Tag Archives: Peru

Take a Quilting Class … Molas … Arpilleras … Puchka & an Iguana!


Since not all of us live near a quilt shop or belong to a quilt guild that offers quilting classes, why don’t you think about taking an on-line quilting class?  All you need is a computer (you’re reading this, right?), fabric and some quiet time. The nice thing is you can take the class at your convenience – in the middle of the night in your pj’s or when the kids are down napping, while you’re eating chocolate chip cookies or havingpjcomputer a glass of wine and no makeup is required! You can pause, reverse, fast forward … learn at your own speed.  Two of my favorites are Quilt University that offers a plethora of classes to suit anyone’s interests and Craftsy that offers all types of textile and sewing classes as well as quilting lessons.  Have fun!


Molas – reverse applique technique

If you lament your access to quilting classes, consider some quilters, textile and folk artists who live in even more remote areas than you do.  They don’t have access to fabric stores or on-line classes so they develop their own style of textile art.  In Costa Rica I was introduced to the beautiful art of mola, whose origin comes from the body painting of the Kuna indians, indigenous to Panama and Columbia. Molas are made using a reverse applique technique. Two to seven layers of different colored cloth is sewn together & the design is formed by cutting away parts of each layer.  The stitches are almost invisible.

Example of molas

Example of molas

In Peru, the arpillera art quilt tradition began in the 1970’s when entire Andean communities migrated to the outskirts of Lima for safety.  The needle artists transform left-over scraps from the garment industry into vibrant, 3D landscapes.  Arpilleras use about 70 percent recycled fabrics.  Beginning by designing & stitching a unique landscape, the artist then cuts colorful fabric scraps into animals, trees, flowers, houses, birds & people & hand stiches them to the background, finishing the piece with embroidery.

Arpilleras - left over scraps are used for 3-D landscapes

Arpilleras – left over scraps are used for 3-D landscapes


Puchka (drop spindle)

Also in Peru, the Quechean tradition of puchka (drop spindle) endures.  Unwashed cotton, and the washed & carded fleeces of sheep, alpaca & llama are spun into yarn & thread.  The yarns are dyed with leaves, flowers, roots & minerals to be made into shawls, blankets, rugs & tapestries for which Peru is famous.So if you find an on-line quilting lesson too tame and want to experience life on the wild side, there are folk art travel tours to Central and South America that take you into the jungle to take hands-on workshops in arpillera, mola and puchka. There’s also a fabulous quilt retreat in Costa Rica I would love to try.  Maybe next time.

Costa Rica - 3 foot Iquana outside our cabin

Costa Rica – 3 foot Iquana outside our cabin

%d bloggers like this: