Kathy Drew: Sewing Superstar 2.0

Kathy Drew: Machine Embroidery Sewing Superstar

In October I took a road trip to Knoxville, TN to attend a memorial celebration for Bill. I’m not usually a fan of long road trips, but I felt the time alone would do me good. Driving would also give me the opportunity to see as many friends as I could while I was there.

One of the first people I visited was Kathy Drew. I introduced you to this beautiful and talented lady last year in my first Sewing Superstar profile. Last year’s post focused on Kathy’s amazing quilting abilities. Today’s post focuses on something new.

Besides being passionate about quilting, Kathy is also quite enamored with machine embroidery. Prior to my visit, she said she’d been experimenting with embroidery designs and wanted to show me some examples of what she’d been playing around with. Yes, I said it. She was just playing around.

I sat in awe as she shared her latest creations with me. Each one a stunning example of machine embroidery and delicate applique, combined into one spectacular block.

Since these are not real—they’re just play—she is letting me share them with you. Enjoy!

Daffodil_part 1

Each block features a flower cluster as a focal point. She rendered each flower in a stylized, but realistic way. The appropriate fabric is selected and the embroidery adds the finishing touches.

Daffodil_part 2

A butterfly is used as a colorful accent to the flowers. I am sure she’ll incorporate more accents later—but remember—she’s just playing. I know what you’re thinking . . . I wish I could play like that too.

Daffodil_part 3

Each block is framed with an elegant, coordinating border treatment.

Daffodil_part 4

Unique background fills create a wonderful variety of textures and tones. These complex fills support the applique design and add interest to the muslin background fabric. That’s right. It’s just muslin. These are play things after all.

Iris_part 1

The detail in each block is amazing to see. This background fill makes me weak. It is simply stunning.

Iris_part 2

One of the things I love about Kathy’s work is how she has varied the width, length and direction the stitching. This attention to detail adds so much to the overall design. It also allows the embroidery thread to really show off. The fabric is there, but the embroidery thread is really the star.

Iris_part 3

The heavy gold lines framing each block are bold, but not overpowering. Kathy used gold thread, but it doesn’t come across as flashy. The gold sets the tone and elevates the overall design.

Iris_part 4

These blocks remind me of hand-painted china patterns.

Poppies_part 1

Kathy is trying to decide which flowers she should work on next. We discussed focusing the initial designs on native Tennessee wildflowers, but that may be too restrictive.

Poppies_part 2

The red flower you see above is a Poppie. It’s definitely not a wildflower from Tennessee, but it’s a beauty. Maybe this is the beginning of another series—we can only hope.

Poppies_part 3

I love the movement in this block. Gentle curves and explosive colors give a wonderful contrast to the plaid background fill.

Poppies_part 4

The lacy border treatment completes the block. Can you imagine how beautiful this block would looked framed?

aster_part 1

Each floral element is packed with detail. The French Knots in the center of these flowers are TDF.

aster_part 2

Don’t you love this butterfly? It’s hot pink for God’s sake. What’s not to love?

aster_part 3

This circular background fill is so cool. I love how it resembles a traditional pebble fill, but it’s been taken to a completely different level. Yummy!

aster_part 4

Well, I hate to have to tell you this, but the show is over. These are all the photos I have, but don’t be upset. I know Kathy has been playing a lot lately, so she may have more to share in the future. I recommend checking out Kathy’s blog from time to time—or better yet—subscribe to it, because she is always up to something—and like me—she loves to share.

Oh, there is one more thing I feel I should tell you. As beautiful as these blocks are, they are not the final designs. These are only the stitchouts. Kathy will stitch out each of these blocks multiple times as she finesses the details and stitch sequences. Can you believe it? These are only the rough drafts.

I must admit, that I rarely get excited about machine embroidery, but when I see what she has been able to accomplish, I think I might need to give this a try. After all, it’s just playing—right?

