Come and Visit Our Barn!

Who is behind Gray Barn Designs?

Gray Barn Designs is the brainchild of sisters Cindy (Ohio) and Sandy (NY)!  We are two (of four) sisters who grew up on a dairy farm in Western New York in the 1960’s and 70’s.  Our logo is a caricature of the gray barns on our family farm.

We grew up working hard at milking cows, delivering calves, slinging hay bales and picking rocks from the fields. We also rambled through the woods, picking lots of blackberries, raspberries, wild strawberries and making play houses with glacial rock formations, sticks, AND an abandoned chicken coop (which required the task of “cleaning” the coop, if you know what we mean!).

We spent long summer days outside snacking on bacon, lettuce, tomato, on white bread sandwiches, slathered with mayo and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  We also drank gallons of Kool-Aid from colorful aluminum cups and played on rope tree swings that hung from a giant maple tree.


Family legend has it that when our great-great grandfather bought the farm, this tree was big enough for our then 11-year-old great grandmother to have a swing in it. This old tree has hosted a lot of little girls and their dreams!

When the cold winter wind was blowing across the hilltop, we slept under quilts made by our Grandmother, Great Grandmother and Great-Great Grandmother.

Cindy received a toy sewing machine for Christmas when she was about 8 years old. The same year Sandy received a carpenter’s toolbox. So, you see, Cindy had a head start on her quilting life…but she is the older sister!  Sandy began quilting in 2014 after some encouragement from her childhood friend and quilt-pusher/mentor.


Cindy and Sandy learned to sew on this circa 1957 machine!

After college, we all moved away from the farm, but it is still in our hearts and forms the foundation of our identities.  We think that it makes us hard workers, good friends and excellent hired hands.

Sandy now lives near the farm where our parents still hold court, so the blog frequently includes scenes and stories from this magical place (stay tuned on Thursday for some video of our foxcam outside a den on the farm!).

Quilt pattern making is our passion. We love modern quilts and scrappy quilts especially. Sandy likes to challenge herself to create paper-pieced designs, check out her patterns on our “Free Patterns” page.

Sandy’s recent design is Drops of Rainbow_GBD .  It’s a rainbow scrappy , stash-busting,  joyful quilt that begs to go outside for a porch swing or a picnic!


Cindy designed one of Fave Quilt’s most downloaded patterns of 2017 – Garden Gate Charm Quilt. Another pre-cut focused quilt designed by Cindy, 36 Charm Street, is also extremely popular. Our dream is to write our own quilt pattern book as the next step in our creative journey.


It’s week #4 for the New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop!

Image uploaded from iOS

Now that you’ve been introduced to Gray Barn Designs, please stop to visit the sites listed below to meet our fellow blog hoppers!  We have some very generous sponsors for this blog hop week – don’t miss a chance to register for a chance to win a prize.  You can register by stopping by Beth’s at Cooking Up Quilts 



Cherie B.





111 thoughts on “Come and Visit Our Barn!

  1. Lisa Marie says:

    So glad I found your blog on the hop! I love that Drops of Rainbow quilt and your logo is fabulous!

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Thank you, Lisa Marie! We are very happy with our logo AND very happy you found us! If you make a Drops of Rainbow, please share pics with us, we’d love to see your version!

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      We could probably swap a few good stories about farm life! It wasn’t always glamorous, but it made us who we are today. I do miss the country life now that I am a “city girl”.

  2. tlcquiltsblog says:

    Nice to meet you Cindy and Sandy
    My cousins grew up on a farm much like you describe. I spent time there in the summers helping with the haying and just enjoying the country. Your recollection of your childhood took me back…thank you.
    I am looking forward to exploring your patterns.
    Thanks for sharing

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Glad we were able to stir up some farm memories for you. We hope you enjoy a pattern or two!

  3. Cocoa Quilts says:

    Girls I love the story of your logo. I imagine it is great to be a team, to be able to bounce ideas between and someone to keep you from making that awful fabric choice. Look forward to following along on your journey.

