How We Got Our Start

Welcome to the Washington County Barn Quilt Project. The following is a brief description of how we started and what the project is all about.

The Washington County Barn Quilt Committee starting this countywide project in January of 2007. By June we were ready to start painting and hanging our first barn quilts.

Several major decisions were made in those first crucial months. We first determined that we would place our barn quilts on barns located on paved roads only. After consulting the county map it became clear that one could drive from Washington to all four corners of the county and back on the existing paved roads. We chose the Pumpkin Seed quilt pattern as our official project logo to represent the four driving trails or loops in the county.

In an effort to make our project unique we decided to give each loop a theme. Quilt patterns in each loop would follow the theme either in its color scheme or the names of the patterns. The Amish Loop would pass through the northeast portion of the county where the majority of our Amish population resides and through Kalona, which is known as the Quilt Capital of Iowa. The Liberty Loop would go through Crawfordsville in the southeast part of the county as Crawfordsville claims to be the birthplace of the Republican Party. Lake Darling State Park is located in the southwest part of the county, thus the Nature Loop travels there. Finally the Agricultural Loop travels in the northwest part of the county to draw attention to our rich agricultural heritage.

We decided to not use barns less than 50 years old, and stipulated that they must be sturdy enough to hold a heavy barn quilt. The barns would also have to be visible from the road (no trees blocking the view) and visible when driving from either direction. Because several of our barns were parallel to the road, we placed barn quilts on both ends to allow the traveler to not miss the view.

Letters were sent to barn owners, permission was obtained, patterns chosen and painting began. By the end of the first year we had completed the barn quilts on the Amish Loop. The Liberty Loop was completed in 2008, the Nature in 2009 and the Agricultural loop in 2010.

Since completion we keep busy making repairs and giving tours. The committee has not put up any new blocks since 2010 but has replaced some that were badly peeling and faded. We have seen many quilt blocks put up by barn owners themselves. Because of that it is difficult to have an accurate count of just how many we have in the county, but there are well over 120 barn quilts in Washington County.

A more detailed explanation of each loop is found when you open each loop and in the Frequently Asked Questions. Visit the Photo Album section to see pictures of quilt blocks being hung and some of the many activities that went on during those four years.
We hope you decide to give us a visit!

Our Mission Statement


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