Meet Fabric Designer Kathy Davis

29 Nov 2010

Kathy Davis’ fabric lines are not just stand alone fabric lines.  Instead they are just a small part of a collection that Davis puts together.  She is an artist who uses greeting cards, watercolors, writing, fabric, and more to tell a story.  Her work flows together to create a body of work that can be viewed as separate parts or as one overlying piece.  I was able to catch up with Kathy to learn more about her fabric lines with Free Spirit Fabrics, read on to see what she had to say.

Also, as an aside, the people at Kathy Davis Studios were nice enough to put together a goody bag for one lucky (and randomly picked) Quilting Arts Community member.  Leave a comment at the end of this post and let us know what you think for your chance to win the goody bag! The winner will be announced on my blog next Monday (December 6th).

How did you get interested in Fabric design?

While I have always loved fabric and textile design, when I started my company in 1990, I began by designing greeting cards. Today, my relationship with American Greetings has taken my greeting card designing to a whole new level! With a lot of help from my team at Kathy Davis Studios, I design approximately 1000 new greeting cards a year!

But ever since I was a little girl, quilting and anything handmade has always captured my fancy. When we recently began a new licensing program, fabric was at the top of my wish list. So, it is a dream come true to now have my own lines of fabric with Westminster / Free Spirit!

One of my most prized possessions is a butterfly quilt that my grandmother made for me when I was young. While I didn’t follow in her footsteps as a seamstress, my cousin surely did! Some of her quilts and creations helped to inspire me along this new path.

Did you always have an interest in being a professional artist?

Well, I didn’t think about it quite that way, but I was ALWAYS making things (and making a mess) as a little girl! Paper dolls, Christmas ornaments, perfume, a neighborhood newspaper…I guess you could say I had an entrepreneurial instinct and love for creativity. In high school I continued my love affair with art, but lacked the confidence to pursue it as a career path. Instead I chose to go to college for elementary education and taught sixth grade for six years.  I returned to get a Master’s degree in Art Education, teaching art at the high school level until my two children were born.  A divorce later motivated me to go after my dream of working for myself. It took a lot of work and dedication, but now I have a company that employs approximately 20 people, and am very fortunate to have a brand that continues to grow in many different directions.

So, today I am still making things…(and making a mess, too, of course!)

How are you inspired to create your Journeys fabric line?

The Journeys fabric line came into being out of a new collection of art and writing I developed called Awakenings. This collection was born during a time of deep soul searching and self-discovery. It represents the journey I took to find the answers I had been seeking. To my surprise I didn’t need to travel far for the guidance; it was always right there. The answers were within me.

Journeys comes to life on fabric with images of dragonflies in flight, watercolor flowers, leaf patterns, bold geometrics, and inspiring words! In fact, watercolor art and calligraphy, two of the signature aspects of my artwork, help to distinguish my fabric from the many other beautiful designs in the market.

My brand promise is to “Scatter Joy”, so it is always a goal of mine to inspire others to feel the joy in life and to share it with those around them. I can’t think of a much better way to do that than by designing fabric that I hope might spark creative juices in others to make beautiful things!

(In addition to Journeys, Kathy now has a new collection available called Blossoming, please check Freespiritfabric for a store near you.)

What was the most challenging aspect of creating your first fabric collection?

Staying true to my visions, my artwork and my brand while developing in a new format.  I feel proud that while we have infused variety into my fabric lines with bold pattern and tiny prints, the collection remains cohesive and still manages to showcase my watercolor style and inspiring messaging.

What was your favorite part (of creating the fabric line)?

My favorite part was actually seeing (and touching!) the first printed samples for review! Since most of my artwork is reproduced on paper, the texture of the fabric sent tingles up my spine!

What is the best piece of advice that you ever got in regards to art?

Not much different from “life lesson 101”…stay true to yourself, trust your gut, don’t be afraid to be different. All easier said than done, I must say.

Your website,, seems to be all about helping to inspire other people to create.  Do you have any tips on finding time to do art or finding new inspiration?

It sounds kind of crazy, since creativity seems to be such an enigma, but you must be disciplined about making the time, instead of making excuses that there IS no time.

So, after you MAKE the time, you must TAKE the time! Even though creativity can be super fun and rewarding, it can be SCARY staring at a white piece of paper, a blank canvas, or an empty sewing machine. You need to overcome any fears of failure and dive in. Give yourself permission to play. Welcome mistakes and make magic with them…or just toss it and try again.  When you get past your fears and get into the flow, the feeling is second to none!

