Monday, October 31, 2011


This has been one of my favorite challenges.  I had never heard of the Notan concept but was fascinated with it as soon as I started researching.  I found this great example by Lynn Ticotsky and knew that I wanted to try something similar.  With the aid of CAD drafting software I tried out several different ideas for a repeating pattern.  (Some that I didn't choose are in this blog post.)  I created a freezer paper template and cut the chosen pattern out of black fabric with fusible web on the back eight times.  The resulting 16-square block reads more like an irregular 9-patch to me, but it is made up of just the eight cut-outs and their "leftovers".   I'm not a very precise person, so this definitely looks better from a distance where you can't see all the fuzz, but I really like it.

Right now it's just fused to white fabric, but I would really appreciate some advice on whether to add a black border, and what sort of quilting pattern to use.  I don't want to distract from the design, but I'm not sure that just tracing it with quilting lines would add much.  Input greatly appreciated!
(dimensions are 24" x 24")

(Cutting out Notan shapes is perfect activity to do while joining hubby watching football!)


Whoever said Notan is addicting is right! I did a second Notan of trees and decided to just flip the paper to one side, rather than all four sides. I also did not make the image symmetrical. I liked the way it looked and proceeded to make a small quilt which measures 10" x 21". Instead of using the method of flipping and gluing (like I did on my previous quilt - post is below this one) I traced the paper pattern onto wonder under and fused it to each fabric and then cut out and fused each piece down (the orange on the dark brown and visa versa). This was far neater and simpler and faster than trying to flip the actual fabric and glue it down. I sort of wish I had reversed the dark and light so that there was more of the light background showing within the trees. The quilt has very little quilting - I just stitched along the edge of the fused fabric. Comments welcome.

Leaf Notan

I made a paper sample of a leaf notan. I liked that the inner square was not perfectly centered. I then decided to go forward with a quilt. It measures 24" square. I used some fabrics I had ice dyed. I used the same technique for the quilt as I did for the paper sample - cutting and flipping. The fabric was not near as stable as the paper. I used a glue stick and dabbed each piece of fabric with glue before sticking it down. I felt there was too much background showing in the middle of the quilt so I stuck three additional leaves on each square. The inner squares do not line up well on the quilt, since they were not centered on the paper pattern. I used a free motion satin stitch around each element in the quilt to neaten up some of the rather frayed edges and FMQ just the background of each square. The quilt looks a little too traditional for my taste, but I do like the way the fabric seems to glow. Comments welcome.

Notan symmetries

I used freezer paper and black paper to do my designs. I took a class many years ago from Michael James and we worked with just black and white and some Notan during the three days. I have never done any else with it but like the symmetries that appear. Thanks for this challenge!

Sally K. Field

My Take on Notan

Doing too much cutting with a scissors makes my thumb numb, so I decided to do this challenge on the computer. I started with some sailboat drawings that I had and put them into a square arrangement that I liked. When I "folded" back the cutout sails, there was too much white space. I figured that if I put it into a repeating tile design that it might work better. The first photo shows a single tile and the second shows it in a nine-patch arrangement.

This challenge was a lot of fun and gives me some ideas for repeat fabric design. Thanks!

Jean Cheszek

Notan designs

I actually have a partially completed quilt that uses the notan design elements but I wanted to do something from scratch.  The first night I cut out a basic square and straight lines out of freezer paper.  I fused it to some of my dyed fabic and then painted the uncovered fabric black to get my first design.  I like the clean lines but it didn't excite me.  While cleaning the next day I came across a leaf design I had drawn several weeks ago and decided to try to turn it into a notan piece.  I really wanted to applique this piece so I could finish it.  Since there is a right and wrong side to the fabric, I had to draw and cut out opposites to complete the design.   I ended up with two completed pieces that I may turn into a bag or pillow.  I really like the second design more but I think it needs something in the middle.  I could really get hooked on this technique!

LindaBN from Louisiana

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fall Pennants

Early for a change...

This challenge fit in with another project I needed to finish this week. A swap of fall pennants. The photo shows one face up and one face down. I began with a triangle and cut oak leaves out of the side. The applique fabric was backed in MistyFuse and I switched the oak leaves from one side to the other so that the fusing worked.

The applique fabric was rusted and I had a really hard time sewing on it. Had to help my machine push through it once or twice.

Now I see a face in the triangle and I want to try an even more figurative Notan just for fun. Thanks for the challenge, it was excellent timing for me.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Palmetto Moon

I knew when I read this challenge that I really wanted to do this one. I'm leaving Tuesday on a trip so I knew I wouldn't have time to make this up in fabric. However, this is a project where you can, at least, make the cut out and design.

