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