You can bring life to your ideas & tell your story.

Share your ideas the way it’s done in the industry: visually. From fashion illustration to a winning portfolio, show your designs so the world can see them.
Image: Phil Padilla, Digital Illustration

Fashion Illustration
Mondays, 10 am-1 pm
Sept 12-Nov 28
All the way from London, England, Kel Jackson magically will turn you into a fashion designer. Start with a pencil and piece of paper. Decide upon the look of a garment and make it move.
Need a kit with all the right tools? Click here
Image: PFI senior Kyle Woods

Adobe Illustrator for Fashion
Wednesdays,2-5 pm
Sept 14-Nov 30
Stop trying to learn it though YouTube and get the short cuts and inside tricks from Rianna Aguirre, designer for Thread Theory and many others.
Still nervous? Try this starter class:

Adobe Prep
Weds & Thurs, 2-5 pm
Sept 7 & 8
Image: Jevon Ruis

Flats & Technical Packages
Mondays, 6-9 pm
Sept 12-Nov 28
Expand your Adobe know-how into the very skills that will get you a job with Nancy Simon who creates specs and techs for a living.
Don’t forget PFI students get the Adobe student discount.
Image: PFI senior Meghan Lee

Color Theory
Mondays, 6-9 pm
Oct 24-Nov 28
Let Kimmy Schenter, head of color innovation for Under Armour, help you choose color that intrigues, excites and motivates.
Color kit included in class.

Graphic Design
Tuesdays, 6-9 pm
Sept 13-Oct 18
As the product strategy director for PineCrest, Jena Nesbitt knows how to turn simple lines and shapes into a creative pattern that tells a story.

Computer Print Design
Tuesdays, 6-9 pm
Oct 25-Nov 29
Use what you learned in Graphic Design to become a print designer — then print your own fabric by the end of this class.
During this class, you will print your own design on fabric that you can cut, sew then wear.
Image: PFI grad Jessy Burris, Candy Lagoon

Digital Illustration
Saturday, 10 am-4 pm
Oct 29
Design on the go with an iPad, stylus and guidance from Phil Padilla, senior men’s apparel color designer for Nike.
Download the program on your iPad or borrow one from PFI
Image: Phil Padilla

Thursdays, 6-9 pm
Sept 15-Dec 8
Put your story together and show why you are the best candidate for a job, a promotion and your future — with Nike’s Dana Eberlein.
Present your skills to a panel of managers from Nike.
Image: PFI grad Charlie Ryan, Chuck’s Lab

Next blogs:  Secrets of lingerie, textiles, machine knitting, innovative design.

Find your success in apparel business.

PFI Supply Store is moving! SALE!


PFI Supply is moving — just across the street into our new building. That means bargains for you while we pack up. PFI Supply is closed August 24 to September 6 while we set up our new shop and bring in new stock.  Stay tuned for our grand re-opening sale!

Meanwhile, if you are getting ready for Fall classes, we are the place to go if you don’t know what to buy or where to get the right stuff.  PFI Supply has the basics in a convenient kit ready for pickup at PFI Supply or first day of class.

Get 20% OFF all fabric & tools when you sign up for a class!


New classes for Fall 2022 are ready. Here’s how to choose the right one for you.

The road to your fashion future starts here. With 39 classes from sewing to design, you are going to need a guide. Let Kelli show you the way. Whether you just want to learn how to sew or want to change your life and start a fashion career, Kelli’s story may be a good guide to lead your way through the classes PFI offers this Fall.

Kelli McDonough, PFI graduating class of June 2022, was born in South Korea and was adopted to the US at the age of 10. She was a stay at home mom for some time where “I taught myself to knit and started patterning my own garments. I needed a lot more help to do it right, so I started researching my options. I chose PFI because of the range of topics taught and the classes were at a time that worked around my kids’ school schedules.” In her senior year, she created her own collection. She now has a new job.

Here’s her path from stay-at-home-mom to fashion designer.

Above: Kelli’s Urban Excursion Senior Collection @inkthethink Model @olivia.reii

Step 1. Design

“My design process, like for most designers, starts out with an idea. I will draw it as fast as I can. Then I will put it through [Adobe] Photoshop and Illustrator.”

