Behind the Scenes: Choosing a Cover for Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration

The title of Denyse Schmidt’s Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration perfectly expresses the book’s aim: to explore the traditional roots of a gorgeous collection of modern quilts. When we were deciding on a cover for the book, we knew we wanted this melding of modern and traditional to come across loud and clear.

Throughout the book, John Gruen’s beautiful photographs show Denyse’s quilts in contemporary interior settings, disputing the notion that quilts make an old-fashioned statement. So our graphic designer, Brooke Hellewell Reynolds, started our cover experiments with a simple and lovely photo of the Shoeman’s Puzzle quilt in a clean setting.

It’s a bit quiet, which is part of its appeal, but it doesn’t have the star power necessary for a cover. Luckily, it’s pretty and soothing vibe worked perfectly for the back cover of the book!

Denyse herself steered us in the right direction. She sketched up a vision she had: a super close-up photo of a quilt, stripped bare of the interior settings. 

Here are Sawtooth Stripe and Irish Chain. We were getting warmer!


Ocean Waves is a quilt that many pick as their favorite from the book. Unfortunately, there's no room for type!

The winner: Courthouse Steps. The diagonal design gave us both intense color and clean white space. Paired with the modern type, it looks graphic and fresh. But the blown-up stitches remind us of quilting’s traditional roots.

What do you think? Is the final cover your favorite?