Denyse Schmidt is a master quilter with a talent for turning vintage inspiration into modern quilt and fabric designs. Sandi Sawa Hazlewood delves into her creative process...
Denyse Schmidt is a master quilter with a talent for turning vintage inspiration into modern quilt designs. Sandi Sawa Hazlewood delves into her creative process
When did you learn to sew?
I’ve been sewing for as long as I can remember! My mother was an accomplished seamstress and made a lot of her own clothes, as well as clothes for us four kids. I had a toy sewing machine at a very young age, but I remember that it was always jammed. At some point, I made it clear that I needed a real machine so, under her supervision, my mother let me use hers. I made doll clothes, softies and all kinds of tiny things for the dollhouse that my grandfather built for me. In high school, I made a lot of clothes for myself – including a double-breasted suit out of linen which had bound buttonholes and welt pockets!
You had a few careers before quilting and textile design. I’d love to hear more…including how you ended up being photographed not completely clothed by Andy Warhol!
I pursued many different jobs and directions before starting my business. Looking back, it’s easier to see how my various experiences contributed to who and where I am now, even the ones that seem so far afield. Aside from making my own clothes, I had part time jobs working in costume shops when I was in high school and college – my sewing career started early! After college, I lived in New York and did modern dance and performance
STAYING TRUE TO MYSELF HAS LED TO SO MANY INCREDIBLE AND REWARDING OPPORTUNITIES
art. I had a peripheral association with both Twyla Tharp and Trisha Brown through my work with the choreographer Carmen Beuchat. Those performance art pieces sometimes required a costume and sometimes…not. I was working with a few people who were in Andy Warhol’s Factory – one thing led to another and that photo happened!
Before going to study graphic design at art school, I also sewed tutus at the Boston Ballet, made ecclesiastical vesture at a monastery and worked for a clothing designer at a small atelier. After art school, I worked as a graphic designer and eventually launched my business. Even the waitressing jobs I had along the way contributed to my understanding of how to run a small business since most of those restaurants were chef-owned.
Your fabric and designs are an ode to history and your studio is in an old factory building. Why is your connection to the past important to you?