Black Barns, Bourbon & Bluegrass Quilt Tutorial

Mar 22, 2022 7:00:00 AM / by Laura Strickland


Kentucky holds a distinctive place in my childhood memories. My dad's people are Kentucky natives. His parents were both reared in Sterns, Kentucky. Ruth Roy, my grandmother, attended college to earn her liberal arts degree at Berea College. The railroad moved Don and Ruth Roy to the coastal edge of Virginia near Norfolk. 


burea college 2

Draper Building at Berea College, courtesy of WKYT


Berea College, in Berea, Kentucky is amazing all on its own. If you have the chance visit their website. At Berea, students are not charged tuition. Most students at Berea College come from families making less than $30,000 annually. All tuition at Berea comes from generous donations and hand-crafted artwork made by the student and sold online. 


burea brooms


The brooms pictured here are just one of the many handcrafted arts offered by the amazing artisans at the college.   

When you travel what is referred to as the "Bourbon Trail" that bisects the rolling hills between Louisville and Lexington, there is a curiosity that you will see along the way. Traditional white horse fencing and traditional red barns give way to black fencing and barns.

Why do Kentuckians have these regal-looking black barns? These were originally tobacco barns. The barns are black because they are painted with creosote. Just like many telephone poles are.


Black barn 2


The creosote performs two tasks on the black barns. First, creosote preserves the wood and inhibits insects and fungi from devouring the wood. Second, the black exterior of the barn heats the interior of the barn more quickly and to higher temperatures than barns of other colors.

These black barns were used to dry tobacco originally, so the hotter the barn the quicker the tobacco dried and the faster your crop would be ready to sell.




These elegant black barns combined with the plethora of distilleries along Kentucky's famous bourbon trail and the signature musical sound picked on banjos, "Tater-bugs," and fret boxes inspired my newest quilt design in my Modern Farmhouse Chic quilt line. Here she is...


Black barns bourbon and bluegrass diagram


Black Barns, Bourbon, & Bluegrass Quilt Design

This quilt pattern was created using AccuQuilt's recently released Block on Board (or BOB) GO! Schoolhouse-Pieced-9" Finished Die #55542 along with several GO! Strip Dies.

This comes together easily with your AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter.

This quilt is made using three different blocks. The black barn block, the bourbon block, and the Bluegrass crossroads block. Let's look at each block.



The Black Barn Quilt Block

Black Barn block layout
black barn photo


The Black Barn Block is created using the GO! Schoolhouse-Pieced-9" Finished Die #55542. In order to create our barns with the barn quilts on the side, you must eliminate Steps 1 and 3 from the instructions that come with your Schoolhouse Die and you will not need to cut those pieces. 

By removing these side windows, it opens up a spot to add any 5" quilt block you desire to incorporate into your design. Instead of completing Steps 1 and 3 of the directions you will substitute the 5" block of your choice for those steps.

Remember, if you do not use those pieces you don't need to cut them either.


Diagram of black barns-1


I designed six blocks to use as barn quilts on your black barns.  These patterns are all foundation paper pieced - since they are small. If you don't like or know how to paper piece, then you can substitute any 5" block you like from any quilting method you enjoy. 


Black barn 4 inch barn quilt


You can use your GO! Qube Mix & Match 4" Block to create any block you desire. You will just add a 1 1/2" X 4 1/2" strip to the right side of the block.  Then a 1 1/2" X 5 1/2" strip to the bottom. I suggest you use black so it looks like the rest of the barn.

I made 11 Black Barn Blocks for my quilt top. So each barn quilt patterns are used more than once. On your quilt, you can use 11 different blocks or even the same block 11 times. 

The opening on the front of the barn I made a golden honey color to coordinate with the center of the bourbon quilt blocks.

In order to make this block fit with the other two blocks, you will need two coping strips of background. The first is added along the left side of the block and should be cut 1 1/2" X 9 1/2". The second coping strip is also background.  It should be added along the top of the block and it should be cut 1 1/2" X 10 1/2".


Black Barn finish


Here are the Foundation Paper Pieced Barn Quilt Blocks I designed to use with the black barns:


Appalachian Lace-1 Appalachian Lace

kentucky colonel




 Kentucky Colonel


kentucky crossroads Kentucky Crossroads

miners lady Miner's Lady

moonshine Moonshine


These blocks and the complete pattern are available on my website Orange Blossom Quilt Design Studio.



The Bourbon Quilt Block

Bourbon Block layout with lines
bourbon block photo


The Bourbon quilt block was created using the GO! Strip Cutter-2" (1 1/2" Finished) and a 4" finished square.


