How to Make Your Own Barn Quilt

April 24, 2018   //  Posted in: Backyard, Barn, Decor, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  12 responses

Always committing to doing the things I say I’m going to do–in this case “barn quilt all the things”–I extended my collaboration with Buffalo-based designer Whitney Crispell of Local Color Quilts and made another totally crushworthy piece of outdoor art. Y’all! Still addicted to the quilts. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

How to design and make a barn quilt.

Last summer, I created a colorful design to produce a 50″ x 50″ modern barn quilt for DIY Network; the new one was a gift for mom for Mother’s Day (and I delivered it yesterday in advance of her seeing this post; it was a smash). The original barn quilt (def the OG, or OGBQ) has officially seen all 4 seasons–fallwinter 1, and winter 2 were especially perfecto–and I knew reusing paints from the OG palette would be nice for my parent’s house which is surrounded by trees and accessorized by gardens blossoming with every color in the rainbow.

The timing of the project also aligned perfectly with Bethany of Reality Daydream’s #WoodArtChallenge, and it’s so fun being part of the long list of talented bloggers who put their creative skills to work and designed their own square-shaped wooden artwork. See what others made at the bottom of this post.

Barn quilts are remarkably simple to make, and aside from a saw and a drill, all you’ll really need is patience and a few supplies:

  • 1x6x8 board
  • 18″x18″ piece of plywood
  • circular saw
  • ruler/tape measure
  • straight edge
  • pencil
  • (12) 3/4″ screws
  • paint samples
  • painter’s tape
  • paint brushes
  • polyurethane/weatherproofing
  • hanging hardware

The wood I used was white spruce harvested and planed from trees that fell on my parents’ property. Assuming you’re buying your own lumber, you can easily make a barn quilt the same size out of one 1x8x6-ft board. To determine the measurement of my square, I stacked three 1×8 boards side by side and measured them as 21.5″ wide. To match the height, I trimmed the three boards to be an even 21.5″ in length. Pushed together, they form a perfect square. Use a piece of plywood cut into an 18″x18″ square, and 3/4″ screws to assemble the barn quilt from the backside with no fewer than 4 screws hitting each board. Attach the hanging hardware after you’re done painting (you’ll want this baby to sit flush on the table, and not be wobbling all over):

How to attach plywood backing to your DIY barn quilt.

Whitney has a real eye for designing barn quilts, not just fabric quilts. The colors! Her refreshing take on heirloom quilting patterns! They’re familiar, while being completely reconcepted with consideration for modern design (and my love of the rainbow). I should point out that she’s available for hire if you want your own custom design too.

Local Color Quilts Barn Quilt Rainbow DIY Design

This particular design uses a 6×6 grid as a guide for painting, and dividing the face of your barn quilt into this same grid with light pencil lines is the first step to making this project easy. And please be smart and measure twice, mark once.

Barn quilt measurements in pencil to create a grid.

You’ll notice that I left a lot of natural wood exposed on this quilt. I prefer them that way because I think wood’s pretty, and this particular wood was thoughtfully preserved by my Dad himself, not just any ol’ 1×8 from the hardware store. Most traditional barn quilts are painted across the entire surface. If you want the entire surface painted, consider blanketing the boards with a solid coat of primer and white paint before marking your pencil grid lines and adding color.

Painting the detail, as I’ve eluded, is where you’ll need to muster all of your patience. To match Whitney’s color palette to specific paint colors, I used a paint app to match back to a certain brand. Most of the colors were close matches, and for a few colors that didn’t have an automatic match, I went and found paint chips from other brands. For each color, I bought a sample pot of tinted color for <$3.

Easy paint match colors on your phone with the Behr app.

Painter’s tape is the true workhorse in this project, and you should plan to use a lot of it. Fresh painter’s tape prevents the paint bleeding and helps to make nice, crisp lines. When you start, you’ll be working in various areas of the design, filling in colors on opposite areas where paint lines don’t collide.

Do several coats of paint in each space, and remove the tape before the paint has completely dried to get a sharp edge. You’ll need your first pass completely dry before you tape off and paint additional spaces, which is why this project takes a bit of time. This was my start, below, presenting as random colors with no rhyme or reason. Computer, camera, earbuds, ruler, dowel? lots of kids cups? doll bottle? check, check, check, etc.

