Molas are made in the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama by the Kuna (Guna) Indians. They use layers of fabric to create reverse, traditional, and inlaid applique. Traditionally, these designs are made using bold primary colors.

Venancio's Four Owls Original Molas
Picture of a Real Mola From the Isla Maquina, Four Owls by Venancio
Finished size: 41 x 31cm (16 x 12 in)

Molas originated from body paint art and evolved into monochromatic reverse applique with the introduction of woven fabrics. The use of balanced primary and secondary colors is a relatively recent development, but fits nicely with the potential of modern machine embroidery.

Molas Nouveau Fish & Uh-Oh
Molas Nouveau Fish & Uh-Oh

My Molas Nouveau series are my interpretation of Molas as sewn with machine embroidery. I have attempted to recreate them as traditionally as is possible and still be practical for machine embroidery. Of course, you’re welcomed and encouraged to use your own imagination in sewing these designs with whatever thread and fabric colors stir your creativity. After all, that’s really why we do this, right?




Emboldened by the response to Molas Nouveau, I created a second series of molas called what else but, Mucho Molas Nouveau.

As with the original series, you also have the option of stitching the designs as free standing applique or patches or stitch them directly onto your project. The option to add fringe to the edges or not is also still there.

I particularly like my Kuna woman. she is the perfect size for a glasses case that I made with her.

I hope you enjoy my Molas Nouveau. As always, I love it when you share your project pictures and stories.


Molas Nouveau

Mucho Molas Nouveau

Molas Nouveau – Mucho Molas!

Mucho Molas Nouveau Purse Project
  • Includes 24 designs:
    • Five Mola-inspired designs, for the 5×7 hoop, and their center motifs (10 design files in all)
    • Seven Mola-inspired designs, for the 4×4 hoop, and their center motifs (14 design files in all)

In The Hoop


Lacy Heart Frames

Molas! Series

Needlepoint Machine Embroidery Series

Pincushions/Mug Rugs

In-The-Hoop #2

Hardanger Angel Bella

Hardanger Angel Heather

Hardanger Dimensions

Hardanger Floral Angels

Hardanger Floral Hearts

Hardanger Floral Wreaths

Hardanger On Point

Hardanger Ornaments

Hardanger Squared

Hardanger Stockings

In-The-Hoop #3

Ten-Point Star

Floral Fountains

Glorious Hearts

Our Whole Life

Purple Feathers

Summer in My Heart

Welcome Quilt Banner

Welcome Fall Quilt Banner

Welcome Spring Quilt Banner

Winter Magic Quilt Banner

Trapunto Flowers


Embroidery and fabric arts in general, like other artistic expressions, often have a cultural component unique to the people and places from which they originated. Regardless of origin, I’ve been fascinated and amazed with the richly different expressions of fabric, as well as how borrow from other forms. It’s why I’ve tried my hand at translating some of these techniques.

Over the years, I’ve hobbled together a unique collection of machine embroidery that I hope pay homage to a few cultural origins of inspirations. That collection includes a rather extensive series of Hardanger Machine Embroidery – or I use to call it, Hardangish.

Hardangish Squared Table Cover

Also favorites are Hmong and Mola inspired designs

Laura's Sewing Studio Hmong

Molas Nouveau Fish & Uh-Oh
Molas Nouveau Fish & Uh-Oh

But more recently a collection of  Mehndi art transformed to thread. These are by no means the sum total of artistic creativity and I have more art forms and ideas to explore than I suspect I have time left to finish. But isn’t that a good thing.


Hardanger Machine Embroidery


Hardanger Alphabet

Hardanger Angels - Bella

Hardanger Angels - Heather

Hardanger Angels - Mary Jane

Hardanger Dimensions

Hardanger Eggs

Hardanger Floral Angels

Hardanger Floral Hearts

Hardanger On-Point

Hardanger Ornaments

Hardanger Rainbows

Hardanger Squared

Hardanger Stockings

Hardanger Wreaths



Hmong's the Way


Mehndi Body Art


Molas Nouveau

Mucho Molas Nouveau