Sewing in the Algonquin Community

Students, teachers express creativity through threads


Priya Maraliga

A cosplay outfit, sewed by Lauren Berardi, is displayed at the Spring Art Show.

Many members of the Algonquin community express themselves through sewing, making personalized accessories and items of clothing that fit perfectly while expressing their personality in each of their projects. 

While some individuals started when they were children, others began sewing more recently, as the pandemic provided time to explore new interests. Some people use patterns, and others modify clothes they thrift.

Special education teacher Marie Porteus has been sewing since she was 15 years old and has been making her clothes for everyday life.

“I started in high school, and I was lucky because at my high school we had sewing classes, like tailoring and pattern drafting,” Porteus said. “From there, I just occasionally made clothes and within the last 15 years I have been making clothes. I usually see something that I’m inspired by most of the time. It’s something that’s unaffordable but really cool, I will recreate it into something.”

Porteus also painstakingly crafts historically accurate clothing as a hobby.

“My family and I participate as Civil War living historians so we travel to the places where these battles occurred or where they were near, and I make all the clothing for myself and my family; we all go dressed up,” Porteus said.

Porteus, who creates clothing as well as tailors existing items, finds sewing relaxing and fun. She has a whole room in her home dedicated to sewing and enjoys finding fabrics in New York City to create masterpieces using tailoring techniques she learned by studying the work of Chanel and Loren.

Senior Amanda Crain has also been sewing since childhood. Crain said her nana taught her the basics in elementary school and she moved more independently into the hobby in middle school. She enjoys making clothing that fits her perfectly, or even tailoring clothes to fit her better.

“I can make my clothes and personalize them to fit me and I don’t have to worry about finding the right size at a store,” Crain said. 

Crain creates her clothing perfect for herself to shine in, and she also creates bags which she says take much less time to create. When designing clothing, Crain makes clothes just for herself, because she doesn’t feel comfortable sharing her work. She uses a variety of materials in order to be less wasteful.

“Sometimes, I will use table cloths or bed sheets and make something out of that instead of having it be thrown out,” Crain said.

Senior Lauren Caffrey has been sewing since she was in the fourth grade. Caffrey enjoys thrifting clothing, and she tailors the clothes to fit her perfectly. She also sometimes cuts different shirts up and sews them together to make new shirts or other clothes.

“When I was younger, I would always embellish clothing by sewing little sequins or flowers on my clothes,” Caffrey said. “Then my mom, for Christmas, surprised me with a sewing machine so that’s when I really first learned how to sew.”

Caffrey taught herself how to sew with her sewing machine in the fourth grade, learning advanced techniques from her aunt, an artist. Throughout the years, Caffrey has worked on making bags out of all different types of fabrics for herself and others to enjoy through her very own business. 

“I make a lot of bags out of different materials,” Caffrey said. “For example, I made a cheetah bag and used fur. I have also used linen as well as different types of cloth and lace.” 

Senior Max Hanna more recently began sewing, and he usually tailors clothing that he thrifts to fit him better. Hanna also embellishes clothing to make it his own. Hanna is going to fashion school next year at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City and looks forward to improving his sewing skills and gaining more experience and knowledge.

“Embroidery is something that would be something cool for me to learn and I’m pretty interested in that,” Hanna said. “I think embroidery looks good on everything. I really like when people embroider big patches onto things or big lettering on varsity jackets. I just think embroidered pieces look more expensive and it can bring the value of pieces up a lot.”

Finding pride and confidence in his own fashion and pieces of work is what Hanna does best. Adding small touches and details to clothing is Hanna’s speciality as he takes good care of his work like his grandma taught him three years ago.  

“Usually my attention span doesn’t allow me to complete a full piece of sewing because it takes a while to fully create something,” Hanna said. “Sometimes it can take multiple days or even weeks depending on what you’re making, so I prefer to just do touch ups on things. So if I buy a pair of pants that are second hand, I will adjust the waist to fit me. Mostly just tailoring and more simple touch ups.”