Shelly used to watch her mother, Reta, sew doll clothes for her favorite doll, Jenny, when she was just a few years old. As Jenny demanded new outfits (and bigger suitcases to store them), Reta tried to teach Shelly how to sew.
Shelly was a slow learner, and never really picked up the skill until she was old enough to move from Pocatello (that’s in Idaho, folks) to her own apartment in Boston, and wise enough to know she couldn’t afford curtains unless she made her own. So Reta shipped a Singer Featherweight to her frantic, curtain-less daughter in the big city and again attempted to teach her how to sew, this time over the phone. After making gorgeous curtains from sheets found at flea markets and pretty tablecloths for her boxes (no furniture yet), Shelly was finally hooked on sewing.
She used the trusty Featherweight through good times and bad, from poverty to slightly above poverty, from Boston to Seattle, from marriage to (well, we won’t talk about that), until just a few years ago when she decided she wanted to hemstitch a handkerchief that she had hand-embroidered (a skill also taught by Mom).
For the first time, Shelly went shopping for a new sewing machine, and when she saw the “new fangled” embroidery models, it was love at first sight. She whipped out her credit card, bought the first machine she saw, and has never regretted it. She started digitizing a few months later. Happily, people seem to like her designs, so she quit her “real job” as a Jr. High math teacher and now digitizes full time.
After discovering that she cannot live far from her parents, Shelly moved back to Pocatello. She teaches embroidery classes in her hometown and also at embroidery conferences in the US. She has had to discard the preconceived idea that grownups are better behaved than 13-year-olds, but she loves teaching them anyway.
Shelly currently writes for Classic Sewing Magazine. She wrote All for Me, which includes the designs and instructions to complete 6 pretty projects. Her designs have been featured in Designs in Machine Embroidery and Creative Machine Embroidery . Her paper embroidery projects were featured in the book, Machine Embroidery, Wild and Wacky by Rebecca Kemp-Brent and Linda Griepentrog. A second book, Fill in the Blanks with Machine Embroidery, by Rebecca Kemp-Brent includes exclusive Shelly Smola designs on CD.