March 23 • 09:19 PM

That's a cap!

Big bovine benefits from talents of Dryden seamstress Carol Lumsden

‘Costume designer’ Carol Lumsden with Sue and Steve Francis of Almont’s Country Smoke House pose with moose model wearing Carol’s creation.

December 16, 2009
ALMONT TWP. — You might not see Carol 'Irene' Lumsden's latest fashion creations on the catwalk in Milan, but that doesn't detract from her accomplishment.

After all, how many seamstresses can put together a Santa's cap for the bigger-than-life bovine that beckons visitors from near and far to the Country Smoke House?

To spread some holiday cheer, Carol thought she'd stitch the cap for the massive creature, make a garland necklace for the trademark PT Cruiser moose and spruce up the lighted sign at the popular specialty market.

"I just decided to try it," Carol says. "Steve's such a great guy who does so much for the community I did it as a thank you for being such a good friend."

Carol's referring to Steve Francis, who with wife Suzanne, owns and operates the Country Smoke House. Steve is friends with Carol's son, Jeff, having met through Jeff's business, Aspen Heating & Air Conditioning.

"Jeff does Steve's work and they've become good friends," she says. "He's been a great friend to my son when he really needed it."

So in gratitude—and for fun—Carol decided to tackle the project. A five-foot-by-five-foot piece of vinyl was required to craft the cap, as was a whole lot of white fir.

The moose's necklace was a bit simpler to handle, Carol says.

"I took some garland and made some bows to go on it and had my son wrap it around (the moose,)" she says.

As for the lighted sign, Carol says she stenciled the words 'Happy Holidays' and some holly leaves on five yards of vinyl. She's a little worried about how it will hold up in the weather.

"I sew, I don't paint so I don't know if it will last," she chuckles.

While she's not too confident in her painting abilities, sewing is as natural as breathing for Carol. At age 70, it's a talent she's been honing for 62 years.

Though she wasn't formally taught, Carol says she learned to sew by watching her mom Dorothy (Miller) Pagean when she was a little girl.

"She used to sew for Crowley's and Hudson's, we lived in Detroit," Carol says. "My dad died when I was five and that's how she made her living."

Carol says her mom was so talented and creative and her lessons have endured the test of time.

"I remember she would take me to the Goodwill store and go to the women's coats. She'd have me pick one out and we'd come home and she'd make me a coat. I thought I died and went to heaven I was so thrilled over this," Carol says. "I still do that to this day."

Though she's recovering from a long, serious illness, Carol says sewing for others helped her get through the ordeal.

"I'd go to the hospital every two weeks for treatment and I met some nurses who gave me excellent care," Carol says. "I just started sewing for their grandchildren."

Pretty soon, Carol found herself sewing for 11 little girls.

"I love making little girl's dresses—that is if the little girl likes dresses," she chuckles.

After creating the girls' holiday dresses, Carol will work on sewing hospital gowns for children in the Dominican Republic.

"My granddaughter is a nurse and she's going there in April with a group of nurses and doctors," she says.

Carol says for her sewing is more than just stitching fabric together—it's become a source of joy in her life.

"It's a fun thing to do for me," she says. "It keeps me alive and moving."

As for her bovine collection, look for more in that line. Carol says she hopes to decorate the Country Smoke House creatures for every holiday.

"I've got something in mind for Valentine's Day..." she says.

Carol and her husband Bud moved to Dryden in 1973.

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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