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Cabin Creek Quilts began in the spring of 1970 as a self-help quilting cooperative. The project was organized by volunteers from VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), a Poverty War agency. They worked with coal miners’ wives and widows in the Cabin Creek area of Kanawha County. Quilts and other products made of patchwork in traditional designs quickly made their way from the hills and hollows of West Virginia to shops on New York’s fashionable Fifth Avenue, the White House, and Beverly Hills.

As many as 300 home patchwork makers and quilters worked for Cabin Creek Quilts, which was governed by its members and operated by a paid staff. The co-op organized skilled quilters into an efficient cottage industry, choosing attractive designs, buying fabric and supplies, and providing marketing and distribution. Quilters worked in their own homes and were paid on a piecework basis. By the late 1980s, imported Chinese quilts began cutting into the cooperative’s market. The cooperative won cases concerning trade name infringements in the 1990s against Wal-Mart and the Orvis company. A fire, flood, repeated thefts, and vandals never stopped the group.

Cabin Creek Quilts was first located in Chelyan, at the mouth of Cabin Creek. The cooperative moved across the Kanawha River to the village of Malden in 1991 and restored two 19th-century houses which now serve as its operations headquarters and training and community buildings. Leading the way in the reconstruction of Booker T. Washington’s boyhood home and the Women’s Park in Malden, Cabin Creek Quilts continued to practice community service. More than 2,000 West Virginians produced $7 million in sales through the co-op.

In 2007, Cabin Creek Quilts became a privately owned business when it passed into the hands of Rebecca Stelling, who had been a member of the board. Stelling is also president of Mountain Artisans, which also once operated as a quilting cooperative.

This Article was written by James Thibeault

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Cite This Article

Thibeault, James "Cabin Creek Quilts." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 08 December 2011. Web. 25 September 2017.

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