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 . . . .

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Mystery of the Coffee Cups Quilt

The client company my husband works with has quilts displayed as art around the building. He sent me a photo recently of one he saw hanging near an elevator lobby. He knew I'd like it because I love coffee and have had coffee cups on my brain for more than a few weeks.

Sorry the photo is not very clear. The red and white theme is interesting, though, isn't it? Apparently, the quilt was made in 1988 by the Capitol City Quilt Guild. I don't know much about quilts made during this period. (I do know I was not a quilter yet and was pretty much off coffee that year because I was pregnant with my son.)
There is a slightly intriguing side note to this little story. My husband did not know this when he sent me the photo of the quilt but, as it happens, I am visiting the Capitol City Quilt Guild later this week. How coincidental, don't you think? Of course, he knows that I am travelling to Michigan for a presentation and workshop, but I know for sure I did not mention the name of the guild.
Who actually made this quilt? Were the cups made by members of the guild or one person? Is it even the same guild?  And, if it is, tell me just how a quilt made and designed by the Capitol City Guild  in Michigan found its way to the wall of a company in Chicago where my husband was able to spot it? And why, when he saw it in the lobby where it was displayed, did he feel compelled to pull out his phone and take a photo of it for me, not knowing I was actually going to visit the place where the quilt was born?
Did the quilt wish to be discovered and recognized? Was it lonely for its original home and hoping to return to Michigan with me? Is the designer/maker alive and kicking? (I hope so.) When I visit the guild this week will they be able to finish the story for me? These and other questions may be answered after I do some sleuthing and get back from my trip . . . .
 Here's what the description next to the quilt says:
"Coffee cups quilt. Designed by the Capitol City Quilt Guild, 1988.
"Quilting has long been associated with American handicraft and with the comfort and warmth of home. This pair of quilts applies this tradition in a witty fashion that makes reference to historical craft through the use of needlework. However, the repeated serial image has greater affinities with Andy Warhol's practice of repeating motifs than it does with traditional quilt design. Although it is reductive, the strong silhouette of a generously scaled coffee cup, resting solidly in its saucer, conveys the notion of heart and strength that a cup of coffee represents."
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You'll notice that the description refers to a PAIR of quilts but my husband only sent me a photo of one. He said he didn't see another one. So, I made him promise that, one day this week while I am at home drinking my morning coffee, he will go on a hunt to find the other coffee cups quilt. It may be displayed on another floor or even in a different building, who knows? Surely he has nothing else to do at work that's more important than finding the second quilt . . . .

Now I wish I had a red cup . . . .

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Facebook, Finally

Hey, I'm on Facebook now. I resisted for years and this past weekend I caved and joined.  I've been sooo out of the loop and decided it was time to change that.  Now I'm getting in the loop and trying to catch up with all the other quilters out there. Better late than never.  Know what? It's actually kind of fun. Facebook. Who would have guessed?
If you like my blog, LIKE me on Facebook too. Click on my Facebook link in the column on the right side of this page (not the photo below). It's a business account, not a personal account, so I'm not "friending" anyone. But I'd love to see your comments.

It's been fun posting pictures and writing there about quilting. It's not blogging, just another way to connect with those of you who want to stay connected and see what I'm doing on a more frequent basis. Hanging out together you could say. And one more way for me to spread my love of quilting all over the place. Wish me luck and perhaps I won't fizzle out on you like I did with Twitter . . . .

**     **     **
It's been so long but today I'm getting back to working on some applique and then hope to have time to play around with my Maple Leaf blocks to see if I can make it all work together.

Yesterday, I went through my scraps, looking for just the right combination  to go with the blocks . . . .  Funny, these blocks look so bright yet they're all made with reproduction fabrics and not colors I'm used to working with so much. I love the way they almost have a "modern" look.

 Are you in a Maple Leaf mood yet?


Saturday, October 5, 2013

October Leaves

Every year about this time I bring out my "fall" fabrics and begin playing in earnest. In my Yahoo group we're making small maple leaf quilts for October.

It's an easy block and you can find the pattern here.
I prefer to make mine scrappy, but that's just me. You may wish to make yours with just 2 colors.

