Saturday, October 19, 2013

Coffee Cups Quilt Mystery Solved!

I had a great time in Michigan where I visited the Capitol City Quilters Guild for a presentation and workshop. The mystery of the coffee cups quilts? Turns out it was not that much of a "mystery" after all.
(Michigan is sure pretty in autumn! They had a lot more color than we have here in Illinois.)
I brought a photo of the quilt along with me and showed it after my presentation. Several members of the guild remembered working on it in 1988.  The quilt was a group effort and commissioned by the General Foods company, which was located in Battle Creek, Michigan. According to member Jan Gagliano, there was a record of it in the guild's history notes - 
"Coffee Cup Quilts:  Members agreed to make two Coffee Cup quilts for General Foods' quilt collection, each approximately 60"  x  60", one blue & white and one red & white, to be tied. $625 to be paid to Capitol City Quilt Guild for each quilt. General Foods is to provide fabric and pattern."
Jan said that members worked on the blocks at guild meetings. "It was fun and made us a nice profit." Jackie Beard, another member, told me that she joined the guild a year before and that it was her first attempt at applique.
General Foods eventually merged with another large food company in the Chicago area shortly after that. When the two companies were combined, "General Foods" was eventually dropped from the corporate name and existed only as part of a brand name for a flavored instant coffee, General Foods International.  So a coffee cups quilt was appropriate and perhaps may have used for advertising purposes?

Remember buying those instant International Coffees? They're still available but sold under a different brand. My husband sees them at the company store and occasionally brings home a few tins for me (they're sold in plastic "tins" now).

His client company acquired the quilt along with the brand and displays it  at their corporate headquarters. I'm glad that they did not just toss the quilt into storage somewhere. Apparently, someone in the company appreciates quilts enough to display them. 
According to the guild, there was a second quilt commissioned  - coffee cups made in blue and white. When I sent my husband on the hunt for that one he couldn't find it since some of the areas of the building were being renovated. He suspected some quilts had been taken down or moved. The two sister quilts were separated and the mystery of that blue and white quilt may never be solved. But at least now I know the story. And, I just may make my own appliqued coffee cups quilt someday . . . .


Lynn S said...

I think this would be a fun small quilt project for us to do one of these months upcoming. Thanks for the update on the mystery!

Sue said...

What a great story, Kathy! That sure brought back memories for the guild members. I'm anxious now that the other quilt be located! :)

Melody said...

Great story! I do remember when you international coffees came in tins!I bet the ladies of the guild were glad to find out that their work was still being admired.

sue bennett said...

That was a great story. But I love the cup that you are drinking your coffee from in the photos.

Barb K said...

Fun story, Kathy! I remember back when they actually did a special edition of quilt tins. I may still have one left. I agree with Lynn, might be a fun small project with a story to go along with it.

marian said...

oh how wonderful to meet the ladies who made this quilt and to learn more about it's history. I bet they were pleased to know that their coffee cup quilt was still being admired.
Wouldn't it be great to find out what happened to the mysterious blue & white quilt.. i hope someone knows its whereabouts.

Bonnie said...

Great story Kathy. thanks for sharing.

Emily Breclaw said...

After your first post on this quilt, I looked up "coffee cup quilt" on Pinterest, and found a picture of the blue and white one.

You can see it on my "inspiring quilts" board too, if you're interested.

Thanks for the neat story!

Karen said...

I'm so glad you were able to meet with a few of the women who actually worked on the quilt and find answers to your questions. I remember those International Coffees from years ago.
Thank you so much for sharing that story with us.

Eileen said...

I was shopping the other day and saw some Maxwell House coffee on sale; there was a little blurb on the side of the container that suggests we put a couple of spoons of International Coffee (you choose the flavor) in our regular coffee.
So glad you solved the mystery and your DH's company is displaying the quilt.

Plum Cox said...

Great story! I hope that the second quilt is re-found too at some point.... Thanks for sharing!


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