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      It is fun to be a team! We are always texting photos back and forth as well as ideas for changing out colors, etc. Many an awful fabric choice has been averted by a simple text message!

  4. Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts says:

    It was so fun to read this post Cindy! When you talked about drinking Kool-Aid out of metal cups I knew exactly what you meant because we did the same thing. Our sandwiches were egg sandwiches on white bread with mayo since we had so many chickens. It was my job to take care of them and I have to say it was the one job on our mini farm that I hated! But I sure liked those eggs. LOL Thank you for participating in the NQBBH this year, and I wish you lots of success with your pattern writing goals!

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Thanks, Beth! My favorite cup was fuchsia and my favorite Kool-Aid is lime green! Cleaning up after chickens, not too much fun, I’ll bet you have some great stories! We are very much enjoying the NQBBH!

  5. piecefulwendy says:

    I didn’t grow up on a farm, but in a very small town in South Dakota, so your childhood memories bring back quite a few memories to me. Interesting to read your background stories. Why did Sandy get a carpenter’s toolbox? I’m just curious if that was a tradition or what. You have some good goals to look forward to!

    • sandradny says:

      Wendy — I think I got a carpenter’s toolbox because I was the son my father never had . I was the biggest and the strongest and the not so delicate one. I’m not sure anything has changed hee-hee! I want to hear more about South Dakota.

      • piecefulwendy says:

        Very small town in SDak. One (short) paved road through town. We didn’t get street signs until after I had left and was married. I never even knew our streets had names. Haha. Population was about 123. Seriously.

      • Gray Barn Designs says:

        Oh my! We did have street signs in “town”. My high school graduating class had 24 students…a rather large class!

      • piecefulwendy says:

        Yes, we had a few of those “large” classes around my area. I actually started school in a country school (in our town), and my first five grades were just my second cousin and I. Then the school closed and I went to a class of 144. It was not an easy transition, but I survived.

      • sandradny says:

        Wendy — You are right — a class of two is very small. What a privilege to get such focused attention in your formative years! Small towns are the best, aren’t they?

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Santa brought Sandy a toolbox because she wanted one…it’s not really a tradition or anything like that. Santa was always good about bringing us exactly what we asked for (within reason, that is!) One year, we were playing around in the barn and “accidentally” found our Christmas gifts in the bin of the combine! Hah! Great spot to hide gifts until we got big enough to climb around the machinery!

  6. RicefordStreams says:

    Cindy and Sandy, I loved reading about your childhood on the farm, especially since it closely resembled mine. Thank you for sharing your quilting talents with your readers, and I hope you enjoy your week with the NQBBH.

  7. kaholly says:

    What a delightful, well written introduction! I enjoyed learning all about Gray Barn Designs and the makers behind its success!

  8. rl2b2017 says:

    Hi Sandy and Cindy! I have been waiting and waiting to read your introduction and story. I love it. My childhood was similar except for the darn tree swing – mine was attached to a garage until it was sided and then that was the end of the swing. I LOVE your new pattern as you know since I’m planning on featuring it very soon. Oh, that old sewing machine – it brings back such happy memories, doesn’t it?! {{Hugs}} I’m so glad you both decided to join in the NQBBH this year and that I got a chance to meet and know you better.
    ~smile~ Roseanne

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Hi Roseanne! We did enjoy writing our story BUT so sorry to hear about the demise of your swing! Thank you for featuring our pattern, Sandy worked on that quilt for a long time and it really shows her skills! I am the lucky owner of the “green machine”…I would never trade it for anything…it still works AND has great attachments that are all metal…no chance of breaking them!

      • rl2b2017 says:

        Aww Cindy, that is the same with my first machine from Sears. Cams are all metal and they don’t even rust!! ~smile~ Roseanne

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Thanks, Sue! We worked pretty hard but it sure built character! Now about bacon, many have said it should be its own food group and I totally agree! Tonight, we are having BLTs with avocado for a sandwich update!

  9. Tami Von Zalez says:

    How wonderful there is a quilting background in your family. I only have a distant relative that I never met was a quilter, other than that – I’m rogue.