You may also find it helpful to sign up for an art or craft class or join a group where you have company and support. Art and creativity can be such a joyful experience – and a great way to connect with others. Grab some of that joy for yourself!

I hope you will visit my website ( and become a “friend” of Kathy Davis Studios on our new Facebook page, as well as follow us on Twitter, You Tube and Flickr!  We are planning lots of great prizes, give-aways, and ideas to share. I’d love it if you would share photos of your own projects made with Kathy Davis fabric. I can’t wait to see what you create!

Thank you Kathy!

Remember, post a comment for your chance to win a goody bag from Kathy Davis Studios!

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Von@4 wrote
on 29 Nov 2010 12:01 PM

Kathy, I love how your work while inspiring to others came out of your being inspired as well.  Seems like to me a  WIN - WIN situation!

Judy@349 wrote
on 29 Nov 2010 12:02 PM

I'm inspired by your story. I find it impossible to contain my creations to only one medium of expression. I love your collections and the joy and inner freedom that they inspire.

tisawitham wrote
on 29 Nov 2010 12:09 PM

Beautiful products and a and willingness to help others is definately a refection of ones heart... thank you for your inspriation!

divamoon wrote
on 29 Nov 2010 12:15 PM

I've just started to embrace collage.  I've always worked in cloth fabric and yarns since a young girl.  Now as an older wiser goddess woman, I am combining fabric and painting. It has been an eye opening pleasure.

jane@47 wrote
on 29 Nov 2010 12:25 PM

Kathy - I LOVE your messages - from "scattering joy" to the advice to fellow artists - As a 50+ year old who is FINALLY following her artists journey - wherever THAT goes - I appreciate you so true words - Aloha, Jane in Hawii

B.Smiling wrote
on 29 Nov 2010 12:52 PM

What a journey! :D I like the thought, "It sounds kind of crazy, since creativity seems to be such an enigma, but you must be disciplined about making the time, instead of making excuses that there IS no time. So, after you MAKE the time, you must TAKE the time!" Also, the fact of the mess involved is soooo true! :D

Betty@28 wrote
on 29 Nov 2010 1:14 PM

What an inspirational story and good advice for all of us aspiring artists!  Thanks for taking the time to share with us!

cindylee4 wrote
on 29 Nov 2010 3:57 PM

it is so cool that making things and greeting cards was your starting point. i have always made cards for friends and family but often don't find the time to create.  thanks for the nudge! enjoy your mess! i'm going to go home and make one!

coollabtech1 wrote
on 29 Nov 2010 5:03 PM

Love your fabrics- especially the Happy fabric. It would be great to win some and have a chance to play with them and create something uplifting...I will go friend you on Facebook now

lrond01 wrote
on 29 Nov 2010 5:22 PM

This is very inspiring. It must be such a wonderful feeling to be able to touch the fabric that you have created. I am going to visit Kathy's website right now!

Line from Montreal

klg727 wrote
on 29 Nov 2010 8:03 PM

Love her designs!!!

redlum wrote
on 29 Nov 2010 10:43 PM

Your thoughts on being true to your art are inspiring. I love the diversity of your fabrics, too.

redwat wrote
on 30 Nov 2010 11:47 AM

Love your story and new fabrics! Its inspirering how you made something great when something not so great was going on. I always say when one door closes another definetly ran through that door and made wonderful things happen!!

on 30 Nov 2010 1:06 PM

Thank you all for the wonderful comments!!! All My Best - Kathy

dreamin2 wrote
on 30 Nov 2010 4:44 PM have been a gift to us all.  All these inspiring true.  I drove to the stores this weekend and scooped up your cards that I needed.  Everything you write is filled with JOY!  Thanks You!

sjhviid wrote
on 30 Nov 2010 5:24 PM

Thank you Kathy for your inspiration! Thank you also for staying true to yourself and for helping others do the same and encouraging us to find ourselves.  Susan in Alaska

bybethstudio wrote
on 30 Nov 2010 8:08 PM

Wonderful advice and very inspiring! Esp. the part about making the time and taking the often I make the time and then give it away to other obligations! Fear of success, I think... thanks for the article!

Penelope14 wrote
on 30 Nov 2010 11:12 PM

What a wonderful journey you are on! I love your bursts of colour and gorgeous flowers.

