Felt Cuna Mola
Third Grade Project, as seen in this gallery: http://www.artsonia.com/museum/gallery.asp?exhibit=69851
The color palette comes from the traditional Molas in that the dominant colors are red, black, and orange with hints of every color of the rainbow thrown in.We started by drawing a leaf pattern on paper (or tag) and then drew it on the top layer. They cut this out and then also cut out some "french fry" shapes around the leaf shape to make "windows" for other colors to show through.
They worked from the top down. To create the second layer, they put their first layer on top and traced the leaf shape, but made it slightly smaller. This was cut out. The last layer was left whole. They then glued scraps of felt (from the leaf shapes that were saved) behind the "french fry window shapes" to add color. Use tacky glue for this.
Sewing is next and I pinned their molas together, but did not glue them at this point because it would make it hard to get the needle through all layers. They came to me one at a time to get needles and I demonstrated backstitching the veins to small groups. We used variegated thread found at JoAnn Fabrics- very important- do NOT use cross stitch floss (the kind that comes apart)! Use crewel thread that is in one piece, like this:
As for the blanket stitch around the edge, I again taught small groups how to do this. It is the easiest stitch for them to master! No practice is necessary. I just tell them to go straight down and make sure their needle is in the loop before they pull. But, if they miss the loop, they can still use their needle to go back and "catch" it. I do usually tack the corners when they round them- they just come to me and I use their thread to make an extra loop there- it looks better and keeps it in place. Older kids could probably do this themselves.
When they are finished, the layers can be glued together by adding some drops of tacky glue to the inside edges. I know a teacher who uses the adhesive backed felt, but she says that the needles get all gummy and that it is harder to get the needles through the felt. Also, it is more expensive. I bought the red, orange, and black felt through Molly Hawkins' House by the piece at a very low cost. I cut those in half and that is the size we use.
See these sites for the history and examples of authentic Cuna Molas:
I have actually ordered a Mola from Crizmac and it is quite nice: