Who We Are






judy benzel
Judy has been sewing most of her life and continues to create with fiber.  A Home Ec college grad, she has branched out to computer sciences in her vocation, but her avocation still remains sewing and quilting.   An accomplished quilter and seamstress, she never ceases to amaze with her creative products.   One of Judy's specialties is putting together the Demonstrations and schedules at the Festival. 


jan eaton

I took my first quilting class at Saxon’s Sewing Center in 1982. It was a 12 block sampler but the quilt was to be a wedding present for my younger sister, so I decided to make it into a 25 block king size bedspread. I hand quilted it.  When I finished the third quilt top, I was ready to try machine quilting…stitch-in-the-ditch. Whenever I see it now, I cringe!  The quilting did nothing to enhance the beauty of the patchwork design. In December 1990, I completed my fifth quilt.  It took me three weeks from start to finish. It was at that point that I realized I loved quilting more than garment construction, and I had been making all of my clothes for nearly 20 years! I began experimenting with free-motion quilting in 1994.
A few years later, I took two classes from Pam Clark, a well-known machine quilter from Spokane, WA. In 2004 I went to Harriet Hargrave’s 
Celebration of Machine Quilting in Estes Park, CO. However, I still have lots to learn. I do all my quilting with my Pfaff sewing machine and enjoy making free-motion designs using only minimal guidelines. My favorite designs are feathered wreaths and cables.

I taught family and consumer sciences education for 32 years, retiring in 2008.  I introduced my middle school students to quilting by turning 9-patch blocks into pillows as a tune-up for their sewing projects.  Over the years, several groups of older students wanted to make quilts as their sewing projects.   I am particularly proud of the actions my students took following two world events.  In December 1992, my students stitched together scraps of donated polar fleece to create blankets which were sent to Croatian refugees of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. Then, after Hurricane Katrina, my students created 28 beautiful lap sized quilts from donated fabrics and sent them to students in a 5th grade class in Long Beach, Mississippi.

Relatives and friends get most of the quilts I create. I also donate quilts for use as fundraisers to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Blue Mountain Archers, and other good causes. Currently, I teach patchwork and machine-quilting classes at Walla Walla Sew & Vac and Spas.



pam murray
Pam is an accomplished writer, speaker and consultant.  She travels far and wide visiting Europe and the far east.  You can easily see this influence in her lovely work.  She began quilting in 1973 before the advent of rotary cutters.  Her first project was a deacon's bench seat composed entirely of 1-inch squares.  She meticulously cut each square with her scissors.  That was enough for her for many years.  Quilting again called her name and her second effort was a pot holder.  Pam has graduated into making lovely quilts which she machine quilts herself.  She says she still often gives thanks for the modern quilting tools we all enjoy!


becky martin

I started quilting about 15 years after I took a class from my good friend Jan.  Then I took more classes and have been hooked ever since.  Went to Estes Park, Colorado to Harriet Hargraves Quilting Celebration and took several classes from well known teachers from here and abroad.  Each time I take a class, I learn something new.  Jan and I now teach classes at our local Sew and Vac store here.  Quite a change from knowing nothing to becoming a teacher.  Can't find me, I'm in my sewing room!  



nancy kessler
I started sewing in 7th grade when you learned how to make one of those lovely gathered skirts using 3 yards of fabric.  Sewed clothes, costumes, etc. for family and friends through the years. But in 2000 a small newspaper ad caught my eye announcing the 2nd annual WWVQF and they were having a quilt challenge.  Well, I love a challenge and the quilt was only wall hanging size, so I bought a book, fabric and other tools of the trade and went to it.  Much to my surprise, and a few other peoples', I won third place.  I was now hooked big time on quilting.  After the quilt festival that year, I volunteered my services and as they say, the rest is history.



catherine spanish

I inherited my love for creating and sewing from my mother. In my early years, I made my Easter suits and prom dresses. After marriage and children, I was making diapers, children's clothes, and lots of crafts.  Somewhere around 1982 I made our first bed quilt, a double Irish Chain design, and soon after that a machine appliquéd bed quilt for our son. I didn't produce very many quilts for many years after that. Then when my first grandchild was expected, I made a hand appliquéd, hand quilted baby quilt. That was so much fun!  But, truly active quilting began for me in 2011 following retirement.
I love every aspect of quilt design!  I pet fabric, drool over colors, have an ever- growing thread collection. I always have several projects going at the same time. I'll be working on one, while thinking about how the next one will be planned. I enjoy both machine and hand appliqué, and my newest love is wool appliqué combined with cotton pieced quilt tops. The design possibilities are endless!  I'm still learning everyday, but my goal is to become more accomplished as a finish quilter after piecing the tops.
terri hellberg
I started sewing in the usual way, having to take the mandatory “home ec” class in Jr. High.  I didn’t do real well. I couldn’t walk by my moms’ machine without it breaking!  (Mom was a great sewer)  I really started sewing when my husband bought me my first Viking sewing machine in 1983. I could sew thru coyote fur!  I started sewing clothes for the kids and really enjoyed it.  I took classes in pattern fitting to tailoring.  When I made my first quilt, a king size log cabin, I didn’t even have a rotary cutter, ruler or matt.  I have several rotary cutters, and numerous rulers now.  I love quilting. My time spent quilting gives me peace and makes me happy.   If I’m cranky, my husband has been known to say “Don’t you have some sewing to do?” I finally figured out that he was saying you're cranky, go sew. I’m afraid that I won’t get all the quilts made that I want.  There isn’t enough time in a day and I always seem to find new ones that are waiting to be created!

sherry moran
  I started my sewing career at a young age when my mom, who sewed the majority of my clothes, handed me Barbie clothes patterns and scraps from her clothing creations.  In Junior High I moved into Home Ec making my own clothes and bags.  In my mid-twenties, after receiving a couple of quilts from my Grandma Jones, I was bitten by the quilting bug.  Being in the mid 90's, I was drawn to the Country Chic style and colors of burgandy reds, navy blues, greens and golden browns.  After quilting and teaching quilting for several years, I took a break.  When I came back I found that my style aesthetic had completely changed.  I am now in love with more modern stylings and bright colors.  What I love about quilting is there are so many styles, fabrics and techniques you can find something that inspires you.  The Walla Walla Valley Quilt Festival is an excellent opportunity to showcase your work and admire the work of others, and finding even more inspiration!