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Dear Tami the Rogue, maybe there really isn’t a quilting gene as much as there is a creative spirit! Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Quilt Schmilt says:

    I’ve been following your blood g for a while and have to say that I’ve added some of your patterns to my St Make list! I love the Drops of Rainbow quilt and now know what I am going to use those leaders and Enders for!

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Thanks, Quilt Schmilt! I just love Sandy’s idea about using leaders and enders for such a beautiful quilt…I need to get started on my Drops of Rainbow!

  11. Jayne P says:

    My first sewing machine is now 30 years old and it still works so I would never part with it. It was lovely to read about your childhood memories

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Glad you enjoyed our post! It’s nice you still have your first machine. I still have the machine my parents gave me for my high school graduation. I’m like you, I will never part with it!

  12. cheriec12 says:

    I will never forget the colorful aluminum cups my Grandma had. She would make root beer from extract and it would always be so cold when she put it on ice. Thanks for reminding me of a wonderful memory.

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Ice cold, home made root beer sounds divine! If I still had one of those cups, I think I would use it for a flower vase and smile every time I looked at it!

  13. Peg Miller says:

    Love those scrappy quilts; I will be trying out some of your patterns as I have 2 closets full of fabric mostly 1/2 yd pieces– we won’t go in to the bags of scraps! I didn’t grow up on a farm but the BLTs on white bread and Kool-Aid were definitely a big part of our childhood. I am the oldest of nine-two sisters ( one is a fantastic guilter who lives in CA) and six brothers.

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Peg, so glad we could stir up good memories for you! It’s great that you have a big family, especially with all those brothers! We can’t imagine what we would have done with a brother…probably pick on him all the time! So nice that your sister is a quilter, too…it sounds like it runs in the family? When you give our patterns a try, don’t forget to send pictures, we would love to see them!

  14. Janet T says:

    Beautiful tree! You could write a book of the stories that tree could tell. Love the scrapbuster quilt. Very colorful.

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Well, let’s just say it’s a good thing that tree can’t talk, hahaha! Glad you like the quilt! I think Sandy should make one for me….Sandy are you reading this now? It’s not too early to think about Christmas!

  15. Barb K. says:

    Enjoyed your blog very much–I grew up with two sisters and one brother on a ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska–lots of fun memories like yours.

  16. mspdesignsusa says:

    Hi Cindy and Sandy,

    Thanks for sharing! Just like you, we’re a sister design team and we also grew up on a farm (ours was a beef cattle farm in Western Montana), so I understand where your roots are planted.

    I’ve enjoyed “meeting” you, and hope to see you around the ‘net again soon!

    Happy quilting,

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Aren’t sister design teams great? Yes, we’ll be “talking” to you in the future, I am sure!

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Thank you! We had a lot of fun writing the post but we had so much material…we had to work hard at editing.

  17. Brenda Ackerman says:

    Growing up in a small farming community in Wyoming, my family has a whole lot of stories to tell about growing up on farms. But, I was not that lucky. I really enjoyed your post and look forward to reading more. Plus, seeing more of your quilts. Thanks for sharing and have a great day!

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Brenda, so glad you enjoyed our post! Through this blog, we have met so many quilters from across the U.S., it’s been a lot of fun.

  18. Sparkle On with Abbie says:

    I so enjoyed reading your post! The way you describe your childhoods, I felt like I was there! I can taste that BLT now 😋I often wish my sister would get the quilting bug so we could be a quilting duo. It’s neat you and Sandy have that, it’s in your genes! Sandy’s quilt is gorgeous and congratulations to you Cindy for your most downloaded Fave Quilts pattern 🎉
    It was a pleasure following both your paths and journey and seeing the beautiful photos in this post.

  19. Christi says:

    I’m guessing that tree has seen a lot of first kisses and lemonade too. Wonderful patterns.

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Glad you like our patterns, Christi! Shhhhh, it’s really a good thing that trees can’t talk!

  20. laughinggasquilts says:

    Your quilts are lovely. The scrappy rainbow is lovely, but the border on those charm squares is terrific too. You clearly have a talent for making new designs; keep up the good work. And thanks for sharing your story.

