Fredia Haley is fulfilling a lifelong dream.
Ever since her childhood in Middle Tennessee, quilting has been something Haley always wanted to do, and she is sharing her passion as owner of Foothills of the Smoky’s Quilt Shop in Cosby.
“It’s basically a lifelong dream. My mother quilted all her life,” said Haley, who opened her store on Dec. 11, 2017. “I remember sitting on the floor helping my mom making quilts.”
After closing out a 25-year career with Bridgestone Tire in Lavergne, Haley wanted to stay busy, and found what she said was a gem in the perfect area.
“I came up (to the area) for Christmas vacation, and the mountains were calling me,” she said. “I looked all over, found this place – and here I am.”
In addition to supplies to make quilts, Foothills of the Smoky’s also provides materials to make tablecloths, placemats, throw pillows and even bags of scraps that can assist in finishing projects.
The shop also makes quilts for customers.
“We take orders for finished quilts all the time. They choose the materials to use, we make it and ship it to them,” Haley said.
Foothills of the Smoky’s is located in a pair of old cabins built in the 18th and 19th centuries.
A building connecting the two was built over a half-century ago, and served as an antique shop for three decades before Haley opened her shop at the location.
Since opening the quilt shop, Haley said her store, located about 20 miles from Gatlinburg, is a perfect location for visitors interested in buying finished quilts or getting the supplies needed to make their own.
Haley said it’s very easy to get to her location.
“There’s a road coming from the east to get here, and there’s a parkway coming from the west,” she said.
Haley said her store specializes in providing quality fabrics for quilters who want their creations to last for generations. Customers are welcome to pet the fabrics, which simply means touching the fabric for softness or firmness before purchasing or using the products.
“You want the quality fabrics because if you take care of it, it’ll last you 100 years,” Haley said. “You won’t find that in a department store or online.”
Haley also said business has been great nearly two years after opening her shop.
“It’s very busy. There are campgrounds around here, and we have a lot of cabins nearby,” she said. “It’s a destination place. We’ve had a couple from England come here. They’ve come from Sweden as well.
“Just this week, we’ve had people come here from Illinois, Michigan, Washington State, Oregon - and even Canada.”
Located in a two-storey house on the property is a place where quilters come from across the country for a week-long retreat to make quilts and other items in the peace and quiet of the mountains.
“(Visitors) get a group together, and they come here every year,” Haley said.
A group of quilters from North Carolina took their yearly pilgrimage to East Tennessee to enjoy their craft. Connie Lanier from Parkton, North Carolina recently retired after 34 years as a teacher, and she said she wanted to stay busy in her golden years.
“I’ve always wanted to learn to quilt. I signed up for a quilting class – and I’ve been doing this ever since,” said, Lanier, whose group has been coming to Foothills of the Smoky’s for retreats for 15 years.
Betty Tatum, who relocated from her home state of Massachusetts to Fayetteville, said she learned about Foothills of the Smoky’s on a trip to Gatlinburg several years ago. She stopped by another shop, and learned about what the quilt shop had to offer.
“I haven’t found any other place better than this,” Tatum said. “This is why we come here.”
Originally from Kansas, Susan Frison has been quilting since 1976.
She has become the leader of the group due to her experience in the art form, and she and her friends were making quilts that could be used for any kind of weather.
“I’ve always been a seamstress. I’ve been quilting since I was 12,” Frison said. “It’s more artistic than sewing dresses, plus it’s therapy for all of us.
“The really warm quilts are too warm for a place like this (under the current weather conditions). You can always make a quilt for the area you live in, or going to.”
During the one-week retreat, Frison has been making quilt bags, mats and has taken up crocheting. She also has been making quilts to give to men and women recovering from substance abuse once they complete the program. Frison said modern technology has made constructing quilts much faster.
“(Making quilts) goes a lot faster than when our parents or grandparents made them,” she said.