The Clothesline of Quilts

Ok, I’m finally making time to talk a little about the barn quilt project I’ve mentioned a couple of times. I’d really hoped to find a single website that had all sorts of information on the entire nation-wide projected gathered in one place, but there doesn’t appear to be one. (Or if there is, I’m not using the right search phrases to find it!)

The Clothesline of Quilts is a project that appears to have started about 7 years ago in Ohio and has now expanded to several states across the US - in particular all along the eastern seaboard, and across the south and the midwest. It’s a project where huge quilt squares are either painted directly on the sides of old barns or (more often) painted onto panels and mounted on the barns, or occasionally on other buildings, like sheds or stables. These painted designs are placed onto buildings that are clearly visible from the road and so they create a sort of trail of quilt blocks. In fact, in Kentucky this project is known on the state level as The Kentucky Quilt Trail.

Being as I still consider myself a quilter (despite the fact that I’ve done nothing with it lately! urk!) I think this is super-cool and I’m really excited to see how it’s taken off right in the county where I live.

Fleming County is very rural, with a population of only 14,000 - 15,000 people. That’s in the entire county, folks, not just in one town. :-) Yet despite a small population, Fleming County already has more than 50 barn quilts on the trail. Last count I heard was 56 - 58 quilt panels up, and more being added all the time.

The owner of a local art gallery recently completed a brochure on behalf of the county tourism committee that shows thumbnail photos of all the current barn quilts, along with a guide on where to find them. The brochure is set up to be almost like a photo scavenger hunt, of sorts, where you can check off little boxes as you find each barn quilt in the county. Fun!

If you’re interested in reading more, and seeing some photos, check out these websites:

Barn Quilts of Fleming County is a work-in-progress site by the same person who designed the brochure (Hi, Brenda! :-) ) and there isn’t a whole lot there yet, but what is there is interesting.

Kentucky Living Magazine did an article about the state-wide project a couple of years ago. It doesn’t mention Fleming County because the project hadn’t started here at that point, but it gives some good background info.

The Kentucky Quilt Barns page is bare bones as websites go, but it’s the best place I found to actually see the quilts. It has a list of links to dozens upon dozens of photos of barn quilts throughout Kentucky. Unfortunately, the links aren’t labeled, so you don’t really know what photo you’ll get from what county until you click, but that kind of makes it fun too - like a treasure hunt. :-)  Also on that page, look for the link in the upper right corner that says “Other Barns” and you’ll find links to pages of barn quilts in lots of other states. Maybe you’ll even find some where you live!

I would love to have a quilt panel on our barn, but sadly, one of the requirements to participate is that the structure where the panel is mounted should be clearly visible from the road, and our barn isn’t. Of course that doesn’t mean I couldn’t paint a quilt block on our barn just for myself if I want, but it means it can’t go on the “official” trail of barn quilts. Ah well, the price I pay for privacy. ;-)

Not surprisingly, today’s DAT is a barn quilt photo. This is one of a couple of barn quilts that are quite close to where I live.

Barn quilt

“Red, White, and Blue Barn Quilt” (Clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window.)

14 Responses to “The Clothesline of Quilts”

  1. on 23 Mar 2008 at 8:41 am guzzisue

    I find this fascinating as we don’t have this sort of thing here, (not that I’ve seen)the nearest I can think of was a display in France where giant quilts were hung from the town walls.

    check here for photo

  2. on 23 Mar 2008 at 8:53 am jkbees

    This post is so interesting. I love quilts even though I’ve never made one or even had a desire to make one! They seem to be such an emblem of American women. The barn quilts are beautiful against the worn and weathered wood of most of the barns. Thanks, Deb, for sharing this. I didn’t know about it before.

  3. on 23 Mar 2008 at 11:41 am Sara

    Deb…I know about this project…from when I lived in Tennessee a few years ago…There is a website or something…not sure if it is just for Tennessee - but, I’ll give a call down to my old quilt shop in TN this week and see what info I can find out for you.

  4. on 23 Mar 2008 at 3:47 pm Laume

    This is such a great project. It would be interesting if someone would do a book about it - both photography and the story of how it got started and grew. If anyone could even discover the roots of the idea. Sadly, it’s unlikely to find it’s way west of the Rockies as we don’t really have many barns out here or if we do, the areas are geographically small and separate. It’s one of the things I miss about the midwest.

  5. on 23 Mar 2008 at 3:56 pm Laume

    Okay, it would have helped if I’d finished reading the post before I commented - I was too excited I guess. That last link shows a lot of quilts. And I think, since you can’t be an an official quilt block, you should take it as a sign that it’s your responsibility to represent all the quilt mavericks in the world and put up an ART QUILT on your barn! YES!

  6. […] the quonset barn.  It’s the perfect place to paint a quilt block. Why?  Check out my buddy Deb’s blog for today. I should do one there and one on the old hay barn, which you can see from the road […]

  7. on 23 Mar 2008 at 5:52 pm Helen

    thanks for explanation, Deb — well worth waiting for!

  8. on 24 Mar 2008 at 12:37 am Amber

    Oh, that is so cool! Real, American art.

    I thought of you the other day, and meant to email. I saw a thing on quilts on CBS Sunday Morning. This well known guy– and I can’t think of his name, but I’m sure you would know him. His work was just amazing! But it also reminded me of what you do. Like painting with fabric.


  9. on 24 Mar 2008 at 3:45 am holli

    You have to paint a quilt panel on your barn.. how can you not - even if you all are the only people who see it. Wait? Seeing as how you have this blog, and people would search the project online, most likely more people would see your panel than most others!!!


  10. on 24 Mar 2008 at 7:54 am Amy

    Cool, I keep seeing those photos on flickr. I had no idea that the project was organized… That sure would make a fun “Sunday Drive.”

  11. on 24 Mar 2008 at 8:03 am Connie

    Thanks, Deb, this is so interesting. I’ve seen a few of the barns with quilts but didn’t realize there was a connection. I lived near Maysville for lots of years, am very famiiar with Fleming County. Connie

  12. on 24 Mar 2008 at 2:57 pm JC

    I hadn’t heard of this project before, that’s really cool!

  13. on 24 Mar 2008 at 11:07 pm WendyinOH

    This website lists all the barns in the Midwest - We are in Greene (ok, they misspelled that…) County!

    Such a cool thing - most of them are a good afternoon drive!

  14. on 21 Apr 2008 at 1:24 pm Bruce

    I am leaving this note as a calling card, and I would love to hear back from you. I have just started to journey, including two sites of interest (both brand new). Please stay tuned for more… plans for a separate web-site.