How to Make a Barn Quilt

For years, I’ve admired the hundreds of colorful, vibrant barn quilts that can be seen proudly displayed on barns all across my home state of Iowa. Finally, I decided to make a barn quilt for myself.

My DIY barn quilt is a down-sized version of the huge 8-foot panels typically displayed on barns. Since I don’t have a barn (yet 😜), I wanted one that I could display on my mantel. A 2’x2′ size is more appropriate for that.

Barn Quilt on an Iowa Barn is the inspiration for this project about How to Make a Barn Quilt
“Rock Star” – Scherle Barn – Barn Quilts of Sac County Iowa

I am partnering with the Dixie Belle Paint Company for this post. Paint and stain were generously provided to me by Dixie Belle, but all ideas and creations are my own.

Choosing a Pattern

The quilt pattern I selected for my DIY barn quilt was inspired by my many trips to Washington, D.C. over the years. One of my favorite places to visit there is the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

The National Quilt Exhibit there houses hundreds of quilts, including an early 1800s LeMoyne Star quilt, which is the pattern I decided to use for my barn quilt.

How to Make a Barn Quilt Out of Wood

Below you can see the crude blueprints I drew for myself when planning my DIY barn quilt using plywood and craft wood.

Since most barn quilts (and fabric quilts, too!) are made of various color combinations of squares and triangles, you can customize your own barn quilt to be any size that you want– you just need to do the math to figure out the appropriate sizes adjustments.

Scribbled plans for How to Make a Barn Quilt out of wood for inside your home.

To keep it simple, I went with a 24″ square, that I divided into sixteen 6″ squares. Then, I cut some of those squares in half to form triangles that would give me the LeMoyne star pattern I wanted.


I bought my craft/hobby wood at Menards, but you can find hobby wood that will work in other places:

  • Amazon has a wide variety of hobby wood in various sizes
  • These from Target are already cut into 6″ squares
  • Home Depot also carries craft wood and plywood that could work

*All of my measurements are for a finished barn quilt that is a 2’x2′ square. You can make yours smaller or larger, just remember to make the appropriate size adjustments.

The Backing

I used a 2’x2′ piece of plywood sheathing that was 1/3 of an inch thick to make the backing that would support all the quilt blocks for my barn quilt.

I wanted it to be sturdy, yet not too heavy. I applied one coat of Dixie Belle’s white chalk paint in Fluff, using a roller. Most of this will be covered by the quilt blocks, so it doesn’t have to be flawless.

The Optional Frame

My husband helped me create a frame around the plywood back using some scrap pieces of oak that we already had.

Framing is optional. The real barn quilts are simply painted on an 8-foot square sheet of plywood, but since my DIY barn quilt was going to sit on the fireplace mantel, I thought the frame would give it a more finished look.

I experimented with three colors of Dixie Belle’s Voodoo Gel stain, first applying a coat of Tobacco Road, and wiping it back with a shop cloth.

Then, I dry-brushed on a little stain in White Magic and some Up in Smoke, until I had the sort of weathered barn wood color I wanted.

When the frame pieces were completely dry, we attached them to the 2’x2′ plywood back using Gorilla Glue and a few finishing nails. We clamped it overnight to allow the glue to dry.

The Background Quilt Pieces

I decide to make my barn quilt 3-dimensional by using wood of two different thicknesses for the quilt blocks.

The background pieces of my quilt were cut from the thinnest sheets of my craft wood (1/16″) and the star pieces themselves were cut from the 1/3″ thick wood. This makes the star stand out just a bit more because it is thicker than the background.

The background pieces required eight 6″ blocks of the thinner wood. Four of them remained as squares, and four were cut diagonally in half to make 8 triangles.

I decided to make the background blocks white so that the star pattern would be the literal star of the show, but I wanted some of the wood grain to show through as well.

Dixie Belle’s water-based Voodoo Gel Stain in White Magic was perfect for this.

Painted quilt blocks in one color of white for How to Make a Barn Quilt
Background pieces assembled for How to Make a Barn Quilt

The Star Pieces

For the LeMoyne star, I used Voodo Gel Stain again, in two of the same colors from the frame. Half the triangles got a coat of Tobacco Road, and the other half got Up in Smoke.

All pieces in place for How to Make a Barn Quilt

For each color, I smoothed on a couple of drops of stain, and then wiped it back with a shop towel to allow the wood grain to show.

Staining the wood LeMoyne Star pieces in two different colors for the barn quilt.  Dixie Belle stain in Tobacco Road.
Tobacco Road for the other half of the triangles.
Ready to glue the wooden pices in place with Gorilla glue for How to Make a Barn Quilt
Tobacco Road on half the triangles and Up in Smoke on the other half.

Glue the Stained Pieces in Place

After arranging my finished barn quilt pieces correctly to form the LeMoyne Star, I used a few drops of Gorilla Glue on the back of each piece, then weighed the whole thing down with a heavy case of Spindrift overnight to allow the glue to dry thoroughly. 😛

My Finished Barn Quilt

DIY Barn Quilt displayed on the mantel.  One color for the background and two colors for the star pattern.

When my barn quilt was finished, I decided to display it on the mantel in our three-season porch. It goes well with the fall decor I currently have out there, and adds such a nice focal point above the fireplace.

Some Final Thoughts…

  • This project is so customizable. With some basic math skills, you can make it any size you want.
  • I chose neutral stain colors to go with my home’s decor, but you can use paint or stain in any color you choose. Go bold if you want!
  • I did not apply a sealant to mine because I plan to use it inside. Although Dixie Belle paints and stains can be used outdoors, a clear coat sealant, such as Dixie Belle’s Gator Hide, would be a good idea if you plan to display yours outside.

What do you think? Is a barn quilt in your future now, too? If you make one, I’d love to see a picture! Tag @thehouseonsilverado and @dixiebellepaint to share.

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PS. If you liked this project, be sure to check out some of my other DIY projects HERE.

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58 thoughts on “How to Make a Barn Quilt

  1. I will make one by measuring out on a board. I probably won’t be cutting the pieces myself. But I do have those stains & love them

  2. Thank you for linking up to Whimsy Home Wednesday and sharing your inspiration with us. I’m loving your barn quilt! My aunt makes these barn quilts and I see them on barns in Tennessee where my parents live so this speaks to my heart!

  3. Wow, Niky! This is really impressive! You’ve created a beautiful piece of artwork that you’ll enjoy for years to come. I love the different shades of wood stain that you used. It looks perfect on your mantel. Thanks for sharing the great tutorial. Pinned 🙂

  4. Your barn quilt is so lovely, Niky! The details are easy to follow and results are perfection. Barn quilts are so fascinating and yours will have a beautiful welcome for each visitor to your home. Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Niky, I love this project. It truly is a work of art. Great tutorial. I was fascinated by the entire project and the construction of your star. It will be a piece you enjoy for a long time. Enjoyed the entire process.

  6. I have been wanting to make a barn quilt for some time. The wood … in love! I have only seen one other done with wood and it looked so complicated I was like, “nope.” With your tutorial, I think I could make one. So beautiful!

    1. Corine, isn’t it fun seeing all the different patterns on colors on the barns? I’ve enjoyed them for years, and finally decided that I didn’t need to have a barn to have a “barn” quilt. 🙂
      Thanks for taking the time to leave your sweet comment.

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