Interior Design

Saturday, February 17, 2018


I've owned a Decorating Den Interiors franchise since 1984 and have been a very successful, award winning interior designer for 34 years.  Back in 1984 I was a Captain in the US Air Force Reserve and I had a part time job managing the reserve office at Eglin AFB.  My job was being upgraded to a full time position for an NCO and as an Officer, I wasn't eligible to apply for it.  It was at that time that I read an article in a WOMAN'S DAY  magazine about a woman who owned a Decorating Den Franchise.  I showed it to my husband and said, "I think I could do this."  I sent off for information and then proceeded to consult with some local business owners for advice. 

There was a well known woman realtor in town so I asked her what she thought about buying a franchise.  I'll never forget it.  Her name was Betty and she said to me, "if you don't take risks, you never get anywhere!"  

Quilting is like taking a risk.  You need to venture out of your comfort zone at times and try new things.  In 2010, when the economy was soured and my business was struggling, I saw an ad in the newspaper for a beginning quilting class at a local quilt shop.  I was an accomplished seamstress growing up.  I made all of my own clothing and sewed for others.  I dabbled in quilting a pillow and reading magazines but when I purchased my business in 1984, sewing for myself ceased to happen  I never sewed draperies for my clients but knowing how to sew certainly helped me along the way.  And I was always good with colors and fabrics. 

So in 2010, with a bit of time on my hands, I signed up for that quilting class and never looked back.  It reawakened my sewing skills that had been buried for many years.  Each week, we would go home with two blocks to make for a sampler quilt.  I would complete those blocks immediately and then couldn't wait for the next weeks class.  I loved playing with all the fabrics in the shop and I soon learned that quilting is also an expensive habit.  That beginning quilt must have cost me $300 with all the supplies I had to buy for it.  I was set on a journey of love for the rest of my life! 

When you become a quilter you take a huge risk!  You accumulate a large stash of fabrics and continually buy more.  You buy expensive sewing machines and quilting machines and your house becomes a disaster area with quilts and fabrics thrown everywhere.  The end result of completed quilts and stockings and pillows and pin cushions is so rewarding! 

So I'm asking, have you taken a risk?  Are you stuck in a comfort zone of always using a simple pattern or the same colors over and over?  Do you have stacks of fabric in your stash that you are afraid to cut into for fear you will ruin it?  Is your UFO pile of completed tops stacking up because you are afraid to learn how to quilt them?  I encourage you to step out of that comfort zone and try something new!  Taking risks will get you somewhere! 

Thanks for reading!  Carol

Saturday, February 3, 2018


There are many ways for a quilting round robin.  You can see many options here on pinterest.  When I was guild president several years ago, our guild had a lot of 12.5" blocks that had been made for some such contest or donation.  So I took the blocks, distributed them to guild members, and then embarked on a round robin where every month, I would add a different row to the block so at the end of about 6 months, every one had a charity quilt to donate.  I learned a lot that year about adding rows to blocks.  When I wound up with an unusual size, I then had to add a coping strip.  You can find out about coping strips here.   In addition to using the odd squares, I made everyone trade their block each month so you had to come up with fabrics coordinating with someone else's idea.  Since then, I've taught a round robin at guild about 5 years running.

At the first of the year, I start looking for ideas on how to do the next round robin for the Silver Threads Quilt Guild.  If I can find a pattern in a magazine or free online, I often use that pattern and adapt it, giving credit to the designer at the end.  I wont share my source of the 2018 Round Robin but I will say that I am very excited to share my blocks with you!

This quilt is going to be a great stash buster!   Every row will be made using 5" squares or leftover charms plus a couple of yards of  neutral scraps or yardage.  The minimum size is around 50 to 60", great for a charity or lap quilt.  If you are a collector of batiks, assorted 5" batik squares is perfect for this quilt.  I don't have a lot of batiks so I'm using cottons in blues/whites and yellow with some yardage I've had a while.  The center block was so easy and looks so pretty, I might even make two!  Who doesn't have a pile of 5" squares hanging around in the stash?

Here are the directions for the center block for Round Robin 2018. We will be using all 5" charms and trimming to size. For the center block you will need: 
4 dark 5" squares 
4 med 5" squares 
4 light 5" squares, 
4 light 4.5" squares for corner blocks. 

Pair a dark square with a medium square, right sides together. mark a diagonal line and sew 1/4" on either side of the line. Cut apart in the middle and you will have 2 HST. Make one more set for a total of 4 dark/med HST. Trim to 4.5" . 

Pair a dark square with a light square and repeat process to make 4 HST, trimmed to 4.5" 

Pair a light square with a medium square and repeat process to make 4 HST trimmed to 4.5". 
Arrange the blocks as shown to make a star. Wasn't that easy? 

And here it is:  

Happy Sewing!  Carol

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


January 2018 has flown by but there is one more day and lots of sewing planned today.  On Ringo Lake is my major UFO that I am working on and I"m ready to see some progress.  I have 17 blocks made and most of the parts done for the rest of the blocks so I vow to work on that today.  I wont finish but I want to put a big dent in it before February arrives with new challenges.  
Speaking of new challenges Alicia has posted the fabric requirements for her free Quilt of Valor 2018
Alicia Quilts .  I think I might do this as it is all scrappy and I have a lot of patriotic fabrics stashed away.  
There is also the American Patchwork and Quilting UFO challenge that I'm participating in.  My goal is to finish up some of those languishing projects and get them quilted.  Here is the project sheet  here.  
One of my major goals in 2018 is to get this blog up and running with daily postings, or near daily postings.  And here is my progress on Ringo Lake, see below.  I like to sew things together as I go along to see how it is going to look.  I selected to use a constant sashing which I have plenty of and reserve the sashing from Bonnie's directions for a border.  I'm making this a queen size for my bed.  You can never have too many bed quilts!  The paisley on the bolt was purchased at a bolt sale from Quilting Treasures at the LQS.  Isnt it perfect for backing and final border?   Happy quilting!  Carol

On Ringo Lake in progress!

Monday, January 29, 2018


In 2017, I finally finished my Sew Simplicity Quilt by Jacquelyn Steves.  I even quilted it myself on Platypus, my platinum 16 quilter.  I am so pleased with it!  I had fun with this because I made it with my friend Barbara from the UK.  We became friends while her husband was stationed with the RAF at our local AF Base.  We each made one and they look entirely different! I think it turned out beautifully! 

Sew Simplicity Quilt

And quilting closeup!  


My philosophy on selecting fabrics and colors for a quilt is a five part process that I have shared in my recent postings. Let me restate them here
FIND FIVE FOR FABRIC FREEDOM 1. find your fabric; 2. find your theme; 3. find your neutrals; 4 find your accent fabrics; and 5 find your pattern.
In the case of the fabrics and blocks I've been working on I already had a pattern in mind. A friend and I had agreed to take advantage of Jacquelyn Steve's free Sew Sweet Simplicity BOM. You can visit the pattern at
The center 6.5 inch block of Jacquelynne's quilt could be either applique or a fabric. I'm not all that fond of applique and when I saw the fun floral fabric at the LQS,I thought immediately how much fun it would be to fussy cut the flowers for the center block. So in this case, the pattern came before the fabric.
Most of the time, I think I find the fabric first and then search for a pattern to go with it. In my travels and visiting local shops, I look for what is on sale. If I think it is a good buy and I like the fabrics, I will buy 1 to 2 yds, depending on the pattern repeat. I have a set of fabrics in my stash that I purchased on a New England vacation in 2013. I tuck these fabrics into my mind and then I search for patterns through magazines and books. I think I have hit on a pattern that will be wonderful for this set of fabrics. On the other hand, I have bought patterns that I like and I'm not sure I've ever made them. I do make bags from patterns, many of them. My husband continually asks why I can't throw the magazines out. You all know the answer to that one. We save them to find patterns to use for fabrics we have. And the books, I have many many books and buy more. After all it is like reading a novel and you learn so much. And, unlike a novel, you will read it again. I hope you have enjoyed my take on finding fabrics and mixing and matching colors. Its been fun.Next time, the reveal!   Carol


One of the reasons why I don't blog consistently is because I have such difficulty with pictures, loading up, saving, etc. A blog is better with pictures but if you can't get them to appear and save them to your computer, well it doesn't work. That's another post. Today I am going to talk about the third and fourth items in our FIND FIVE FOR FABRIC FREEDOM story, choosing neutrals and accent fabrics.  Featured is our focal fabric I've been working with and the neutrals and accent fabrics I selected to go with. Starting with neutral, I went with the obvious choices of white and black. Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville fame describes neutrals as anything lighter than a brown paper bag. That is a large selection of fabrics but I usually choose a white, cream or tone on tone. And when I'm working with scrappy, I like to use a constant neutral throughout to give the eye a rest. Back to our focal fabric. After choosing the neutrals that you are using, it is time to choose the accent fabrics to go with the focal print.
I selected a total of three accent fabrics and if you look closely, they are three prints. The purple is mottled and falls into the print category. The grey has tiny ovals printed on it and I selected this fabric because the ovals reminded me of the petals on the flower. This is an important aspect of interior design, repeating shapes or motifs throughout a room. Why not in a quilt. The third accent fabric I chose is a small grey/white floral that has a modern vibe. It is probably my favorite fabric of them all. It calms all the bright colors of the focal fabric, purple and black. It is slightly larger in scale than the grey oval fabric and it pulls it all together.  What is interesting about this grey/floral fabric is that when I presented to my local guild and showed these fabrics, there were many comments that they did not think this grey/floral fabric went with the other selections, too beige.  When I get to the finished quilt I'll show you how it does coordinate!  
Now that I've shown you my fabric selections, its time to show them to you in a finished block. 
So far we've finished 4 steps of the FIND FIVE FOR FABRIC FREEDOM list. The focal fabric, the theme, the neutral and accent fabrics! And we've sewn them into blocks. You can see how the bright fabrics are calmed by the white and the small grey/white floral. Next time, we'll talk about choosing the pattern. In the case of these quilt blocks, the pattern was predetermined. Until next time, happy quilting. Carol



As I've been writing my take on Color Confidence and Fabric selections, I've been running my writings past my friends on quilt and Lose Team. I quilt but I don't lose and they let me stay anyway! Before I delve further into color selection, lets concentrate a bit on theme. Lets narrow our themes down to just three: traditional/transitional; modern/contemporary; novelty. There are many others we could name but most fabrics probably fall into one or more of these three categories.
Lets first talk about traditional/transitional. I put these two together because they can cross over into themselves. A traditional design would include large florals, roses, the "Waverly" look, Colonial design, toiles, and civil war. Plaids lend themselves to traditional when made in warm colors and tones but they can also be fun and playful. Lets not get too bogged down in names, just go to your LQS and peruse the racks and try to select tradtional designs. There are many fabrics that fall into this category and the coloring of the fabrics also plays into the category. A magazine where you would find the use of traditional fabrics and furnishings would be TRADITIONAL HOME.
Next, transitional, which bridges the gap between very traditional and modern/contemporary. I live in Florida and I have many clients who move here from northern and midwest states. In their past lives, they may have had very traditonal interior design in their homes and I help them "tone it down" to a more transitional design with the use of color and furnishings. They may have brought antique furniture or dining room tables with Queen Anne legs with them. We add brighter, more contemporary fabrics to the mix. The 1930's fabrics would suit this type of furniture well and bring it down to a more casual lifestyle. Traditional/transitional fabrics and design are the # 1 preferred style of the American lifestyle.
There has been a resurgence in the modern/contemporary look in the past several years, both in interior design and quilting and sewing. Modern fabrics include geometrics, solids, textures, stripes, flowers that have been "modernized" and more. You could also include Australian/Aborigine fabrics as they include very modern techniques with a traditional vibe. You should be able to identify modern and contemporary fabrics at the LQS because if you don't particularly like this look, you would breeze right past them into the more traditional section.
Lastly, lets talk about novelty fabrics and this includes a wide range of just about everything left. Fish, sailboats, juvenile, baby, Americana,; It's easy to identify novelty fabrics at the LQS
My interior design eye is trained to peruse the racks in the LQS quickly and land on the fabrics that I am either looking for, or that appeal to me. I can quickly eliminate those I'm not interested in. If you could train your eye so that you can eliminate and select, it would help you in your quilting. In many quilt shops, there are so many fabrics on the racks it is overwhelming, even for an experienced fabric selector such as myself. I visited the Keepsake Quilt Shop in New Hampshire two years ago and I was completely overwhelmed at the # of bolts on the shelves. In addition, they had all of their fabrics booked by color. If you were looking for a particular series of fabric, like Civil War, you wouldn't find them all together on the shelf. All the browns would be separated, all the blues, reds, etc. It can be very confusing if you are looking for a particular line. I had less than an hour to shop at Keepsake because my husband was patiently waiting in the car. If I could go back and spend half a day, it would be different! I hope this has helped you to be more comfortable in thinking about themes and grouping them into the three categories I've suggested. Quilting isn't a test and you don't have to be exact. We just need a few guidelines to make beautiful quilts. Until next time, visit your stash and group your fabrics into themes. Carol