Kathryn Schmidt

May I introduce Kathy Schmidt? She is a fellow member of the GAAQG, a fabulous human, awesome artist, teacher, author and fearless fabric dyer and surface designer.
Oh, and an avid blog writer: She just published her 2000. (like in: two thousand!!!) blogpost today, can you believe it? So I am here to celebrate her. I love to find Kathy’s posts in my inbox, because she always shares what she is up to. It is so interesting and inspiring to follow her creative path, her successes and little disasters, that most of the times turn into happy accidents and lead to a whole new endeavor, with surprising, but great results. I guess it’s how open, unpretentious and laid-back she describes her work that excites me most. She is down to earth and personable, very far away from any artist-diva-fuss. I love that!

Artist, author, quilter, surface designer, textile artist, fabric dyer Kathryn Kathy Schmidt
She wears many hats – boring is none of them: with Kathy Schmidt

Some of my all-time best tips how to tackle the free motion quilting of a quilt I learned from her, she is a professional and super knowledgable teacher.

The dye days in Kathy’s garage in Tecumseh are legendary. Because of the fun. And the great stuff that is being produced. But foremost: Dipping into Kathy’s knowledge (and her huge collection of dyes and surface design notions that she shares very generously) is priceless! She just says: Come play!

She literally sits behind me when I am sewing, because I have a real Schmidt piece of art in my sewing room that I really love:

Art by Kathy Schmidt

‚Whirly Twirly‘
by Kathryn Schmidt,
12×12 inch;
in my private collection :o)

You can find Kathy here:

Her website and blog Quirks Ltd
and Facebook

Art quilt surface design fabric fibre artist Kathy Schmidt
‚ ‚SUp, Dude‘ by Kathryn Schmidt

Now let’s see what she tells us here on bug&bee.

How, when and why did you start quilting or sewing?

In the ancient times of my youth, it was thrifty to sew your own clothing and exciting to have so many choices of patterns and fabrics. I wore a uniform every day to school and being able to expand my wardrobe made me feel so good. My grandmother and aunt sewed beautiful clothing for my cousin and I, and it seemed natural for me to learn to sew for myself. I also fell in love with the colors and textures and patterns of fabric. Like many women, I began quilting when my children entered my life. After all, I knew how to sew, so how hard could quilting a baby quilt be? I had soooo much to learn, and loved the geometric beauty and applique freedom of traditional quilts. After 30 years of that, though, things got a little stale and I wanted something new. I began to learn about improvisational quilting, and I have never looked back.

Art quilt surface design fabric fibre artist Kathy Schmidt
‚Gypsy Garden‘ by Kathryn Schmidt

And – the sixty-four thousand dollar question: Modern, traditional, contemporary, art quilting: what does spark true joy? And why?

Aaaah…none of those labels really suits me. I am primarily a Rule Breaking Quilter and even wrote a book about it. I incorporate aspects of all types of quilting, as well as painting, printing, dyeing, beading, embroidery, weaving, paper…I don’t even call myself a quilter anymore. I refer to myself most often as a textile or fiber artist. Quilting is one of those many techniques that I use to express myself.

Art quilt surface design fabric fibre artist Kathy Schmidt
‚Hoarfrost and Rime‘ by Kathy Schmidt

Let’s get personal: Who is you, Kathryn Schmidt? Tell us a bit about you. What should we definitively know about you? Will you reveal your best cherished quirk or your most beloved pet peeve?

Interesting that you should ask about a quirk, since my business label has always been Quirks Ltd. Since I worked with such a variety of techniques, I always thought of myself as a producer of quirky items. I want everything I create to be as unique as possible and I teach (preach?) that in every class I teach and to every student I have. One of my most deeply held beliefs is that everyone has a skill, a special talent with something and they owe it to themselves to find it and explore it. And pet peeves? There are a few, but I truly dislike anyone who absolutely refuses the opportunity to learn something new, or listen for growth or understanding. Oh, did you mean in quilting? Those who forget the past and think they are doing something new, when us ‚oldsters‘ have done/known it for decades! And that brings me right back to those who refuse to be open and learn, both from the past and from things that are truly new. I guess I’m just a big fan of learning!

Kathryn Schmidt's book Rule-breaking quilts published by AQS

Kathy’s book, well, the title is such a perfect match: Rule breaking quilts. Have a look at her ratings…inspiring, useful, out of the box, a wonderful book!



What do you do when you’re not quilting? What does a perfect Kathy-day look like?

I do something with textiles almost every day, but I also love gardening, reading, and family time, especially with the grandson. I love sports and I hate shopping and cooking. A perfect day is some stitching, a grandson hockey game and dinner with the family–which someone ELSE has cooked!

Art quilt surface design fabric fibre artist Kathy Schmidt
‚My Summer Job‘ by Kathryn Schmidt

Back to quilting: What do you like best about the quilting process?

Process is the key word here…I love every part of it. Designing, creating the fabric through dyeing or painting, choosing commercial fabrics, sewing the components, stitching by hand or machine–all of it. And part of that for me also includes documenting my processes with pictures and social media. 

Art quilt surface design fabric fibre artist Kathy Schmidt
‚Trees Walk Slowly‘ by Kathryn Schmidt (30×40″)

Would you show us your favorite quilt?

Usually my favorite quilt is the one I’m working on or just finished. After more than 50 years of textile work, there are soooo many. I’ll show you a few that I really like, but I can’t say that I have a true favorite.

Art quilt surface design fabric fibre artist Kathy Schmidt
‚Life Is Not Writ In Lines of Black and White‘ by Kathryn Schmidt

How do you beat creative blocks?

Thankfully, I have never had a creative block. There has always, always been something new that I want to explore. If I am not sure of what I want to work on, I can grab any piece of fabric and gather inspiration and find a starting point.

Art quilt surface design fabric fibre artist Kathy Schmidt
‚Waterfall July‘ by Kathryn Schmidt

Please share your coolest trick, best practice, lesson learned – quilt related or not

I have lots of pet phrases rather than any good tricks. Fabric is forgiving. Done is better than perfect. It’s only fabric–cut into it. Probably my very best tool and practice is having and using my design wall. It makes a huge difference when you can step away from your work for a better perspective.

Art quilt surface design fabric fibre artist Kathy Schmidt
‚Exuberance‘ by Kathryn Schmidt

Are you member of a quilt guild? If so, what would you tell someone who does not even know guilds?

I am a current member of the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild and have been a member of at least 4 other guilds at one time or another. Guilds are wonderful ways to interact with like minded people. I apply a life lesson I learned from moving a lot as a youngster—to get anything out of an organization, you must volunteer and be a real part of that organization. You get a return only from what you contribute, so BE a part of what you love.

Art quilt surface design fabric fibre artist Kathy Schmidt
‚Build a Scrappy City‘ by Kathryn Schmidt

Why do you quilt? Why do people quilt? Can you explain the magic of quilts?

I quilt because I must. I am so in love with all things fiber and textile that I must work with them. Quilting appeals to many magic areas of our brains–the structure, the puzzle solving, the color and contrast, the technical achievements, the infinite possibility every day, the uniqueness, and that no matter how you play with it, the results have beauty.

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