AQS Vintage: Hole in the Barndoor x3


Back in the Summer of 1985 AQS published its first issue of American Quilter magazine. We invite you to take a look back to when it all began and see how far quilting has come.

Below is the first pattern published in American Quilter magazine, Hole in the Barndoor x 3 by Joe Arnold.

Please note that the pattern has been duplicated here in its original form. While the quilting world has been through many updates, the instructions here reflect the quilting world in the 80’s. Enjoy!

Hole in the Barndoor x 3 designed by Joe Arnold. Interpreted through piecing and quilting by Allison Arnold.

The Hole in the Barndoor x 3 design is divided into four parts: the cubical design, the inner border, the outer border, and the binding. The cubical design is separated into three sections and these sections into panels. The inner border is complete in itself, and the outer border is broken down into border strips. The complete assembly will be given to you in outline form. Follow the graphics for pictorial clarity.

Materials Needed:

Plastic for making templates
3/4 yd background fabric (light solid or print)
1/2 yd each of 3 medium solids (red, green, blue, for example) for main three Hole in the Barndooor designs
1/2 yd each very dark solid or print of these same three colors for darkest shadows
1/2 yd each medium light to medium solids or prints of these three same colors for highlights
29″ x 29″ square batting
29″ x 29″ square backing
Quilting thread to match the darkest fabric of each color group
Betweens needles #9, #10, or #12
1/4″ masking tape
Adjustable square quilting frame
Soft lead pencils, kept very sharp
White pencil, kept very sharp
Download the template patterns here. Be sure to print actual size (100%).

Note: Choose only 100% cotton fabrics. Pay careful attention to all instructions. Take your time and above all have pride in your workmanship. 


A. Fabric Preparations: Wash and dry all fabric; tear off all selvedge ends and press with hot, dry iron.

B. Template Preparation: Lay plastic on top of pattern and trace exactly over pattern lines, duplicating pattern onto plastic. Cut template out of plastic directly on pencil line. You have six template patterns, A through H, plus you will want to cut a reverse template for C, F, G, and H, making a total of 10 templates. Be sure and label all templates. Templates do not include seam allowance (NSA).

C. Marking and Cutting Fabric: Number fabrics as per graphic. Mark fabric and cut out shapes one part at a time. Always mark the wrong side of the fabric and remember to turn all templates over before placing them on wrong side of fabric. Observe arrows on graphics for template placement on fabric. Arrows refer to straight grain of fabric. mark around template with sharp soft lead or white pencil. Make all point lines intersect. Since templates do not include seam allowances, the line you mark is your seam line. Cut fabric shapes out of fabric about 1/4″ outside marked line. Remember, work in one part or section at a time.

Total fabric shapes needed:

Fabric #1:  1 A; 2 E’s; 2 F’s; 2 Fr’s; 1 G; 1 Gr; 1 H; 1 Hr.
Fabric #2:  2 A’s; 2 C’s; 2 Cr’s; 2 D’s.
Fabric #3:  1 A; 2 B’s; 1 D; 1 E.
Fabric #4:  2 B’s; 1 D; 1 E.
Fabric #5:  2 A’s; 2 C’s; 2 Cr’s; 2 D’s.
Fabric #6:  1 A; 2 B’s; 1 D; 1 E.
Fabric #7:  2 B’s; 1 D; 1 E.
Fabric #8:  1 A; 2 B’s; 1 D; 1 E.
Fabric #9:  2 A’s; 2 C’s; 2 Cr’s; 2 D’s.
Fabric #10:  2 B’s; 1 D; 1 E.

D. Piecing: Piece with thread the color of the drakest fabric in the union. Press seam allowances to the darker or more dense fabric.

  1. Outer Border: The outer border is made up of three border strips. You need for vertical sides:

You need for vertical sides:

2 strips 1 1/2″ x 26″ (NSA – no seam allowance) out of blue group;
2 strips 1″ x 23″ (NSA) green group;
2 strips 1/2″ x 21″ (NSA) red group.

For horizontal sides you need:

2 strips 1 1/2″ x 26 1/2″ (NSA) blue group;
2 strips 1″ x 23 1/2″ (NSA) green group;
2 strips 1/2″ x 21 1/2″ (NSA) red group;

Piece two vertical borders and two horizontal borders. Piece in this order: blue to green to red, working from center out in each direction; edges will be uneven.

