The October challenge for an art quilt group that I belong to, was to create a quilt using a mola technique. A traditional mola is a multi-layered, needle turned, hand stitched, reverse applique. It is considered an art form. My quilt, pictured above, has been machine stitched so it is a mock mola. The process I use to make a mock mola starts out with a pattern like this.
The pattern is then traced on to freezer paper, shiny side down. I added additional cuts to the original pattern so more of the fabric that will be layered underneath will show. The trick is to not cut through the lines because then your pattern will fall apart.
I then stabilized a piece of tightly woven, black fabric with Wonder Under, a fusible web. The fusible web will help prevent stretching of the fabric, make it easier to cut and provide a way to fuse the fabric on to the underneath layer of fabric. I left the backing paper of the Wonder Under on to make the cutting easier. The freezer paper pattern, shiny side down, is then ironed on to the black fabric. The pattern can now be cut out, using an Exacto-type craft knife and scissors, leaving the freezer paper intact. Or, if you prefer, trace the design on to the black fabric and then remove the paper and begin cutting.
While cutting the design, I decided to add a flying geese-look border by cutting out triangle shapes. Once satisfied with the pattern, I removed the backing paper and layered the black fabric on to a colorful fabric that I had previously dye painted. I slipped some solid color, hand dyed fabric backed with Wonder Under behind the corner triangles to break up the color design, then fused all of the layers together.
To finish, I added a narrow, hand dyed, blue border and an additional black border for interest. Then I layered the top with wool batting and black backing fabric to make a quilt sandwich. I outlined the cut out edges of the fish and the triangle border with free motion quilting and heavily free motion quilted the background with various designs. Using a variegated thread, I free motioned a design pattern on the border to add more color. Instead of a traditional binding, I used Susan-Brubaker-Knapp’s method of a mitered facing. Her technique gives a nice finished look to an art quilt.
If you would like to see more examples of mock molas, visit Cathy Miller, the Singing Quilter’s website. Take a look at her classes and her student’s beautiful work.