The exceedingly generous Dave LaValley, the original “Santa Claus of sewing machines.”
It’s been a wild and hectic summer with trips to visit many quilters across the country! I recently returned from another fabulous week at the 42nd Vermont Quilt Festival; my eighth opportunity to judge and teach at this amazing quilt show in an outstanding venue which is truly one of the highlights of my teaching year!
Early morning outside the classroom before the students arrived for the first day of class!
Janome-America, Inc. is the Diamond Sponsor for VQF, spearheaded by Dave LaValley, owner of Bittersweet Fabrics in NH. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that Dave selects me to teach in his Janome classroom each year and this year was no exception. The brightly-lit classroom overlooking the show floor was filled for three full days with fabulous Janome 9400 Horizon Memory Craft sewing machines and very excited and enthusiastic students!
It’s all about the kids….
Prior to classes starting mid-week, I spent two days with a fantastic judging team consisting of Gerald Roy, Sue Nickels, and Kathie Beltz. After the judging was complete, the Awards Ceremony kicked off the show with a huge audience in attendance on site and thousands of others joining through a Facebook live-stream event. (If you’re on Facebook, you can watch the streaming event of the VQF Awards Ceremony HERE.)
While the awards ceremony is exciting fun from beginning to end, the highlight of the evening was the moment Dave LaValley presented each new youth entrant with a brand new sewing machine! The children were called up to the stage, one by one, and Dave presented them with a new, high-quality Janome sewing machine of their very own! There’s never a dry eye in the place and for these youngsters, it is their very own paparazzi moment with photos and flashes! This year, Dave’s sweet and beautiful granddaughter, Emma, helped to hand out the machines!
More than 40 youth entrants this year, ranging in ages from 4 – 17, including several scouts dressed in uniform attended the awards ceremony!
Emma, shown at left, helped Dave present 38 machines to all the young quilters, some as young as four years old!
Some of the youngsters were barely big enough to hold the machines!
This handsome young man in the green hat was overjoyed!
Many of the kids were simply overwhelmed at the thunderous applause and flashes from so many people taking photos!
Dave happily helped carry machines for the youngest entrants. (That’s David Taylor smiling in the background!)
More from the Awards Ceremony….
The awards ceremony provided many other exciting moments as well. Each of the contest judges was able to choose a quilt for their “Judge’s Choice” award. This year, I chose “Thanks, Ralph” by Dawn Sullivan. I simply love this quilt! Dawn used more than 75 Ralph Lauren (and other designer’s) shirts to create her stunning quilt. She fussy cut the patches to create interesting secondary designs within each block. I especially loved the way she expertly arranged the color gradations around the outer border while providing a bit of whimsy with the addition of some of the pockets!
I just loved Dawn Sullivan’s expression upon finding out she won my Judge’s Choice Award!
Another one of my favorite moments was when Lynne Rainen’s quilt won “Best Landscape” and Kathie Beltz’s “Judges Choice” awards! The back story about this is so interesting. I had been introduced to Lynne in 2017 by my friend and editor, Linda Lasco. Lynne had showed me a piece she was working on at the time and it was so beautiful, I immediately encouraged her to enter her quilt in a contest, such as VQF. She had never entered a contest before because she didn’t think her work was ‘good enough.’ I assured her she had nothing to lose and strongly suggested she enter. This was Lynne’s first time to enter a contest and her quilt took two top awards!
Kathie Beltz presented Lynne with her awards. Their expressions are priceless!
As the Diamond Sponsor for VQF, Russ Schwers, Northeast District Sales Manager for Janome-America, Inc., gave a fabulous shout-out to Dave LaValley, thanking him for his dedication and commitment to today’s sewists and tomorrrow’s young artisans before introducing me as the new Spokesperson for Janome.
Forever humble, Dave tried to get the crowd to sit down when they gave him a standing ovation for his generous contribution and dedication to VQF and the next generation.
I was thrilled and completely honored to present the 2018 VQF Best of Show award to Barbara Korengold for her stunning quilt, Blossoms from the East.
This years faculty featured an impressive line-up of nationally and regionally well-known instructors!
The 9400 Memory Craft machines performed brilliantly! I had the students use the fabulous HP (high performance) presser foot and plate for the absolute perfect 1/4″ seam allowance. And with 26 machines all sewing at once, they were incredibly quiet!
My first class was Spinwheels and the students were incredibly productive. They were all able to accomplish so many new techniques to make their blocks!
Spinwheels, shown hanging behind me.
The colors and fabrics the students used are so vivid!
Janome Educator, Sam Fung, was like the Maytag repair man. He was available to help in my classroom but the 9400 sewing machines all performed so well, there was little for him to “fix” during the week! But we loved his input during the class. He is a wealth of information and knowledge!
