Big Top Quilt Block

When was the last time you went to the circus?

Switzerland had a number of travelling circuses when I was growing up, so we went almost every year to see a show when the circus was in town. But after about high school or so, I hadn't gone in years until my mum surprised us with tickets to a show last year when we were back for a visit. It was so much fun being back in the tent and watching all the daring feats, acrobatics and, of course, the funny interludes. This particular circus didn't have clowns but had engaged a well-known Swiss comedy duo, who were perfect for the show.

So, have you ever been inside a big top? Either way, we're taking you on a tour of the circus this month with Quilt Block Mania. There are tents, popcorn and treats, animals, artists, and clowns in all the free blocks this month, so you can make your own travelling circus show on a quilt.

Big Top Circus Tent FPP Quilt block Pattern by Penny Spool Quilts

The Big Top quilt block is a fun and pretty simple FPP block. I decided to go with the traditional red and white stripes, but feel free to customize the colours to suit whatever theme you're going for. I remember one circus from when I was a kid that had a navy and gold striped tent. 

Foundation paper piecing

The Big Top quilt block is a foundation paper pieced pattern that's suitable for beginners with a little bit of experience. The pattern itself doesn't explain the technique, though, so if you're new to foundation paper piecing and want to use this opportunity to give it a go, I wrote an FPP tutorial for the Clover blog to help you get started with this fun technique. It's a full photo tutorial and comes with a free, simple pine tree block to make.

If you've done FPP in the past but maybe just need to gain a little more quilty confidence, I have a few patterns in the shop that make perfect starter blocks to warm up with before diving into some of the more complicated blocks. Check out the Twisted Log Cabin, Popsicle, and Ice Cream Bar blocks to dip your toes in, or the Festive Forest table runner.

Resizing the quilt block

The pattern includes full size templates for a 12" x 12" quilt block. However, if you'd like to resize the block, pop over to this tutorial where I teach you how to do that easily on your own printer or on a photocopier. 

Circus tent Big Top FPP quilt block pattern by Penny Spool Quilts - digital mockup of red and white striped circus tent on green grass with blue sky

Get the Big Top block

The Big Top quilt block is now available in the pattern shop.


*Quilt Block Mania blocks are free to download for the duration of the month they were designed for. After that, they are available in the pattern shop.

Don't forget to check out all the other Circus blocks this month and join us in the Facebook group!

Free Circus themed blocks - quilt block mania

Flaming Hoop Quilt Block by Carolina Moore
Elephant by Inquiring Quilter
Circus Popcorn by Inflorescence
Wagon Wheel
Big Top Banners by Sugar Sand Quilt Company
Peekaboo Clown by QuiltFabrication
Balloons by Patti's Patchwork
Big Top by Penny Spool Quilts
Top Hat by Crafty Staci
Day at the Circus at The Quilted Diary
Big Top at Patchwork Breeze
Giggles the Clown by Appliques Quilts and More
Clowning Around by Epida Studio
Dresden Three Rings

1 comment

  • this is wonderful. thanks for the pattern. I love to paper piece. what a fun block for the summer

    Lori Smanski

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