Member Spotlight - December 2021

Cara Buono


Cara grew up in the suburb of Park Ridge, IL.  Her parents made the choice to move their family there so that their daughters and son could attend excellent schools.  As they had to be sure they lived within their means, her talented parents made most of their children’s clothing.  For Cara, sewing was an integral part of her life. 


When Cara was 12 years old, she signed up for a Stretch and Sew class.  She was excited to learn how to sew with knit fabrics and was also thrilled to buy her first piece fabric off of a bolt, as her parents frugally sewed with remnants in order to save money. Even though she admits to cutting one of the pieces on the wrong grain, Cara’s love of sewing her own clothing was born.  Not only did she have the talent to sew as her parents did, she realized she could make exactly what she wanted to wear. Three years after she learned how to sew, Cara got her first job in a local men’s shop doing alterations. She went on to work in two more alteration shops.  One during her time in college and another for a year following her graduation.  To this day she loves taking clothing apart and putting it back together.

Cara attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb to study Textile and Apparel Design.   In 1990 she received her Bachelor of Science Degree followed by her Master of Science Degree in 1992. While working on her M.S. Degree, Cara learned how to weave and dye fibers.  She incorporated these elements of design into her final one-person-show titled “In and Out and On”.   It was during this time that Cara was introduced to Fine Line due to her need for supplies.  She recalls being impressed with the community of creative people working together in such a beautiful space.  

After her studies, Cara did not immediately go into the fashion industry. She moved to Chicago and lived in the Ukranian Village neighborhood beginning her city life with employment in the restaurant industry.   She later held a variety of fascinating jobs in which she was able to expand her knowledge of sewing and pattern making.  She designed and created costumes for several Chicago area theaters and held the position of Costume Supervisor for Deeply Rooted Productions, a Chicago based dance company, giving her the opportunity to travel in the United States.   In the early 1990’s, she was hired to be one of two patternmakers for Fitigues, a privately owned Chicago based company.  At that time, Cara states that she didn’t even know that being a patternmaker was a “thing.”  Cara taught at the International School of Design as well as the Illinois Institute of Art.   

During Cara’s teaching career in 2002, she went back home for a visit and was told by a family friend that they had run into Mike Buono, her high school sweetheart.  Cara and Mike had gone their separate ways when Cara went to college, but after they reconnected, they were married within a year.  They currently reside in the first home that Mike built on Rt. 31 in St. Charles with their 16 year old daughter, Analiese, their 15 year old son Michael and their two dogs Maisie and Yukon.   Cara has an in-home studio where she works on patterns and designs for her label 23 bins, named for the numerous bins where she keeps all of her fabric. Cara sells her clothing at markets, trunk shows and by private appointment.  


Cara’s work is directly linked to her faith.  For the last three years she has created clothing collections consecutively named REscued-19, 20 and 21.  The collections are made from recycled clothes and fabrics.  The REscued (RE-skewed) Collection process of design mirrors her faith-walk.  It is a constant reminder that she is a rescued child of God.  That when she feels lost or not worth it, Jesus rescued her, made her new and continues to seek her out, remake and value her.  This is the process she follows in order to create her designs.  She finds, washes and makes beautiful new garments from ones that have been cast aside, lost and/or devalued.  

In 2016 Gerry Stevens, Cara’s friend from church and a member of and potter at Fine Line, invited Cara to attend Uncommon Threads.  Gerry then encouraged Cara to create pieces for the show, leading to the Juror’s Choice Award for Best Body of Work in 2018.   Cara is presently an instructor at Fine Line and considers her classroom a place to share what she knows about pattern design and clothing construction.  She enjoys providing avenues in which her students can achieve goals and a space to create.  She loves that everyone in her classes is so willing to ask questions, laugh with others and at themselves, and share their extensive knowledge.   It is collaboration at its best.  Cara adores being part of showcasing the amazing talent in the Fox Valley community.