Thursday, May 10, 2012

Barn Quilt Tour

On a recent trip through western Iowa, my family spent a leisurely morning driving on a self-guided Barn Quilt tour.  Anyone who owns a barn and wishes to participate can create a square wooden quilt pattern, and then place it on a side of a barn that is visible from the road.  Visitors are encouraged to drive past the barns, take pictures, and enjoy “piecing together” a lovely patchwork quilt as they meander through the Iowa countryside. 

The quilt square at our first stop was entitled “Windmill.” 

We were lucky enough to drive past this farm while the owner was outside working.  He explained that the reason why they chose to call it “Windmill” was because they were the last farm in the county to pump water by windmill.  He also explained the reason behind the colors.  Red represented the fact that they were a century farm and stood for generational blood.  Yellow represented the harvest, green represented the fields, and blue stood for the sky.  Knowing the story behind the design of the pattern really made the quilt square come alive.  I hoped that we would encounter more farm owners who could share about their pattern, but we didn’t see anyone else. 

The quality of the pictures is not always great because we did not feel free to go on the property, and had to take pictures from a great distance most of the time.  Here are some of my favorites:

Crown of Thorns

Liberty Star

Iowa Star

Psalm 23

I’m not much of a quilter, but I admire people who have the skill and passion to create them.  I love to watch how they carefully select colors, choose patterns, and piece everything together.  Quilting is not a “random” activity.  There may be free flowing topstitching involved, but from what I have observed, there is a lot of planning and careful attention to detail that goes into creating and constructing these beautiful blankets.

Based on my encounter with the first farmer, there is probably a wonderful story behind each quilt square that we found.  I began to think about what sort of colors and pattern I would choose if I were to create a quilt square.  I thought about Romans 12:2 which says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)  The Lord wants us to live intentional lives that are patterned after Him.  Perhaps God views each of His precious children as a special and unique “square” in the blanket of His sovereign design.  When we live according to His commands and serve within the body of Christ, we come alongside others and are pieced together to create a picture of love that provides warmth and beauty to the world around us.


  1. Quilting is hard work I have made four so far and each one was different and unique requiring skill and patience.
    Love the idea of a square on each barn... wonder if we could do that on our homes?

  2. Great "notes" Julie. You would probably find it interesting to look into Civil War quilts which were used in conjunction with the Underground Railroad - where the quilt squares were used to relay messages. The quilts were then hung out on the railings of porches/clothes lines so those passing by would know whether it was a "safe" house or where/when they could find help. I love to quilt - maybe some day I'll get back to it. But I know my quilts are always purposeful. I use certain colors that remind me of the person I'm making the quilt for - or special squares that have some meaning behind them. It's a great way to preserve my "message" - which is that the recipient is important enough for me to put a lot of thought and time into. They might not even know what all of it means - but I do. I God does.

  3. When you were on your trip and said that you were going on a "Barn Quilt Tour", I wondered what that was! I had never heard of anything like that. So thanks for this description, the explanations, and the beautiful pictures. This is very interesting. What fun it would be to see the various patterns, colors and combinations mounted on Iowa barns! ~~Love, Mom

  4. Lovely analogy between the quilt and the collective witness we present as Christians. Thanks for sharing your trip and insights.

  5. That was cool. I really liked the Liberty star. What a neat way to see the countryside. And your thoughts on God's quilt... makes my heart smile.