So, what do you think? Should I give digitizing a try?


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43 Responses to “Kathy Drew: Sewing Superstar 2.0”

  1. Sherry Says:

    GO FOR IT! You didn’t like taking pictures either, remember? NOW look at you! With the way you take a piece of fabric and make it come alive, I have no doubt that machine embroidery and Tom will be a perfect match!
    I’ll be right here waiting for the first pictures 🙂

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Sherry, You tickle me. Your enthusiasm bounces off the page. I haven’t decided how I will approach this, but now that I have see Kathy’s take on machine embroidery, I am more intrigued than ever.

      I don’t have digitizing software yet, so it’ll be a while before I start playing around—but when I do—you’ll be the first to hear about it.

      Thanks for your comments and your unbridled enthusiasm!

  2. Fiberdoodles Says:

    Oh-My-Gosh, how beautiful is that? I think I saw your drool on one of those blocks, or maybe it was mine; who knows. Yes, absolutely! Run. Go. Play. Have fun!!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey there, Yes, Kathy’s work is beautiful and is completely drool worthy. I had to watch myself as I was taking pictures.

      When Kathy is passionate about something, she always brings it to a new level and explores the idea of what can be done. She did this with quilting and now she is doing it with machine embroidery.

      I know this is only the beginning of something big. I am SO excited to see the next block, I can hardly stand it. When they are all done, I might have to fly to Knoxville just to see them in person.

      The block designs combined with her quilting . . .OMG! I’m not sure if I have the words to adequately describe who wonderful I think this quilt will be.

      One thing is for sure, when I see it, I’m taking pictures and grabbing my dictionary!

  3. Margo Says:

    KATHY ROCKS! Tom, I can’t wait to see your digitized designs!! You GO dude!! 😎

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey Margo! Yes, she does. Kathy rocks it like no one else. I have a few other projects to complete before I can start looking into digitizing, but while I’m finishing them up, I’m going to be investigating software.

      Who knows where this will lead, but I see a lot more potential in this software than I did before seeing this quilt. Kathy—as usual—has opened my eyes to the possibilites that machine embroidery has to offer.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Judy Murrah Says:

    This is the prettiest machine embroidery I have seen. She turned it into an art form and hers. I know you could do the same. Thanks for sharing.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Judy, What a nice surprise. Thanks for dropping by.

      Yes, I couldn’t agree more. Kathy has transformed machine embroidery into her own art form. The embroidery is precise, but it still has that artistic touch and sensitivity that is lacking in so many embroidery designs.

      She has a gift for making machines become an extension of her body and spirit. She can make them do things that I didn’t think were possible.

      She is so talented. I sit in amazement whenever I get a chance to see her work. Beyond her talent, she is an equally beautiful person. She makes you feel welcome and loved the whole time you are in her presence.

      As you can tell, I’m a BIG fan of Kathy.

      I can’t thank you enough for stopping by. I hope to see you again soon. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  5. Brenda Wall Says:

    What beautiful designs. I love all things floral and butterflies. Kathy has so captured the beauty of both. She plays really well and I off to check out her blog. Let us know how your play turns out.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Brenda, I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed seeing Kathy’s work. I couldn’t agree more. She has captured the beauty of both elements. She is a true artist.

      I promise to share my machine embroidery adventures as soon as I get started.

      I have a few other projects I need to finish up before I get started, but it shouldn’t be too long before I start exploring this new medium.

      Thanks for your comments. Talk to you soon.

  6. Jackie Says:

    Gorgeous designs and thank you for sharing them. I say go for it, with your talent for quilting your designs will be beautiful as well.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Jackie, You are so sweet. Your comments make me want to reach through the computer screen and hug you. Since that’s not possible, here’s a cyber ((((hug))))!

      I love what Kathy has done and I’m glad you do too.

