Friday, November 6, 2009

Creating a Quilt - Making Money at Home Doing What I Love

Got a custom quilt order this week from a local lady who began collecting mola blouse panels while in the Peace Corps in Panama a few decades ago. This project includes several firsts and I’m really looking forward to it. Normally I create custom memorial quilts from clothing that I carefully deconstruct and then sew into blocks that are joined to form the quilt top. The mola blouse panels are already blocks, being rectangular and of similar size. Another first is that, in addition to this being a memory quilt rather than a memorial quilt, I actually got to meet with the client to discuss the project and plan the layout. What a treat!

Mola blouse panels are intricately appliqued and embroidered by Kuna women. They are connected to a yoke and form the body of the blouse. The panels adorn both the front and back of the blouse and are usually similar or on the same theme. According to my research, many of the panels are from blouses actually worn by the Kuna women who deconstruct the garment and sell the panels when they tire of the blouse. These panels entrusted to me memory quilt creation are simply unbelievable in person! I applique and embroider and I can tell you, the detail and quality of the stitching is incredible.

I took a few pictures and am sharing them. Please keep in mind – I’m a quilter and a writer, not a photographer! But these pictures should give an idea of the detailed stitching in these beatiful panels.

For more info on the Kuna people and mola panels, check out the University of Missouri Museum of Anthropology site.

Here are before and in-progress pictures. The first is just the layout, photographed from the side, and the whole top row is missing - there are three more panels outside the picture on the left. The challenge was in getting the panels to fit together with an even outer edge while filling in the center.
This second photo is the same layout but with the sashing in progress. The panels will be thinly sashed giving the impression that they are swimming in a sea of black. I can't wait to see it when it's all done!

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