How Rebecca Chamberlain, a Recycled-Fashion Designer, Spends Her Sundays

For many years, Rebecca Chamberlain designed clothes for famous brands, mostly to make ends meet. During the coronavirus pandemic, she started doing it for herself — by turning old garments into modern, sophisticated pieces.

“When I was ghost-designing for mainstream clothing companies, it felt like we were always racing — towards what, a markdown?” said Ms. Chamberlain, 53, adding that she disliked the amount of waste the fashion world created.

In 2020, Ms. Chamberlain said, she felt at peace back at the sewing machine as she “frantically” made hundreds of masks for a nearby hospital from her upstate home in Andes, N.Y. It was also the first time she had a chance to be creative for herself, she said.

While many people found comfort in sweatpants, Chamberlain found herself hunting for old military gear, quilts, jeans and men’s shirts.

She first took apart a pair of Levi’s jeans and a

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