Monday, January 05, 2009


Over two years ago, my brother and his wife went to Bogata, Columbia (South America) to adopt their three children from an orphanage. They had to stay in Bogata for about 6 weeks and were able to check out various marketplaces in the area. They found stalls and stalls of these Mola blocks and each day they would buy one for me (what a brother hey?). These blocks are so beautiful and the hand work on them is amazing.

Since one of my resolutions this year is to get better at finishing things, I got the Molas out yesterday and started playing with them. Some of these are true Molas. Molas are hand made using a reverse applique technique. Several layers (usually two to seven) of different-coloured cloth (usually cotton) are sewn together; the design is then formed by cutting parts of each layer away. The edges of the layers are then sewn down; the finest molas have extremely fine stitching, made using tiny needles. Some of my pieces were used in clothing and still have hems and seam binding around the edges where the Mola was removed from the article of clothing.

Here's the back of one so you can see the tiny stitches used.

Some of my pieces are just regular applique with embroidery. Whether true Mola or applique, the workmanship (or should it be "workwomanship") is outstanding. Of course, none of the blocks are the same size and I'm having trouble coming up with ways to set them. I have decided to make several smaller pieces instead of one large one.

Here's some pics and a temporary layout. However, I'm a little stumped as to how to put these together -- applique on a background, add strips, or something else? I don't want to cut the Molas or change them in any way -- I want to keep them as they are originally, as you can see the various layers at the edges of the blocks. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

I think the one below was part of a purse or something as it is not square, but oval shaped. I love the "warriors" on it, or are they aliens with their flying saucers ?


jude said...

hey. those are just beautiful. i would probably arrange them on some sort of foundation piece and stitch them down and then just fill in the spaces with patches of other fabrics, all applique style. a kind of crazy mola quilt.
OR you could just use the machine and sew borders around them and them square them up to the same size so it would be easier to piece them together. it would look great!

Judy S. said...

Happy New Year, Lesa! These molas are colorful and bright. I was going to suggest borders to sqaure them up, but Jude beat me to it. You could piece the borders or use a color that's common to all your squares. Whatever you do, it'll be a stunning quilt, that's for sure!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful work, thanks for sharing. At my local craft group we have just been doing Mola work.......just small simple pieces , nothing so elaborte as the ones you have which are real works of art.

Wilma said...

beautiful Mola's Lesa. Can you imagine how much hours it will take to make these? Think I would square up each block in a different color used in the blocks, then add a
big black border all around. Looking forward to pictures of the finished quilt!

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, you can't cut them, but a random set will work perfectly. You can add pieced strips to make the blocks fit each other. Solid black with a green appliqued vine would look good with the subject of the molas. Check the library for a book on random sets.

Some ideas of books here
I don't really have a favorite among these.

Maddie Can Fly said...

Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions everyone. I saw some batik fabrics in my stash and I think I'm going to play around with some of them -- they're brown, earthy colors and I want to see if they will set off the Molas.

Ricë said...

these are wonderful--i can't wait to see what you do with them!

Barbara C said...

Your brother wins sibling of the year for bringing you those molas. I concur with everyone else: adding strips to make them uniform size will set them off nicely.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Anonymous said...

My niece asked me to make pillows out of her blocks. First thing I did was to put feather weight iron-on interfacing on the backs in hopes of keeping the stitching intact. Susan