Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail

Hi there! Today, I have a big smile on my face. Why you ask? It’s all because I get to share one of my favorite past-times with you: touring the countryside for barn quilts! Author Suzi Parron is here today to give us a little information about the history of those beautiful painted quilts scattered across 29 states. What an interesting history she’s shared with me.

Barn Quilts: The American Quilt Trail (a 2011 calendar)

Located in Stone Mountain, GA, Suzi Parron is a high school English teacher by day and a writer in the hours in between. She was fortunate enough to get to know Donna Sue Groves–the original barn quilter–and to be asked by Ohio University Press to record the history of the trails and the stories behind the quilts.

Suzi contacted me way back in November to tell me all about her upcoming book and offered to send me copies of her 2011 calendar to give away to my readers. At the time she found my blog and this post chronicling my trip to Neversink, NY. I have been in love with barn quilts since that trip and long to go back for a visit one day soon.

Suzi wrote to me about how her idea for a book came about: “I discovered a barn quilt in Cadiz, KY, while camping cross-country in the summer of 2008. I immediately wanted to find a book on the subject, but none existed. So–I thought ‘What the heck, I will write it!’ I traced the barn quilts back to Donna Sue Groves of Adams County, Ohio.

I have been traveling across country, visiting farms and farmers, gathering the stories behind many of the trails and barns. Some of the quilts are simply art projects for a local 4-H or homemakers’ club. Others carry great meaning, as they replicate a family treasure or commemorate a loved one.

The experience has transformed my life–not only by providing me with the opportunity to become a published author but also because of my friendships with Donna Sue and dozens of people across the country. And I know more about farming and barns than I ever thought I would!

As the song says, ‘Take what you need and leave the rest!'”

The First Barn Quilt

According to Suzi’s blog, the concept of barn quilts began with Donna Sue Groves and her wish to honor her mother, Maxine, and her Appalachian heritage by having a painted quilt hung on her barn (original quilt photo from Suzi’s blog above). With the help of friends and community members, Donna Sue’s vision grew to a trail of 20 quilt barns in Adams County, Ohio, which began in 2001.

This simple idea has spread to 29 states and to Canada, and the trail continues to grow. Over 2000 quilts are part of organized trails; dozens more are scattered through the countryside waiting to be discovered.

Suzi’s blog is a wealth of knowledge and photos of barn quilts and their history. I encourage you to visit often as she constantly updates it. The American Quilter’s Society recently named her blog “blog of the week”!

Forthcoming from Ohio University Press, “Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail” is scheduled to be released in 2011.


Thanks for visiting with us, Suzi!

Suzi has generously given me two copies of her calendar to give away. To win one, leave a comment on this post. Only one entry per person, please. All duplicate entries will be deleted.

To view a slide show of the quilts featured in the calendar, CLICK HERE.

I will draw 2 winners using the Random Number Generator on Friday, Jan 7, 2011!

Happy reading,

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