Monday, 13 June 2016

Building Barns Sefton Style.

Seemed like this date was an eternity away when Julie slotted me in for my turn on the Build-A-Barn blog hop but suddenly it's here all up in my face demanding my attention and some time at the computer; mid June already...geez, time flies.

Speaking of time whizzing by, that's how it feels to me when I look back over the last year & a half I spent being part of the Secret Society of Barn Builders. When I got the email from Julie on Christmas Day of 2014 inviting me to come along on this journey it was pretty exciting. (It was also pretty good for my ego but the fact that I wasn't allowed to tell anyone about it kept my head from exploding and my feet on the ground.)

I free pieced two barns for the Build-A-Barn gallery. The first one was modeled after a little fish store in Rose Bay, Nova Scotia and like so many of the old stages and shacks it's gone now. It saddens me to no end to see these old buildings lost to time.

I started with a rough sketch and a fabric pull; even though The Stashpocalypse wasn't even a blip on my fabric hoarding radar back then I was happy to have lots of choices already in my stash to chose from.

Then with help from the design notes Julie sent along for our use I made the windows, door and the body of the building. Then came the roof and the landscape. I thought it needed some granite (this IS Nova Scotia afterall!) and of course some ocean.

When Chris Ballard quilted this one she added in some great for example, the stove pipe chimney I forgot to add during my piecing frenzy but was too lazy to revisit with a seam ripper once I realized it. She did a great job giving life to the piece, the quilting took my design to a whole new level.

The second piece was an imaginative barn, The Purple Post Ranch. I'm not sure if I sketched this one or not, if I did I didn't take a photo of the sketch. A trip to Avonport Discount Fabrics in the Valley yielded some great fresh fabrics to add to my stashed bits for this piece.

The day The Enabler and I went fabric shopping it was a total retail therapy day as I had whacked my index finger a couple days earlier with my rotary cutter making free pieced fishes. I remember gazing at this wintery barn out the window while we were eating lunch thinking it would make a great jumping off place for a snowy farm scene but I couldn't share my thoughts. I had a tonne of fun with the building of this barn...minus the wounded finger, of course. It's ended up a bit of a statement piece, I suppose, in so many ways.

 The tractors came off of some old John Deer fabric that had been kicking around in my stash since Not-So-Little PurpleBoots was a Little Tractor Lovin' PurpleBoots...everything was JD green round here for a  l-o-n-g  time. It turned out to be perfect for this project. I used the cow and tractor inside the barn door on the right side but it was too light really to depict the shadows of a typically dark barn I coloured it with pencil crayons to deepen the shadows, and then heat set it with a hot iron.

The lady in the blue dress driving the giant tractor? Well...what Julie was too polite to tell you in the write up on the books blog was that everytime I looked at her I saw a gutsy, hardworking country girl flipping her finger to the boys in the barn...."Look at me! I can do anything!"  I'm a little like that I guess...gutsy, outspoken, a bit defiant. She resonated with me on some level. If you look carefully at the process pictures you'll see that I did some colour touching up on and around the skyline of her square too...her sky had a yellow tone that wasn't present in the other blues of my sky fabrics so I blended some yellows in here and there as well with my trusty pencils. Hindsight being what it is, I probably could've rubbed in a little more.

And the purple posts? Why not! I don't have to tell any of my regular readers how much I love purple. Way back in my early free piecing adventures I was able to build a Purple Cow so it stands to reason that  somewhere there should be a farm with purple fencing, right?

Oh...and the words? Pretty self explanatory, right? I free pieced those on to complete my social statement before I knew that Julie wanted both barns. In the beginning, I thought I was just sending one barn for the gallery. There is a big movement here in Nova Scotia that is trying to encourage people to support small farms, to think about sustainability and to preserve a way of life.

I decided to applique the Buy Local sign to the side of the barn as it isn't at all uncommon to see big advertising signs and billboards stuck up on otherwise bare walls. I recall memories of driving past a certain barn on the way to Malagash every summer that has a giant sign proclaiming the date for "The Annual Steer Bbq".  I remember looking into the fields wondering which of the beautiful beasts was going to be the unlucky one. The sign is still there, apparently we've not run out of good beef here yet...sustainability is the key!

Chris worked her magic on this piece too. Just look at the stitching to give the gable of the barn some pizazz and the details on the barn doors are just right!

These two hangings, along with the gallery works of all my fellow SSOBB's  are going to hang in at least 3 public shows beginning in the fall: AQS Chattanooga: Sept 14-17, 2016,  AQS Des Moines: Oct 5-8, 2016,  and at the annual Davies Manor Quilt Show in Memphis: Nov 4-6, 2016.

Since I've got the whole week to share my Build-A-Barn adventures with you later in the week I'll show you a couple more projects that were inspired by my SSOBB experience.

Oh...and I almost forgot...
There'll be a signed copy of the Build-A-Barn book to give away so stay tuned!


  1. I really enjoyed watching these barns progress Valerie. They're wonderful/

  2. Brings back memories of Saskatchewan where there was a barn on every farm once upon a rime

  3. I love how you did your blues in your sky very clever.....ty for sharing love it...

  4. Gives me chills! Quilts speak! Awesome job, girlie!

  5. Great work , love both barns !

  6. Great work , love both barns !

  7. you are just so darned talented! Love your wee works of art! If you can believe it I have had a free piecing project on my mind for a couple of months now. May need help getting it out!

  8. Wow Val. You can do anything girl :) BIG HUGS xo

  9. Great work..exciting experience ..enjoy !

  10. You are so amazing! I loved reading these barn stories and seeing your pictures from start to finish. You are great at keeping secrets! Congratulations for creating such stunning and exceptional quilts!

  11. Two great barns. Love hoe you have built the sky and ground from different fabrics.

  12. Oh, wow, Val! These are incredible! Well done!

  13. Did I see that second barn? I love it, I just love it. that lady flipping the guy in the barn off looks vaguely familiar.......

    No need to enter me in the drawing!That word fabric on the second barn is ah-ma-zing....

  14. loved these...thank you for sharing your process........

  15. Terrific post - I need to know more about those pencils (it looked so good I didn't even realize you had done that when I had your quilts here). THANK YOU for sharing your quilts with the world through the SSOBB!

  16. These barns so totally rock. And damn! What an idea about those paint pencils. That's a big D'oh moment for me because I'm an artist and I actually own pencils like that! Thanks for the inspiration that goes round and round.


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