Have you ever been driving in Illinois or Wisconsin and noticed a barn with a big quilt hanging on the outside? There's a pretty significant reason it is there.

What Is a Barn Quilt?

Since my family moved more towards the "country", I've begun to notice several things that I never really paid attention to before. Some of these things include:

  • Chickens coups in the backyards of homes in my subdivision.
  • Coyotes howling in the distance.
  • Lots of barns with quilts hanging on them.

Now, when I say quilts hanging on barns, I don't mean actual fabric quilts, I mean huge signs with quilt patterns...


It's not that I never noticed barn quilts before moving to a more rural area, I just never noticed how many barns actually have them throughout Illinois. Is there a reason barn quilts are such a popular thing for farmers?

Turns out that the answer is yes.

Why Are Barn Quilts So Popular in Illinois and Wisconsin?

According to an article I found from Southern Living;

This form of Americana folk art preserves the country's quilting tradition and various communities' regional heritage. While some barn quilts are dedicated to a specific person, others are created to represent a family or the land.


Patterns are typically inspired by the design from a single block of a family quilt. If it's not family specific, many barn quilts are made to resemble a traditional quilt pattern, perhaps chosen for what it represents—Corn and Beans, Jacob’s ladder, Compass Star, and Carpenter’s Wheel, just to name a few.

When Did Barn Quilts Become a Thing?

Now that we know barn quilts usually have a family tie or significance, I can't help but wonder, how and when did this tradition begin?

According to The Quilt Show, the first barn quilt was hung on a farm in Ohio in 2001 by a woman named Donna Sue Groves who wanted to honor the Appalachian heritage of her late mother. Since 2001;

The simple idea has spread to 48 states and to Canada. The Barn Quilt Trails continue to grow, and there are now over 7,000 quilts as part of organized trails with dozens more scattered through the countryside waiting to be discovered.

Dang, you really do learn something new every day.

LOOK: Here are the 25 best places to live in Illinois

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in Illinois using data from Niche. Niche ranks places to live based on a variety of factors including cost of living, schools, health care, recreation, and weather. Cities, suburbs, and towns were included. Listings and images are from realtor.com.

On the list, there's a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.

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