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October 30, 2009
Kuna Fabric: Great for Quilting!
by Rachel Biel Taibi
Dr. Christi has been working with a contact in Panama who has lived there for several decades. Her collection of molas is rapidly growing into a stunning collection that give tribute to the Kuna culture. And, as a quilter, she soon recognized that the fabric the Kuna women wear as skirts holds great potential for those of us who make our own textiles. The Kuna love color and bold designs. The photo above shows the basics of their outfit: mola blouse, printed fabric for the skirt, lots of beads and a cotton red scarf (which we also carry but don't have photos yet). So, she requested that her supplier send her a bunch of the fabric, too.
All of the fabric we have gotten has been cut into the length preferred by the Kuna women, about 55" long (and 35" wide). As the Kuna are a tiny people, this length would be too short for most North American women to wear as a sarong. But, as fabric, these pieces are very interesting. She has not been able to get information on where it is manufactured and thinks that it may be imported, but I think that the fabric is dyed and silk screened locally. If you have any information on this, we would love to learn about it, so do leave a comment here!
All of the pieces have bold graphic designs on dark indigo or black. Many of them are long horizontal designs that would be great for borders. We listed several of them on Etsy, so make sure to take a look. The fabric is a bit pricey and we are hoping to find a source that is more affordable, but for now, this is what we have.
I find the graphics so interesting because they are quite contemporary yet they work really well with the mola blouses. I wonder how they got started on these designs. Before the Kuna were introduced to commercial fabrics, needle and thread, they painted their bodies with the designs we quickly recognize from the older molas. We still have a lot to learn but enjoy sharing both our tidbits of information with you as well as our finds!