Appalachia's Preservation Patches: East TN Tuff Tales

A chance to share your story of struggle and triumphs--The tough tales that make Elizabethton kids tougher.

East TN Tuff Tales is a storytelling competition amongst ECS students conducted by the Bartleby@TAD program. The students have a chance to share their story while submitting a barn quilt block design that goes with their story. The eight winners will have their barn quilts placed in downtown Elizabethton.


Saturday, November 17, 2018 @ 5 PM

*Submissions due Friday, November 2!


Blue River Studio, 527 East Elk Avenue Suite 1 Elizabethton, Tennessee 37643


  • One Elementary Winner
  • Three Middle Winners
  • Four High Winners
  • This may change based on number of submissions--but there will be one for sure per elementary, middle and high.


Please submit barn quilt designs and stories to Language Arts teacher or directly to Sarah Morris at TAD. Full name, school, and grade must be at the top of all papers turned in.

Your Story:

You may choose any style of storytelling--the more creative the better! Dig deep into how your struggles have had a positive impact on you.

Barn Quilt:

Final dimensions of the barn quilt will be 48"x48". Use a ruler and straight lines to construct a quilt square that holds personal meaning to you. You may google barn quilts and quilt squares for inspiration. Please use plain colors when designing your barn quilt submission.

To create your barn quilt design, carefully use a ruler, make only diagonal, horizontal, and vertical lines. And remember, bring your full creativity with your barn quilt design. Use only solid colors.

Example by Marissa Henry

Marissa Henry wrote "Rissa Gaye Booker" based on Nikki Giovanni's poem "Nikki Rosa", and she has chosen her barn quilt design based on a barn quilt block honoring her father.

Childhood remembrances are always hard to explainIf you're from the hills of Virginia. You always remember things like your daddy coming homeCovered in coal dust,And if you become famous or something,They never talk about how you would squeal, "Dirty! Dirty!"As he chases you through the house, threatening to give you a kiss.And somehow when you talk about homeIt never gets across how much youLove the mountainsAs you run through the soft green grass of your yard, the neighbor's yard,and your grandmother's yardWith your cousins.And even though you rememberYour biographers never understandYour father's humiliation when he was laid off from the minesBecause it's not just what he does, but who he is.They won't understand your pride when you walk out of schoolin support of those men who had lost their jobsand lost their ideas of who they are.And even though you're poor, you never felt poorBecause your parents sacrificed so muchSo you could have and do and be.And though many people think you're uneducated,It isn't their opinion that makes any differenceBut only that you get to grow up in the most beautiful place in the countrySurrounded by family and friends who have known each otherFor generationsAnd everywhere you turnAnd everywhere you play,There is someone who loves you and takes care of you.And I really hope no city person ever has need to write about meBecause they'll never appreciateAll my mountains gave me and they'llProbably just talk about my lost opportunitiesAnd never understand thatAll the while I was blessed beyond measure.


Step 1: Write your story!

Your story can be written in any format you'd like--whatever you feel best narrates your story. Hand write on regular piece of paper or type on word document and print. **Include name and school on all papers!

Step 2: Choose your barn quilt block.

Google "Barn Quilts" if you are having trouble choosing your block. Draw barn quilt design on graph paper--you may use the given flyer's graph or regular graph paper. **Use straight lines, include name and school!

Step 3: Color your barn quilt submission.

Use as many fun, solid colors as you'd like--use colors that are special and significant to your story!

Step 4: Submit your story and barn quilt design.

You may turn in submissions to your Language Arts teacher or directly to Sarah Morris at TAD.

Again, all submissions due Friday, November 2!

Barn Quilt History

Barn quilts began popping up in the early 2000's. People of southern and Appalachian heritage wanted a way to honor their families by displaying quilt blocks that were special to their family (starting with Donna Sue Groves, the quilt trail founder). Quilting is a tradition that runs deep in the hearts of America, and they are nice symbols of love that runs deep through our families. The barn quilt movement is spreading all over the United States and has made its way into Canada.

The Art of Storytelling and Quilting

Laurie Aaron Hird created a book that sampled letters from women in the Great Depression--their stories sampled sad mishaps, joyful memories, and overall happy endings that were honored by their created quilt blocks. Everyone has a story that needs to be heard, and our goal is to let the young adults of Elizabethton SPEAK! while we decorate downtown with classic Appalachian heritage.


If you have any questions of any kind--don't hesitate to ask Sarah Morris for clarification at Morris comes from a long line of quilters all over the south, and she has been quilting for 6 years. The Bartleby@TAD students have helped Morris flood and foster her passion for storytelling and quilting by creating this contest to help make downtown Elizabethton beautiful.

Website design by: Azalea Callahan