2. Inner Border: You need two vertical borders 2″ x 20″ (NSA) and two horizontal borders 2″ x 20 1/2″ (NSA) cut out of background fabric. Piece these background borders to red strip of outer border, starting at center and working out in each direction.

Any fabric remaining after border assemblies can be cut up for cubical design.

3. Cubical Design: The cubical design is divided into three sections: top, lower left, and lower right. Mark and cut each section one at a time.

a. Top section (red in example): The top section is divided into three panels. Refer to graphic and assemble the panels. Letter refers to template, number refers to fabric.

Piece the three panels on the top section and then join the three panels together to complete the top section.

b. Lower left section (green in example): The lower left section is divided into two short panels and one long panel. Piece all three panels, then join the two shorter panels as in the graphic. Now piece the lower left side of the top section to the upper side of the lower left section. It is now time to piece the longer panel to the left side of the assembled sections.

Observe piece A at center of the bottom edge of cubical design: this will be pieced in last.

c. Lower right section (blue in example): The lower right section is divided into two short panels and one long section. Piece all three panels then join the two shorter panels as in the graphic. Now piece the lower right side of the top section to the upper side of the lower right section. At this time join the inside seams of the lower left and right sections. Now piece longer panel to right side of assembled sections.

Finally, set in Piece A #1 to center lower edge.

4. Final Assembly: With the cubical design completed and four borders complete, join these borders to the cubical design in this sequence. Measuring from center of the inside seam of the vertical borders, place pin at center point and place pin 8″ to either side of center pin. These pins can be lined up with center and outer points on the vertical sides of the cubical design. Line up these points and stitch the seams together. The horizontal borders can be attached tot he horizontal sides of the cubical design in the same manner. Now miter out the corners of the border.

E. Assembly: Layer the backing (wrong side up), batting, and pressed pieced top. Pin or baste these layers together and pin into frame.

F. Quilting: Experiment with quilting designs by placing 1/4″ masking tape on the top of the wallhanging. Quilt radiating, diagonal, vertical, or a combination fo these types.

G. Bias Binding: Make 10 yards of continuous 1 5/8″ bias binding out of darkest red fabric. Double it and bind quilt.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this pattern. It first appeared in American Quilter Summer 1985.

Interested in receiving American Quilter magazine? Join AQS today!

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Betsey – the link to download the templates isn’t working.

Hi Peggy, The download has been fixed. Thanks for letting me know! Thanks, Betsey

Charleen DiSante

Hi Betsey,
Has AQS updated Hole in Barndoor x3 for today’s quilter? Please direct me to it if you have. Thanks.

Hi Charleen, The Hole in the Barndoor x3 pattern is reproduced here in it’s original form. It is template cut and hand pieced. Enjoy! Thanks, Betsey

Carol Philpott

Any chance of getting copies of the templates for “Hole in the Barndoor” quilt? I could download the directions but not the templates.

Hi Carol, The templates link is fixed. Sorry for the inconvenience. Thanks, Betsey

Gwen Breen

I’m just not clear about the templates….. do these include the quarter inch seam allowances?

Hi Gwen, The templates do not include seam allowances. In the instructions this is referred to as NSA (no seam allowance). This lets you trace the sewing line directly onto the fabric when you trace the template. Thanks, Betsey


Hi Betsey,
I can download the templates but not the fabric requirements or any instructions. Am I doing something wrong or is that the only download possible? Thanks for the help and info.

Hi Elaine, The instructions and fabric requirements are in the blog post. There’s a handy ‘print friendly’ button at the bottom the post for easy printing if you want to save the rest of the instructions. Thanks, Betsey

Quilting Tangent

Thankyou, like the look of the 3D pattern.

Carolyn Lowe

So fun to see this. The Arnolds grew up with my husband and we’re still good friends. I’ve seen the quilt and it’s beautiful!


What size is this wall hanging? Thanks

phyllis malinov

What size is the finished wall hanging? I am having a problem trying to print out the instructions. Am I doing something wrong?

Hi Phyllis, I’m guessing around 23″. Hope that helps. Betsey


Wondering if anyone has English paper pieced this pattern.
I would love to see other versions of this small quilt or block
Thank you for this pattern


Hi sure would like to know if this pattern has been updated for today’s quilter? This one is sure not for me! Lol. Love this


Please tell me where to find the link to download the templates. Thank you.

Hi Daryl, You’ll want to click the link in the pattern. It’s hiding at the bottom of the supply list. Thanks, Betsey