I started playing with some free form designs but soon came up with the idea to make SC's state logo. A palmetto tree with a crescent moon. It took me about four tries to get it to this stage.

I have the white freezer paper pattern ironed to a black fabric. I like this and will eventually turn it into a quilt

Notan Screen

Since I used Notan in Challenge 58, I decided to make an organza silk screen as described by Enid Gjelten Weichselbaum in her article “really reusable Organza Silk Screens” in the October/November Issue of Quilting Arts Magazine. I made three expanded squares out of freezer paper and chose the most simplistic to make the screen. I did not take a picture of my work on the black fabric as I thought it would be on my screened fabric. Another learning experience as I lost some of the elements of Notan. I will use components of the other two Notan projects for some additional screens as they have some interesting design elements.
I was pleased the way the screen turned out. I do need to “kill” the screen in a couple of spots where the joints meet. Not a true Notan but the exercises were fun and I do have a finished project.
Thanks Wendy for a fun project which will lead to lots of design possibilities in the future. Comments/critiques are appreciated.


Notan #1

I did a quick cutting of paper to make Notan #1. I cheated by cutting the white paper and placing it on black paper. It was easy to design something that looks more complicated than it was. Maybe not the most artistic notan and definitely low on points for neatness, but a good start. Next one in fabric-maybe use a circle or an octagon for the start? I can see why Cathy said this was addictive!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Challenge 62: NOTAN

Challenge #62 – October 2011 
Hostess:  Wendy Wetzel, Flagstaff AZ
Notan is a Japanese concept that utilizes black and white to demonstrate the contrast of positive and negative space.  Often done as pen-and-ink drawings, Notan can easily be adapted to fabric with stunning results.  This technique can help us evaluate our own skills with balancing the positive/negative space in our quilts.
This past summer, Cathy Miller, AKA The Singing Quilter,, issued a Notan Challenge on her blog (just a hint there).  Cathy and her husband, John Bunge, are good friends of mine and always camp out at my home when they are on tour in the southwest.  Cathy taught her Mock Mola class to our guild this summer, and while they were here, she introduced me to her fascination with Notan, especially since it works so well with her Mock Mola technique. 
If you are on Facebook, you can “like” her page (Cathy Miller – Musician/Band) and go to her photo album for the Notan Challenge.
We did a lot of paper cutting in July!
Here are the basics, an online Art Class on Notan
For this challenge:
You can either elect to photograph and submit your freezer paper cutouts fused to dark fabric, or turn your favorite into a small art quilt.  They don’t take long, so if you have several you like, upload them!
Warning:  Notan is highly addictive!
Materials:  Freezer paper, “paper scissors,” black or other dark value fabric, iron.
Symmetric Notan Instructions:

Cut a 6” square of freezer paper.  Start by folding the paper in quarters on the long side or on the diagonal.
Everybody with me so far?   It doesn’t matter which fold you start with….  Do some both ways!
On an edge OPPOSITE from the center fold, sketch a random drawing that is a closed shape that uses the free edges as part of the shape (not just a line), preferably one that consumes most of the available space.  This can be complex or simple.  Play with both!   
Cut out the shape.  Save all the pieces!

Open the center piece and position on black fabric.  Gently press with a hot dry iron to fuse.

Arrange the cut pieces to match and mirror the negative space revealed by the cut.  Press with hot dry iron!  Take a picture!

This is a very simple example but gives you an idea of what Notan can be!  You might also want to experiment with rectangles, circles, and triangles as your base shape.  The possibilities are endless.
You can set your block design in a straight or on point orientation… they might look totally different!
Ready to play some more? 
Extra Credit – Asymmetric Notan:
Starting with a 6” square of freezer paper, start the design on one edge and cut away your shape, exiting the cut on the same edge from which you started.
If you chose to make a quilt from these exercises, the freezer paper templates work well as patterns for appliqué.  Make sure your fabrics have high value contrast.
Since others have written about Notan in a far more eloquent way, here are some great explanations of the Notan concept:
Jane Dunnewold’s instructions:
And some online examples:
Projects due November 5!     And one final word:  Have fun with this!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Challenge 61

Scrap It

Ocean Sunset

11" x 17"

I chose Van Gogh's Starry Skies as the source of my color palette, and while I am late posting this, it actually came together very quickly -- except for the final touch, the birds in the sky. These I found in the course of cleaning up odds and ends of junk, and would have ended up in the wastebasket if I hadn't had a use for them here!

