Few things are more American than quilting. And having grown up in the South, I can appreciate a good quilt. From sick days at home to movie nights on the lawn, quilts were my blanket of choice. I saw my grandmother make a fair share of quilts and the amount of craftsmanship that goes into each always amazed me. My mom recently took a series of quilting classes while visiting us in Tennessee and I got to see first hand how much goes into making one of them.
When we moved to Tennessee, Uhaul in tow, we stopped at a rest area right on the border with Georgia. I only had the intention of using the restroom but in typical rest area fashion the brochures caught my eye. That was the moment I discovered that there is an Appalachian Quilt Trail. What I originally thought was a quilting only arts and crafts adventure is actually a trip through Tennessee’s rural communities.
On the Quilt Trails
Like any Tennessee Trail, the Tennessee Quilt Trails follow picturesque scenes that wind in and out of small towns. As you make your way down Tennessee’s rural roads you travel closer to that hometown feel welcoming you to explore, the kind of feeling you get when you drink a big glass of sweet tea on a hot summer day as you sit on a porch and rock in a chair. As you enjoy the scenic drives a unique display of local history comes into focus in the form of painted quilt blocks on historic barns and buildings. You are transported into old family photo albums with each turn and you get a glimpse into family life on the farm.
Locals have painted the beautiful quilt blocks on these historic and beautiful barns throughout the region, notating points of interest in the form of local fabric shops, country stores, antique shops, galleries, quaint and delicious local eateries, and historical landmarks. Each quilt pattern is replicating that farm’s most treasured family quilt! If you ask Tim what the Hames Family quilt square would be, he would tell you about the 4 quilts I have of “ladies in funny hats” more commonly known as a Dutch Girl quilt.
Nostalgic Roads and Everything I Love on the Tennessee Quilt Trails
There are a number of quilt trails all over Tennessee and across the country but they all have on thing in common – the nostalgic feel of something you love gone but not yet forgotten. These back roads take you not only to a destination but a time and a feeling where things were simple, life was made from the land, and you knew your neighbors. The quilt trials are a trip back in time with a unique view of local history showcasing the best parts of rural American life, one painted quilt square at a time.
As you discover new flavors and towns, the pleasantries of the past are more exciting to discover. Suddenly, your lack of cellphone reception is more quaint that it is annoying. We’ve seen many beautiful old barns in fields peppered across the landscape, found some wonderful antique shops along the way, and discovered that on the quilt trails of America the destination is just as important as the journey.