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Thank you! I think that Sandy is secretly making a Drops of Rainbow quilt for me for Christmas. Sandy, are you out there? I know what you’re up to!

  21. Christine says:

    I like the background childhood story included in the introduction. I look forward to seeing more of you in the blog world.

  22. Rochelle says:

    Such beautiful quilts and a charming background of growing up on a farm. The combination of hard work and creating your own fun (minus TV) is the best.

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Thanks for visiting our blog! We did have fun and we worked hard…it was fun to write about it! We have so many stories!

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Thanks, Nancy! It has been a fun blog hop! It’s nice to hear about all the other “farm girl” quilters out there!

  23. says:

    What fun memories you have of your farm and also being able to create together with your sister. All the best for you book.

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Thanks, we do have fun creating together even though we are miles apart. We are always bouncing ideas via text messages.

  24. Tracy @ It's a T-Sweets Day! says:

    My heart is touched by the picture of the swing in the tree❤️. I can just picture that tree being he tree from the book The Giving Tree! What wonderful memories:). Thank you for sharing them with us:)❤️❤️

    • sandradny says:

      Tracy: That tree is battered but still standing. When it’s gone it will leave a huge hole in our hearts. Thanks for reading our blog!

    • sandradny says:

      It was a very special time, although I’m certain that we didn’t appreciate it then! Thanks for visiting!

  25. Angela J Short says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful day!! angielovesgary2 atgmail dotcom

  26. Jean McKinstry says:

    Lovely to meet you. I grew up on a small dairy farm, and also helped with milking, hay making, feeding out silage, and more,My mother’s Mum, and my Mum were both sewers, my Mum a dressmaker, so the stitching genes are well and truly in my blood.But now for me quilting has taken over sewing dresses, trousers, school uniforms and all else. Recently our younger daughter was married, at 53, for the first time, she had part of my Mum’s wedding gown ( 1937) for the underslip, and the Chantilly lace from mine ( 1962) as the over skirt. I cannot say in words how proud and thrilled I was. Your Rainbow colours and design is amazing. I hope it is used and admired often.

    • sandradny says:

      Jean — it sounds like we have a lot of growing up in common — except for the family of sewist. My mom had the talent but, she’ll tell you, not the patience for fine work (trained as a nurse, she is an engineer at heart). I would love to see that wedding dress!

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      Jean, So nice to meet you as well! What a special wedding for your family, especially because you were able to share your family’s sewing heritage through your daughter’s wedding gown! Drops of Rainbow is such a beautiful quilt and I know Sandy uses it every day. It’s on the couch and great for snuggling up to relax. We hope your sewing journey brings you back to quilting…when the time is right for you

  27. StoriedQuilts says:

    Thank you for the beautiful story. I feel a wave of nostalgia when I read about living in the open country, a farm and a barn, though I’ve never lived in one. I love your artistic logo and the scrappy rainbow pattern – I can make a few of those from my stash!

    • sandradny says:

      We feel very lucky that we had the full-on barn experience! Thanks for the kind remarks. Thanks for stopping by!

  28. Melody Lutz says:

    Your post was so enjoyed! It brought back fun memories of visiting my aunts farm as a child, the train whistle telling us Uncle Kenny was on his way thru the fields, cows, rabbits, chickens. And their 2 dachshunds that seem to run the whole place! Thanks so much for sharing today.

  29. Kathy C. says:

    I always thought I’d want to live on a farm, but I’m pretty happy in suburbia, in the middle of a metropark system. Enjoy!

  30. Janice Holton says:

    Very fun reading this blog post and “meeting” you! Would you believe I saw an aluminum pitcher and cups in an antique store and bought them just HAD to have them! The colors are so fun and bring back lots of good memories. I should use them in a quilt photo sometime! Or maybe make a quilt using those colors as inspiration. Hmm! You gave me an idea!

    • Gray Barn Designs says:

      So happy to hear we inspired you, Janice! We’d love to see the cups and pitcher in a quilt photo! Don’t forget to make Kool-aid …lime green is my favorite!

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