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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 pfisewing.com and altarpdx.com

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 AllBrands.com

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.

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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!

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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

Free pattern! Make a seam roll

Here you are pressing a sleeve flat — only to press in wrinkles on the other side. Ever wish you had something you could stick down that sleeve or pants leg to isolate your pressing? Here it is. It’s called a seam roll and now you have a pattern — for free from PFI!

You can also:
— Prevent making impression marks from the edges of a seam allowance on right side of fabric.
— Press sleeve seams without creating a center crease.
— Pant legs and other hard to reach areas
Press as you sew for a professional finish
Use cotton side for cotton and linen. Use the wool side for wool so it doesn’t flatten and get shiny.

Enjoy and remember #sewingismysuperpower

Seam Roll pattern

Make a Seam Roll Sewing Instructions

Perfect tailored sleeves

Create a smooth cap on your jacket sleeves for a figure-flattering, professional finish.
Nothing is more aggravating than an unplanned pucker on the top of your sleeve.  Yet apparel makers can create jacket after jacket with smooth sleeve caps.  How are they able to do this without hours of handwork?
The best way to find out is to go inside top-of-the-line jackets and see how the professionals do it.  The secrets are so simple and straightforward, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it first!
Let’s think about why shaping the shoulder is important.  A well-made sleeve cap is a thing of beauty in itself.  And it boosts the appearance of the wearer.  You are making the jacket, not buying it off the shelf.  That means you can control how flattering the jacket is to you – or your client.
A jacket sleeve should extend ½” from the shoulder tip, then fall straight down.  This puts your shoulders in proper proportion to your neck, head and the rest of your body.
Plus, it’s good camouflage!  If you’re like me, your shoulders are sloped from spending hours at the sewing machine, then hours at the computer swapping e-mails about sewing.  The right size and thickness in the shape squares up the shoulders and hides the roundness at the top of the arm.
It also helps to hide if one shoulder is higher than the other.  I call this the “books, bags and babies” syndrome.  A shape can balance the height.
If you practice yoga or lift weights, you still need a shape to support the sleeve cap and seam.  You just need less.
Some words about sleeves
A sleeve cap is the curve at the top of the sleeve.  It can have as little as ¾” ease for a blouse in smaller sizes or 1½” ease for a coat in larger sizes.
Ease is the difference between the measurement for the sleeve cap and that for the armhole.  It pushes the sleeve away from the shoulder tip for a proper fit.  But it’s the source of puckers.
Your sleeve pattern could be symmetrical, asymmetrical.  Symmetrical are easiest to sew.  Most two-piece sleeves are asymmetrical.
Prepare the sleeve
1.  Sew sleeve pieces together.  If your sleeve is symmetrical, don’t sew the side seams.  Sew the following steps “in the flat.”  If not, sew together all seams and do the following “in the round.”
2. Gather the sleeve cap between the front and back notches.  That makes the sleeve cap and armhole the same length.  Use one of the following favorite factory methods.
– “Crimp” on light to medium-weight fabrics. Keep the stitching within the seam allowance.  Use a regular stitch length.
Place your finger in back of the presser foot as you sew and push.  The fabric “piles up” against your finger.
Try the sleeve in the armhole.  If you need less ease, snap a thread.  If you need more ease, pull the bobbin thread or stitch another row of crimping.
Light fabrics take a regular-length stitch and light pressure.  Heavier fabrics take a longer stitch with more pressure.  If the fabric is very heavy, you may have to do two rows, or —
– Use bias strips. Measure the sleeve from notch to notch over the sleeve cap.  Cut a 1”-wide strip of bias to this length.  Place the strip against the wrong side of the sleeve cap.  Line up raw edges.
Sew from the shoulder tip down to one notch, stretching the bias strip as you sew.
Then sew from the shoulder dot down to the other notch.
Leave the strip in as you attach the sleeve to the garment.  It gives your sleeve cap extra support.
3. Place the gathered sleeve cap on a ham or rolled up hand towel.  Pin in place with glass head pins.  Steam and shape the cap with your hands.  Don’t remove it until it is cool and dry.
4. Sew the sleeve to the body of the garment with the sleeve toward the feed dogs on the machine.  The feed dogs help ease in the sleeve even more.  I call this putting the sleeve “to the dogs.”
Sew symmetrical sleeves from at one side of the sleeve cap to the other.  Then sew the side seams from the bottom of the garment to the bottom of the sleeve.
Asymmetrical sleeves start at one notch and sew around the sleeve cap.  Overlap the first stitches with the last stitches.
Reinforce the base of the armhole between the notches:  Stitch on the sewing line a second time.  Trim the base to ¼”.  Steam the sleeve allowance toward the sleeve.
Support your sleeve cap.
Buy a shoulder pad.  It will fill out and flatter the shoulder line from your neck to your sleeve.  About ½” or thinner works best with today’s fashion tastes.  Better yet, make one.  It fits your shoulder better and gives you exactly the shape you want.
Cut a sleeve head from polyester fleece or cotton felt. The sleeve head fills out the sleeve cap seam, hides any ripples in the seam allowances and lets the sleeve hang smoothly.  Make it the length of the shoulder pad’s armhole edge and 1-3/4” wide.
How to make a shoulder pad
1. Pin the jacket’s front and back pattern pieces together at the shoulder.
2. Copy the armhole along the cutting line from front notch to back notch.
3. Draw another curve.  Start one inch from the neck stitching line at the shoulder seam.  Blend the line to front and back notches.
4. From this pattern, cut graduated layers of polyester fleece or cotton felt.  Make as many layers as needed to give the desired firmness, height and shape.  Use three layers for most jackets.  More if you have sloped shoulders or need to balance your shoulders’ height.  Maintain the same curve at the armhole edge for all layers.
5. Cut a layer of hair canvas or other firm interfacing the full size of the pattern to give firm support across the top.
6. Stack all layers with armhole edges even, largest layer uppermost.
7. Curve the layers.  Put the hair canvas to the dogs.  Beginning at the top center, sew a few stitches 1” apart in a zigzag shape.  Stitch the entire pad to hold a curved shape.
Sew the shoulder pad and sleevehead to the sleeve cap seam
1. Sandwich the sleeve cap seam between the shoulder pad and the sleeve head.  Center the shoulder pad on the body side.  Match the armhole edges.
2. Fold up by ½” one long side of the sleeve head.  Center it on the sleeve side.  Place the fold next to the stitch line, fold side up.  Pin in place.
3. Check the position on you, your dress form or your client.
4. Place the garment in the sewing machine with the sleeve head up.  Lengthen the stitch length to 3.5 (8 spi).  Sew from notch to notch through all layers, 1/8” away from the fold.
5. Turn the shoulder right side out and smooth the garment over the shoulder pad.  Pin.
6. Repeat on the other side.  Make sure your shoulders match.
7. Attach the peaks of the shoulder pads to each shoulder seam allowance with a short zigzag stitch.  Loosen the tension to allow the stitch to move as the wearer moves.
8. Stitch a 2”-long piece of ½”-wide rayon seam binding or selvage to the seam allowances to join the jacket to the lining. This keeps the two together but allows movement.
Voilà!  Time to celebrate the beauty you have created!  Then sign up for Britta’s tailoring class.

