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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Innovation in Fabric Sustainability

Sustainability was in focus at M.A.G.I.C. Las Vegas, August 2019.  Photo: PFI


Executives from Lenzing and Saitex talk sustainability in fabrics (courtesy of Fashion Frameworks)


Sustainability in fashion has become increasingly important. And one way for a brand to become more sustainable is through its fabric. We talked to two market leaders, Saitex and Lenzing, about fabric sustainability.

Saitex.  Founded by Sanjeev Bahl, Saitex is a sustainable factory specializing in denim manufacturing. Top clients include Everlane, Edwin, J. Crew, and Madewell, among others. Saitex’s impressive factory is based in Vietnam and they’re opening a second production facility in Los Angeles. Here, we talk to Virgina Rollando, Saitex’s sustainability project manager.

 What makes a fabric sustainable?

Virgina Rollando: Sustainability is always difficult to define, particularly when speaking about fabrics. Organic cotton is the least harmful option for soil health, however it requires large amounts of water. Recycled polyester from waste reduces what goes to landfill, and the amount of energy required in production, however it releases microfibers in washing. What makes a fabric sustainable is not black and white definition.

Typically, sustainable fabrics are derived from eco-friendly resources, such as sustainably grown fiber crops or recycled materials. At Saitex, we have extended these requirements to include how fabrics are made. Saitex has recently achieved GOTS and GRS certifications for organic and recycled garments – this means that after we receive a certified fabric, we can ensure that the whole garment and chemicals used also have the highest standards.

At Saitex, we strive to make sure there is a clear understanding of the fabric’s complete process from seed to bolt. Not only do we collaborate with fabric suppliers, we are the partner of choice for our brands when testing and refining any innovations. We share a level of transparency with our brands, so fabric innovations do not remain exclusive for very long, we try to be as open source as possible. We want to see our impact spread. We are also under construction of an on-site mill at our Vietnam facility opening in 2020, which will produce the most sustainable fabrics available, using renewable energy, recycled wastewater, and Bluesign chemicals.

Photo: Jon Galbarriartu

In your opinion, what are three ways a fashion brand can become more sustainable?

Virginia Rollando: The lowest hanging fruit for a fashion brand is to incorporate sustainable fabrics into its products. This is just a conscious decision every company leader must make. The options available across all categories and price points are vast. There have been significant adjustments to the cost of making these responsible decisions. Similarly, there are increasing options for sustainable production at all scales, both international or domestic, that utilize renewable energy sources.

Fashion brands should take more responsibility over all steps and aspects of production. When speaking of social sustainability, we greatly support the Fairtrade program, which connects brands directly with employees on the factory floor that receive a premium for every Fairtrade purchase, and are empowered to vote collectively on what projects to invest in. In terms of environmental sustainability, too often a blind eye is turned towards fabric waste. Brands ignore the amounts of fabric offcuts and waste garments that are an inevitable aspect of production, and are often asked to be incinerated. SAITEX offers brands the option to upcycle them into new garments or products such as tiles and furniture.

Photo: Jon Galbarriartu

Lenzing.  Lenzing has been producing fibers from wood for over 80 years. They make fibers under their four brands (Tencel, EcoVero, Veocel and Lenzing) for various industries like fashion, home textiles, outdoor, among others. Here, we talk to Lenzing’s Tricia Carey about sustainable fabrics.

What makes a fabric sustainable?

Tricia Carey: The definition of sustainability is rather blurry now. Each company is defining sustainability in their terms—some are addressing current standards and others are pushing to triumph beyond.

I view a sustainable fabric as having the least amount of total environmental impact based on current available technology. This encompasses raw material, spinning, weaving or knitting, dyeing and finishing, consumer use and after-life. Starting with preferred raw materials with the least impact on water usage, land, and chemicals. TENCEL™ lyocell is produced in a closed loop production process and is biodegradable and compostable. Our latest innovation is TENCEL™ Lyocell with REFIBRA™ technology which uses cotton scraps to make a new lyocell fiber.

Photo: Lenzing

In your opinion, what are three ways a brand can become more sustainable?

Tricia Carey:

1) Education. Brands need to learn about current standards and issues. They need to assess the impact of their current supply chain and product assortment, as well as review what leading brands are doing to have scalability. Environmental impact is a common thread across all companies.

