Quilt Design Star™ 2012 Finalist Marla Whalen

    Marla Whalen

McCall's Quilt Design Star™ 2012 Professional Category

Marla Whalen
Arlington, TN







How long I've been quilting... About 15 years.

I began quilting because... I’ve always been creative, and I learned the basics of sewing from my Mom. I wanted to try quilting as a creative outlet, since I now had my own home and time for a hobby.

My quilting style is... Traditional with a twist. I enjoy the traditional blocks and patterns, but I also enjoy re-drafting them and making them my own. I do have a modern side, too, stepping outside the traditional bounds by creating original blocks.

Other quilt design contests I've entered... AQS shows (Paducah and Nashville, both multiple times, Des Moines once); QN’s Do You EQ? contest; Benartex’s Peace, Love and Quilts contest.

People who inspired me... I draw inspiration from a lot of different sources.

Marla Whalen sewing areaI draw my inspiration from... My inspirations come from very varied places. Films and music are two sources that come up frequently; also architecture, other art forms, and even a fabric or fabrics can inspire me.

My Favorite techniques... I’m a bit of a Renaissance woman…I like them all! I do machine and hand piecing, machine and hand applique, and I sometimes dye my own fabrics. I’m a pretty decent hand quilter, but I quilt almost exclusively on a sit-down machine—I work full-time and I can finish MANY more quilts that way.

Colors or fabrics I'm attracted to... I love bright colors, particularly in the jewel-tone spectrum. I have a large collection of black-and-white fabrics; purple is my favorite color, so there is a lot of that, too.

My fabric stash... I would say my stash is large, but I’ve seen plenty that are much larger. Overall I think my stash is pretty eclectic in regards to fabric styles, but fabrics that could be described as ‘happy’ or ‘elegant’ predominate. You’ll find a lot of black-and-white, purple, green, and pink fabrics…but a little bit of everything.

My quilting community... My work schedule doesn’t allow time for bees or guilds—I’m generally a solitary quilter.  I do belong to two Electric Quilt online groups, Info-EQ and Steppen (a Yahoo group)—they are great resources for working through designing issues, both for my own questions and for learning through helping others.

Elna Grasshopper Marla WhalenMy other hobbies and interests... I am a big-time movie buff. I love all genres, eras, and languages…but my strongest interest is in the Film Noir movement. I’m a big sports fan, especially NFL football, NASCAR racing, and NHL hockey. I also do a lot of reading, particularly crime, detective, and horror/fantasy books...and of course a LOT of quilting books. My newest interest has been in fixing up vintage sewing machines. It started with restoring the 1950’s Atlas passed down from my granny, and has moved on from there to a few more machines. Tinkering on them is pretty addictive, and it’s fun to learn about them.

I entered Quilt Design Star™ 2012 because... I had a phase of about a year where I wasn’t feeling very creative. I read several books on creativity that were very helpful, and I’ve gotten myself back on track. I saw this competition as an excellent opportunity to flex those creative muscles and have a bit of an adventure. I also want my quilting career to move forward, and this contest offers a  chance for the contestants to be more visible in the quilting world.

What you should know about me… I’m a full-time pharmacist and married mom of two wonderful rescue dogs, Faye and Tucker.

My publishing history... ‘Starring Tim and the Cousin Norma Earrings’, my Lone Star medallion quilt in the entry round of this contest, was published as a three-part series quilt in Quilters Newsletter. ‘Garden in the Round’, my Winding Ways design of overlapping circles, was published in American Quilter.
‘Ribbon Stars Expanding (A Garbage Can Constellation)’, a star design featuring skewed pinwheel blocks, was also published in Quilter’s Newsletter.


Starring Tim and the Cousin Norma Earrings (below) is Marla's Quilt Design Star™ 2012 Professional Category entry quilt.

Starring Tim and the Cousin Norma Earrings by Marla Whalen

That Dizzy Edge (below) is Marla's Quilt Design Star™ 2012 Professional Category Challenge 1 quilt top.

That Dizzy Edge by Marla Whalen

Getting to the Point (below) is Marla's Quilt Design Star™ 2012 Professional Category Challenge 2 quilt top.

McCall's QDS™ 2012 Marla Whalen Getting to the Point

Boy Meets Girl (below) is Marla's Quilt Design Star™ 2012 Professional Category Challenge 3 quilt.

McCall's QDS™ 2012 Marla Whalen Boy Meets Girl



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