On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about quilting as an art form with my guest, Denyse Schmidt.

A former graphic designer and graduate of Rhode Island School of design, Denyse Schmidt began creating quilts in 1996. Intrigued by the rich historical nature of quilts and inspired by beauty born of necessity, Denyse adds her distinctive aesthetic sensibility – clean, spare lines, rich color, and bold graphics – to this rich art form, and has won acclaim from the world of art, design, and craft. In addition to designing and making quilts, Denyse is an author, fabric designer, lecturer and teacher. Denyse’s studio is located in a historic textile building in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

We begin the conversation by hearing what’s on Denyse’s work table right now. We then talk about her sewing machine and how the tools and materials that she uses are generally rather utilitarian. Denyse explains why she has never been an ambassador for a sewing machine company and why she doesn’t enter her quilts into national shows.

Denyse with her industrial sewing machine.

Next, we talk about the Amish women who quilt Denyse’s quilts and the choice she made to have her quilts quilted by hand rather than longarmed. Denyse doesn’t own a longarm machine. Denyse reflects on her position being both inside the quilting industry as a fabric designer, teacher, and author, as well as operating within the home decor industry designing one-of-a-kind quilts for clients and licensing.

Many people don’t realize that Denyse packs almost all orders herself (except when it gets very busy).

Finally, Denyse talks about her typical workday. She explains that she runs all aspects of her business, something many people don’t realize. I also ask Denyse to reflect on what it’s like to be a “secret celebrity,” meaning someone who is famous, but only within certain circles.

A look at Denyse’s garden. She’s not so focused on flowers. Rather she wants there to be interesting things to look at all year long.

And, of course, I ask Denyse to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Denyse recommends:

  • WPKN, the local independent radio station in Bridgeport, CT which she listens to while she works
  • working in the garden
  • doing nothing and allowing yourself to daydream

You can follow Denyse on Instagram and on Facebook and check out her work on her website.


This episode is sponsored by Okan Arts of Seattle, specializing in vintage Japanese textiles for adventuresome sewists and quilters. Check out the gorgeous yukata cottons in the Okan Arts online shop and enjoy a 20% discount with the code NAPS20, good until August 4, 2019.


You can listen to this episode by clicking on the green arrow below, or subscribe to the While She Naps podcast on iTunes or on Stitcher so you never miss an episode. If you enjoy the show, tell a friend about it! Thank you so much.

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