Harwell's work is to communicate ideas, express feelings and tell stories. She especially wants to unite and enhance diverse fabric designs and colors with intricate piecing and exorbitant quilting. She starts with an original rough drawing, drafts a straight-line design, and then transfers the design to pattern material. Each piece of cotton fabric is selected, individually precision cut, and sewn together with a 1945 Singer Featherweight. Her work is constructed as fine garments, with great attention to detail: seams are strong and straight, corners are sharp and points are precise.
Harwell is self-taught. In the twenty years of more that she has been a professional artist, she has received a North Carolina Visual Artist Fellowship, a United Arts Regional Artist Grant, and a Shannon-Ross Scholarship. Her work has been juried into over ninety shows national and international, winning numerous awards including a Gold Award in Tokyo and the NICHE Award. Her work has been in Folk Art Magazine, Our State Magazine, Southern Living, American Craft, National Geographic Magazine, Astronomy Magazine, American Quilter's Magazine, Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, Pieceworks Magazine, Pinnacle Living, Genetics in Medicine, American Psychologist, American Style, the Raleigh News & Observer, Spectator Magazine, 100 Southern Artists, Fiberarts Book Six and Seven, The Best in Contemporary Quilts, Kaleidoscope-New Quilts from Old Favorites, The Big Book of Quilting, Batik for Artists and Quilters, Lark Books 500 Quilts, Women in Space: Cool Careers on the Final Frontier and North Carolina Crafts.