Thursday, February 21, 2019

Dust Off a Quilt Book Blog Hop Mola Style

Welcome to the Dust Off a Quilt Book Blog Hop!

Molas! by Kate Mathews
The book I dusted off is Molas!: Patterns, Techniques & Projects for Colorful Applique by Kate Mathews. I've been looking at this book in my bookcase for several years but never got around to reading and trying it out. Since I've been enjoying doing hand-work recently, I thought that it would be the perfect book and technique to try.

What is a Mola?

A Mola is a textile tradition of the Kuna, an aboriginal people from the Panama area. I'm sure that you've seen their work - it is bright, hand-made, using reverse appliqué and appliqué. For the reverse appliqué, they can have up to 7 layers of different colours of solids. Pieces can also include embroidery. Traditional pieces are used as part of their blouses.

Funky Square Flower Mola

Here is my interpretation of a Mola. I wanted to use an original pattern that wouldn't look out of place in a Mola. I thought that the square flower that I free motion quilted a few weeks ago might work.
My interpretation of a Mola.
I started with three layers of Kona cotton since I didn't want to make it too complicated and didn't want to sew through too many layers. As you can see, the hot pink is the top layer, followed by maroon and then light pink. 

I started by drawing the square flower with a Frixion pen and then cutting around it, adding about a ¼" so that I can turn over the edge to appliqué. Cutting around the flower gave me a maroon background, which is what you see around the hot pink flower.

The next step was to cut the maroon fabric to let the light pink fabric show. I could have cut deeper into the maroon so that there would be light pink between the petals, but my appliqué skills weren't up to it. Two of the spaces between the petals are deeper than the others, mostly because they were wider. The light pink is actually my backing.
Reverse-appliqué to let the maroon and light pink fabrics show
Adding light green between the layers
One of the techniques used in the making of Molas is to add other coloured fabric between the background layers. In this instance, I placed light green fabric beneath the hot pink layer, but only along the edge of the piece. I then cut through to the light green fabric for the three smaller leaves as well as the middle of the larger leaf. The dark green leaf was appliquéd and then I cut (very, very carefully) through the layers to get to the light green.

I embellished the leaves with embroidery and also couched some yarn for the stem. This project has been great to practice my TAST embroidery stitches.

I used the same technique to add the yellow and lilac rectangles, but this time I cut the top hot pink fabric and inserted small scraps of the new fabric under it. Last night I went into my stash of beads, stones and buttons to embellish the rectangles.

Adding other colours to the mix









Embroidering a butterfly 
and practicing my TAST stitches
















I needed to add something to the bottom of the piece but didn't have the time or patience to do more appliqué. I used 3 strands of embroidery floss as well as some perle cotton.
Creating huge blanket stitches
What I learned
  • This technique is quite demanding (as in finicky) so I found it difficult to do. I have very large hands and fingers that are not very nimble - so I find doing needle-turn appliqué and reverse appliqué difficult, unless the pieces are quite large.
  • As I mentioned, I was quite happy to stop appliqueing. Embroidery and other embellishment are also fun and will make my piece unique.
  • Having lived with first nation people (I married into the family), I am very sensitive to cultural appropriation, so the last thing I wanted was to create a traditional Mola - although I needn't worry - my skill level is really not up to it.
  • I found that doing embroidery around the reverse applique was a great way to hide my less than perfect stitches.
  • I'm not very good at doing anything for a long time, so I didn't even try to make my fly stitches even around the edge. Since this was for fun and my first piece with such extensive and varied embroidery stitches, I gave myself a lot of slack. I know that practice makes us much better and I'm sure that I will use some of these techniques eventually, although probably not extensively - it's just wasn't that much fun 😊
  • I find it so liberating to just let myself play with what I want. I do make an effort to give new techniques a chance but sometimes it's pretty obvious what I could keep doing and get good at and what would just be plain tedious for me.
  • Finally, this piece is not quite finished. I'm going to add more beads and figure out what to add on the top. I'll post my finished piece soon - so come back to check it out!
Related links


Linky parties
A HUGE thank you to
beaquilter for hosting this party!
I will be linking this post up to several linky parties. Needle & Thread Thursday, Silly Mama Quilts WIPs, Midweek Makers, Tuesday Colour Linky Party, Linky TuesdayOff the Wall Friday, Monday Making, Moving it Forward,

Below are the links to the other great participants in Dust Off a Quilt Book Blog Hop. Check them out to see what's everyone has dusted off!

Monday Feb 18th
Turid at densyendehimmel
Pamela at Pamelaquilts
Joan at Moosestashquilting
Anne at Seams like a plan
Susan at Desertsky Quilting
Selina at Selinaquilts
Kathleen at Kathleenmcmusing

Tuesday Feb 19th
Cindy Stitchin At Home
Jennifer at Curlicue Creations
Stephanie at Steph Jacobson Designs
Kathy at Kathy's Quilts
Shasta at High Road Quilter
Theresa at bumbleberry stitches

Wednesday Feb 20th
Sharon at Vrooman’s Quilts
Suzy at Websterquilt
Nancy at Patchwork Breeze
Karrin at Karrin's Crazy World
Denise at crafTraditions

Thursday Feb 21st
Anita at Domestic Felicity
Leanne at Devoted Quilter
Jennifer at Dizzy Quilter
Carla at Creatin' in the Sticks
Lee Anne at Podunk Pretties
Andree at Quilting & Learning-What a Combo! (that's me!)