Fashion Illustration Mon, Sept 12-Nov 28, 10am-1pm
Adobe Illustrator Weds,Sept 14-Nov 30, 2-5 pm
Flats & Techs Mon,Sept 12-Nov 28, 6-9 pm
Digital Illustration Sat, 29-Oct, 10am-4pm
Color Theory Mon, Oct 24-Nov 28, 6-9pm
Graphic Design Tues, Sept 13-Oct 18, 6-9 pm
Computer Print Design Tues, Oct 25-Nov 29, 6-9 pm
Innovative Design Weds,Sept 14-Nov 30, 6-9pm
Textiles Mon, Sept 12-Oct 17, 6-9pm
Machine Knitting Thurs, Sept 15-Dec 8, 6-9pm

Step 2. Pattern

“Next I pattern it out by hand and then Optitex and Browzwear so I can see how the pattern and print and design itself will behave.”

Browzwear  Sat, Oct 29-Dec 10, 10am-1pm
Optitex  Sat, Sept 17-Oct 22, 10am-1pm
Draping  Mon, Sept 12-Nov 28, 2-5pm OR 6-9 pm
Pattern Intro  Thurs, Sept 15-Dec 8, 10 am-1 pm OR 6-9pm
Pattern Manipulation  Tues, Sept 13-Oct 18, 10am-1pm OR 6-9pm
Pattern Design  Tues, Oct 25-Nov 29, 10am-1pm OR 6-9pm
Pattern Knits  Weds, Sept 14-Nov 30, 10am-1pm
Fit & Pattern Alteration  Sat, Sept 17-Oct 22, 2-5 pm

Step 3. Sew

“From there I will sew the first prototype where I serve as the fit model. I will try it on then fix and adjust the pattern until I get the final product I had envisioned at the start.”

Apparel Construction Weds, Sept 14-Nov 30, 10am-1pm OR 6-9 pm
Beginning Sewing  Mon, Sept 12-Nov 28, 6-9 pm OR Tues, Sept 13-Nov 29, 6-9 pm  OR Sat, Sept 17-Dec 10, 10am-1pm
Knits  Fri, Sept 16-Oct 21, 10am-1pm OR 2-5pm
Activewear  Fri, Oct 28-Dec 9, 10am-1pm OR 2-5pm
Industrial Machine Sewing  Mon, Sept 12-Oct 17, 6-9pm
Casual Jackets  Tues, Oct 25-Nov 29, 2-5pm OR 6-9pm
Pants & JeansTues, Sept 13-Oct 18, 2-5pm OR 6-9pm
LingerieFri, Sept 16-Dec 9, 2-5pm OR 6-9pm
Leatherworking  Sat, 5-Nov, 1-5 pm
SergerySat, Oct 29-Nov 19, 2-5 pm
ZippersSat, Dec 3, 2-5 pm

4. Sell. 

“What I love most about what I do is all the gadgets and tools in this industry that help you to succeed.”

E-commerce Marketing  Mon, Sept 12-Nov 28, 6-9 pm
History of Fashion  Tues, Sept 13-Oct 18, 6-9 pm
Inside the Fashion IndustryWeds, Sept 14-Oct 19, 6-9 pm
Overseas Production  Weds, Sept 14-Oct 19, 6-9pm
Materials Development  Weds,Oct 26-Nov 30, 6-9pm
Product Development  Thurs, Oct 27-Dec 8, 6-9pm
Supply Chain ManagementThurs, Sept 15-Oct 20, 2-5pm
Fashion Analytics  Thurs, Oct 27-Dec 8, 6-9pm
Portfolio  Thurs, Sept 15-Dec 8, 6-9pm
Apparel Business Plan  Fri, Sept 16-Oct 21, 2-5pm
5. Live
Kelli now works in product development for Danamor. You can see Kelli’s creations on Instagram @inkthethink
Need more ideas on the best path for your life? Read more in the next newsletter or visit our website   Have questions? Send a note to Ready to register? click the links above.

Workwear meets sportswear concept wins Portland teen a Fashion Scholarship

Tuesday, June 22, 2021



Workwear meets sportswear concept wins Portland teen a Fashion Scholarship

The pandemic is nearly over. It’s time for a new, more practical way to think about clothes. What need do they fill? What we should buy and why?

