Our Family’s Barn Quilt

barn quilt Nancy Zieman's Blog

Our Family’s Barn Quilt

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barn quilt Nancy Zieman's BlogJust as fabric quilts have their own history, so do barn quilts. Before paint was readily affordable, some creative farmers decorated their building with leftover paint depicting different types of folk art, often including quilt block designs. In early 2000, the barn quilt trend was reinvented, now the movement is growing exponentially.
For Christmas, I received a gift certificate from my mom for a barn quilt to hang on our fourth-generation family farm. Mom got the idea after reading that Menasha, WI High School drawing and painting students under the direction of Erin Culligan planned to design and make 20 wooden barn quilts as part of their semester assignment. She immediately signed up!

Nancy’s Spool

I drew out a design—obvious, why I chose a spool—and emailed it to the art teacher. The High School class began painting in January.
Barn Quilt Nancy Zieman's Blog
The two sections of the 8′ x 8′ barn quilt were delivered this spring.
Barn Quilt, Nancy Zieman's Blog
Several weeks ago, relatives who own the right equipment, were given the task to assemble their first quilt. Lucky for them, this quilt is made of wood. No 1/4″ seam allowances necessary!
Barn Quilt Nancy Zieman BlogBarn Quilt, Nancy Zieman's Blog
Barn Quilt, Nancy Zieman's BlogThe final touch, my mom’s idea, was to add above the window the year the homestead was settled—1883. My great-grandparents Theodore and Alice Larson were the first settlers; followed by my  grandparents Loyall and Georgina Larson; my parents Ralph and Barbara Luedtke then owned the farm; and now my husband and I are pleased to keep this homestead in the family. It is filled with history and wonderful memories.
barn quilt Nancy Zieman's BlogMany thanks to my mom, Barbara, and my step-father, Warren, for the terrific gift!
Barn Quilt Nancy Zieman's Blog
Photos courtesy of Wendy Brockman.

Learn More About Barn Quilts

Last year I interviewed  Suzi Parron, author of “Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement.” Watch the Sewing With Nancy interview online.

 Barn quilts Nancy Zieman and Suzi Parron on Sewing With Nancy

Post a photo of your favorite barn quilt on my Facebook page!

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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  • Clem
    June 16, 2015

    What a great barn quilt. I have seen them more and more as I drive along I71. Love them. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kelly Sasman
    June 16, 2015

    Must go check it out as I live only about 15 miles away from your old homestead. Didn’t realize that until I read your book, but I ALWAYS thought there was so much familiarity between us. (I am also WELS, and know your cousins!)

  • Caroline S
    June 16, 2015

    I love barn quilts, so much that I want to put 2’x2′ on the top of my garage or side of my house if it’s allowed….

  • Marilyn
    June 16, 2015

    Wonderful story, perfect spool design, and great project for a classroom. Happy you have a personal barn quilt savoring the history of your family farm. Makes me want to do the same!

  • Pam Hopp
    June 16, 2015

    I just LOVE spotting and seeing barn quilts and always look for them. Thank you for posting the installation pics as I often wondered how a large one could be installed.

  • Jill collins
    June 16, 2015

    What an enjoyable story! What a beautiful barn! Thanks for sharing.

  • Jane
    June 16, 2015

    Further east (NC and VA), they have organized driving tours so you can ‘visit’ the barn quilts and quaint rural villages nearby. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • kathy healey
    June 16, 2015

    Loved your story and photos!

  • Rettabug
    June 16, 2015

    Your barn quilt & the story of its construction were wonderful to read, Nancy. Love your family homestead & barn!!

    The idea of The Quilt Trail, and the lady for whom it was started, Maxine Groves, (a master quilter), was begun by her daughter Donna Sue Groves to honor her mother. It now exists in 43 states! Amazing accomplishment from the dream of a single person in Adams County, OH.

    Maxine died Thursday, May 24th from congestive heart failure, after just 24 hours in ICU at Univ. of Kentucky’s hospital. She was in her 80’s, and actually helping to care for her daughter, Donna Sue, who has cancer and is now in a wheelchair.
    Donna Sue’s idea has spread far & wide across our country & continues to delight both quilters & non-quilters alike.

    Thanks for sharing your version!!

  • Ruth
    June 16, 2015

    Love your choice of design
    It is so fitting for you to have this and
    A awesome barn to put it on
    Thanks for sharing your gift

  • Gail
    June 16, 2015

    Your barn and your block are just beautiful, and in a beautiful setting. I love the fact that the farm has been in your family for so long! How about giving us a tour of your home.

  • Merle
    June 16, 2015

    What a great story! Thanks for sharing.

  • eginter
    June 16, 2015

    Am going on barn quilt tour in Iowa next week, so found this interesting! Will share with the tour guide. Thanks

  • Kay
    June 16, 2015

    Great choice of spool block.
    And enjoyed your book.

  • Robyn
    June 16, 2015

    Aren’t traditions wonderful! I love it!

  • Joan May
    June 16, 2015

    Since I live in Oshkosh not far from your family farm I will be on the lookout for it in the Larsen area. My husband and I spent a glorious fall day in Waushara and Marquette Counties following the quilt trail in that region. What a thrill!.

  • Joanne
    June 16, 2015

    What a wonderful gift and symbol of your love of sewing! Thanks for sharing and hoping your health is improving!

