Friday, January 21, 2011

a little Improv

a slow morning for us sickies

The sickies that have been going around, finally caught up to us this week.  Today the littles and I stayed in our pajamas til lunch time and spent a good part of the morning playing with noodles and food coloring.

happy noodles (do not eat!)

Have you heard of Whipstitch's blog series, Sewing With Kids?  The first lesson was dying and stringing noodle necklaces.  Classic, yes?  Since we homeschool, this activity was new to my kiddos.  Like Deborah pointed out, it did require patience - it takes awhile for those noodles to take the dye (Aria says 11 minutes, to be precise) and then they must dry.  But, really, this was just right for the slow kind of morning we needed.

what do you think, partner?

After lunch, during the hallowed "rest time", I worked on a project for my super secret Spicing up the Kitchen swap partner.  Here are the fabrics I pulled.  For starters I'm making improv blocks.  This is my very first time doing a self-directed improv design.  I'm feeling unsure of myself, but excited!  Elizabeth Hartman's recent series of posts showing her improv style play-by-play came along at just the right time, because I already knew I should do some improv for this swap partner. 


Thanks to Elizabeth's inspiration, I decided to start by narrowing down the fabrics I wanted to use for the first block.  And, I also fussy cut the Owl & the Pussycat  (which is still available at Sew Love Fabrics!) in the sizes that I wanted to use. 

This is when Elizabeth typically sketches out her block concept.  I can't imagine taking the time to do that!  I did get a basic idea of how I'd put things together.  I was thinking 2 or 3 columns with the moon at top left and the boat at bottom right.  But, that was it.  I was ready to get stitchin!


I used some solids to frame the fussy cut pieces and began building out the columns. With the first additions of fabric I kept the angles pretty square.  But after that I started trimming at slight angles for effect.


Then I realized that a sliver of the Heather Ross fishy print would be fun below the boat with some added blue.

my first Improv block!

From there I just kept adding until my columns looked long enough.  I decided 2 was all I needed.  The finished block is about 13" square.  It's not fabulous, but it's pretty cute.  And, the process was so relaxed!  I think I like this kind of improv that centers around "story" prints.

Liam had left his noodle necklace on the table when he went to rest time.  Made my smile how it matches today's block.  Life's so funny like that.


I hope my partner likes what I've done!  I'm gonna add two more improv blocks and then... well, you'll have to wait and see, partner (wink).


  1. COULD this be me??? I adore this block!

  2. i'm not in that swap, but i love what you did! i made a quilt out of far far away ii, and fussy cut all the owl and pussycats, rapunzels, and sleeping beauties. so these blocks you did reminded me of that. :)

  3. beautiful! I especially love all the orange and green. the Aqua is a perfect accent to those colors too! You have one lucky partner! :)

  4. I always love your fabric matching choices. If you don't mind me asking, whats the green fabric with the white circles/dots on? Or who designed it? It'd be perfect for a project I'm hoping to start in the next couple of weeks. Thanks.

  5. super cute Rachel! I too would love to know what that green polka dot fabric is. I'm a sucker for both green and polka dot fabrics!

  6. Super cute! I know what you mean about sketching the blocks... I definitely wouldn't have that kind of patience!

  7. Hey! I am a homeschooling mom as well FYI. So, "hi!" again. lol My next Tips on Tuesdays will be all about kids in the sewing room if you want to come link up. : )

  8. Emma & Angela - Sorry, I don't know the fabric! It was given to me in a set of squares I won in a giveaway.

    Thanks all!

  9. I did the noodle dyeing this week too. The almost 3-year-old had no interest in the dyeing process but wants to do the stringing. Then we got busy with other things while we waited for the pasta to dry. So stringing will take place on another day. But it was a fun project and I'm so excited about the Sewing with Kids series!

    Oh, and GREAT improv block. I have been following Elizabeth's latest block series too. Cool stuff.

  10. I LOVE that Heather Ross fishy print and the frogs in jars. I have the frogs and have made aprons from it and am hoarding the scraps - but I have never been able to get my hands on the fishy print.... it went to over $35 a yard on ebay when it went OOP. I love the block. I am looking forward to a different life next winter and lots of these kinds of projects. I watch your blog regularly and I will admit I am envious at many points. Just the freedom to make what you feel like.... I get involved in GIGANTIC group endeavors that must be finished on time. Not anymore. This is the last time.

  11. Those look great, Rachel - you've got a lucky partner! Hope you and the littles feel better soon - macaroni necklaces should help that along!!

  12. LOVE! I too have been feeling inspired by her blocks! This is lovely! I don't know how much longer I can resist FFA2! :)

  13. Thanks anyway. I'll just keep hunting!

  14. I didn't have blue in my colors, but I LOVE that block!

  15. I have never dyed pasta with my kids and I can't believe I'm admitting that out loud. We should do that, I love the way it looks. And I love the Heather Ross you've used in the blocks, some of my favorite prints.


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