How to Make Your Own Barn Quilt

Always committing to doing the things I say I’m going to do–in this case “barn quilt all the things”–I extended my collaboration with Buffalo-based designer Whitney Crispell of Local Color Quilts and made another totally crushworthy piece of outdoor art. Y’all! Still addicted to the quilts. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

How to design and make a barn quilt.

Last summer, I created a colorful design to produce a 50″ x 50″ modern barn quilt for DIY Network; the new one was a gift for mom for Mother’s Day (and I delivered it yesterday in advance of her seeing this post; it was a smash). The original barn quilt (def the OG, or OGBQ) has officially seen all 4 seasons–fallwinter 1, and winter 2 were especially perfecto–and I knew reusing paints from the OG palette would be nice for my parent’s house which is surrounded by trees and accessorized by gardens blossoming with every color in the rainbow.

The timing of the project also aligned perfectly with Bethany of Reality Daydream’s #WoodArtChallenge, and it’s so fun being part of the long list of talented bloggers who put their creative skills to work and designed their own square-shaped wooden artwork. See what others made at the bottom of this post.

Barn quilts are remarkably simple to make, and aside from a saw and a drill, all you’ll really need is patience and a few supplies:

  • 1x6x8 board
  • 18″x18″ piece of plywood
  • circular saw
  • ruler/tape measure
  • straight edge
  • pencil
  • (12) 3/4″ screws
  • paint samples
  • painter’s tape
  • paint brushes
  • polyurethane/weatherproofing
  • hanging hardware

The wood I used was white spruce harvested and planed from trees that fell on my parents’ property. Assuming you’re buying your own lumber, you can easily make a barn quilt the same size out of one 1x8x6-ft board. To determine the measurement of my square, I stacked three 1×8 boards side by side and measured them as 21.5″ wide. To match the height, I trimmed the three boards to be an even 21.5″ in length. Pushed together, they form a perfect square. Use a piece of plywood cut into an 18″x18″ square, and 3/4″ screws to assemble the barn quilt from the backside with no fewer than 4 screws hitting each board. Attach the hanging hardware after you’re done painting (you’ll want this baby to sit flush on the table, and not be wobbling all over):

How to attach plywood backing to your DIY barn quilt.

Whitney has a real eye for designing barn quilts, not just fabric quilts. The colors! Her refreshing take on heirloom quilting patterns! They’re familiar, while being completely reconcepted with consideration for modern design (and my love of the rainbow). I should point out that she’s available for hire if you want your own custom design too.

Local Color Quilts Barn Quilt Rainbow DIY Design

This particular design uses a 6×6 grid as a guide for painting, and dividing the face of your barn quilt into this same grid with light pencil lines is the first step to making this project easy. And please be smart and measure twice, mark once.

Barn quilt measurements in pencil to create a grid.

You’ll notice that I left a lot of natural wood exposed on this quilt. I prefer them that way because I think wood’s pretty, and this particular wood was thoughtfully preserved by my Dad himself, not just any ol’ 1×8 from the hardware store. Most traditional barn quilts are painted across the entire surface. If you want the entire surface painted, consider blanketing the boards with a solid coat of primer and white paint before marking your pencil grid lines and adding color.

Painting the detail, as I’ve eluded, is where you’ll need to muster all of your patience. To match Whitney’s color palette to specific paint colors, I used a paint app to match back to a certain brand. Most of the colors were close matches, and for a few colors that didn’t have an automatic match, I went and found paint chips from other brands. For each color, I bought a sample pot of tinted color for <$3.

Easy paint match colors on your phone with the Behr app.

Painter’s tape is the true workhorse in this project, and you should plan to use a lot of it. Fresh painter’s tape prevents the paint bleeding and helps to make nice, crisp lines. When you start, you’ll be working in various areas of the design, filling in colors on opposite areas where paint lines don’t collide.

Do several coats of paint in each space, and remove the tape before the paint has completely dried to get a sharp edge. You’ll need your first pass completely dry before you tape off and paint additional spaces, which is why this project takes a bit of time. This was my start, below, presenting as random colors with no rhyme or reason. Computer, camera, earbuds, ruler, dowel? lots of kids cups? doll bottle? check, check, check, etc.

Taping off areas for painting pattern on a barn quilt.Tape lines on a DIY barn quilt.How to design and make a barn quilt.

Finishing the paint on your barn quilt and removing the last pieces of tape is a really rewarding moment, so hang in there.

As for weatherproofing, I’m not convinced that a handpainted barn quilt wouldn’t look fantastic with a bit of natural weathering from wind and rain, but I did apply a coat of water-based poly to this piece so that my mom’s art would be a little more protected. If you’re looking for serious durability, consider coating your piece with a heavier-duty transparent weatherproofer, such as the weather seal you would apply to your deck. Remember to cover the cut edges of the boards with a good coat, too!

Water-based polyurethane to seal and protect a handmade barn quilt design.

When all of the painting is wrapped and polyurethane’s dry, attach the hardware of your choice, or attach it directly to your structure using long lag bolts into studs. We used 5″ bolts to attach the 50″ quilt square to the studs through our barn’s siding (in the background of the below photo), but this piece is lightweight enough to hang off a strong D-ring, as tested when I staged it against a tree in our yard.

How to make a beautiful, handpainted barn quilt.DIY barn quilt with modern rainbow design.

To see more from the group of bloggers who joined the #WoodArtChallenge, poke at these links:

1. Reality Daydream
2. 100 Things 2 Do
3. House Becoming Home
4. Anika’s DIY Life
5. My Repurposed Life
6. 3×3 Custom
7. One Project Closer
9. Chatfield Court
10. Create & Babble
11.  Hazel & Gold
12. Jen Woodhouse
13. Sawdust 2 Stitches
14. Wood Work Life
15. Remodelaholic
16.  Evan & Katelyn
17. Jaime Costigio
18.  Pneumatic Addict
19.  Bower Power
20. Lazy Guy DIY 
21. My Love 2 Create
22. Addicted 2 DIY
23. Her ToolBelt
24. Shades of Blue
25. Ugly Duckling House
26. The DIY Village
27. DIY Huntress
28. Mr Fix It DIY

Creative handmade woodworking projects with unique DIY tutorials.

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Author: EthanClaxton

What better way to think of home improvement than following advice from an experienced professional. We covers our experiences working as a professional Home improvement and home appliance professional advisor, with almost a decade’s worth of experience. Through our blog, we invites you in to benefit from her expertise and experience, sharing the best ideas and projects we have worked with.

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