Who taught you needlework skills and when did you first start learning?
My Grandmother Emmy, who grew up in Lebanon, did beautiful handwork. She taught me hand hemstitching and how to make needle lace. I was the oldest of 8 children (Two girls, 6 boys). My Mom didn't sew, but I had a neighbor who was a wonderful mentor. She encouraged me to play on her sewing machine and typewriter. Garment sewing began at age 11 when I took a Singer kids' course. I got into smocking and heirloom sewing in 1979 when my close friend Lydia and I, both mothers of toddler girls, found the original Buttons 'n' Bows in Houston. From 1981 - 1988 we owned Buttons 'n' Bows. (It's had two more owners since then.) I taught the machine classes and knew our customers shared our taste for handsewn-looking finishing and embellishing. That's when I first developed many of the hemstitching, fagoting, and heirloom techniques we use today. In 1986, I became a SAGA teacher.
Are you married? Children? Pets?
Married to college sweetheart Ron for 44 years. Son Daniel and daughter Emily. Four grandchildren pictured with us below. Teacup Yorkie - "Tater Tot."
Carol and Ron with Grandkids -
Grant (7 - born during first Saga Anaheim Convention!), Georgia (almost 5), Sydney (4), Anna Grace (3 1/2)
What other hobbies/interests do you have?
We love Modern Square Dancing! (Modern as in we dance to modern music - only occasionally to country music.) Our club has 144 couples and we have made many great friends through this hobby. We have found that square dancers are generally as nice as sewers! No, I don't wear those short puffy petticoats and skirts! (Although I did buy one outfit with tacky lace and wide gold rickrack that you would not believe I would ever wear! Remember, it's a costume!) I usually wear peasant skirts.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud when I see how thrilled people in my classes are when they first learn to successfully use a narrow hemmer, stitch a perfect blind hem, are confident adjusting machine tension, get beautiful hemstitching or fagoted seams, etc.! I hear back from many of them over and over and it always makes my day!
You can take classes with Carol at the SAGA Las Vegas Retreat, February 26-March 1, 2015.
Visit www.smocking.org for more information on all classes and how to register.
You can learn more about Carol on her website www.carolahles.com