This May, I had the opportunity to take Krista Hennebury’s Improv Under the Influence class at Drygoods Design. I would have taken the class alone, but was thrilled when I learned that my mom and three other members of the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild would be taking the class with me. It was a fantastic day, full of learning and laughter, sun and sewing. I loved the technique Krista taught, which uses chain piecing to make improv accessible to quilters who are more familiar with traditional quilting methods. I do love me some chain piecing! Since Krista had us come with our fabric precut, the project started coming along quickly and I left with a quilt top that was approximately a third complete, which was very satisfying.
If I had so much fun at the class, why is this quilt named “Bittersweet Shards”? Well, the fat quarters used in this top were from when I belonged to the Pink Chalk Fabric solids club. I’m still sad that they are no longer in business. However, I really like Circa 15, a new brick-and-mortar quilt shop in Kirkland, where I bought the backing and binding. Losing a favorite quilting store is bitter, but finding a new one close by is sweet! The “Shards” part is because while I was working on this quilt, I discovered The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson, and it was all Shardplate this and Shardblade that, and I thought the improv pieces looked rather shard-like.
For the quilting, I used blue and purple Aurifil thread to go back and forth in each section, outlining and bisecting each shard. My favorite parts of the quilt are the “chessboard” in the middle and the contrasting strip pieced sections. I really should do some strip pieced improv soon.
If you’re a Modern Quilt Guild member, you can find Krista’s original “Chess on the Steps” quilt as the September 2014 pattern of the month. I highly recommend taking the class if you get the chance. Krista has a very friendly and helpful teaching style, and the technique is pretty great too!