Tamara Embrey has been making up-cycled, recycled, and refashioned clothing since she was a teenager, long before it was the latest and the coolest to do so. At sixteen, she would create her own interesting and unique items to wear, having been inspired by both a trip to Goodwill and the latest issue of Vogue.
Tamara was not interested in anything that could be found at the mall, and was happy to apply her sewing skills (courtesy of her mother and her aunt) to update and personalize her thrift store finds.
She loved making clothes so much, she even contemplated attending fashion school. The male-dominated industry and the emphasis on boundless consumerism did not appeal to her, however. Still, all throughout her schooling she never gave up making things, and never stopped making new, fantastic clothes out of old, forgotten ones.
Tamara’s creativity has never been just about making clothes – she is also a writer and a painter, but she never put down her sewing, even while pursuing advanced degrees in other subjects. Upon finishing her MFA in writing, a friend of hers encouraged her to sell her upcycled clothing at a local market in the small town where she attended graduate school.
With a ten dollar table fee, it was hard to say no…and The Devil Made Me Do It clothing was born!
She found she really enjoyed both the creative and business side of making and selling her clothes, and the thrill of seeing her creations on other stylish people never got old. By the time Tamara moved to the DC area in 2008 and planned to apply to the Torpedo Factory as a resident artist, The Devil Made Me Do It was well established and already enjoying success!
All of Tamara’s clothes are made from high quality, upcycled wool and cashmere sweaters. Her creative process begins by looking through her considerable stash of thrifted sweaters for inspiration. An unusual color or pattern might catch her eye, and call out to her to be made into a ruffle hem or a collar detail, and soon a garment is under construction in her head.
She uses her own sense of style, her “jagged-edge sensibilities,” and her considerable skill with a serger (gained from a little instruction plus years of experience) to piece together sweater remnants into new, fabulous clothes.
Each item in the Devil Made Me Do It collection is therefore one-of-a-kind. Although Tamara will sometimes repeat a certain style, the nature of her found-object materials means that no two garments will ever be exactly alike, even those that started life as parts of the same sweater!
You can find The Devil Made Me Do It clothing in Tamara’s Etsy shop, and in the Fiberworks Studio at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA, as well as at the occasional local arts and crafts market. Tamara is always looking for gorgeous sweaters to cut up, so if you have any that need a new life, let her know!