On Friday my sweet husband, aka “Mr. Kim” arrived after taking a red-eye from LAX to join me in the classroom for the Mystery Quilt Class. He enjoyed “teasing” the students by showing the back side of the mystery quilt class sample…..
The Mystery Quilt Class was a huge success! Most students finished their tops or at least the majority of their blocks by the end of the day!
A Gourmet Picnic!
Friday afternoon’s lunch break has now become quite the much-anticipated tradition at VQF. A few years ago my editor and friend, Linda Lasco, began bringing a small gourmet picnic lunch to VQF. What began as a picnic for three has grown each year and is now a highlight for a few lucky friends, colleagues and educators! She prepared a delicious luncheon of freshly made salads, complete with homemade rolls (to die for!) and butter!
This year’s picnic served 11 hungry and very grateful folks!
We laughed, talked, ate and enjoyed each other’s company all with a fabulous view of the show floor! It just doesn’t get any better…..
Linda always brings a table cloth and even patriotic Mickey Mouse salt and pepper shakers!
The scrumptious gourmet picnic is all due to this wonderful lady and my dear friend, Linda.
Friday night’s Show and Tell
Another highlight of the week was Show and Tell, which followed the lecture on Friday evening. Each teacher presented her or his students and their projects from class. This is always a crowd pleaser; the audience always enjoys seeing the extraordinary workmanship accomplished in class!
I just have to brag about my students. They always come out in force to represent my classes at Show and Tell for which I feel so blessedl! And just look at those completed quilt tops; there weren’t many UFOs to take home this time!
I was excited to have some former students bring completed quilts from past years at VQF to share with the audience…
…including Beverley who was so inspired by one of my classes she designed an original quilt layout based on flowers in her garden using blocks from one of my books. The audience loved it!
These wonderful ladies — from all my classes — are more than students. They have become friends!
The last day of class went as beautifully as the first! Another new class this year, I taught Hidden Pines with challenging-but-fun techniques!
Love the smile!
Sweet Emily! I was so touched she came to class having just very recently lost her husband after an illness. It was so good to see her and spend time with her….
And I loved getting to know Shelly better, as we share a mutual dear friend in Judi Madsen.
Such a fantastic way to end a fabulous week at VQF, 2018!
Fun in the Janome booth
It’s always a warm and friendly experience in the Janome booth at VQF. The educators, Dave’s store employees and even the Janome execs pitch in and work hard all week to ensure every customer receives VIP treatment and is made to feel as though they are the #1 customer. That’s one of many things which impresses me so much about the folks and commitment to top customer service at Janome. And yet, there’s still always time for smiles, hugs and fun.
John Ryan, Director of Business Development for Janome-America, on the left with Kent on the right.
We tried on several occasions throughout the week to get the entire team together for a photograph but to no avail. There were just too many wonderful customers in the booth at all times and they came first! But we managed to get these folks together….
Gotta love this guy.
A few more sights from the week….
This pretty quilt by Anne Harmon was the result of a class I taught last year at VQF. It was exciting to see a class quilt entered into the show!
Quilt shown above.
Birgit Schuller’s “The Sprinter” was awarded a purple ribbon and award for “Best Quilt From Outside the US.”
This version of the Splendid Sampler by Janet Dalis is one of the most stunning and original settings I have seen. It was a true masterpiece; every block was constructed perfectly! This is the front…..
…and this is the back side of the Splendid Sampler. Each block on the back features a tiny photo transfer of the block on the front plus the name of the designer of that particular block.
So deserving of a purple ribbon.
Leanne White, Karen McCleary and me. These gals work tirelessly on the judging staff to make the process efficient and smooth. They are such good friends since we began working together many years ago.
Kent and I always enjoy spending time with Gerald Roy.
I loved spending so much time with my dear friend, Sue Nickels. We enjoyed many dinners out during the week and had fun catching up! This photo, taken earlier this year, is standing in for the fact that during all our time together, I didn’t get a photo of us at VQF!
Of course, there is always time for some silliness, too! As seen from the classroom window overlooking the entrance to the quilts!
The traditional photos that MUST be repeated. Yearly.
What began in fun a few years ago, has playfully continued…..
VQF 2018 Suzanne and Martha have been coming to take classes from me every year for many years! And we ALWAYS have more fun than we can stand!
This was a long post with lots of photos to share. Thank you for reading all the way to the end!
If you’ve never been to the Vermont Quilt Festival, I hope you’ll consider a trip there at some point in the future. It’s always held the last full week in June in Essex Junction (Burlington) Vermont. See you there next year, I hope!