It’s that thoughtful point of view that won Gabriel Madlangbayan of Jefferson High School a fashion design scholarship at Portland Fashion Institute, Portland’s only accredited fashion school.

It’s the tenth year for PFI’s scholarship contest. This year the school focused on persons of color.

Madlangbayan came up with a concept of combining workwear with sportswear. He designed and created a warm but functioning outerwear jacket — quite a feat for a beginner. He then demonstrated its use by skateboarding in the snow and letting his jacket cushion the blow when he fell.

His focus, however, is on more than just fashion.

“One of my favorite things about skateboarding is the people,” he says. “I’ve noticed there is little to no discrimination among the community, whether that’s age, race or gender. Everyone seems to accept each other. Knowing this while being a person of color definitely gives me a lot more confidence.

“I’m looking forward now to learning professional skills at PFI,” he says, “and the business of fashion.”

Madlangbayan is 17. After his education at PFI, he would like to work for Nike or Adidas. But he has his sights on bigger things.

“I know [what I created] is not really a revolutionary idea or something that will change the game in the fashion world, but I just wanted to do something that was important to me and my friends. I figured that should come first.”

PFI’s annual scholarship aims to give young designers a path into one of Portland’s many major apparel manufacturing companies. It is open to full-time students in Portland and Vancouver area high schools who have a GPA of 2.5 or more. Each contestant creates an original apparel design idea with sketches, interviews of influential people and an essay on fashion design.

Judges include leaders for Adidas, Columbia Sportswear and Nike.

More than 6,000 persons have studied at PFI since it opened in 2010. While most students come to PFI for a class or two, those interested in a career have gone on to start their own clothing lines, to work for one of the area’s many apparel companies or to gain entry into one of the top schools in New York, London or Paris.

Photo:  Workwear + sportswear is a design idea that achieves more than fashion and won Jefferson High School’s Gabriel Madlangbayan a scholarship to Portland Fashion Institute.  At PFI he plans to learn the skills to take his ideas into a career at one of Portland’s major apparel companies and beyond.  Here, his brother Curtis wears Madlangbayan’s award-winning idea.

Area fashion school and design house give creatives special access to Portland style

Portland has always had its own quirky style.  Classic comfort.  Unisex.  Tomboy.  Upcycling.  Interesting prints.  A mix of high and low.  Think of an oversized dress with running shoes.  Portland style has been copied nationwide.

The city’s independent design scene supported nearly 100 boutiques four years ago.  COVID-19 pandemic closed nearly half of them.

Enter Portland’s only fashion design school and one of its leading designers.

“We have a plan to promote Portland’s aesthetic and rebuild the independent design scene to get ready for a post-COVID world,” says Sharon Blair, Portland Fashion Institute’s director.

She has worked with AltarPDX designer Cassie Ridgway to turn some of AltarPDX’s most popular designs into sewing patterns.

“While we boost the area’s economy, we hope this effort encourages people to make their own and upcycle what they already have,” Blair says.

“If it inspires them to create and sell their own designs, that’s great too.”

AltarPDX is sold worldwide.  Most all of the garments are recycled from deadstock.  All are made in America.

“Altar is particularly known for making seasonless staples that aim for a timeless and sophisticated aesthetic,” Ridgway says.  “For this project, we chose garments that year-after-year can transition to new eras of our lives.”

“I can’t wait to see how everyone applies their own sensibilities to these projects.”  Each of the patterns is styled as a “classroom in a book”, with detailed illustrations and links to videos, “so even beginning stitchers can complete a garment they will love to wear.”

Part of the proceeds goes to another collaboration between PFI and AltarPDX.  The two are working on a grant to create an apparel production training program for at-risk, underserved youth in a Portland-area alternative public school. The program would train low-income teens so they can secure high-demand, well-paying jobs in the apparel industry.

PFI’s next group of patterns comes from designers Sarah Donofrio of One Imaginary Girl and Project Runway, plus Liza Rietz of The Ones whose garments show at art galleries as well as her own boutique.

Patterns are available at and

What is the best iron to buy?

