Meet the Maker – Betty Drum

When it comes to craftsmanship, Betty does not skirt around. She’s a real deal seamstress who’s been sewing upholstery skirts for Ethan Allen for more than 45 years.

“Before I took this job, I used to sew everything, but I like skirts better. I can honestly say I love my job,” she says of her duties in our Maiden, North Carolina, upholstery workshop.

There’s no question that the 75-year-old has mastered the art of skirt-making. Skillfully tailoring fabric so it hangs beautifully from the bottoms of our upholstered frames, she completes anywhere from 15 to 20 on a given day.


Pheobe Sofa

Betty is one of six skirt specialists, some of whom have been with Ethan Allen for several years, “but none as long as me,” she says. “They have to do a lot of catching up to catch up to me.” She grew up in the vicinity around Maiden and never had a notion to leave. She lives in the country, in nearby Iron Station, with Tommy, her husband of 55 years.

Betty says she’s seen many changes to the upholstery operation over the years. “But whenever they make a change, they show you how to do it,” she says, “and everything pretty well works out for me.”

Sewing box pleats was tricky at first, for example, but now they’re not, she says. “The only thing that gets me is the safety glasses,” she says. “At the beginning, I’d sometimes forget to put them on, but I got used to them. Now sometimes I forget and wear them outside the plant.”

Peyton Sofa

Peyton Sofa

Hard work and tenacity have paid off for Betty and Tommy Drum. “We knew we had to work to have something, so we did. We worked hard and we saved everything,” she says. They still live in the home they built many years ago on her family’s land and are proud to say they haven’t had a house payment for more than 35 years. “People are surprised when they find out I’m still here,” says Betty. “They say ‘I can’t believe you’re still working,’ and I say, ‘I got what I got from working at Ethan Allen.’ ”


CATEGORY: Behind The Design

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