Pattern Feedback Form

Please use this form to turn in notes on the instructions and the pattern itself. This also helps us
double check areas of the pattern that are the most prone to containing mistakes. Once we
receive this form from you, we’ll send your gift card and, when it’s ready, your updated copy of
this pattern.
Thanks! PFI

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Can’t get enough of that stretchy stuff

Enjoying our 1-minute tutorials on Instagram @portlandfashioninstitute?  Wish you know more about which elastic to use where?  Here is the inside story about stretchy things.

Most elastics are made from a rubber-core yarn covered with cotton, synthetic or a blend of fibers. They may occur as a single yarn or as several yarns braided or woven together.  Be sure to check the content when buying.  Avoid acetate elastic. It quickly loses its spring.

Single yarn (elastic thread) – Used for hatbands, button loops, shirring (as in shirring elastic for smocking, waistbands and café curtains.)

 

Braided – Identified by the lengthwise, parallel ridges that give these elastics a strong grip. Braided narrows when stretched. Use for casings rather than for stitching to a garment.  Great for mask-making.

 

 

Braided – Chlorine-treated for swimwear. Retains shape well. NOTE: Don’t use elastics with rayon for swimwear. It stretches and loses its shape when wet!

 

Woven (Knit) – Softer and easier to work with. It retains its width and curls less than braided so it’s easy to stitch it to the garment.  Other types of woven elastic:  Buttonhole (to allow growth in kid’s clothes), Drawstring (for men’s swimwear), Foldover (for performance).

 

 

Picot – Woven/knit elastic with a scalloped edge. Stitch to tricot, knits or silk to make a waistband for half-slips and other lingerie.  Choose plush for bras; it has a soft, brushed side that is kind to the skin.

 

 

Non-roll – Has vertical ribs to keep it from bending in half. But when it bends, the crease is permanent. Has less stretch than Braided or woven. Use only in casings. Best for children’s wear when the waist and hip measurements do not differ much.

 

 

Shock cord – A round or oval covered elastic cord used in casings for the hood, waistband or bottom band in outerwear. Other elastics for outerwear and activewear include foldover and binding.

 

 

Clear elastic – The latest from the garment industry. You can stretch it to 3x its length and it retains its spring for years. You can zigzag it on. You can serge it, cut the edge and it won’t unravel. Use it to ease in the sleeve cap for heavier fabrics, in hems for push-up sleeves and in swimwear. Use it for shoulder seams and behind buttons and buttonholes in knits.

 

Put your newfound elastic knowledge to use in one of PFI’s sewing class:  Beginning Sewing, Apparel Construction, Lingerie.  We’ll show you the right way to sew it.  Find out who invented elastic, who was first to use it in clothes and when.  Hint:  It replaced whalebone corsets!

Need to pick up a few yards?  We have what you need at PFI Supply, right next to the PFI school.  Order yours here.

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