Carol Van Zandt is new to fabric designing and new to Andover Fabrics, although you wouldn’t think it when you see her first line Tokyo Rococo! We met Carol at last year’s Fall Quilt Market and she showed us some of her designs on paper. I was immediately drawn to the subtleties of the grey and blue colourway whereas Katy immediately went for the bolder pink and green colourway. And I can safely say that the prints look even better in real life.

Regardless of which colourway you are drawn to, the prints that make up the collection are beautifully designed with such attention to detail. There is so much going on in each print which gives a quilter lots of scope for fussy cutting!

But let’s hear from Carol herself…

What is the first thing you ever sewed?
Well, I started sewing in 4-H when I was 8, and I’m not sure it was the first thing I actually sewed but the first thing I remember sewing for myself was an A-line skirt, which turned out so well I made several and then made a lot of skirts, dresses, pantsuits, and shorts over the next several years. My mother used to take down the hem of my skirts when I was at school and then I would hem them back up again. It was a funny little game in retrospect and I got to be very good at hemming!

How did you get started in fabric design?
I was a contemporary painter for many years, and during a period where my paintings were selling very well, I just sort of hit a wall, and decided I wanted to go either digital or commercial or something that didn’t involve carting around large paintings and producing my own shows. I think I was just ready for a change. I loved textiles and had always collected them, and was encouraged by others many times to think about putting my work on textiles. So my initial idea was to learn fabric design and put my own art onto fabric, so when I had the chance to study it, I did. That opened up the whole designing collections of fabric, and licensing my art and design for a variety of products.

What was the inspiration for Tokyo Rococo?
After spending three years in textile design school, I had collected a lot of interesting classic fabrics, as well as books on 18th and 19th century textiles. I also had a real love of things Japanese as I had lived there for five years, so I wanted to combine that sort of over-decorative Rococo period look and layouts with Asian motifs but do it in a contemporary way–like putting a wave pattern where you would normally have baroque ornamentation. I have some antique kimonos that inspired the flowers.


Pillow made using Tokyo Rococo and the Stepping Stones pattern which can be found on Sew Mama Sew or in the Festival Sampler.

Why the name Tokyo Roccoco?
Well I think I started describing it as European Asian Fusion, then French-Japanese fusion, then Japanese-Rococo, and I think Teliha Draheim of Image West Design who I consulted with came up with the Tokyo Rococo. For a little while it was Tokyo Roco, but I liked the bounce of the Rococo.

What are some things people might be surprised to learn about you?
Dogs, horses and children all disobey me–they take one look at me, laugh and do whatever they want.
I used to talk so fast my parents sent me to a theatre college student for after school lessons to slow down.
I studied Japanese Calligraphy formally for ten years and reached the sandan and yondan levels for the different styles.
I graduated from high school when I was 16 and went to live in Arizona to “seek” my fortune and the only job I could find was sorting and counting dirty linen in a hospital. That led to an illustrious career working summers during college doing laundry in a nursing home.
I met my husband when I was running a sales training program and he was an intern.
I used to dress in Dynasty suits when a temp job turned into fifteen years working in high tech.
I grew up in western NY and we used to spend summers at “the cottage” where we slept outside all summer and hardly put on shoes except for church on Sundays. No TV or music, we had a bonfire almost every night and my Dad would play the guitar and we would sing.
I was premed in college and did fine but so much preferred time in the art studios to the science labs so majored in art (much to the dismay of my parents)

In the spirit of Tokyo Rococo Carol also redesigned our masthead. If you read our blog through a reader you will want to click on over and take a look!

You can also download a free quilt pattern from the Andover website!