The design is inspired by an anonymously-made vintage quilt I saw two years ago in Bellingham, WA at the American Quilts - The Democratic Art exhibit. Photographs were not permitted at the show and the book was sold out. I later purchased it from Amazon, but "my" quilt wasn't included in the hardcover book! Thank goodness I had sketched it on the back of a receipt found in my bag; this simple concept has been on my mind for ages. The original quilt was made with fabric scraps of solids and prints in cotton, wool and polyester. I recall that the vertical borders contained a lot of solid red scraps with colourful prints and the horizontal borders had mostly brown and black solids mixed with light-coloured prints.
If you've been reading Poppyprint for a while, you may recognize that I've made a few other projects using the same piecing technique, which I've called Improv Under the Influence. See them here, here and here. It is a technique that I'm excited to teach (four workshops lined up for the coming year in both modern guilds and traditional ones!). It is my hope that it will appeal equally to improv-curious traditional quilters as well as those who've already embraced modern quilting.
Outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, there are always several games of chess going on. These take place on, or near, the former courthouse steps. The basis of this quilt design is one large Courthouse Steps block, built around the central improv chess (or checker) board. That's how I came up with the name. Possibly over-complicated, but that's me.
This quilt is currently the Pattern of the Month, free for members of the Modern Quilt Guild. I am so happy to be able to share the piecing technique with members of the guild. After some time on the guild's website (on the community page), I will be permitted to sell it here for non-members. I do however, encourage you to join the MQG, which you can do as an individual if there is no satellite guild near you. The resources available to members are outstanding and include a free modern quilt pattern every month, regular webinars on really interesting topics, discounts at QuiltCon, fabric challenges with amazing prizes and so much more!
This quilt was made entirely of the new Colourshott shot cottons generously provided by Michael Oakshott. The quilting was all done with free-form (unmarked) lines with my Pfaff IDT (built in walking foot). I just followed seams in the piecing and went for it. There are 7 coordinating colours of Aurifil 30 wt thread on the quilt. Sewing with these shot cottons is so enjoyable as the colours are beautifully saturated - at times I feel like I'm working with sari silk!
What do you think? Are you a traditional quilter that is improv-curious, or a modern quilter looking for a new, fun piecing technique? Check out the pattern!