Barn Quilt Block Art for Those Without Barns

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Illinois artists

Abigail Jones. Photo by Michael Tedesco

Abigail Jones fondly remembers spotting barn quilts – not the type sewn for beds, but the large plywood kind painted to look like fabric blocks and attached to barn exteriors – while driving through the Illinois countryside.

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“I’ve always loved seeing them, when I catch one on the interstate, when I see one on a farm,” Jones says. “My eyes have always been a little bit drawn to them.”

Although she never lived on a farm, Jones says she has the agricultural spirit in her blood, thanks to her dad’s work helping farmers rebuild after natural disasters.

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Admittedly not an artistic child, about five years ago she taught herself how to quilt by reading blogs and Googling instructions.

“I was kind of wanting to find a way to express my love of quilting in another way,” she says. “I thought, ‘Why can’t I have [a barn quilt] on my porch, even though I live in a suburb?’ ”

The result – a 2-foot-by-2-foot, multicolored Lone Star pattern painted in weather-resistant acrylic latex – made her want to craft more. She now sells her geometric Bear Claws, Ohio Stars and other designs to customers who display them on porches, mantels and garden sheds.

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“You don’t have to be a sewer or quilter to have an appreciation for it,” she says. “Some people have asked, ‘Is it OK for me to have one of these?,’ as if it’s a club that they need to be invited to. It’s not that way at all.”

Illinois artists

Photo by Michael Tedesco

The business combines her two loves, Jones says, who explains that the name, My Little Grouse House, comes from the college building where she discovered her interest in crafting.

“I really value farmers. I really love agriculture,” she says. “And yet I have this love of quilting and sewing. So, it kind of brings those things together in an art form.”

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