How to Make a Wood Barn Quilt Block (+Free Laser Pattern!)

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When we got new floors in our house, I had to clean EVERYTHING out of my craft room and then put it all painstakingly back over the course of a month. 

This gave me a lot of time to paint my room, dream of new organizational ideas, and visualize a more inspiring space. 

One new decor piece I really wanted to incorporate in said space was a small wood barn quilt for the wall. No, I didn’t put my block on the side of a barn—I live in the burbs, after all—but it looks amazing on the wall of my room, incorporating all the colors that I painted my walls and doors. 

Thanks to my handy laser cutter, this project was SO easy. It was cut and painted with its first coat in less than 30 minutes.

Here’s how to make a wood barn quilt block!

how to make a barn quilt

Ways to Craft a Wooden Quilt Block

The easiest way to create this type of quilt block is to take a big piece of wood, tape off sections, and then paint it. However, I don’t like the flat look of painted quilt blocks. I preferred to cut my pieces so there would be points where wood pieces came together, like in an actual quilt where fabric pieces merge. 

If you have all the fancy schmancy wood tools and a workshop, you can hand cut the squares, triangles, and other shapes with the right saw. 

However, laser cutting wood is so easy for accuracy’s sake, and it becomes especially helpful if you’re creating a barn quilt block with curved lines—like a Drunkard’s Path block. Simply upload the block and its shapes to a vector graphics program, and load them into your laser software to cut. 

*To note, lasers beams are finite in size, so your pieces will have minuscule gaps between them and will need to be arranged just so at intersections.

Supplies I Used

  1. Laser cutting machine: I used an XTool S1, a diode laser with a nice-sized bed.
  2. Cutting file: I created mine in XTool Creative Space, and you can download it below.
  3. Wood: For this inside decor, I used 3mm basswood plywood–one 12″x 12″ piece for the backing and one 12″x 12″ piece for the block pieces. For outside barn quilts, use thicker wood. 
  4. Paint: I used interior paint + primer from my craft room since this would be an interior project. If you want to put your quilt block outside, use an appropriate exterior paint or sealer.
  5. Masking (optional, and I didn’t use it because I planned to paint over the surface anyway.)
  6. Honeycomb panel (also optional)
  7. Air Assist is helpful, but not necessary, if you don’t mind the extra smells since you’ll be painting over any charred edges.

Using Software for Barn Quilt Block Design Ideas (+ FREE File)

If you have a PDF file of your desired quilt block, it’s easy to turn it into a laser-cutting file. It’s even easier if you already have an SVG file!

can create simple shapes in xcs

Now, I used Electric Quilt 8 to get ideas for my favorite blocks. (They have thousands of possibilities!) I ended up choosing a classic 9-patch Ohio Star block.

colored quilt block

I was also able to trial different color combinations for each block piece using the software.

export design in EQ8

Once you find a block you like, print the block template and export it as a PDF to your computer. 

ohio 9 star black in inkscape

Then, you can import the PDF into Inkscape (free) or your favorite SVG creation software. Click to Trace Bitmap, and then save the result as an SVG file. 

You can then open this SVG file in any laser cutting software. Just double-check that no areas will get two cuts, as that’s a waste of laser time. 

adding frame in xcs

I opened my SVG file in XTool Creative Space and then also created an extra square for the backing of the barn quilt and then four frame “sides” if I decided I wanted to add a frame rather than use the excess of the 12″ block as a natural frame. 

If you want the XCS file (for XTool Creative Space), you can download mine here. (Unzip before uploading!)

  • When cutting, cut Layer 1 first, ignoring Layer 2. Make sure the lines are set to Cut.
  • If you want a backing and frame, cut Layer 2 while ignoring Layer 1. 
  • You can also score the base wood to make assembly easier later. To do this, duplicate the quilt block and set that to Score on the backing layer. 

For my file: I wanted to use my 12″x 12″ 3mm basswood plywood sheets, so I shrunk the quilt block to roughly 11″x 11″ so there would be a built-in 1/2″ border on each side. I also used an uncut 12″x 12″ piece for the backing.

can create simple shapes in xcs

If you want your wooden quilt block to be larger than the bed of your laser, instead of having the laser cut the entire block at once, create the shapes you need for your block and duplicate them as many times as needed. 

How to Make a Wood Barn Quilt

These instructions are specific to my XTool S1 20W; however, you can use these general steps with any laser cutter, such as a Glowforge. 

Step 1: Prepare the File

First, load your file into XTool Creative Space, and decide how you want to cut the pieces. 

Step 2: Place Wood and Fine Tune Settings

Next, place the wood on the honeycomb panel inside your laser. Use the distance button to measure the distance from the laser to the wood surface. 

getting the right settings in xtool creative space

Then, I set the material to 3mm basswood plywood. The exact settings I used for my 20W layer were:

  • 100% power
  • 10 mm/s speed
  • 1 pass

Step 3: Mark and Preview

mark the area

After that, mark the processing area of the wood as a rectangle. 

finish marking

When the processing area appears on your workspace, move the barn quilt pattern centered precisely over the 12″ square so you can have a built-in frame if you’d like. 

Next, preview the framing to make sure you didn’t bugger up anything.

Step 4: Cut the Plywood

Process the cut file, and begin cutting, taking all necessary safety precautions. I used my Air Assist set at max when cutting the wood. 

As you can see, the outside of the wood served as a natural frame, which I kept. 

Step 5: Paint the Block

my painted ohio star barn quilt!

After cutting, I sanded the pieces lightly and then painted them with two coats of the same paint that I used in my craft room. (They were paint and primer in one.) I took the border frame outside and sprayed it with three coats of Minwax Polyurethane in Warm Satin. 

I later glued all the pieces onto a blank piece of 12″ 3mm wood and added a hanger to the back so I could put it on my wall. 

 

Overall, this was such an EASY laser project that I think I might actually scale it to create a larger wood quilt block and put it on our small shed out back!

Interested in lasers and sewing? Check out these fun posts: engraving sewing scissors with a laser and cutting custom acrylic buttons!

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