Friday Feb 22nd
Bea at Beaquilter
Barbara at Bejweledquilts
Laura at Slice of pi Quilts
Sherry Powered By Quilting
Pat at Life in the Scrapatch
Carol at Just let me quilt
Kathy at Kathy's Kwilts and More
Marian at Seams to be Sew
Brenda at Songbird Designs


34 comments:

  1. wow this turned out wonderful. thanks for sharing about this type of art work. thank you also for inspiring. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

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    1. Thanks Lori. I'm really looking forward to finishing it - life has been getting in the way! Thanks for dropping by.

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  2. I really enjoyed learning about Mola and what you have learned. Love it!

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    1. Thanks Barb. I've been admiring Molas from afar. I'm glad that I finally had a chance to try it out. Thanks for dropping by!

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  3. I've seen Mola's but didn't know much about them. Very interesting. I love your version. How fun to add all the little embellishments too. I use it was a chore, but wow! What great results!

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    1. Thanks Joan. I'm really enjoying the embellishment part the best. Thanks for dropping by!

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  4. I have a Mola hanging right behind me on the wall. It was a gift to me from my sister-in-law, whose family had a foreign exchange student from Panama live with them during her high school years. They have kept in touch, and many years ago, she was able to travel to Panama and brought me the Mola. I'll send you a photo in a separate email.

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    1. Hi Wendy, I'd love to see the picture. I'm very impressed with Molas. They require a lot of very careful work. It really has been a good learning experience.

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  5. Fun project and great learning experience!

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    1. Thanks Bea and thank you so much for hosting this event. It was a lot of fun. I'm still trying to catch up on reading everyone's post and replying - but it's well worth it!

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  6. I admire you so much for trying something new and even though you aren't comfortable with the technique, you are planning on finishing the project. I've appreciated this kind of applique for a long time but never tried it. Sometimes we have to try things to find out they are not what we like. I've done machine quilting a couple of times and it's definitely not for me.

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    1. Thanks Robin. The good thing about replying so late to comments is that I know the ending :-) I did finish the mola with lots of beads. I also found out that adding beads in a straight line all around the flower was something I will try to avoid in the future!

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  7. What an interesting book you chose! I have fond memories of an entryway filled with colorful Molas. They are hanging there still some 40+ years later. It's nice to try different techniques, isn't it? Well done!

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    1. Thank you. It was an interesting book and technique. It's great to be looking at other cultures' techniques and trying them out. There is always a little something that will travel with us forever. It must have been great to be surrounded by colorful Molas!

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  8. It is fun to try out new techniques to see if you like them. I think you did really well. I haven't done any mola work at all, but I have thought about practicing a bit. I admire you for being ahead of me on that.

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    1. Thanks Shasta. I love these blog hops for the opportunity to try new things. The Mola is now finished with beads, which is not so traditional. I hope that you get a chance to try it someday. There are so many things to make....and of course so little time!

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  9. What a cool technique and it looks like you learned so much. This may be something to try in the future for me.

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    1. Thanks Carla, I hope that you get a chance to try it one day. It is very cool how those fabrics underneath make it to the top! I'm looking forward to the All About Strings Blog Hop next week. The post (and piece) will be ready by next Thursday!!!

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  10. I have liked molas for many years. I have yet to try making one. I will keep your tips and observations in mind if I get to try one.

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    1. Hi Nancy, I hope that you get a chance to try it one day. It was definitely worth it! Thanks for the comment and sorry for my very late reply.

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  11. Very interesting technique your took on for a challenge. We had a Mola collector come speak at our guild last year with lots to see and share - wonderful.

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    1. That sounds wonderful. I don't think that I've ever seen one in person although I've seen pictures about them. I know that they don't look like mine, especially the finished version!

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  12. What a fun quilt. I have a book about molas too and have been intrigued. I like your embroidery and embellishments.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer, I hope you use your Mola book eventually :-)

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  13. Very cool project! So unique! Enjoy your weekend! :-) :-) angielovesgary2 atgmail dotcom

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    1. Thanks Angie. It was mostly a lot of fun to make!

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  14. This is a clever technique and your sample looks great. It's fun to try out something different like this :)

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    1. Thanks Janine, it is good to try new techniques and to keep learning (as you know!)

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  15. Thanks for the background on MOLA. It is a stitching form I had not heard of. It's also a form I know I will never try. I'm really impressed with what you accomplished. It is a very pretty piece and really interesting. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks. It is good to learn about different techniques, even if you never want to try them. There are a lot of techniques that I admire and will probably never try!

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  16. This is such a fun little quilt! Your reverse applique and embroidery both look great to me :)

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    1. Thanks Leanne. I'm really glad that I tried it and got to play around and make it less traditional :-)

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  17. I like your interpretation of a mola. Love all the layers and the textures. Thanks for linking up at Colour and Inspiration Tuesday.

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    1. Thanks Dione, it was great to try this. The layers are so cool....lots of colours!

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