      Hugs and kisses,

  7. Lynn Kelly Says:

    I’m not a machine embroider-er but GOLLY GEE WHIZ! Those are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing them with us. You go Kathy. And Tom, hey, why not give it a try?

    I’m busy learning to weave, so I think I’ll pass this one. Besides, then I’d have to upgrade my machine. My 6600 Janome won’t do that. ha

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Lynn, I couldn’t have agreed with you more—until I saw Kathy’s work. It is gorgeous and very inspiring.

      Congratulations on learning a new craft. I think that’s fantastic. I try to limit my explorations into other crafts because my house is only so big. If I could make it bigger, I’d probably try more things.

      I am not sure what a Janome 6600 can do, but if it can do embroidery, it can create these patterns.

      My Bernina 200E can do embroidery. It can do a lot of things I don’t fully know how to do. It’s much smarter than I am. I bought it 6 years ago and never took the embroidery module out of the case. It just sits in my closet. It’s obviously waiting for me to do something with it.

      Who knows, that day may be coming sooner than I thought.

  8. Jayardi Says:

    • • • Do you really think you can switch and give up your buttonhole stitch? Knowing you as I do, you’ll probably hand stitch the finishing touches. 😀

    Thanks for the beautiful photos.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey there! No! I would never stop doing hand work. I LOVE IT!

      You know, that was exactly what I was thinking. My handwork combined the machine embroidery would be AWESOME to do.

      I only have to figure out how and when to try it. I think there is a little learning curve to digitizing, but I’ll be up for the challenge when the time comes.

      For the moment, it’s handwork all the way!!!!!!

      Thanks for stopping by and saying howdy!

  9. Barbara Says:

    Beautiful, Beautiful!! Thanks for sharing Tom.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Barbara, Thanks for responding. Yes, these blocks are quite beautiful and inspiring. I expect to get a phone call or email from you saying that you have some designs you want to show me, now that you have your new embroidery machine.

      I’ll be looking forward to that day.

      Hope to see you on my next visit to La Grange.

  10. Carol Anderson Says:

    Of course you should try digitizing. I think it’s the next natural step in your journey of embellishment. I can’t wait to see what you think up.

    Oh, and thank Kathy for sharing her incredible work with us. She is truly inspiring.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Carol, It’s good to hear from you. Thanks for your support. The more I look at Kathy’s work, the more potential I see in it for my work.

      Kathy checks my blog often, so she can see your kinds words for herself.

      I couldn’t agree more. Kathy and her work are truly inspiring.

      Thanks for dropping by and not only telling me you appreciate her efforts, but letting Kathy know as well.

      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  11. Judy Ayers Says:

    Go for it my friend…..Creativity knows no bounds!!!!!! I think Kathy is super and the choices of back fills was awesome!!!!

    We love you Tom!!

    Judy Ayers
    Golden Triangle Quilt Guild

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Judy! What a doll your are. So full of enthusiasm and joy. What a delight you are to have in my life. Thank you.

      I agree, those background fills are fantastic. Every time I look at them I get weak. They are AMAZING and inspiring and I can’t wait to see what the next fill will look like.

      Before I go, I wanted to tell you that I had a wonderful time visiting with you at Festival. Hearing the stories about your granddaughter and her quilting made my day.

      I know that moment was special to you and I’m thrilled that you shared it with me. You are a wonderful lady and a fantastic grandma.

      I look forward to seeing you at the Beaumont Quilt Show. We can share more laughs and hugs then.

      Have a great Thanksgiving!

  12. Clara Kosloff Says:

    Beautiful work. Makes me want to quilt.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi there, I couldn’t agree more. It makes me want to quilt too. I know you love making clothes, but quilts have a lot to offer.

      Think about it. I’ll be happy to help.

  13. JoAnn Says:

    Fantastic……so glad you are updating your blog. It’s like being able to sit and talk to you……hugs

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi JoAnn, Thanks for dropping in. Kathy’s work is fantastic and I am thrilled to be able to share it with everyone.