Q. I need an expert opinion, so I am turning to you. I need a new Iron and am sick of “home professional’ ones that don’t seem to last. Do you have an iron you like? — Elizabeth

A.  For as much ironing as you do, you have to step up to a Naomoto Gravity Feed Steam Iron. Never fail. Never scorch. We’ve used ours in the school for a decade without any problems.  We all know a good iron is key to a professional finish.  You should be able to find one in your price range on

Blazer traded to Raptors takes PFI grad’s designs with him


Gary Trent Jr may be traded by Portland’s Blazers to Toronto’s Raptors, but that doesn’t stop Lake Oswego-based designer Charlie Ryan from designing for him. “I’m still going to be doing the same thing for him,” Ryan says, “but now a different audience will see the clothes so I’ll get to reach a new market outside of Portland.”
Ryan attended Portland Fashion Institute while in his senior year at Lake Oswego High School. His clothing concepts won him a scholarship at PFI and a fashion show at Fade to Light. This experience won him a full fashion design scholarship at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.
To see his latest designs, visit @chuckslab or @portlandfashioninsitute on Instagram.

*  *  *

What it takes to get a product to market — and make a living


The steps to making something you love that also sells are simple and finite.  If it makes you a living.  Wow!  You’ve done it.   Here are the six simple steps to get  you there:

1. Idea
Research + Inspiration = product that’s in demand.
Develop strategies to get the right merchandise at the right price at the right time in the right amount to the right locations to meet the wants and needs of the target customer

Why Research?

No style or group of styles can be considered fashion unless they are accepted and bought by the public.

Research who will buy it:
• Who is your public (target market)?
• What do they need?
• How much are they willing to spend?
• Where do they buy?

Research what they will buy:
• What’s on the streets?
• What do trend reports say?
• Shop! What are others selling?
• How are they merchandising it?
• How are they pricing it?
• What are they missing?
• Where do you fit in?
Decide the best time of the year to start selling your items.

Research your Brand & create a marketing plan
•  Who are you?
•  What do you plan to offer
•  How are you positioned
•  How do you differ from others
ª  What is your name/logo/look

Success depends on developing and maintaining a line based on the market niche

2.  Design
Decide on your:
• Colors and values
• Fabrics and textures
• Shapes (line, balance, proportion) = sizes

• Sketch 24. Edit.
• Draw 12. Edit.
• Illustrate 6 cohesive garments that represent your brand.
This is your line — for a season.

3.  Make Patterns
• Set pattern standards
• Write prototype garment spec sheets
• Make first patterns
• Source your fabrics & trims
• Sew prototypes
• Fit then alter your patterns.
• Sew your samples
Calculate preliminary costs and pricing strategy

4.  Take Sales and Orders
• Prepare your sales materials — whether you are selling wholesale or direct to consumer online through your website.
• Take orders.  TIP:  Give discounts for pre-packs.
• Grade your pattern sizes based on those orders.
• Plan fabric usage.  Set up a marker to prevent waste.
• Order your wholesale fabrics and trims.

5.  Cut Make Trim
• Produce only those garments that get enough orders.
• Use a professional production house.
• Do quality checks.

6.  Fulfillment
• Deliver what the buyer ordered — when and how they want it delivered.
• Get paid!
• Follow up with your buyers. Take notes.  Adjust.  This is your core market research for your next season.

Get started on the next season, if you haven’t already.

You too could be the next Chanel — only better because it is you!

Want to know more?  Sign up for any of PFI’s business classes where you feel a need to know more.  Can’t decide?  Sign up for a business consultation.  Your success is our success!

* * *


Why you shouldn’t buy cheap clothes made in China

Think that $19.95 jacket is a treasure? It’s not. Here’s why.  We found the Factories inside China’s mass internment camps. 

China built its vast network of detention camps to do more than simply keep people behind bars.  Investigations identified factories right inside many of Xinjiang’s internment compounds.  These long, rectangular buildings with blue roofs are capable of putting thousands of Muslim detainees to work against their will.  China has built scores of them — encompassing millions of square feet — in the last three years. Observers have long warned of rising forced labor in Xinjiang. Satellite images show factories built just steps away from cell blocks.
Two former detainees said they had worked in factories while they were detained. One of them, Gulzira Auelhan, said she and other women traveled by bus to a factory where they would sew gloves. Asked if she was paid, she simply laughed.
From BuzzFeed News.  For the rest of the story, click here