Sunday, November 01, 2009

Catch the Color

Are you washing your quilt fabric before you use it? I hope so. This little quilt is made from the paper color catchers that I place in my washing machine when I wash my fabric. It is amazing how much color is absorbed from the fabric! Even if you don't plan to wash a quilt you have made, if you give the quilt as a gift, the new owner may.

It's always best to pre-wash and dry your fabrics. Sometimes fabrics act differently under the same washing conditions. If one fabric is going to shrink a lot and one is not, you would rather have them do that before they are sewn into your quilt to prevent lumps, bumps, and other unsightly mistakes such as bleeding color all over your finished project!

Better safe than sorry!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Everything's Blooming

Just two simple blocks compose the quilt center ! A fusible applique border of windswept blooms provides a fun finish!

Find the pattern to "Everything's Blooming" in the October 2009 issue of Better Homes and Gardens American Patchwork and Quilting.


Saturday, August 01, 2009

From Heart to Hand

I think our hands are our most expressive feature. When I meet elderly people, I love to look at their hands and think of all the work they have done, the things they have created, the places they have travelled, the lives they have touched, the things they have held and loved and the things they have held and lost. Some are beautiful and smooth, others work worn and rough. Oh the stories they could tell....

My Mom, sisters and I recently spent the day together, along with my sister's daughter Hannah. Even though we are all related, we were saying how different our hands looked and how you could tell our ages by our hands. We decided it would be really neat to have a photo of our hands...3 generations. It became our day's project. After breakfast and coffee we took our photo and all trooped to the photo booth to develop our photo, with copies for each of us. From there to the frame shop to find each of us a frame that suited our tastes and decor and then home to polish our frames and mount our pictures. It was such a fun day, filled with much laughter and lots of ribbing that only sisters and mothers can share. It is a photo we will all cherish.

Clockwise from top right:

Rogene Franklin Freed: 83, wife, mother of 6 children, gardener, and home builder
Cynthia Freed Tomaszewski: 55, wife, mother of 1 son, quilter, sailor, and world traveller
Beth Ann Freed Thomas: 50, wife, fashion coordinator, office manager, and gardener
Amy Freed Cooper: 49, wife, mother of 3 children, legal secretary, baker, and voracious reader
Hannah Cooper: 17, student, baseball player, volleyball player, and a lover of all sports.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Working with Wool

Sometimes we need to reach out of our comfort zone!

When Better Homes and Gardens American Patchwork and Quilting brought together 25 designers for 3 days of fun in Iowa, we played games, bonded as friends, and challenged ourselves to work with new materials that we had never used before. Though applique is my passion, I had never thought to work with wool!!?!??! What fun! New Accucut stencil machines cut the wool templates fast. I just needed to display them in a pleasing manner. Using 3 strands of a 6 strand embroidery floss in complementary colors, I sewed them in position. Little star buttons add to my composition called "Sweet Dreams", a delightful table runner for a childs room.

Now "wool" calls to me (especially the yummy hand-dyed stuff) and who should I be lucky to meet when I was at International Quilt Market but the lovely ladies Gail and Lisa of the WoolyLady. They share my love of applique and have done some fantastic, show stopping designs in wool. They shared some of their patterns with me and their penny rug pattern "Brown Eyed Susans" I thought would look delightful as chair pads for a Mother's Day gift for my Mom (in her colors of course!). She loved them!

Rather than using freezer paper to cut out the templates, as suggested in the pattern, I used a very light weight fusible which made it easy to cut out the designs and hold them in position while I did my decorative stitches. I find it less messy than using an adhesive spray or glue stick and if you use a very light weight fusible it will not make your project stiff. Which ever method you choose to use, you will love working with wool. It has such a lovely feel. I can see now that I need a stash of wool for my wooly dreams and creations!

Be sure to stop by and visit the Woolylady's at and see their delightful designs. Be sure to tell them I said "Hi".

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Some Great Summer Reads

When I'm not quilting, I'm reading! And vacations are my favorite time to read. The first thing I pack in my luggage are the books I plan to read along the way. I've just gotten back from a 3 week trip to the U.S. which means lots of long flights and lots of time to read. Here are two books that I loved and recommend. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Both books are about special friendships. We all have many acquaintances but true friends we can count on one hand. They have great impact on our lives and they are the ones we will remember forever! Have a tissue handy for both of these great reads!

"A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini
"Astrid and Veronica" by Linda Olsson


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Creative Inspiration...It's everywhere!

I am frequently asked where I get my creative inspiration. Gosh, it is everywhere! It's in the great colors of the garbage man's headscarf, the shape of a plant leaf, an artist's painting, a vivid sunset, designs in the tile floor, shapes that I doodle. Travel is one of the biggest inspirations of all. The colors, smells, costumes, artistic designs of a culture open your eyes to creating simple designs in a new way. It gets you out of your normal routine and frees your mind from all the daily obligations that crowd out your creativity and opens your mind and spirit to new ideas and thoughts.

I believe that all art is an imitation of life and that art inspires new art and creative ways to look at the world. Each week I try to do something that stirs my creative mind such as visit an art gallery, an exhibition, shop in the souk, tour a new location, visit the sewing supply stores to check out the new embellishments. Even a simple button can send you on the path of creative inspiration.

For example, each year I visit the International Jewellry show with friends. Jewellers from Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, India, and Italy showcase their latest designs. Diamonds, rubies, saphires, emeralds, pearls dazzle the eye. The shapes of the designs are always intriguing. The depth and color of the stones amazing! There is always inspiration just waiting to be discovered. Thousands of women congregate to see the designs. For women of the Middle East, India, and Asia jewellery is an important part of wedding ceremonies. It is representative of the wealth and status of the family and plays a large part in the customs and traditions of their culture. It is passed from generation to generation, from grandmother, to mother, to daughter.

Is it all real? you ask. Trust me, it is! And the price tags reflect their beauty.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wrapped in Fabric!

We quilters dream of being wrapped in fabric. And quilters are used to handling fabric...lots of it! But to wrap 6 yards of fabric around your body in a graceful manner and then be able to walk, sit, dance, and tackle all manner of chores, as well, is truly an art. Due to my long time friendship with Tehruna Patel and her generosity, my closet has quite a selection of ethnic saris and shalwar khemis. So of course whenever I attend an Indian celebration, I am appropriately attired.

Tehruna is a member of the Parsi community in India and her sari reflects her heritage. Her sari, which shimmers in the light as she moves, is a Tanchoi sari which is a silk twill weave and is the sari she first wore for her wedding reception, when she married.

I am wearing a plain black silk sari and my choli or blouse is hand embroidered with Parsi designs.

Underneath the sari is a long petticoat, with a drawstring waist which is tied very tightly. One end of the sari is pleated and tucked inside the waist of the petticoat, the balance is wrapped around and the pallu, or end of the sari, is then either draped over your arm (as Tehruna is wearing hers) or brought over the shoulder and allowed to drape down the back (as I am wearing mine) to show off any design on the pallu. The trick to walking gracefully in a sari is to kick the pleats ahead of you as you glide forward.

In the second picture, Tehruna is wearing an antique, traditional red Garo which is heavily hand embroidered with Parsi designs of Chinese influence which include birds, flowers, and figurines. This time her pallu is brought from the back over her shoulder and the corner tucked into her petticoat to show off the fabulous embroidery on the pallu.

Thrity, second from left, is wearing a silk sari with a hand embroidered Parsi border or kor.

Never will you feel more elegant or more like royalty than when you are dressed and glide in a sari!

Like quilts, these traditional saris are an investment and an art form that are used and handed down from generation to generation.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Fabric Tester

There is only one living creature that spends as much time as I do in my Quilt Studio and that is Henry Morton Stanley, aka Stan the Man, Yoda, Grumpy, and Fuzz Butt. We named him after the great explorer because he was born in South Africa, was sent to the United Arab Emirates where we adopted him, and he will surely continue his world travels living with us.

Though he's a petite dude, we thought for sure he would grow into those ears but they still remain his most distinguishing feature. He is my constant companion and is good about giving his opinion on fabric choices. Ears up... it's definitely a good consideration. Ears down...maybe we should reconsider.

His favorite foods are chicken and fish and though he demands regular treats, he gives thanks with a handshake.

Who knew that a 5-pound piece of fluff could add so much life, love, and laughter to our house!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Quilts from Paradise

Watch for the release of "Quilts from Paradise"! Coming to you late summer/early Fall 2009

You can dream of escape to a tropical isle, with the projects in "Quilts from Paradise". Smell the flowers, splash in the waterfalls, collect treasures the sea has to offer, watch the sun rise, let the butterflies tickle your nose, and hear the birds sing. It's all possible when you immerse yourself in "Quilts from Paradise". Embellishments galore! A tropical adventure!

More of my Studio

As you can see I like lots of lights! Quilters ask if I use a design wall. Actually, I don't. In all my years of quilting, I have never had space for one. In my old studio I did not have wall space for one, but I had a white Berber carpet floor where I would lay out the quilt as I worked on it. This studio also has a white floor so as I sew I can just swivel around and lay the pieces where I want them and adjust them accordingly. It's all what you get used to doing. Or need to do out of necessity!

Of course I have a large stash! More fabric than I can ever sew in this life time. Each shelf holds two rows of fabrics. Like you, I dream of one day owning the perfect studio with built in cupboards and a perfect place for everything. Gosh, when we lived on our boat, I only had two lockers located under our bed mattress. I had to remove the queen size mattress to get to the lockers, remove the locker tops, and crawl down into the lockers to get to my fabric. Boy was it dark in there! My husband said I was not allowed to complain as two of the largest lockers on the boat were dedicated to my quilting supplies. This is a major improvement. I am already half way to perfection!

My Studio

Whenever I meet a quilter I always wonder where she creates and what her studio looks like, so I thought I would share mine with you! We recently moved from an apartment that we had lived in for 14 years to our current location. I am thrilled because now my studio is more than twice as big, with floor to ceiling windows, so I get lots of light and have a lot more space. It's a little messy at the moment with fabrics pulled for my fifth book that I am starting work on, fabric that has not been pressed, fabrics that won't fit in my stash, etc. etc. but I love being surrounded by all that inspiration. The tall cabinet in the far right corner holds 3 rods at varying heights over which I drape quilts. There are probably over 60 quilts in there (lots more are stored in my office). To the left, bookcases hold reference books and miscellaneous goodies. My cutting table is in front of the window, at waist height, where I have lots of light, a great view over the tunnel on Airport Road, the Cultural Foundation and the old Fort. Under the table in the foreground is where I store all my batting.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I was named Cynthia which means Goddess of the Moon. There are many pictures of the Moon Goddess but I think this one is especially nice. I also answer to lots of other names...Cindy, Mom, Gizzard, Sweets, Boobie. I'm sure you have lots nicknames as well. It's fun to check a book of names to see what your name means and if it suits your personality. If you could choose any name for yourself, what would it be?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I have put off starting my blog but today is the day!!!!! Yes! It is raining here in Abu Dhabi which is very, very rare. Many years we only get rain a couple times in a year. One time we didn't have rain for 4 years. Normally everything is covered in dust but with all the trees and the grass being washed by the rain everything is bright and fresh and ready for a new beginning.