      It would be great to sit and chat in person, but this is a pretty good alternative for the moment.

      After our wonderful—but brief—visit, I know I have to get back to Knoxville more often. You and the rest of the Bee are too important in my life to be separated for as long as we have been. It fills my heart with joy when I think about the time we spent together. You are an amazing group of ladies and I am overjoyed that you are in my life.

      I promise I’ll be back soon.

      Take care and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  14. Jeanie Says:

    Go for it Tom! I just got some digitizing software at Market – and just yesterday I pulled the plug on an embroidery machine so that I can test whatever designs I create. I’m jumping in with both feet and don’t intend to look back! 😉

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Jeanie! How cool is that? I know you will have a blast digitizing. Your kaleidoscopes will rock with embroidery accents.

      I’ll be looking forward to seeing how you use this software to transform your designs. YEA for you!

  15. Eddie Landreth Says:

    Wow, what beautiful stuff! She is inspiring, to say the least. Gave me all kinds of ideas of things that could be.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Eddie, Kathy’s work is definitely inspiring. I’m glad you enjoyed the show. She is just starting to explore this software, so I’m sure she will continue to inspire us.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  16. Kathy Drew plays with embroidery · Needlework News | CraftGossip.com Says:

    […] Tom Russell (Tom Russell Quilts) shows us what happens when Kathy Drew “plays around” with machine embroidery. You’ll enjoy Tom’s commentary and the many beautiful photos. Go to the post. […]

  17. Tretta Morvant Says:

    You are so artistic – I’m sure you will do a FABULOUS job of machine embroidery!!!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Tretta, You are too kind. I think machine embroidery can add a lot to my work, I just have to figure out how to incorporate into what I’m already doing.

      With technology advancing as fast as it is, this is really an exciting time to be a quilter. Your options to create a quilt are limitless.

      It’s great to hear from you. Take care and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  18. eileenkny Says:

    Thanks for sharing Kathy’s work and blog. I’ve subscribed and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her beautiful quilting and embroidery.
    Like you, I’ve been tossing around the idea of getting a machine that does embroidery. It’s going to take me a few years to save for one, but I figure it’ll be worth it.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Eileen, You won’t regret signing up for Kathy’s blog. The way she approaches quilting is amazing and awe-inspiring. I wish I could see quilting the way she does. It is amazing to see what she can visualize in a piece.

      The quilting on the lion quilt is breathtaking and so bold. She is fearless when it comes to quilting. I am in constant awe of her work.

      A good embroidery machine is spendy, but I think it’ll be worth the expense too. When you see results like Kathy’s, it’s hard to argue with the facts.

      Thanks for writing. Happy Thanksgiving!

  19. Royce Says:

    this is really beautiful …….. thanks for sharing

  20. Carla Says:

    WOW. That is really beautiful. In my dreams could I ever do something like that. Thanks for sharing

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Carla, Yes, Kathy does some pretty spectacular things. One of the best things she does is show you how to do it. She is an amazing teacher. I’ve learned SO many things from her.

      I have an embroidery module and have never used it. Her work is making me reconsider that decision. After seeing her amazing work, I think I’ll spend a little time next year learning about machine embroidery.

      I know Kathy will enjoy reading your comments. I can see her smile already.

  21. Stella Sutton Says:

    Breathtaking work. What’s not to love!

  22. Norma Hornung Says:

    Hi, this is beautiful. If you want some background stuff, I can recommend a book by John Deer: Digitizing made easy.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hello Norma, Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I didn’t know John Deer wrote a book on digitizing, so I had to check it.

      The book looks like it’s full of great information and it’s at a really good price on Amazon.

      I must admit that when I saw your post, I thought it was spam. Where I grew up, John Deere was known for his tractors, not for his embroidery work. 🙂

      I’m glad I took the time to check out your recommendation. It was very thoughtful of you to tell me about it.

      Hope you come back again!

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