My latest completed quilt is titled Political Circus.
I began making this quilt in February, at my guild retreat. I had begged and saved patriotic scraps for a few months because I knew I wanted to do a large politically themed piece in this election year. I began with two panels based on vintage quilt patterns.
I started playing with various appliques. I knew I wanted to bring in circular shapes to mimic a “three ring circus.” I like the strip pieced melon shapes and used some double wedding ring wedges and some bias strips to echo the same shape.
I also discovered La Passacaglia while looking through various inspirational images. La Passacaglia is a quilt pattern in Willyne Hammerstein’s book Millefiori Quilts. I loved the five pointed star shapes so I taught myself the inklingo method of hand piecing and made one rosette with a few extra shapes.
I knew I wanted a strip along the bottom and one along the top, but wasn’t sure exactly what shape they would take. I also debated whether to make two small quilts, or to put the donkey and elephant back to back on the same quilt.
Because this quilt is so large, I knew I would have to quilt it in parts and join it later with the quilt as you go method. I do almost all my quilting on a domestic machine.
I started thinking about circus tents across the top so the pieced strip got moved to the bottom. I kept moving around the applique elements util I was happy with the balance.
I drafted a pattern for the tent shapes and hand appliqued them on some sky colored fabric. I knew they’d be topped with American flags.
I quilted the four panels separately (donkey, elephant, bottom pieced and circus tents). I joined the two animal panels with a strip down the center. Just to make things extra complicated, I knew I wanted three dimensional tabs below the tents. I had to figure out how to insert those into the seam when I joined the panels.
I added a few more appliqued elements and quite a bit of hand quilting with perle cotton #8 in red, white and blue.
So much hand sewing to finish! Why did I decide to finish this in this hottest part of the summer??
Lastly, I wanted cool labels to document this election year. I was a bit stumped on what to do, and my wonderful husband came up with the perfect idea in three seconds flat ( like he always does).
I made three labels, modeled after vintage circus posters. They are drawn using Tsukineko markers.
This quilt will be on display August 5th through August 25th at Touchstone Gallery in Washington DC. Opening reception is August 5th, 6-8:30pm.