For the past few years I've spent early fall making small leaf quilts for friends and family. I made this runner for myself a couple of years ago. Yes, I know, it's a little wild and quirky but I do love that print I used for the setting triangles. Not everyone agrees, LOL. Even though I'm not sure it's exactly "me" I don't regret it for a minute. October can get kind of wild at times here in the Midwest, you know.
This year I am determined to make something new. Check back before October is finished to see what I came up with. I'm still thinking about how to set the blocks. I think the new one will be a teeny bit calmer because I made some new blocks and added blue prints to tone it down if it needs it. Or maybe it won't be calmer, we'll see. Who am I kidding? My quilts usually take on a life of their own . . . . I just go with the flow and do what the quilt tells me to do. Sometimes an original design or plan gets thrown out the window and another takes over. Isn't that the way it works for some of you too?
Here are a couple of quick suggestions for setting your blocks -

So, if you have the time, get out your fall-colored prints, play around a bit and then hurry up and make something "fallish" before winter gets here! And then show me what you came up with. I'd love a peek.
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Thanks for all of your recent orders and the nice response to the Sentimental Quilter mugs.  FYI - The first round of mugs and mug quilt kits were mailed out on Friday. I ordered more mugs and they will be here next week.  Please be patient. If you ordered one and it does not arrive next week,  you should get it in about 2 weeks, give or take. If you ordered a kit AND a mug, I will wait for the mugs to arrive and then mail them together. And then we can all sit down and have coffee or tea together and dream about maple leaves . . . .

Friday, September 27, 2013

Have Coffee With Me

There's nothing quite like a hot cup of coffee to perk me up. I was enjoying my coffee outside the other morning while the dog romped through the hostas looking for sleeping chipmunks and I had to smile. But it wasn't the dog and it wasn't the freshly ground brew in my still-going-strong percolator that was making me smile. I was thinking, what could be better than this - drinking coffee out of this special mug I designed myself?

You know I would love to actually have coffee with some of you. Imagine - we could talk fabrics, small quilts, favorite tools, etc. Maybe even gossip a little . . .  But face it, that's just not possible. You live there, I live here. So, for a limited time only, I am offering these cute Sentimental Quilter mugs so you can still have your morning coffee (or tea) with me. We'll be thinking of each other!

The mug was designed with the same banner photo that's on my blog, showing some of my favorite quilts. How cool is that?

And, if you're hankering to place your mug on a sweet little mug rug/quilt  - you're in luck. Make one that's similar to mine with a kit you can purchase here. (Colors will vary but all will definitely be scrappy. If you have a preference, e-mail me with your favorite colors and I'll see what I can do.) This would sure make a cute little gift for a friend.
Order your mug now, before I run out . . . . (Sorry, no international orders on the mug.)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Last Day of Summer

Today is the last day of summer. Autumn is my favorite season and it looks like it will be starting off perfectly with mild temps during the day and cool ones at night.
I love looking at all the beautiful fall colors, don't you?

Today I am finishing up my last signature blocks for the second swap in my Yahoo small quilt group. I mailed in the first group of Snowball blocks last week.

I had so much fun making these and all of the other blocks below, picking through my pretty scraps to put the fabrics together. Most of them are different. I think they all turned out splendidly. You can probably tell which ones are my favorites.



Seems to be a theme here. I didn't really plan it but when I laid them all out I realized I used an awful lot of red prints. And blue too, of course. I wanted to send in blocks that everyone would like and I had to remind myself that not everyone likes blue (or red, apparently) as much as I do. So I had to throw in some made with brown and green to balance the whole lot out a little bit.

Pink made a frequent appearance as well.
I wonder - who will be the lucky recipient of this one??
Or this other one? I really hope they find their way to good homes . . . .

It was fun but also grueling at times, finding the time to make so many blocks (over 100) and also make sure they weren't too wonky. I had to rip and resew more than I want to admit but, the best part is  - I'm DONE! What a great feeling. All I have to do today is trim them up and mail them in on Monday. No more unfinished blocks hanging over my head. I can now work on other things for a change without that nagging feeling in my head.
I made a few extra blocks so I can pick out the best ones. I will have a few blocks left over that may not be perfect but I don't quite know what to do with them. So I am putting the word out  - if any one of you would like one of these signed, imperfect blocks to put into your own signature quilt, send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and I will mail one out to you.
Mail to:  Kathy Tracy
P.O. Box 1083
Deerfield, IL  60015

* * *
Yesterday was my birthday and tonight we are going out to dinner with both of my kids in the city to celebrate. Last year we ended up stopping for gelato for dessert when we were finished with dinner. Who needs cake? It's not a real celebration without ice cream I always say.