I also used a bit of Angelina fiber to blend the sunset colors into the dark sky.

Comments are welcome.

Purse Inspired by Mondrian

Inspired by Mondrian

For a couple of months now I've been working on this challenge, interpreting an artist's style. I decided to go large. Although I still want to finish that project, I decided to try make something small in the mean time. 

I used recycled wool jackets, skirts, and odd bits of wool that I felted in my washing machine and dryer. It is really soft to the touch. Felting seems to take out all the rough stuff. I added grosgrain ribbon to cover the seams; wider grosgrain as the final edging. All was stitched down with zig-zag using polyester thread because I both wanted to cover up the grosgrain and add a sheen. I first tried to use another stitch on my machine, but after many, many birds nest on the back side, I decided the zig-zag would have to do. The lining is black satin: pocket on one side for my cell phone; pocket on the other for my charge card case.

Yes, it was a fun project!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Crying Tree

There is a fabulous new artist out there named Megan Aroon Duncanson, and I have used one of her works as my color pallette inspiration. She works in wonderful, vibrant and clear colors. Her painting is called "Twisted Love". My quilt is called "The Crying Tree". I am about to throw a big downer on all of us, so I apologize in advance. My adult daughter intensely dislikes me, for reasons I can't quite understand. I raised her to be polite, thoughtful and compassionate. Yet when she interacts with me, she is none of the above. My tears fall via the leaves on my tree, but never on her. My wish is that she will come to her senses and drop her selfish attitude. The quilt is 13"x18", and all critiques are welcome.
Ann In Fallbrook,, CA

Monday, October 03, 2011

Dame Firenza

I was inspired by Georgia O'Keefe's beautiful painting, The Poppies. What an inspiration. I used fused raw-edge applique with thread painting for the scales, and gold foil for the eye. Dame Firenza is actually a sweet little dragon (in my imagination), but something got her irritated at this time - probably me trying to picture her. Interestingly, the batik I used for her head is called "Volcano!" I was in a "fairy tale mood" after finishing my challenge-60 piece, so I just sort of slid into this one with ease. It is great being pushed to work FAST and on subjects I would never have approached including raw-edge which I used to hate. Sure is a wonderful group, lots of inspirations from the other members, and I have enjoyed the challenges put forward by each of our hosts. Thank you to all of you, and I would enjoy each and every comment you have to offer. Sandi

Titled - Dame Firenza

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Good intentions

I thought about an idea for this challenge, using Vermeer's Girl with a glass of wine for the palette. I had a thing going for retrievers (which is odd because I don't really like dogs), combined with heraldry. I would put the text on a banner. However, I don't think I really want to make it at this stage. I tried some of the colour sites suggested, but none of them picked up the blue of the chair - the same chair that appears in many Vermeer paintings.

As usual the challenge has made me think about colour and construction. I even got the fabrics out and started playing with the black marks on red - ermine, dog paws, etc. Just no follow through!

Van Gogh Color Study

Finished piece :  Birds in a Field by Cynthia Ann Morgan
Wheatfield with Crows by Vincent Van Gogh

Color study for background of final piece
 I decided to just play with the color palette and color placement, so there is no real design to it….just a color study.  It’s only half pieced, it will be twice as wide when complete 12 x 24.  I used the color palette of Vincent Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows.  At first I thought, oh…it’s just gold and blue.  But I found much more when I started to dissect the colors. 


I have chosen The Red Vineyard by Van Gogh for my color palette. It is a very
loose abstract interpretation of a harvest. I really love the colors in this
painting. Funny though, the colors in the picture I printed to use are much
closer to the colors in my piece than they appear on the computer.

This was a lot of fun...thanks for another great challenge Delores


Comments are appreciated

Harlequin in Picasso colors

The picture I chose for color was Picassos jester and young Harlequine. I thought it was an interesting balance of colors not often seen used by modern day artists. I took the harlequin pattern for my piece and made a table cover for my Kitchen table attempting to maintain the color balance in the painting. I haven't quilted it yet but will this week. Thank you ahead for any comments or crititiques.

Pat Havey

The Last Leaf

My grandpa was a watercolorist. I have two of his paintings, and this is my favorite. I think he even made the frame, which is quite rustic.
Using the soft, light colors as the background, I raw-edge appliqued the tree, then added snippets of leafy, grassy colors around the base of the tree, including a couple of real oak leaves. The leaves come from the park overlooking Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis last week.
I'm sure the tree limbs are too "hefty, and I don't like that the same plaid fell into the two top corners. Funny what you don't see until you look at a photo.
This was a fun challenge, and I'm glad to be back in it.