I decided to make my grandparents a barn quilt square for their anniversary gift. I had always been intrigued by these and thought this would be a nice gift considering my grandparents are nearly impossible to shop for and love everything that their granddaughters make.
I drove back to Burkesville the weekend before last to do some spy work on the family quilts. I told Granny I needed to look at the quilts for a blog post so she took me to the back bedroom where there were nearly 20 quilts made by various family members. I knew Granny’s mother, Mammie, had done a lot of cross-stitch work throughout her life and, although I think that could make a really neat barn quilt square, I wasn’t ready to tackle something that advanced just yet. As we were going through the quilts, we came across one that Granny told me had been started by Papa’s mother, Mama Bersie, before she died and then completed by Mammie. Since both of my great grandmothers had worked on this quilt, I knew instantly that I would use that pattern for my barn quilt square. The pattern is called “flower garden.”
Back in Nashville, I headed to Home Depot, picked out a 4’x8’ sheet of exterior plywood and asked for it to be cut in half. I then loaded up my Jeep Liberty with approximately 6” to spare in angling the plywood into the back of my small SUV.
And then there was the super fun part: carrying the plywood up to my 3rd floor apartment. This is the view down to the parking lot from my deck.
I should also mention that this 4’x4’ piece of plywood was about the size of my deck. Factoring in my container garden that I would hardly call contained, the working conditions were a little cramped.
After I got the plywood primed, it was time to select my colors. I pulled inspiration from the quilt itself, but wanted to incorporate some warmer and slightly softer colors so the square didn’t look too harsh against the muted red barn on the hill in my grandparents’ backyard. Martha Stewart didn’t let me down on the colors. I created a little mock-up in powerpoint just to make sure the colors looked balanced. Pleased with the selections, I headed back to Home Depot to have the exterior paint samples mixed. The salesperson at Lowe’s was not so pleased to color-match 8 samples of paint for me.
Then it was time to draw the pattern. Armed with a level, a tape measure, a set of triangles, a pencil and just enough patience, I drew hexagons until I went cross-eyed.
With the pattern all drawn out, I painted each hexagon with several coats of paint. Then I painted the background and the framing band of dark green.
My parents flew into Nashville and rode with me to Burkesville for the celebration. My poor dad had to ride in the backseat of my Jeep, underneath the angled quilt square, surrounded by 8 18” diameter mums and our luggage. He made several requests for additional air conditioning due to the extreme weather conditions he experienced in the tunnel-like back seat. There was mention of El Niño. For the record, I offered to ride in the backseat, but my dad liked the idea of being chauffeured for once since he is normally the driver.
Somehow, all parties arrived in Burkesville in one piece. A little warm, but in one piece.
I set the quilt square out at the church for my grandparents to see. I think they liked it but weren’t really sure what to make of it until we hung it up on the barn. I still had to do some touch up work on the square after the party so we didn’t hang the square on the barn until the next morning. We were also leaving the next morning, so guess who was out in the 40 degree weather at 7:00 AM hanging the thing?
Papa, Daddy and me!
Daddy came in to wake me up just before 7:00 AM and he and Papa already had the truck backed up to the barn with the quilt square in the bed, ready to go. Papa was sent into the barn to find the nails and tools, Daddy did most of the manual labor and I was in charge of placement and commentary.
It only took about 45 minutes to hang the square and then we drove back down to the house to see how it looked from afar.
Looks awfully small from down here even though I could barely grip it with my arms fully extended.
I am very pleased with how it turned out, except, in looking at this picture, I just realized that I painted part of the pattern wrong! The light green and burnt orange should be switched on the top right. Oh that makes me so mad. I will lose sleep over it. I need to fix that as soon as I am back in Burkesville. I can’t believe I didn’t catch that. I guess that gives you some insight into the busyness of the past week.
Y’all come back,
P.S. It’s really bugging me that I mixed up the colors.
It might be easier to redo the quilt!
You might be right about that!
I don’t think you should fix it. Ask any quilter and they’ll tell you there should always be at least one mistake in the quilt. If not, they will purposely make a “mistake”. I LOVE it the way it is! What a great idea!
Thank you! That makes me feel better!
Yes, this is a long-standing quilting rule. I’d let it be! Very nice work! I don’t even want to make my own, I have someone in mind to hire.
Delightful! What a great idea. And a great gift. Well done!
What a thoughtful gift! And it gives me some inspiration on my parent’s upcoming 50th anniversary!
We have a retired English teacher in our Meeting (congregation) who took up quilting after leaving the classroom. She’s become a museum-quality master. She’s also made each of the children in our circle a quilt of their own, and continues when new families or new babies arrive among us.
She also made one at the request of another member who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and we all signed it, knowing that Friend would wrap herself in it in her hospice room and then be buried in it.
I think it’s your mention of displaying your work in church, for all to see, that triggers these memories. But maybe it’s also a feeling that this is just the beginning for you in this dimension.
What a nice tradition. Thank you for sharing. I hope to do more gifts like these.
I think it’s lovely…and I agree–don’t fix it. No one will notice but you (and us, now that you’ve told us–and we won’t tell.) Perfectionism is a curse as well as a blessing. Knitters have that same saying–I put a mistake in on purpose. 🙂
Thanks! I’m glad to know about these “intentional mistakes” 🙂
The barn quilt square is marvelous. I cannot even figure out the scheme to see that the colors are switched. I’ll be I am not alone. It’s a priceless gift.
Thanks, mom 🙂
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