Of course, no one but me remembers that we did that, so this year I picked another restaurant near that same gelato place . . . .

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Nature's Gift

I love the rain. We haven't had enough of it this summer. I woke up this morning to the sound of a soft, gentle rain tap tapping against the window and my heart lifted up just a little.
Don't get me wrong, I love the sun. But sunny days often make me feel pressured, unlike rainy days.  When it rains, I feel justified sitting inside reading or sewing or just doing nothing. I believe it stems back from my childhood when, if the day was bright and sunny, my mom would nag me to "go outside and play, get some exercise - it's a beautiful day! Why waste it sitting inside reading?" Hah! Since when is reading ever wasting my time, I thought. But during summer vacation from a long stressful school year  there were so many days where all I wanted to do was read or be quiet, not go out and play in the hot sun even if it was good for me as my mother believed. I'm still like this.

Rain places no such expectations upon us. Rain gives me permission to stay inside and be quiet if I want to and reflect, not necessarily be DOING something. If it's raining, it's okay to curl up with a quilt and a cup of tea and read a good book.


"Anyone who thinks that sunshine is true happiness has never walked in the  rain. . . . " With a dog, I might add.
Life gets busy and hectic for all of us at times. I found a great App for my phone for when I feel like I'm spinning my wheels a little too much and need to slow down a bit and take a breath - Simply Being - a meditation App that you can set for a few minutes or more (up to 20 actually). You can get it for all types of phones or your ipod. One of the options is to relax and listen to nature sounds instead of calming music. I always keep mine set on Rain (of course I do). Just listening to the quiet sounds of rain refreshes my spirit.
It's my birthday month and more often than not, for as long as I can remember, it has rained on my birthday. I like to consider it Nature's special gift to me and have learned to be grateful for it. Slow down, life is good, take a breath, you made it through another year. . . .


Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to School

Little Red Schoolhouse
Quilt of the month for September
(from Prairie Children & Their Quilts)
An antique Schoolhouse Quilt I bought several years ago. It's a little frayed here and there and patched in places but these types of quilts are so rare. I love it very much just the way it is but perhaps will try to restore it someday.
September always means back to school time. Even for those of us who are not school age anymore. Quilters go to school too and I know many of you take quilting classes. The latest thing appears to be video classes on your computer,  taken at your own convenience and leisure.
Today I am offering two of you a chance to enter a giveaway here for a crafting class. Take a look at Daily Craft TV.  They have some wonderful video classes taught by popular, experienced teachers. And there are not just quilting videos either -  there are classes on knitting, crocheting and scrapbooking  as well.
A class on bindings taught by Liz Porter
A class on making Log Cabin quilts taught by Marti Michell
How to make a quilt of valor
There are many classes to choose from. So here's how it works - you can enter a comment here on my blog and then when I pick the 2 winners they will be e-mailed an access pass code to get into the class of their choice for free. Simple. The hard part is going to be following directions carefully. Listen good.
In your comment, tell me one of your memories from when you first started school. What was it that really sticks in your mind that made you either love or hate school? Try to keep it short.
 +  =  +  =  +  =  +
I had a love-hate relationship with school. I loved learning and playing school with my friends was a favorite game. I always did well in class but I was a very shy, anxious little girl and being at school all day, away from my mom, was difficult. Some teachers were mean and did not understand and just told me to grow up when I cried or got a stomach ache while others - like dear Mrs Riccio and later Mr Hollander - understood. They nurtured me and became my friends and because of them I went on to become a successful student. Compassionate teachers hold the key I believe. My son is a teacher now and I know he understands and is one of those nurturers himself. 
Good luck to everyone!  Include some way for me to reach you (e-mail) in your comment. Winners will be posted in a few days. Maybe as soon as Monday.  I know you're all eager to go back to school . . . .