Denyse Schmidt follow-up

I had the great good fortune to interview Denyse Schmidt in Kansas City during May's Quilt Market. The results appeared on Etsy earlier this month and from the comments it's clear that she's been a source of inspiration to so many. It was also clear when my traveling buddy, Codi, found out I was going to interview her, just how influential she's been to people who might not have thought of themselves as quilters—Codi told me that she'd never been that interested in making a quilt until she saw Denyse's first book.

Denyse said a lot of very thoughtful things during our interview, but one that really struck me was when she bemoaned the loss of home ec sewing classes in school. "If people don't know how to sew, they don't even have a reference point for what they buy and whether it's well-made," she said. So true. I remember my mom spending a lot of time teaching me to line up my stripes and plaids and though I haven't made garments in years, I've always looked for that when I buy clothing.

One of the things Codi said to me about Denyse is that she seems to have stayed true to herself for so many years and that came through loud and clear during our interview. When I asked her about it, Denyse said "There's a divide between art, craft, and design and I've straddled all three. At some point you just have to do what you do and not worry about how it's defined and who's paying attention." Denyse is a prime example of someone whose vision was clear, even when it didn't fit with the norms of "quilting" or "modern quilting" or any defined movement or art form. She admitted that the way she's done things hasn't always been the most profitable. But she noted that she had worked long and hard on her first book and that she's still proud of it. "It had to be something I could live with for a long time," she said. And it's her attitude about quilting, too, that a quilt you'll live with for a long time (think, antique quilts) needn't be stitched quickly, but can be something you put down and return to over weeks or months or even years. A challenging attitude in this "get-it-done-fast-and-check-it-off-the-list" mentality that I so often fall prey to.