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Quilters Love His Metal Barn Quilts
One of the most popular items sold at recent quilt shows has nothing to do with sewing. But Mark Fitzgerald’s metal barn quilts capture the fancy of quilters who proudly display them to tell the world that, “A quilter lives here”.
  “It had to be divine inspiration,” Fitzgerald says of the idea. He had no experience with quilters in his family. But when he visited the shop of a friend, who had a laser metal cutter, he recognized an opportunity to come up with something different than the animals and silhouettes that are so common. Barn quilts came to mind. He designed one and had his friend make it out of steel. When Fitzgerald, who was working at an advertising agency, showed it to a quilter he worked with, she loved it. He had more made and sold a few locally.
  The real test came when he attended a major quilt show in Madison, Wis.
  The quilters loved the metal barn quilts, and he had the same experience at a couple more big shows. Fitzgerald quit his job and started designing full time for his Classic Metal Company in Mendota, Ill. His friend, Ted Wright, makes them in his shop.
  “Early on, quilters asked me where they are made,” Fitzgerald notes. “They like that they’re made in the U.S.”
  The metal barn quilts are powder-coated, 14-gauge steel and come in black, navy, dark red, hunter green and white. They come in 1-ft. ($29), 2-ft. ($59), 3-ft. ($119) and 4-ft. ($175) sizes. The smaller sizes make them versatile to hang inside or outside on walls, fences, etc. Some quilting business owners use them to advertise. Other customers buy several to group together to create a metal quilt.
  “I stick with classic quilt patterns,” Fitzgerald says, including the Ohio Star, Dutch Rose, Bear’s Paw, Lone Star and Sister’s Choice.
  “The most popular pattern is the Mariner’s Compass. Both men and women identify with that pattern. Also, they like the Americana star, especially with sons and daughters in the military,” Fitzgerald says.
  He adds that the Mariner’s Compass was difficult to design, and he almost gave up on it. Designs require drawing the pieces that fall out of the metal, so he needs to think in reverse and to make sure the pattern will look good in one color.
  As he approaches the anniversary of his first big show, Fitzgerald is adding other items featuring barn quilt designs, such as napkin holders. He sells his items at large quilt shows throughout the country and on his business’s website.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Classic Metal Company, 115 16th St., Mendota, Ill. 61342 (ph 815 252-0104; www.classicmetalcompany.com).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #6