Sewing Superstar: Kathy Drew

Kathy Drew, Sewing Superstar

I really enjoy sharing, especially when it concerns quilting—but not so much—when it concerns cheesecake. One of my favorite quilty things to share are my friends. Since I started quilting, I have been blessed with having my world filled with amazingly supportive and talented people.

With Friends Like These I feel very fortunate to be able to say that I have several friends who are internationally-known quilters. (pinch me) They are known for their teaching and quilting skills. Their work is so recognizable that you would know it the minute you saw it. I also have several talented friends who aren’t as well known, but are equally as gifted. These talented individuals are extremely well known locally, but aren’t as visible on the national or world quilting stage. (Which seems very wrong to me.) So, after much thought and soul searching (It took less than a minute. I’m very shallow.), I have decided to do what I can to change this situation, and shed some limelight on these individuals and their wonderful work. I feel their work needs to be seen—by golly. (I just slapped my knee for emphasis.)

Since It’s My Blog—and  I can do what I want to—I have decided to showcase the quilters, sewers and needle artists, whose work I admire and aspire to. These are friends—both close and casual—that have influenced my work and how I approach it. Their creative endeavors and passionate pursuits, entertain and inspire me on a constant basis. These individuals are superstars in my book, and because of that—and the fact that the word “sewing” transitions so smoothly with “superstar”—I have created a new category for my blog called Tom’s Sewing Superstar.

Because I Can The individuals selected by the nominating committee (me) for superstar status have gone through a (my) rigorous evaluation process. Their technical skills have met or exceeded all the (my) necessary benchmarks and standards established by the nominating committee (me). Their creativity has been deemed noteworthy by the committee (me) for its ability to both inspire and challenge perceptions of what can be executed in fiber. The decisions of the nominating committee (me) are final.

SUBHEAD ALERT: To make the next subhead more effective, I feel that you need to say it correctly. Let’s begin. Try saying “SUPERSTAH!”  like Molly Shannon did in the movie Superstar!

That’s right . . .  I think you’ve got it. . . .

On second thought, I think it could be just a tiny bit better. Why don’t you shrug your shoulders and try to relax a bit first. Okay. Now, let’s try it one more time . . . SUPERSTAH!

Hmmm . . . . you’re close, but something is missing. It still doesn’t feel right to me.

I got it. Let’s try this . .  . (Are you sure you’re ready?) Okay . . .

To get started, you need to put on a Catholic schoolgirl uniform. (Go ahead, put it on . . . I’ll wait.)

Okay . . . now that you are dressed (You look great by-the-way. No, . . . the skirt isn’t too short. Don’t be silly.), I need you to say “SUPERSTAH!”—really loud—while going into a deep lungeing position and throwing your hands straight up into the air.

Got it? Great. Now let’s try it one more time. “SUPERSTAH!”

Super! YEA for you! I knew you could do it. Whoo Hoo!!! (You know, subheads can be so demanding at times.)

Okay . . . Now say it with feeling—but don’t hurt yourself.

SUPERSTAH! (Good job! I’m so proud of you.) The first superstar the committee (me) has chosen to showcase is my friend Kathy Drew. (What a coincidence. It’s such a small world.) She is an extremely gifted quilter and I feel fortunate to have had her quilt some of my earlier pieces. As Kathy’s work evolves, it continues to amaze and inspire me. When I look at her current pieces, I am often rendered speechless. (Can you EVEN imagine that? I know. It’s hard.)

I have included a few samples of Kathy’s work to help you get a better understanding of why the committee (me) thinks she is a Sewing Superstar. Hopefully these samples will entice you to visit Kathy’s blog.

Under Tennessee Skies, Quilted by Kathy Drew

Details from Under Tennessee Skies, quilted by Kathy Drew, photographs by John Black Photography

Under Tennessee Skies is a beautifully executed French Braid quilt (above) created by the Village Quilters Guild in Loudon, TN. The quilt was made in 2009 to honor the AQS Quilt Show’s debut in Knoxville. The quilt is on permanent display at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Sparkling Vases by Tom Russell, quilted by Kathy Drew

Sparkling Vases by Tom Russell, quilted by Kathy Drew, photographs by Charles Brooks Photography.

Sparkling Vases was the first pattern I designed for, and the first quilt Kathy quilted for me. She did such an amazing job with the quilting that I was afraid no one would look at my top.
Sparkling Vases Detail Photographs
Detail photographs of Sparkling Vases.

When you look at the beautiful quilting details, is there really any wonder why I thought that?

Detail photo of Simply Red quilt by Kathy Drew

Detail from Simply Red, quilted by Kathy Drew, photograph by Charles Brooks Photography.

