Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Stone Barn

In North Wales, one would have to be blind not to see that stone is the primary building material available for just about anything... homes, churches, schools, walls. This is a rugged, mountainous country with few trees. Stones are available and that is what builders use.

So why not do the same when free-piecing a barn?  My most readily available material is scrap fabric. Yes, I do have fat quarters and some half yards, but those aren't cut.  My scraps are already variously cut. Most are sorted by color. Given that most of my scraps are small, less than 2 inches square,  I was limited in the type of barn I could effectively build.  This photo, taken near Llanegryn, North Wales, gave me all the inspiration I needed to dig into my scrap boxes.

I set the scraps aside while I worked on another project. Once that was done, I cobbled strips of scraps together to make the building. Then decided the rest of the quilt needed to be cobbled with strips of strips!  

This barn building project took several attempts where I had to look and troubleshoot.  That was the fun part and the most rewarding!  Let me explain.

Problem #1.  After I had sewn all of the scraps for the building together, I realized that the combination of dark fabric I chose for the window was too chaotic and also too large.  I wasn't going to pick out all the stitches to get to the middle pieces of three rows. So I raw edge appliqued a square of black fabric with light gray zigzag stitches so that it would stand out clearly.

Problem #2. The scrap pieces above the window looked too bulky to have been reasonably used as "building material". After all, who would want to heft a stone as big as a window opening up to higher levels. These barns were made manually, not with hydraulic lifts!  Once again, raw edge applique to the rescue.  You can see the "patched stones" in the following photo.

This shows that there is more than one way to solve the problems. One need not stick to methods or "rules".  One can un-sew and re-sew, but in this case, that was not practical.   I quote Gwen Marston, from her book Liberated Quiltmaking (1996),  "The most important solution to remember as you build your houses is learn by doing.  Figuring things out as you work keeps your interest high and makes the building process fun. Once you get going, you will be surprised at how ideas come to you with solutions for every pesky problem."  This is what I love about free piecing.  The results don't have to be perfect. The process demands imagination from the maker. It also engages the imagination of those who see the quilt and recognize the resultant character it holds.


  1. I really enjoy reading about your problem solving approach - and I think the end result is lovely .

  2. What an excellent post -- the "patched stones" and "cobbled" fabrics give such a wonderful, textural feel to your piece. Great quote from Gwen, too. (and in your photos of the original inspiration buildings, I particularly like the color and design of that gorgeous turquoise door and the venue for selling jams, preserves, and breads)

  3. I'm really enjoying your photos of Wales - it's a beautiful country. I'd love to get there one day.

    Your barn is wonderful! I like your solutions, and hearing your thought process. That is so helpful. Love Gwen's quote too - and isn't she right!

  4. I love your solutions and they really improved your barn. I love seeing everyone else's barns...I love the magenta/maroon roof line and would never have thought to use those colors.

  5. Beautiful barn! I like the way you portrayed the grey stone with color. Love the more recent one--from Julie's book--too. I've already got the book and love it, so didn't want to be entered in the drawing.


Thanks for your feedback.... I enjoy hearing from you.