You will need:

  • Four 2" X 4 1/2" pieces subcut from the strip
  • Four 2" x 7 1/2" pieces subcut from the strip
  • Eight 2"  black squares for the corners. 
  • The center square, which is a warm honey shade like bourbon, is cut as a 4 1/2" square

There are four of these blocks in my finished quilt.



The Bluegrass Crossroads Quilt Block

Bluegrass block layout with lines
bluegraa crossroads block photo

The Bluegrass Crossroads is the third and final block used in this quilt. My quilt has a total of 15 of these blocks.

This block can also be created quickly by using two different strip dies. You will need the GO! Strip Cutter 1 1/2" (1" Finished) 5 Strips Die and the GO! Strip Cutter 2 1/2" (2" Finished) 3 Strips Die #55017.


4 patch diagram


The diagonal chains of black are created by four patch units. If you cut a black and a background strip 1 1/2" and create a strip set, then these units come together quickly. The center black square and the additional background between the 4-patch units are all cut with the 2 1/2" strip die.  

Once you have completed your blocks, you are ready to assemble your quilt. The blocks go together in six rows with five blocks each. Here's the diagram to show placement.


Black barns bourbon and bluegrass diagram


This pattern has multiple sizes from a table runner to a queen-size bed quilt. This pattern as a table runner would be the perfect complement to a lovely long farmhouse table. 



Grandma Roy's Kentucky Bread & Butter Pickle Recipe

I want to share something very special with you - my Grandma Roy's pickle recipe.

My Grandma Roy from Stern's Kentucky shaped much of who I am today. She worked as a full-time school teacher. Even in the fifties, when it was very progressive for a married woman with children to work full-time.

She was an accomplished seamstress and a beautiful quilter. She planted and maintained a large and plentiful vegetable garden every summer. She weeded and watered it daily. We would have fresh tomato sandwiches for summer lunches and then sit and snap beans for dinner on her back porch.

She taught me about canning and made use of all her garden's produce at the end of each summer. The recipe I loved making the most is the one I still love to make. Ruth Roy made the best Bread and Butter Pickles. She canned them in tall quilted Ball Mason Jars and brought them out for every meal. 


carnival glass chicken


A pickle dish of those famous bread and butter pickles placed on this table runner on my kitchen table this year will instantly take me back to those carefree days. I will go back to the summers of the 1970's - happily enjoying a backyard garden off Bennett's Pasture Road.

I may even bring out that Carnival Glass sugar bowl I inherited. The one shaped like a chicken that always held a place of prominence on Grandma Roy's kitchen table.

Thank you, Grandma, for shaping me into the woman I am today. 



Grandma Roy's Bread and Butter Pickles


bread and butter pickles

3 pounds of pickling cucumbers (cut into slices, discard the ends)

1 pound of sweet onions (sliced thin)

1/4 cup of canning/pickling salt (Do NOT use table salt)

Approximately 2 quarts of water with ice cubes

1 cup White Sugar

1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Yellow Mustard Seed

1 teaspoon Celery Seed

1 teaspoon Ground Turmeric

3/4 teaspoon Black Peppercorns

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon whole cloves plus a pinch of ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (Skip if you want less spice)

3 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar (5% Acidity)


Slice the cucumbers discarding the ends.  Add finely sliced onions to the cucumber.  Sprinkle pickling/canning salt over the vegetables.  Add the ice water to the bowl.  Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator for 3 hours.

Bring the vegetables out from the refrigerator and drain the brining liquid. Rinse the vegetable before continuing.

Combine the vinegar and sugars in a saucepan add the spices. Bring just to a boil. Fish out the garlic clove.

Add the prepared cucumbers and onions to the saucepot. Reduce the heat but keep warm as you fill your jars. 

Prepare your jars in a hot water bath. Remove one jar at a time. Fill and seal the jar leaving 1/2 headspace. Tighten ring to fingertip tight.

Return filled jar to the canner. Once all jars are filled and in the canner. Add water to the canner so the water level is 2" higher than the jar lids. Bring to a boil. Boil in canner with lid for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off the burner and remove the lid. Let canner stand open for about 5 minutes.  

Remove jars from the canner and place them on a towel to seal. Leave the jars upright and do not touch them for 24 hours or at least overnight.

Remove the rings wash the jars and label. Yield about 5 pints.


black barn


If you make your own version of this tutorial, please share the photo on social media using the hashtag #AccuQuiltBuilt and don't forget to tag @orangeblossomquilt and @AccuQuilt so we can see your fun creation!

Topics: Tutorials, Quilting Stories

Laura Strickland

Written by Laura Strickland

Search Posts