Once I began competing in quilt shows, I had this great idea for Kathy to enter national competitions as well, but for some reason she always—politely—declined. After me continually urging (harassing) her to compete, she finally (grudgingly surrendered) agreed to enter one of her quilts into a competition.

There was only one problem with my great and wonderful idea. You see, Kathy spends all her time quilting for others, so she didn’t actually have a quilt of her own to enter. So, what she decided to do (To get me to leave her alone.), was to spend a few days making a quilt for competition. (Who does that? I spend months on a quilt and she spends days . . .  Geez! I feel so inadequate.)

Anyway, after a few days of non-stop quilting, she created Simply Red. Can you believe it? Look at that detail! This is her first competition quilt—made entirely by her. This stunning quilt was accepted into the IQA show in Houston, and was also exhibited at the AQS show in Nashville. Not bad for her first time out.

Restore America quilt by Tom Russell, quilted by Kathy Drew

Restore America: A Salute to Preservation by Tom Russell, quilted by Kathy Drew, photographs by Charles Brooks Photography.

Another quilt I designed for was Restore America: A Salute to Preservation. This quilt was also quilted by Kathy. To say she did an amazing job, is an understatement.

Restore America Detail Photographs of the Quilting

Details from Restore America: A Salute to Preservation

Look at that detail. How can she do that? WOW. As I said, I feel very lucky to know someone like her.

Samples from Margo Clabo's applique quilt, quilted by Kathy Drew

Samples from Margo Clabo"s applique quilt, quilted by Kathy Drew

I was going to say something flowery and poetic about this quilt, made by Margo Clabo, but—really—is that necessary? Just look at it. (Here’s a tissue. You’re drooling on your keyboard.)

This is only a glimpse of some of Kathy’s wonderful work. I’m sure you’ll agree, she is truly a Sewing Superstar. So, go on, check out Kathy’s blog to see even more of her amazing creations. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Oh yeah, come back again soon. I’ve been busy, and have more stuff to share.


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23 Responses to “Sewing Superstar: Kathy Drew”

  1. Margo Says:

    I’m honored to be included, but you two are WAY out of my league!!
    Tom, you are right! More people need to be aware of what a talent Kathy Drew is, and I can tell you from experience that photos of her work don’t begin to do it justice!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Oh Margo, don’t be silly. If Kathy and I are in a league, then you are definitely there too. Kathy sent me these pictures some time ago, and I’ve kept them for inspiration. I’m was thrilled to be able to showoff your and Kathy’s work.

  2. Lynn Kelly Says:

    Margo, we are going to have to insist you attend ‘remedial’ school where the only lesson is “How to accept praise without denigrating yourself!” You are most certainly NOT out of their league! But I would have to say I, as a fairly novice quilter, I am so delighted to have you 3 (Tom, Margo, and Kathy) as experienced quilters to open the creative mind for the rest of us! Isn’t the internet great??!!!! We get to experience the work of so many others – every day. Thanks Tom, for sharing these pictures!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      I agree Lynn.

      For many quilters, learning to just say thank you and accept the well-earned praise is very hard to do. Most of us only see the flaws in our work and miss the overall beauty of what we have accomplished.

      YES! The internet is truly a great invention. How amazingly blessed we are to live in this day and age.

  3. Kathy Shaw Says:

    Ouch, pulled my back out with that last “superstah!”. Love your blog Tom, one would think you’ve been doing it forever!! You are a natural. Thanks so much for sharing your superstars! WE love to be inspired by you…and it’s great to see those you are inspired by. And, easy to understand why…gorgeous work!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      You have to be careful when you strike a pose, but it’s SO much fun. Glad you are enjoying the blog. I’m having a lot of fun with it. One of my biggest problems at the moment is figuring out what I want to talk about next.

      Kathy is really a superstar in my book. I’m in awe of her talent. I wish I could make my machine do what her’s can do. The photos I posted are nice, but seeing the her work up close leaves you speechless.

      Thanks for dropping in!

  4. deb aka purple princess Says:

    Kathy is absolutely deserving of SUPERSTAH status! WOW!!!!!!!! Woohoo, indeed!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      I thought you’d like her work. Kathy is fearless when it comes to quilting. Did you see the Laural Burch quilt in her slide show? That quilt was so amazing and SO inspiring to see. She is definitely gifted. Glad you enjoyed seeing her work.

  5. Patricia Eaton Says:

    Tom, You know how much I love your quilts…and Kathy’s quilting skills are just super special. Quilting like this just blows my mind! You are both extra special quiltmakers!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey there, I feel the same way. Quilting like this blows my mind. I work at it, but I can’t get my mind or machine to do this. She is pretty special, no doubt about it.

