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GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN BY QUILT CO-OPS SECURES NATIONAL SALES OUTLET FOR THEIR HAND-STITCHED QUILTS

 GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN BY QUILT CO-OPS SECURES NATIONAL
 SALES OUTLET FOR THEIR HAND-STITCHED QUILTS
 Fabric Travels 5,500 Miles Across America
 In Its Journey To Become A Quilt
 DODGEVILLE, Wis., Sept. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Three of this country's oldest quilting co-ops mounted a grassroots campaign last spring to highlight the challenges facing America's hand quilters. Sales of imported hand-stitched and American machine-made quilts were increasing and America's hand quilters, the majority of whom are located in small remote communities, were growing further and further away from the mainstream marketplace.
 The campaign led to the groups finding a nationwide outlet that will place their hand-stitched quilts in front of millions of customers. Coming Home, the bed and bath catalog of Lands' End, will debut the co- ops' first quilt in November. The company has sold hand-stitched Amish quilts for the past five years and had been searching for additional quilting groups.
 The background of the three co-ops is as diverse as America's history. The three-member Bare Soldier Quilters of South Dakota are direct descendants of the late Sioux Indian Chief Chasing Hawk. The 30-member Freedom Quilting Bee of Alabama was organized as an outgrowth of the Civil Rights Movement. The 100-member Cabin Creek quilters are the sons and daughters of West Virginia mountain folk. The three groups share a common love of quilting that was born out of the adversity of poverty.
 Their plan was to design a quilt that through fabric and thread would piece together their three distinct cultures. The resulting quilt features an eagle in the center star designed and pieced by the Bare Soldiers Quilters. The eagle is surrounded by blocks of a "Log Cabin" design created and stitched by Cabin Creek quilters. The outside border of "Broken Chains," reminiscent of African cloth, was designed and pieced by The Freedom Quilting Bee. They called it the "All-American Quilt."
 The co-ops then toured the country with the quilt, meeting with media, government officials and consumers. The All-American Quilt and its quilters toured churches and malls in seven cities this past spring where more than 660 people from 26 states and eight countries stitched on the quilt and signed their names on a muslin petition to show their support.
 The effort caught the attention of a Lands' End customer who recommended the quilters to Coming Home. "We were looking for another large group of quilters who like the Amish, could make hand-stitched quilts on an ongoing basis," said Anita Iodice, Coming Home product manager. "Finding these groups and Cabin Creek to coordinate the effort was a dream come true."
 One hundred of the "All-American Quilts" will be available through Coming Home in November under the name "American Eagle." The pieces of the quilt will travel from the hills of West Virginia to Alabama and South Dakota and back to West Virginia. When complete, each quilt will have traveled about 5,500 miles, contain 19 yards of fabric and 400 yards of thread.
 Beginning in January 1993, Coming Home will feature a different hand-stitched quilt made by the co-ops every two months. Featured patterns are expected to range from traditional "Lone Star" designs to new patterns created by the co-ops. The quilts will range from $650 to $800, depending upon the time and handiwork involved. Each averages more than 100 hours of labor.
 James Thibeault, director of Cabin Creek Quilts of Malden, W.Va., expects to hire and train 100 or more quilters to meet the renewed demand for American-made quilts. He is also establishing an American Quilt Center in Malden that will train new quilters and source experienced quilters from across the United States.
 "Our grassroots effort to create attention for America's quilters captured the imagination of thousands of people across the country," said Thibeault. "The Coming Home assignment is a catalyst to restart a home-based sewing industry in this country and the National Quilt Center will be a way to keep an indigenous art alive."
 Lillian Maresch, co-founder of Generation Insights, a Minneapolis consulting firm that specializes in tracking trends of the baby boomer generation, believes the time is right for American-made quilts.
 "After the '80s, we've experienced an emotional bankruptcy for something homemade, something unique rather than the cookie cutter products of the '80s," said Maresch. "Among today's consumers, there is a renewed respect for quality, craftsmanship and simplicity, all characteristics found in handcrafted quilts.
 "The '90s consumer realizes that a quilt is made by someone who touched it and lived it, and now they want to live that experience, too. And, they appreciate the hundreds of hours of work that went into it."
 Coming Home also will expand its line of quilts made by the Amish of Holmes County, Ohio. Previously, an Amish quilt in a design selected by the company was featured annually in the company's holiday catalog. Now, the 40 to 60 Amish families will stitch authentic, traditional Amish designs each made to strict Amish standards, including the fact that each quilt is transported from cutter, to piecer, to quilter through the hills of Ohio by horse and buggy or bicycle.
 -0- 9/18/92
 /EDITOR'S NOTE: The "All-American Quilt" will be called "American Eagle" in the November Coming Home catalog. Coming Home sponsored the "All-American Quilt Contest" in 1992 and did not want to create confusion among customers who might think the "All-American Quilt" was the winning contest quilt.
 The hand-stitched American-made quilts will be sold in the Coming Home catalog only -- not the Lands' End catalog/
 /CONTACT: Beverly Holmes, 608-935-4985, or Michele Casper, 608-935-4633, both of Lands' End/Coming Home; or James Thibeault of Cabin Creek, 304-925-9499/ CO: Lands' End ST: Wisconsin IN: REA SU:


AL -- MN002 -- 0976 09/18/92 09:02 EDT
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Date:Sep 18, 1992
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