STURGIS – When COVID-19 brought travel to a halt in 2020, Courtney Johnson was stuck at home and couldn’t travel for work.
Instead of being bored, she took up sewing, a hobby she always wanted to pursue. She bought a sewing machine and started sewing clothes. However, finding herself drawn to leather, she bought a new machine and left.
“I learned it all on my own, sewing it all, online through YouTube and TikTok and all that,” Johnson said. “I can see things when I see a piece of clothing or something, I can just see what it could turn into.”
Very quickly, she was transformed into a tote bag to transform sentimental objects, such as her husband’s military coat.
“I’m a very sentimental person and so having something that really means something to you or the person” (is important), she said.
People also read…
Now she has her own stand at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, her first appearance as an exhibitor, called King Pine Customs. Johnson said she grew up in Gorman, Nebraska, and had participated in the rally before, but hadn’t been back for a long time.
Johnson is an interior designer by trade, but said she’s always been into fashion. She said she has always been creative but never had time to learn how to sew. Now she has four standard styles she can transform clothes into and plans to have more along the way.
She said it depends on what garment someone brings, but can turn one or more garments into a tote bag, a tassel bag, a double loop, and the boot bag. Johnson said certain items on a garment can really stand out and be an obvious accent or pocket for the bag.
“It kind of transforms when I look at it,” she said.
Johnson said she sometimes had to complete the hardware based on the size of the garment given to her, but she did so with things like zippers.
“It’s a wedding of everything,” she said.
Johnson said she would not actively sew while at the rally, but had bags for sale, including Harley-Davidson jackets and boots that had become bags, although she was able to respond to requests and to consult exhibits.
She said the hardest thing for her was getting people to understand exactly what she was doing.
“I can take these parts that are just in closets, they can put thousands of miles on them or it has special meaning,” Johnson said. “Once you take it out, it’s in a closet or in a box, it’s given away.”
Johnson said she hopes she can help people take their memories home with them. Johnson’s stand is located near Harley-Davidson at the corner of Junction Avenue and Main Street in Sturgis. She said delivery times are around 12 to 16 weeks.
— Contact Siandhara Bonnet at [email protected] —