  6. jayardi Says:

    • • • Hi Tom, I am literally swamped and needed a little pick-me-up. I was right when I chose your blog to do the job. Your sense of humor is absolutely wonderful and just what the doctor ordered.

    I’ve seen Kathy’s name linked with yours many times. Now I understand why. Her worked is SENSATIONAL!
    Thank you for sharing it with us.

    I totally concur with the committee (you) that Kathy Drew is a Superstah!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi there, Glad you stopped by. I know you are swamped. I agree, the committee did a great job this time. Kathy does beautiful work. It always inspires me to work harder at quilting.

      Her understanding of how quilting patterns/texures change the look of a quilt, is truly a gift. She just knows how to enhance a quilt design through the quilting. She can make you focus on the things she wants you to see, and hide the things she doesn’t.

      I wish I could see quilting the way she does. Since I can’t, I’ll just be happy to look at her work and strive to do something like it.

      Try to get some rest. You’ll need your energy for the Scraps to Treasures Challenge.

      • jayardi Says:

        Tom, please check your PM’s on the HGTV Board or send me an e-mail. I can’t find your new address.

        Thanks, Jean

  7. Jim Gatling Says:

    Tom, I love your blog! Every post is a colorful visual suprise! And when I read it, I feel like I just got a phone call from you. I can see why Kathy Drew is a “Superstaaaaah. Her work is totally amazing.

  8. Carol Says:

    Hi Tom–I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago, and have to say that I LOVE your style and sense of color.

    Is the “Sparkling Vases” quilt available as a pattern somewhere? I’m not really a quilter but rather a needleworker, and often I see a pattern that I would love to translate into needlework. This is one of those patterns!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Carol, I thought I wrote my reply to you, but it appears I just made another comment.

      Anyway, I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying my blog, and wanted to let you know that, yes, I am going to create needlework patterns in the future. Sparkling Vases is one of the first ones I’m working on. Expect to see a pattern later this year.

  9. Tom Russell Says:

    Hi Carol, thanks for dropping by. I’m glad you like my work. That’s always nice to hear.

    Sparkling Vases was a pattern for a while, but was discontinued by I just recently got the copyright privileges back, so will be selling it again soon. I have to do a few things to get it ready for sale, but it will be out shortly.

    I am planning on converting several of my patterns into needlework. I have been exploring needlework for the last year or so, and think several of my ideas work translate easily. I’ve also been working on designs exclusively for needlework. A fun and challenging part of the process is figuring out stitch guides, because the options are endless.

    My plan is to release quilting and needlework patterns later this year, so stay tuned!

  10. kathydrew Says:

    I have to say that being considered a Superstahhhhh by the committee is quite an honor. I think that the committee might be a little partial since we are good friends, but I would like to thank the committee for their time in writing this wonderful article and all the kind words and faith in bestowing this wonderful honor upon me. I only hope that I can live up to what the committee sees in me. In other words, Tom, thank you for being my friend and all the encouragement and support you have always given me during the time we have known each other. You, my dear, are the SuperStar!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Nope, the committee is completely unbiased. That’s why I accept their recommendations without question. They know a superstar when they see one. You are an amazingly wonderful person and a talented quilter to boot, so I’m thrilled that you received this honor. (I’m giving you a standing ovation now.) I’m sure you’ll be getting many more awards as you continue on your journey. Love you.

  11. Gari Says:

    Awesome!!!!! I too love to see where artists get their inspiration. Mmmm, Kathy’s quilting is fan-tab-ulous!!!! Your quilts, her quilting…it is like putting heavenly chocolate and heavenly chocolate together. Can it really get ANY better????!!!!

    Superstahhhhh???!!!! Yeah-baby!!!!!!

    I am SOOO thrilled that you are heading into needlework!!!! Mmmmm! Now THAT is my bag!!!! I can’t WAIT!!!!!! (I feel my blood pressure rising and my insides are getting all jittery!!!!) I better hurry up and finish a bunch of sewing projects so I can delve into one of yours when the patterns come out!!! (Squeal!!!!!)

    Lovin’ the blog!!!!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      I’m so excited to hear you love needlework too. I find it fascinating. There is so much you can do with it. I’m have really enjoyed researching all the techniques and processes. It has been SO much fun learning about all the things that can be done.

      I’ve always used embroidery in my work, but haven’t spent time exploring how my designs will translate into needlework. The more that I understand about the process, the more excited I am about designing pieces.

      I wish I had more hours in the day to do all the things I want to do.

  12. teresa si in ga Says:

    Hi Tom! I recently quilted a Restore America Quilt for a customer of mine. I fell in LOVE with the pattern only to find out that she had given hers away. Now I am finding out it is not available? Please tell me how to get this pattern!

    Teresa Singleton
    Sunday Best Quiltworks

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