Taping off areas for painting pattern on a barn quilt.Tape lines on a DIY barn quilt.How to design and make a barn quilt.

Finishing the paint on your barn quilt and removing the last pieces of tape is a really rewarding moment, so hang in there.

As for weatherproofing, I’m not convinced that a handpainted barn quilt wouldn’t look fantastic with a bit of natural weathering from wind and rain, but I did apply a coat of water-based poly to this piece so that my mom’s art would be a little more protected. If you’re looking for serious durability, consider coating your piece with a heavier-duty transparent weatherproofer, such as the weather seal you would apply to your deck. Remember to cover the cut edges of the boards with a good coat, too!

Water-based polyurethane to seal and protect a handmade barn quilt design.

When all of the painting is wrapped and polyurethane’s dry, attach the hardware of your choice, or attach it directly to your structure using long lag bolts into studs. We used 5″ bolts to attach the 50″ quilt square to the studs through our barn’s siding (in the background of the below photo), but this piece is lightweight enough to hang off a strong D-ring, as tested when I staged it against a tree in our yard.

How to make a beautiful, handpainted barn quilt.DIY barn quilt with modern rainbow design.

To see more from the group of bloggers who joined the #WoodArtChallenge, poke at these links:

1. Reality Daydream
2. 100 Things 2 Do
3. House Becoming Home
4. Anika’s DIY Life
5. My Repurposed Life
6. 3×3 Custom
7. One Project Closer
9. Chatfield Court
10. Create & Babble
11.  Hazel & Gold
12. Jen Woodhouse
13. Sawdust 2 Stitches
14. Wood Work Life
15. Remodelaholic
16.  Evan & Katelyn
17. Jaime Costigio
18.  Pneumatic Addict
19.  Bower Power
20. Lazy Guy DIY 
21. My Love 2 Create
22. Addicted 2 DIY
23. Her ToolBelt
24. Shades of Blue
25. Ugly Duckling House
26. The DIY Village
27. DIY Huntress
28. Mr Fix It DIY

Creative handmade woodworking projects with unique DIY tutorials.

Embrace your inner rainbow with a custom barn quilt. Learn how to build and paint one for your own outdoor decor.

How to Cut Your Own Swedish Torch

April 05, 2018   //  Posted in: Backyard, DIY, Supporting Sponsors   //  By: Emily   //  one response

This post was sponsored by STIHL because they supplied the chainsaw and safety equipment. However, the project is my own and Swedish cut fire logs really are things we make and use at home. I figured it was about time you learned how to make your own too, and am happy STIHL partnered with me on the project!

We’ve been making our own Swedish torches for a few years after having noticed them for sale–in exchange for real money–at local stores. “I have a chainsaw, I can totally make those,” I thought, and that’s how it started. Due to having an inordinate amount of firewood and a family with a healthy appetite for backyard campfires, this firepit accessory is one of the most in-demand products we’ve “manufactured”; can’t stop, won’t stop… starting a campfire has never been so easy.

Honestly, if I have one important tip for you–and it’s not related to product choice or how to make the cuts–is that if you have a tree taken down, ask the crew to leave pieces of the trunk in 2-3′ lengths and recycle those to create your own collection of Swedish logs. If you ask nicely, they might even knock a bit off your bill, since there’s less for them to muscle away. Follow the below tutorial and cut the Swedish torches while the wood is still green, and then let them dry in a sheltered spot until it’s campfire o’clock. One-time burn logs like this are ideal for small fires. They ignite easily and burn from the inside with great air circulation and very little maintenance.

Start by familiarizing yourself with the world of chainsaws. I’ve been a long-time supporter of battery-operated power tools because they’re lightweight, easy-to-use, considerably less intimidating, and you don’t have to futz around with the oil/gas mixtures. The STIHL battery-powered chainsaws perfectly meet those expectations. The product I’m using in this tutorial is the MSA 120 C-BQ which is part of the Lightning Battery System® line of products. With a ¼” STIHL PICCO™ saw chain, it’s marketed as a product that can make 100 cuts on a single charge, depending on the size of the branches and logs you’re powering through. I’m also sporting appropriate protective workwear for my hands, eyes, ears, and legs, and wearing long layers because any amount of chainsawing usually means I’m probably going to be showered in splintery wood chips.