  • Berenice
    June 16, 2015

    There are very few barns here in San Diego, but we have a large 2 story wall on the side of our garage & upper story that faces a busy intersection. I think I will join Caroline and put up a quilt. No HOA here, so I will be allowed!

  • Sandra
    June 16, 2015

    Ditto what Merle said. Especially thanks for sharing you. And sharing all the years and years of helpful tips, instructions, and fun sewing. Thanks Nancy!

  • Linda Foster
    June 16, 2015

    What a wonderful gift! I love seeing barn quits here in Michigan as well. I’ve never done a barn tour but would love to. Thanks Nancy for all your inspiration! Hugs and prayers!

  • Starla
    June 16, 2015

    Love it!

  • Sidney
    June 16, 2015

    Thank you for sharing your lovey gift with us.
    You are very talented and truly a woman to admire. I enjoy your show and love your books. Your 10-20-30 minutes sewing book was the first sewing book I bought and I used my children’s nap time for sewing.
    Hope you are doing well with your P.T. Many blessings to you.

  • Karen B
    June 16, 2015

    I do wish I had a barn. I love these quilt blocks. I am looking forward to doing a tour of them.
    How wonderful to have the high school work on them. I hope their names are included on the back in the label.

  • Avis Cooper
    June 16, 2015

    Sew Special! What a wonderful addition to remember your heritage. My prayers continue for your renewed health. Be blessed today (and every day).

  • Connie W
    June 16, 2015

    So Wisconsin! So Family! So Nancy! Love It!

  • Lorij
    June 16, 2015

    This is so beautiful. Having family history that you can touch and appreciate is priceless. As well as having loving family with which to share is truly special. Many are not so fortunate. You are very blessed. Continue to heal and be encouraged.

  • Carol R
    June 16, 2015

    This is terrific. What a memory!

  • Colleen Bell
    June 16, 2015

    You are so blessed to have loving parents and such a heritage in that property. It is beautiful and a wonderful project for the school. I love it!!

  • Donna G.
    June 16, 2015

    Fabulous barn quilt! What a special gift to a special woman and her family!

  • Karen
    June 16, 2015

    Nancy, Western Maryland has many barn quilts that are fun to see, I highly recommend the drive if you get to that area! I have only seen a few barn quilts in my area of Southern Maryland. Thanks for sharing yours.

  • Joyce
    June 16, 2015

    I have always wanted to use Baltimore Quilt patterns to decorate my garage door. They are so beautiful and intricate. You are an inspiration! Hopefully soon we’ll go from dream to reality!

  • Marilyn
    June 16, 2015

    What a great idea! Getting the art class involved in your project may just keep this tradition going. I love this story!

  • Cheryl
    June 16, 2015

    That is so cool, extending such a rich tradition for another generation!!

  • Sandy Curtis
    June 16, 2015

    What a wonderful gift. You chose just the right pattern for you!

  • Ronda Halvorsen
    June 16, 2015

    Greetings from Oregon Nancy!

    What a beautiful gift from your Mom and Step-Dad. Oh my your families barn is just how I envisioned it in my mind, picturesque, functional, and BIG. I often thought about your family homestead after finishing your book last year. Continue to hold you up in prayer for God’s healing grace. Thanks so much for sharing this.

    Best regards,


  • Janice King
    June 16, 2015

    The gift that keeps on giving! You will be reminded of your Mom’s love each time you see this barn quilt. Love it!

  • Kathryn Fudge
    June 16, 2015


  • BevM
    June 16, 2015

    I really like your choice for a barn quilt. I have been trying to select a pattern for a long time. My sweet husband gave me a personalized, autographed copy of Suzi Parron’s book for Christmas!

  • Joan
    June 16, 2015

    Hi Nancy
    I love barn quilts, they are awesome! I like your design, it looks great on your family homestead. On another note, I can see you get your beauty from your mother. Hope you are doing well and getting rest.

  • Freda Gooch
    June 16, 2015

    Thank you so much for the interesting story and pictures you have posted here. Perfect gift and choice for your barn. God bless you on your complete recovery, and always look forward to your show on Saturday morning, and your e-mails.

  • Diana G.
    June 16, 2015

    What a great idea/gift from your Mother and Step Father. We have a shed I have been thinking about making something for it. We hope to replace the 2nd shed as well and maybe make a barn quilt for it (I guess Shed Quilt would be more appropriately named!)
    Loved the lovely story about your homestead as well .. Thank you for sharing !

  • Judy G
    June 17, 2015

    Love it! Thank you for sharing.

  • Linda George
    June 17, 2015

    I started The Quilt Trail Project last July and to date El Dorado County, Calif’s Quilt Trail Project has hung 5 quilt squares and have 5 pending… we are on a roll. We work locally with our Visitors Authority and The El Dorado County Farm Trails Assn. The Farm Trails have sign markers all over our county leading visitors to our orchards, farms, wineries and other agra-tourism venues. It is attracting more tourists and of course many ‘road trips’ for quilters. I’m happy to share how we did it.. just email me.

  • Janice Pitt
    June 18, 2015

    Love the block! I have a shed (a little barn red shed) and want to do some blocks to put on it. May I use your design or are they copyrighted? It is so perfect as I am a quilter! Love this subject and all the programs you bring us.

  • Linda M.
    June 23, 2015

    Nancy, what a wonderful family legacy for you to leave to your children as well! Hope you are healing and feeling better! Love the barn quilt, it looks so nice!

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