Penelope14 wrote
on 30 Nov 2010 11:14 PM

What a wonderful journey you're on! I just love your bursts of colour and gorgeous flowers.

on 1 Dec 2010 6:38 AM

Someone referenced this post to answer question "What was your fave grade?"...

quilter54 wrote
on 4 Dec 2010 8:29 AM

Very nice designs. I agree with your words on finding time to be creative.  Busy people find time to be creative. Great article.  

ljs531 wrote
on 4 Dec 2010 10:17 AM

I remember your work from nearly 30 years ago in an Artist magazine, and it inspired me to loosen up my style and do more sketching/doodleing with my work. You have come a long way and stayed true to your style. noticed many things that you've done over the years.  Only yesterday I saw two Christmas cards you designed.  Congrts on your fabric lines, I'm eager to see them!

on 4 Dec 2010 2:12 PM

Your work as blossomed off paper to fabric and I love your art in both.

jacquerose wrote
on 4 Dec 2010 2:13 PM

Beautiful designs and I love all of the color.  I will check the website and also find out where I can buy her fabric.  Thank you for the opportunity to win!

BeckySue2 wrote
on 4 Dec 2010 2:44 PM

The first time I had a quilt in a national show I got the 'tingle', too!  I can't imagine what it would be like to get an endeavor such as yours to fruition.  I am totally envious.  And thankful that you are so giving and encouraging.  Thank you.

BeckyJ13 wrote
on 4 Dec 2010 4:43 PM

Way back when we were calligraphy "buddies", I knew Kathy was capable of great things, and she was every bit as encouraging to people like me back then as she is now.  I am thrilled that she has a new venture that complements her previous successes in art. Congratulations, Kathy!

austiff wrote
on 4 Dec 2010 5:06 PM

The watercolors in the fabric line are so fresh.  I love the fabric with words in calligraphy.  It would make any quilt seem even more special when givien as a gift.

rlambatos wrote
on 4 Dec 2010 6:08 PM

What an inspiring and beautiful article.  I am so intrigued with your art penetrating  different mediums.  There is definitely joy in your art and website, which is the seed for others to propagate more joy!

Thank you.

judyyoungnm wrote
on 4 Dec 2010 10:41 PM

In this time of winter the bright free spirit of your fabrics inspires me.

Kathy NV wrote
on 5 Dec 2010 1:42 AM

Thanks for mentioning the idea of "giving yourself permission to play".  I have heard it before and understand the concept but I seem to have a problem getting to it.  Its good to hear it again from a person who has made a success with her efforts.

on 5 Dec 2010 3:26 AM

I need to have "TAKE THE TIME" posted on my wall for constant needleing. I do a lot in my mind but not enough actually doing. I need to get the needle and brain working together.

Wandering Jackie

gingerwlsn wrote
on 5 Dec 2010 3:07 PM

Your fabrics are beautiful. Thanks for inspiring others to create!

sippers wrote
on 5 Dec 2010 4:13 PM

Kathy you can't help but look at your fabric line and just... smile : o )  They are wonderful... thank you for sharing.

Anne 07 wrote
on 5 Dec 2010 5:28 PM

Very inspiring story!!!  Thank you!!

robinnn wrote
on 5 Dec 2010 11:33 PM

Inspiring! :o)

canary523 wrote
on 6 Dec 2010 7:52 AM

These types of stories fire me up and make me want to work harder.

on 8 Dec 2010 8:10 AM

First of all, I am sorry that I am a day late on posting this. We have been super busy here at Quilting

on 20 Dec 2010 8:15 AM

Thank you to everyone who shared a handmade gift story , I thoroughly enjoyed hearing from you! Congratulations

on 19 Jan 2013 4:59 AM

I just love Kathy's work (and her name! I'm a Kathy too!).  I send her greeting cards all the time and look forward to making a quilt from her fabrics.  She is AWESOME!   I am inspired by her story,

on 19 Jan 2013 4:59 AM

I just love Kathy's work (and her name! I'm a Kathy too!).  I send her greeting cards all the time and look forward to making a quilt from her fabrics.  She is AWESOME!   I am inspired by her story,

on 19 Jan 2013 10:14 AM

So many women have ended up doing what they love because of an unexpected change in their lives.  So glad you were able to turn a difficult time into an avocation.  Your designs scream 'joy.' Keep creating!  

on 19 Jan 2013 2:17 PM

What an inspirational story and such great advice! Simple, but yet so powerful.

on 19 Jan 2013 2:17 PM

What an inspirational story and such great advice! Simple, but yet so powerful.

jph wrote
on 19 Jan 2013 6:44 PM

I can't imagine coming up with designs for 1000 greeting cards a year - WOW! That sounds really challenging - but hopeful and joyful too. I am looking forward to seeing more of Kathy's fabrics, particularly the pieces with words and flowers.