This project is best for those occasions when you have big, unsplit logs, and when the logs have a diameter greater than ~10″.

Turn the log on its end. If there’s any doubt that it won’t be balanced (be wary of very tall logs, or narrower logs) put cinderblocks around the base to help it remain upright and stable.

Turn log on end to cut Swedish torch.

The cuts you make need only to be 3-6″ deep across the diameter of the log. If you put the chainsaw right up against the log, the sharp chain will eat through while you balance the saw – no “sawing” motions necessary with chainsaws, as the blade does all of the work. If the blade doesn’t reach all of the way through the log, switch sides and repeat the cut from the other end so that it’s an even depth.

Rotate your position and cut additional “pizza slices” into the top of the log.

Cut a "pizza pie" into the top of a log to create a Swedish fire log.

There’ll likely be a bit of sawdust in the crevices you cut; don’t make extra efforts to clear the tracks you made because the dust will act as kindling when you’re trying to light the log.

Cut a "pizza pie" into the top of a log to create a Swedish fire log.

Topple the log so that it’s on its side, and cut it down to a 7-10″ log. The few inches of solid wood beneath the “pizza” cuts will increase the length of time your log burns.

Cut your own Swedish Fire Log, called a Swedish Torch.

Once cut, you can tip the log upright again and cut another Swedish log from the wood that remains.

Learn how to cut your own one burn fire log (a.k.a. Swedish torch).

When you’re ready to ignite one of your cut logs and start a campfire, rest the log with cut edges upright. If there’s a lot of sawdust in the cracks, they will catch quickly and the log will immediately begin to burn from within. If you have trouble igniting due to lack of sawdust, form a small pile of kindling on top of the cut log. As the kindling catches and the embers fall down into the cuts of the Swedish log, it will quickly ignite itself, and burn quite evenly from the inside to the outer edges of the log. So cozy, so easy! Stockpile them when the opportunity strikes, and you’ll always be ready to get the fire started.

Learn how to cut your own one burn fire log (a.k.a. Swedish torch).

How to Cut Your Own DIY Swedish Torch a.k.a. Fire Log on

Crafting A Springtime Headband

March 23, 2018   //  Posted in: DIY, For the Kids   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

Spring! That refreshing but awkward period of time between when the ski season ends and the gardening season begins, and there’s really not a lot we can do to speed things along. Seedlings are already started indoors, the garden’s still covered with snow, so what better is there to do than craft? All day. Every day. Yay.

Watercolored and cut flowers to decorate an Easter or Passover or springtime-themed headband.

Searching for the perfect accessory for my daughter’s a new twirly dress, we accessorized a simple headband with handmade watercolor florals and made something that’s surprisingly adorable. Maybe you need something for Passover or Easter–or just need to satisfy a little girl who loves anything rainbow and floral–so try this instead of buying something new, and I think your kid will be really proud to sport their artwork around town.

Start by going all-out with the watercolor paints on a single sheet of paper. Any paper would do, but the watercolor stock has a nice weight to it and makes the headband a little more durable in the long run. Patterns, no patterns, it doesn’t really matter so much as you try to cover all of the white paper with some combination of pretty colors.

Watercolor patterns that will be used to make a rainbow flower paper headband for springtime.

Trim flowers from this painted paper, as well as from solid colored sheets of paper. If your child wants to make their own flowers but maybe you’re being controlling about the shapes and sizes of the blooms, you can offer to sketch the shape of each flower in pencil on the backside of the paper. They can cut along those lines and everyone is happy. Cut out some leaves, too!

Watercolored and cut flowers to decorate an Easter or Passover or springtime-themed headband.

Use hot glue at this point to attach the flowers individually to the headband. Layer the paper a bit for extra volume. If your headband base is a fabric or coated material, the glue will adhere easily and be durable. It dries almost instantly and is set to wear!

Watercolored and cut flowers to decorate an Easter or Passover or springtime-themed headband.

How to make an alternative Easter bonnet: Make this cute, flowery headband.