Designer Tidbits: Gina Martin - The Jolly Jabber Quilting Blog

Designer Tidbits: Gina Martin

Take a walk in the garden and butter up the bees! Wrens & Friends, Gina Martin‘s debut collection for Moda Fabrics, is bursting with vibrant energy and whimsical motifs! Gina stopped by the Jolly Jabber to share more about the collection, so keep reading for a closer look!

Q: Where did you find your original inspiration for Wrens & Friends?
A:I would say that the two most important women in my life are my inspiration. I have no talent for gardening but I love visiting the gardens that my mom and grandmother grow. They both spend their summer days watering, weeding, and planting their plots while watching the birds at their feeders. My mother says it’s her therapy. With this collection I hope to convey the breezy and happy feeling I get when I visit Mom and she takes me around to show me all her new flowers!


Q: What would be your collection’s theme song?
A:I’ve been thinking about this question for days! I don’t always listen to music while I work because if I’m doing something technical, like trying to figure out a fabric repeat, I prefer the quiet. When I was designing this collection the weather was so nice that I had my studio windows open. I could hear the sounds of the neighborhood; birds chirping, kids playing and marching band practice at the school a few blocks over. Would that count? If not that, I think it would be a song I find happy like “I Already Have a Husband” by Balafon Marimba Ensemble. Nothing happier than a marimba! It’s on iTunes!

Q: Tell us about your background. How did you get into the fabric and quilting industry?
A:I’ve been an illustrator and graphic designer for over 20 years. I’ve also loved sewing since I was a kid. Marrying the two was always a dream. I exhibited at a trade show called Surtex for the first time in 2012. There I was hoping to meet possible new clients that would be interested in buying my art for their products. As it came about, I wound up getting in touch with Moda, and within weeks I was working away on Wren & Friends!

Q:What projects do you hope to see using Wrens & Friends? Quilts, apparel, accessories, home décor projects?
A:I’ve gotten a few emails from quilters and sewers who are using Wrens & Friends for baby girl bedding and accessories. One sewer is making a diaper stacker that looks like a little dress. I’m hoping they will send me photos!

Q:Tell us about your background. How did you learn to sew, quilt, and design fabric?
A:I’ve sewn since I was really young. My first projects were clothes for my Barbie. My mother helped me early on with learning to read patterns and we would make clothes together. I call it tag team sewing. I would cut the pieces out & she would sew them as I cut. We whipped things out pretty quickly that way. I have to credit the fabric design portion of my career to one of my professors at the Kansas City Art Institute. Stephen Sidelinger introduced me to surface design. I had no idea what it was or how much I would end up loving it. I learned even more about repeats and how to do them well when I designed wrapping papers for Hallmark Cards.

Birds & Butterflies Quilt Kit featuring Wrens & Friends

Q:What are some blocks or obstacles you encounter in your creativity, and how do you get past them?
A:Well procrastination can be a problem, but a tight deadline takes care of that and I always seem to have lots of those! I think one obstacle for me is editing. I tend to have lots of ideas and narrowing it down to just the right prints for a collection can be beyond me, so I send everything I’ve designed to the wonderful art directors at Moda and let THEM decide! They say “You know we can’t print all of this, right?” That would be one huge collection if they did!

Q:What is your favorite print in the collection?
A:Just one?? I really like the border print, available in cream, tangerine, and chestnut. It’s the first one I designed and all of the other prints are based off of it. I think it would make the cutest little girl dresses or even kitchen curtains!

Q:What inspires your work?
A:I am inspired by all kinds of stuff and you can see it all on Pinterest! What a fabulous resource for designers! I love folk art, vintage collectables, beautiful typography, fine art, clever industrial and furniture design, as well as the art of my very talented friends. I love going to art and craft museums when I travel. I recently got some new books about the Wiener Werkstätte. They were a community of artists and designers working in early 20th century Vienna. I would love to incorporate some of their sensibilities into a future collection. 

Q:What is the most challenging part of the design process?
A:I designed a quilt (my first!) to go with this collection. It’s a free pattern from Moda, and you can download it here. I was thinking I would make a crib sized version of it for a new baby girl we have in the family. It will be the first quilt I’ve ever made! I tend more towards smaller projects simply because the idea of quilting something that large on my sewing machine has intimidated me, but I have found a local shop that will do the quilting for me. I’m looking forward to getting to know them and maybe even learning to work a long arm machine myself!


  1. I love that the fabric came first for you and not the quilting. There are so many wonderful people involved in the making if any one quilt. Heads up: you will be addicted. Hehe!