SHERRY THORUP . . . HOW TO MAKE A MOLA, KUNA INSPIRED
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DUCK MOLA INSTRUCTIONS WITH PATTERN


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PARTS OF THIS MOLA DESIGN & PATTERNS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Duck Mola we are going to make is a relatively simple Mola.

We will use a needle-turn appliqué technique. The design should be even, balanced and completely fill the panel. We will explore 'filler' techniques for the blank spaces around the image and on the image. The cutaway areas or channels made by the needle-turned appliqué should measure ¼" wide (after sewing) and should be even throughout the piece. Filler appliqué should also maintain a ¼" width and should be placed ¼" from adjoining appliqué features. All space on a 'quality' Mola design should be approximately 1/4" from any other detail on the Mola. (Note: This can be difficult to achieve, but gives you something to strive for!!)

You will be drawing your design on the top piece of fabric. Cutting 1/8" from the drawn line will allows for a 1/8" turning. Cut a couple inches at a time, turn under and sew…cut a couple more inches, turn under and sew, and so on.

When sewing on a curve, take tiny (no more than 1/8") snips around the curve before turning. Points should have small tips snipped off for a smooth point.

TOOLS:

Scissors: Small, sharp applique scissors
Thimble
Pattern
Appliqué Needles
Appliqué pins (Optional)

MATERIALS:

Fabric: Two colors; approximately 10" X14". Green (bottom layer) and Red (top layer)
Scrap Fabric: Eight to 10 small pieces fabric in a variety of colors. (purple, blue, lime green, dark green, orange, violet, hot pink)
Thread: Thread to match each color fabric selected (purple, blue, lime green, dark green, orange, violet, hot pink)

 

1. Print two or three copies of the pattern, Two for cutting or tracing and one in reserve to act as a guide for placing the 'cigar shaped' pieces on the Duck's body and wings and for transferring the 'line' cutaways.


2. Cut two panels from selected fabrics approximately 10" X 14". Choose colors you like. Use a good quality, light cotton (200 thread count, maximum). You don't want to work with fabric that ravels easily or that is to heavy for needle-turn. I spray sizing on the panels I work with to give them more stability.

PATTERN SIZE: This DUCK pattern, printed as is, will fill a 8.5" X 11" paper. You can enlarge the image to your liking. Be sure to address the 1/8"/1/4" Rule when adjusting the size of the pattern. The dotted lines will increase as the pattern is enlarged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Transfer pattern to top panel. Mark solid line only. You can mark the dotted lines, if you wish. They are guides to the 1/8" turn under. If you are experienced with needle turn appliqué, you will not need to mark these lines. They may even be distracting. Be sure to use a marker that can be removed or will disappear after the Mola is completed.

There are several ways to transfer a pattern.

You can trace the pattern using a fabric marking pencil by placing the fabric panel over the pattern, placed on a lightbox or window...even a television screen works well. Tape the fabric to the pattern to keep it from moving around while tracing.

You can use dressmaker's tracing paper and a tracing wheel. An old ball point pen that no longer has ink to outline the pattern also works for tracing.

I like to trace around a cutout pattern. I print the pattern on photograph paper (it is sturdy for tracing) to make a template. Once the main image is cut out, I trace around the outside of the template. This is great if you want to flip the image for a second Mola without going back to the computer.

 

 

 Baste the two panels together along each side of the solid line leaving enough space to turn under the cut edges. Baste around the outside edge of the two panels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEGIN TO SEW: With a small, very sharp, pair of scissors, carefully cut 2" - 3" along solid line of TOP fabric. Be very careful not to cut the lower piece of material. Begin to turn cut edges under 1/8" and stitch. Make tiny stitches using a hem stitch or blind stitch. Use thread that is the same color as the top layer you are tuning .You can sew around one side of a cut edge and then sew the other...or you can work both sides as you go. Work 2" to 3" at a time...cutting as you go.

 

After you have turned under the outer section and the inner section, you will have a channel exposing the lower fabric layer that looks like the image on the left.

 

 

 


Next step is to add the 'cigar' shapes on the body of the Duck..

You can use any color combination that you choose. In the Duck on the left, the blue or black on each cigar shape offers some continuity even though the lower colors of the cigar shapes are random colors.

Using one of your printed patterns, cut out cigar shapes 1T-10T (top). Cut on solid line. The dotted line is a guide for turning under the edge. Pin top Cigar shape to fabric you plan to use for the bottom or lower layer. Space the pattern pieces on the bottom or lower layer far enough apart so you will be able to cut the bottom cigar shapes (1B-10B) after sewing top layer cigar shapes to lower layer, Keep the pieces in order as shown on the Pattern Guide. Sew in place. Cut out cigar shapes 1B-10B.

Using your Pattern Guide, place each cigar shape (top and bottom) in appropriate place on to the Duck's Body and between Duck's wings. Baste in place. Needle turn cut edges 1/8" and sew to Duck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you are ready to cut and turn the 'line' designs that are used as fillers to complete the Mola. Trace or draw freehand lines that represent the design around the duck. (See green channels on image on left). You will use needle turn technique to make these channels.

 

With a small, very sharp, pair of scissors, carefully cut 2" - 3" along solid line of TOP fabric. Be very careful not to cut the lower piece of material. Begin to turn cut edges under 1/8" and stitch. Make tiny stitches using a hem stitch or blind stitch. Use thread that is the same color as the top layer you are tuning under. Work 2" to 3" at a time...cutting as you go.

 

 

 

 


Trace or draw freehand the details on the Duck's face. Using embroidery floss, sew the details of the face. You can satin stitch the eye or use a running stitch to outline it.

Remove all basting. Clip any loose threads that may remain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


If you are using the Mola Inspired Panel in a quilt, pillow or other item, you will need to size the block. Otherwise, enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: Molas are indigenous to the San Blas Islands and the Kuna Indians. No one should ever make a Mola and try to pass it off as anything other than their personal attempt to emulate these wonderful Mola panels.

Photographs by Sherry Thorup

Send questions and comments to sherry@thorup.com
Copyright1996-2010  by Sherry Thorup. All rights reserved.

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