Member Spotlight - August

 Susan Infante

Susan credits the creative women in her family with inspiring her love of creating beautiful things in fiber and fabric. Her grandmother knitted, crocheted and embroidered; her aunt was a milliner; her mother taught tailoring at 4H.  Raised in a rural setting, Susan’s mother began teaching her how to sew at age 5 by sewing lines on cloth napkins.  By the age of 8, Susan had her own sewing machine.  When Susan was 11, her mother went to work at Marshall Field’s in Oak Brook as a buyer for notions.  Having access to beautiful fabric and notions at an early age motivated Susan and she made much of her own clothing as a teenager. In College she majored in French with an art minor.  She spent her junior year in France where she was inspired by the fabrics she saw. Originally intending to teach, Susan did not enjoy student teaching.  Instead, she wished to spend time in France to have access to the beautiful fabrics and inspiration she had found there. Because she was fluent in French, she was hired by TWA as an International Flight Purser where she supervised flight attendants and completed detailed flight reports. Her job allowed her to fly to France on weekends, and was able to fulfill her dream of having access to wonderful fabric stores in France.

Susan considers herself a textile artist who creates beautiful fabric. Before she retired, all the sewing she did was for herself, although she did make doll clothes for friends’ children. Aside from her mother’s initial instruction, Susan’s sewing techniques are primarily self-taught, although she has taken a variety of workshops in sewing techniques and styles.  Her favorite surface design technique is fabric printing.  She loves doing discharge dying and then overdying the fabric. A current interest of Susan’s is re-purposing and upcycling fabric, something she thinks we all should be doing these days to address waste in the fashion industry.
Susan uses simple silhouettes in the clothes she creates as she wants the fabric to speak to the person. She is very attracted to the Asian aesthetic in design with an organic and botanical flair.  Particularly inspiring to her are Jan Myers Newberry, Jane Dunnewold, John Marshall, Nancy Shriber and our own Dagmar Klos.
Susan learned about Fine Line while attending the DuPage Textile Guild.  Her first class at Fine Line was with visiting artist Jane Dunnewold.  The workshop was also attended by Heather Winslow.  They talked about the use of the Thermofax machine to create stencils to use to print on fabric.  Susan found a used machine online and Lynn Caldwell purchased it for Fine Line. As Susan was the only person who actually knew how to use the machine, she was asked to teach a printing class which she continues to teach at Fine Line today.

Fourteen years ago, Susan became involved in Uncommon Threads.  In 2008, Susan was asked by Kay Lang to be a co-chair of that event, and she continues to serve as one of three co-chairs of the event.  She loves the challenge of helping to decide what will look good on the runway, as well as seeing her own garments on display, along with her scarves and handbags in the Fine Line Boutique.

Susan considers Fine Line a welcoming and motivating place and wishes more people knew about it.  She feels there is a wonderful mix of classes offered here. Given the opportunity, she would love to teach young people the techniques of fine sewing to pass on those skills and inspire the next generation. 

Susan first sold one of her pieces in a gallery in Glen Ellyn in 2005. She has also had her work shown in Saugatuck and Santa Fe, as well as in Uncommon Threads and the Dempsey Gallery at Fine Line.  She has been featured in both Threads Magazine and the Simplicity Pattern Company.  A book Susan would like to recommend is The Lost Art of Dress by Dr. Linda Przybyszewski, Associate Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. The book details the time in the first half of the twentieth century when a group of women called the Dress Doctors taught women that knowledge, not money, was the key to a beautiful wardrobe. 

Sale of Susan’s work outside of galleries is by referral only.  You can contact her at


 Deanna Banner

Inspired at any early age by her father’s work, Deanna has always been attracted to fine craftsmanship and loves to work with her hands.  She was her father’s shadow as a child and loved to be with him as he used various tools to design and create objects in their basement.  Deanna has fond memories of the Barbie furniture he created for her. 

Deanna’s fifth grade teacher inspired her love of arts and crafts in Deanna at an early age. One of the many things Deanna’s teacher taught her students was how to dip candles and make pinch pot clay candle holders, something Deanna did as well with her own first graders as an elementary school teacher. 

Her love of history and fine craftsmanship inspired Deanna to collect antiques.  Considering herself addicted to antiques, she has acquired many wonderful collections over the years, including inkwells and coffee grinders.  Although the beauty and craftsmanship of antiques is inspiring to her, the art she creates is modern in look and application.  Many different artists inspire her, and she loves to learn from their work by putting her own twist on a technique and making something unique.

Deanna has explored a wide variety of artistic pursuits and has taken classes in various art forms.  The earliest class she took was in tole painting at Banbury Fair in Bartlett.  She has done a lot of sewing and even sewed her own wedding dress.  She has also taken classes in basketry, weaving and lampwork, although she tends to gravitate towards jewelry.  Because of her love of dabbling in many art forms, Deanne estimates she has many unfinished artistic projects in various stages at home that she plans to complete.   
After retiring from teaching, Deanna was the Director of Pioneer Sholes School in St. Charles for six years. Combining her love of history with her teaching experience, Deanna planned fundraisers, various events and conducted tours with school groups.  She still does school tours at Sholes School, Durant House as well as at the historical Beith House in downtown St. Charles, all run by Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley.

Born in Chicago, Deanna grew up in Mt. Prospect, lived in Wayne and now lives in St. Charles.  She took her first class at Fine Line many years ago, and has become more involved after retiring from teaching.  She loves the sociability at Fine Line and the feeling of community that creates a welcoming and supportive atmosphere. Fine Line teachers have been very motivating and encouraging to Deanna as she pursued her artistic exploration. Especially helpful were Neil Anderson and Claudia Engel-Rush in jewelry, and Katherine Steinbring in metal clay.  Deanna is looking forward to continuing to develop her artistic talents by building on the work she has done and the through the new classes she plans to take.