Maybe it didn’t get quite the social media treatment that sourdough starters or puzzles did, but thanks to a surge in home mask making, many a Portlander got familiar with sewing this year. Be it from a trusty needle and thread kit swiped from a long-ago visited hotel or the dusty sewing machine usually reserved for hemming curtains or maybe a Halloween costume, folks took to making masks and discovered the joy of sewing clothing for themselves.
Fashion designer Laurs Kemp is helping those recent converts stay engaged with a series of free videos (available on her TikTok and Instagram accounts) that walk through a range of projects from jazzing up thrift store berets to turning old silk scarves into ruffly sleeves to the basics of felt appliqués.
“I understand not everyone has a sewing machine—because they’re expensive and take a lot of know-how to try to figure out how to thread them—so I wanted to have some that were either no-sew or hand sewing so any skill level could get into it,” she explains. “But then have some that are for the budding designer. Basically just to give them options.”
Kemp, who’s leaned into one-off and upcycled pieces in her work in addition to her small batch line of bold, graphic women’s wear, says she also thought viewers might like to see design problem-solving in real time and try things themselves. Though she comes from a family of teachers, including her own mom who taught Home Ec for years, it’s been a recent revelation that she enjoys the process of helping others enter the design journey and sharing hers, too.
“The most fun part of having a clothing line is the ideas. Like, how can I take this blouse that has a stain on it and cover it up or, you know, rework it. Or this blouse has a cool shape, so I'm going to turn it into a pattern or I'm going to take the buttons and use those,” Kemp says. “So the most fun part is the idea phase and the problem solving, and I thought, well maybe people would use these videos to go along this journey with me as I encounter each item and see how can I rework this thing.”
Here’s five fun ones to give a go.
Making a Checkered Tee from Two Plain Shirts
Shoe Clips with Leather or Fabric Scraps
Ruffled Sleeves from Silk Scarves
Plush Appliques on a Faux Fur Coat
Reworking a Knit Top with Scraps