.

If you are interested in or have questions about vinyl barn quilts please call us at Rose City Canopy & Sign at 800-316-9122 or visit our website at We would love to answer any questions you may have, and get you started on you vinyl barn quilt experience!


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