Valdez Quilt Festival 2016

I was a lucky enough to be asked to teach at the Valdez Quilt Festival this year, and as the termination dust settles on our mountains, I finally have time to share what a great adventure that was. Many of you know, I learned to quilt Valdez, so going back for the festival is super special.

The festival is held in even years at the convention center in Valdez Alaska. Check out view from the parking lot!

Maria Shell Valdez Quilt Festival 1

Quilters in this community labor for free for two years, organizing the classes, the teachers, the logistics, the accommodations, the quilts, and more.

On Tuesday evening, I flew to Valdez. Here is the view from my hotel window.

Maria Shell Valdez Quilt Festival 2

Valdez is a port town, and the hotel where I stayed is right on the water.


Valdez has a rich and complicated history that features gold, oil, snow, rain, and mountains. In this little town, for more than a century, humans have been battling the elements in an effort to extract natural rescources. This photo is of the terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. 

Maria Shell Valdez Quilt Festival 3

Wednesday morning, the quilt teachers were invited to take a day long Colombia Glacier tour with Stan Stephens Crusies.  Festival participants can also sign up for this adventure.

I don’t have say much here.

The photos tell it all. It was amazingly beautiful. We had a clear windless day, perfect for being out on the water and seeing the glacier and wild life.


On Thursday, the festival started. My first workshop was the Circle and Curve Sampler which is now called Making Prints out of Solids—Circles and Curves.

One of my students had this amazing new tool. I am very surprised they were not invented years ago. Instead of holding a red value finder to your work use these Sew Red Glasses. It is so much easier. They are totally worth 20 bucks. 


Friday’s workshop was Making Prints out of Solids—Lines and Shapes. That class was so packed with information, I forgot to take pictures. I learned a very important lesson about teaching that day. Just because I know a lot about improvisational piecing does not mean I need to share all of that information with my students in a six hour class. We all thought our heads were going to pop off, but they did not.

The evening event for Friday was a Mystery Quilt designed by my quilting friend Jennifer Fleming. If you missed the full post about this piecing adventure, you can catch up by reading it here. I love this event. The festival volunteers remove all the divider walls and open up the Civic Center so that a hundred plus quilters can all stitch together.


Without the dividers, you also get a great view of all the quilts made by the festival volunteers since the last festival.

Saturday’s workshop was Lines + Triangles = Squares. I think I might have to change the name on this class too. It is a tongue twister. We had a great time selecting palettes and improving our improv skills.


Entertainment for the evening was the Dessert Show and Tell which is great chance for everyone to see the work that has been stitched during the festival as well as quilts that were completed from previous festivals. And then of course, there are the desserts. These Valdez quilters are also whizzes in the kitchens.


My final workshop was Modern Broderie Perse. I love this class because students work without a pattern to create their own original designs.

If they can let go of the pattern, I know their work will be a success.

I am teaching this class at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. You can enroll here in #623 Modern Broderie Perse. The workshop will be taught on November 4th Friday evening 6PM – 9PM. There are still spots! 

On Sunday afternoon, the quilters packed up, and the wall of quilts came down.


The teachers headed to the Valdez Airport only to find out that the flight was cancelled. This is not unusually, and as always in Valdez there is a Plan B. The amazing Shannon Day—Happy Birthday Shannon!—loaded us all up in her Suburban, and we drove through the night, the winds, and the rains to arrive back in Anchorage sometime after midnight.

I love this little festival and every time I am invited to teach I am honored. The women who create the Valdez Quilt Festival work tirelessly to make it happen. Thank you dear ladies for providing so many quilters an opportunity to stitch and learn together.

This entry was published on October 1, 2016 at 1:52 PM. It’s filed under About Teaching and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

9 thoughts on “Valdez Quilt Festival 2016

  1. So glad I was able to see you. Also very honored to be asked to teach.

  2. Love the pictures of the landscape! And what a fun festival! It looks like a fabulous time; I’m sure your students had a blast.

  3. The festival looks like a wonderful celebration of quilts and quilting!

  4. What a wonderful opportunity to be with lots of quilters in such a beautiful location ! Made we wish I had been there to enjoy it all. Glad you had a great time! Both the scenic and quilt pics are just gorgeous !

    • Jean–there is 2018! The organizers beginning planning for that one right about now. I will try and keep my readers posted on the teachers, dates, and events for that Festival. Thank you for stopping by!

  5. What a great adventure! The quilt with the big vase of flowers and the tiny cat tickles me.

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