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193 Mola Sewing Terms and Techniques The information in this appendix illustrates and expands on explanations given in chapters of the book. Additional information , including a summary of Kuna mola aesthetic principles, is found in appendix B. mola sewing techniques Mola panels are sewn with layers of fabric, but many layers are not full layers but smaller pieces of fabric inserted between layers. Both surface appliqué and reverse appliqué are used to sew molas. Clayton (2007) summarizes the differences between the two types of appliqué: •  Reverse appliqué is “a type of appliqué in which the design is cut out of the top layer of fabric to reveal a different layer of fabric underneath it.” •  Surface appliqué is “a decorative technique in which a shape or motif is cut from one fabric and applied to another.” A number of different techniques are used in the background of a design, and these are referred to as fillers. As a result, there are only small areas of a mola panel with no stitching. There are a variety of Kuna names for the different filler techniques, and some of these names are indicated below in italics (see also chapter 2). It is important that there are cuts through different layers to make the mola more flexible and more comfortable to wear, as well as more durable. The main filler techniques have been illustrated (with examples at actual size): • Tas-tas are parallel slits, which may be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. The slits in this technique especially allow more movement in the fabric, important as the number of layers used increases. The slits will generally be consistent in width for a mola. Slits vary in width, and very narrow tas-tas are difficult to sew. • Gwini-gwini are small circles or squares, similar to tas-tas but often very small in size. appendix a Figure A.1 Horizontal and vertical tastas . Private collection, EHC 3640. Figure A.2 Square gwini-gwini. Private collection, EHC 3616. 194 Introduction Appendix A • Dientes is the name for the edging with a sawtooth pattern . This technique is also used for outlining design elements , often together with narrow lines of surface appliqué or reverse appliqué. •  Crowns (my term, based on the shape) are where there are dientes on one side of a small piece of appliqué. • Bisu-bisu is an overall geometric maze or pattern filling a large part of the mola, with many sharp changes to angles, like large zigzags. It may also be referred to as a labyrinth pattern or a snake-like pattern. • Pilu-pilu is a Greek key pattern. Figure A.3 Four rows of dientes. Private collection, EHC 3613. Figure A.4 Dientes in a curve. Private collection, EHC 3660. Figure A.5 “Crowns.” Private collection , EHC 3589. Figure A.6 Bisu-bisu. Private collection , EHC 3600. Figure A.7 Pilu-pilu. Private collection , EHC 3000. 195 MOLA SEWING TERMS AND TECHNIQUES •  Nips are small triangles, squares, or circles that are cut into the base layer, which is often black. These inset shapes are called wawa-naled. •  Pips are the small, raised pieces of appliqué placed on top of the nips and can be multilayered. •  Cross-hatching is created by sewing appliquéd strips then placing fabric on top and cutting through with tas-tas at right angles to reveal the strips. It may be used as filler or part of a design. Other techniques used: •  Inserts are small fabric pieces placed between layers to create visual interest in small sections of a mola. •  Embroidery has become more detailed and more accepted as an integral part of mola designs. Originally, embroidery was used only for a practical purpose, to prevent layers of fabric from separating. Figure A.10 Cross-hatching. Private collection, EHC 3232. Figure A.13 Embroidery can create detailed facial expressions. Private collection, EHC 2891. Figure A.8 Small pips on top of black nips. Private collection, EHC 3612. Figure A.11 and A.12 Chain stitch is the most commonly used embroidery stitch. The parallel rows of chain stitch here depict hair. Private collection, EHC 2891. Figure A.9 Two-layered pips. Private collection, EHC 3891. 196 Figure A.14 Inserts between layers. The right-hand edge of this mola, which forms the seam allowance, shows the placement of colored inserts beneath the tastas . Private collection, EHC 3392. 197 MOLA SEWING TERMS AND TECHNIQUES layering techniques Mola panels are made as a pair, forming the front and back of a mola blouse...


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