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Kuna Molas – How Do You Make One?

Creating a Mola Takes Time, Patience and Creativity

The Mola as sewn by the Kuna women in Panama has become a very popular art form. Though the Molas (blouse in Kuna) are intended for day-to-day wear, many see them as collector’s pieces. Here is a quick guide on how to make Kuna Molas.

A Mola panel can have two to seven layers of cloth. The layers of fabric, cut in rectangles from a variety of colors, are basted together, one layer at a time, and a design is sketched with pencil on the top layer of cloth. The design is cut away, turned under and stitched. With each layer, the artist cuts away another part of the design, turns the edges and stitches to the lower layers.

Kuna Molas for sale in Panama

This continues until the final image is achieved. The fabric most often selected for use in making a Mola is cotton. Red, black and orange are the dominant colors used, however, every color imaginable can be found in the accent fabrics used. Traditional Kuna Mola motifs stem from nature and everyday life.

Fabric is snipped away, closely following the design, to reveal the lower layer of fabric. The cut is made through one or more layers to reveal the selected accent color. The raw edges of the cut section are notched to avoid bunching, turned under and stitched, permanently exposing the lower layer of fabric and creating the intended pattern.

The tools and supplies needed to design and make a Mola are simple and basic: cotton fabric, thread, a pencil, scissors, a thimble and a needle.

Now you know the basics of the Kuna Molas. Good luck and enjoy your experiments.

Culture in Panama

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