The most easterly Barn Quilt on North Carolina’s Quilt Trail is on the Pack House barn at Big Mill B&B in Williamston, NC. I just love it!
I used to go to Quilting Bees with my mother when I was a child. I would play under the quilt all by myself. There were no other children.
The ladies made such beautiful works of art. Mother would sew the pieces of fabric together and let me help. When it was all pieced together, we put it in the frame along with the backing and the batting. Then Mother’s friends would come for several days until the quilt was quilted. My father used to make cotton and wool batts for his mother to quilt. I wish I had gotten him to show me how.
In 1976, everyone had caught Bicentennial Fever and felt patriotic so Mother (also named Chloe) made a quilt of red, white and blue. Usually she just used scraps – scrap quilts are actually my favorites. But this time, she bought the fabric so that she could have just the right colors.
When I first read about the American Barn Quilt Trail, I knew a barn quilt would be perfect here on the farm. I have the perfect barn, a Pack House Barn that my father built in 1935 to house the mules and store carts, wagons and corn. Today, it is part of Big Mill Bed & Breakfast and the perfect home for my Barn Quilt.
Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail project started in Ohio in 2001 when Donna Sue Graves painted a quilt square on her family’s barn to pay homage to her mother, a quilter. The American Barn Quilt movement has become the fastest growing grassroots public arts project in the USA and Canada in history. When I heard about this project, I assumed I’d have to paint it myself. And it would take me forever.
Then I heard about the Tar River Quilt Trail that is part of the Franklin, NC Arts Council. Charles Powell is a driving force of this project. I had to pick a pattern that no one else on the Trail had. Then the folks at the Arts Council made the boxes for the quilt and Charles drew off the pattern.
These boards were primed with special paint and sent to Kim Young to paint. So much work goes into these quilts before they are mounted on the barn! All these folks are volunteers and they do an amazing job.
I visited Kim Young to see my quilt being painted. Now, the Big Mill Quilt in Williamston is part of the Tar River Quilt Trail and is the most easterly of the NC Barn Quilts. The Greenville Daily Reflector wrote about it. Be sure to view the photo gallery. Unfortunately, you have to be a paid subscriber to read the whole article, but I was delighted to see interest from the media in this wonderful NC cultural arts and heritage project.
Quilts are made up of squares and the quilts on the barns and other buildings across the USA are replicas of these squares. They can be all sizes – the one at Big Mill Bed & Breakfast is 8 feet by 8 feet. It was painted on 4 foot square plywood blocks and then mounted on the barn.
The American Quilt Trail has spread to 48 states and one of the largest concentration is right here in North Carolina – with most of the barn quilts being in the mountains. So far the quilt at Big Mill B&B in Williamston is the most easterly one in North Carolina.
The Tar River runs through 16 counties and Martin county is one of them. Actually, the Tar River runs all the way to Dare and Hyde Counties in the Outer Banks — I had no clue!
Folks can get maps of the different Quilt Trails in different states and as they travel, they can detour and see all the quilts and read the stories. What a great way to travel.
Be sure to take Big Mill Road off US Highway 17 and come see Miss Chloe’s LaMoyne Star on the barn at the old home place at Big Mill Bed & Breakfast.
FOR MORE INFORMATION about the Tar River Quilt Trail or to get your own Barn Quilt contact the Franklin County Arts Council.
DISTANCES from the BIG MILL B&B BARN QUILT:
90 miles east of Raleigh, NC
103 miles south of Norfolk, VA
94 miles west of Nags Head, NC
145 miles north of Wilmington, NC