2) Strategy. Next brands need to set a strategy with measurable goals in a timeframe. Typically, brands set a materials strategy based on cotton, synthetics and wood-based cellulosics.

3) Transparency. Work with transparent and reliable partners who share the same vision and goals. Visit these suppliers to see what they are doing and how their factories run. Lenzing often hosts tours of our facilities for customers and once they see how we transform trees into fiber, there is truly another level of understanding.

Fashion Frameworks: Can you expand on Lenzing’s sustainability program?

Tricia Carey: Overall, the entire fiber industry produces over 100 million tons of fibers every year. At Lenzing, we produce viscose (branded as LENZING™ ECOVERO™), modal and lyocell (branded as TENCEL™ Fibers). We believe in the concept of circular economy and closed-loop processes. We dedicate our innovative spirit and engineering excellence to solutions that make best possible use of our trees, a natural source material, while preserving our planet’s resources.

Growing trees feed on sunlight, water and the carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. The cellulose used to produce Lenzing’s fibers is a natural component in wood. At the end of our fibers’ life cycle, cellulose disintegrates into its native substances and prepares the ground for new plants to grow. Our production process mirrors this circular concept of nature: The water and chemicals we need for our production process are used over and over. They are re-circulated in our system.

The result of this circular model is perfectly sustainable: All along their life cycle, products made with Lenzing fibers promote resource preservation and environmental protection.

Lenzing works with stakeholders, certifiers and NGOs throughout the supply chain. We also use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a foundation for our business focusing on SDG 7 Affordable and clean energy, SDG 9 Industry, innovation, and infrastructure, SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production, SDG 13 Climate action, SDG 15 Life on land, SDG17 Partnering for the goals.

The idea of sustainability has grown and changed since the environmental movement in the 1960s.  For one, it is now in the psyche of industry and design makers.  To see and talk with those who are driving sustainability in the fashion industry, make plans to attend PFI’s Sustainability Tech series of seminars in Spring 2020 with Annin Barrett.

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Latest fashion trends from London, Milan & NYFW & how to use them

We like trends. Not because it makes us want to run out and shop. Instead it gives us a fresh look at the clothes in our closet and find new ways to mix and match. It lets us perk up an existing capsule wardrobe.  If you want something new, we say #makersgottamake Do it yourself. Choose the right fabric. Make it fit. Do it once. Do it right.  It’s the sustainable thing to do.

So here we go. Perhaps you have something to rediscover or something new to bring life to your ensembles.  For example, old favorites such as animal prints, jumpsuits, big shoulders, yellow and lovely lavender made dominating comebacks. Try:

From Soybean to Desert Sand, shades of beige painted the runway like a rainbow of light browns.  Chicago Harper by Josh Buck

Mutton Sleeves

An intense 80’s revival with big sleeves and bigger silhouettes hit NYFW. Don’t want to go that far? Try mutton sleeves. We just patterned a pair in knit in our latest Pattern 4 class.  Cocoon Jacket by StudioSKB

Shirt Dress
Always a reliable staple, the shirt dress is ideal for professional fashionistas and stylish savants. Try it in trending color: yellow.  Day Dress PFI pattern #1551

Stripes came in all widths. Stripped down, vibrant colors, pin stripes paired with chunky stripes, parallel prints running perpendicular to perforated patterns — stripes are in.  Lancaster Dress by StudioSKB

Slip Dress
The slip dress returns as a runway favorite. Although the original slip is simple, designers have gotten a little more playful for 2020.  Try it in trending lavender. Lingerie PFI pattern #7010

Animal Print
Animal print, electric and eclectic, lit up the runways this season. From cheetah and leopard in a variety of neon to zebra and sequins, there was enough fashion to fill a forest.  Davis Blouse by StudioSKB

Overalls & Jumpsuits
The blazer dress, wide-leg pants, and the leisure suit all had their day on the runway. Although these garments continue to walk the walk, the new “it” garment is the jumpsuit. A pair of pants that doubles as a shirt, chic as can be and comfortable to boot, the jumpsuit is perfect for every occasion.  Parker Jumpsuit PFI pattern #2051 (left); Marianne Jumpsuit PFI pattern #2015


Patchwork and prim, designers have spliced styles together to create a couture collection of textiles and fabrics.  A great way to recycle your fabric stash.  Fusion Jacket by Chuckslab

Structured Necklines
There was a lot of structure this season, from big sleeves (as we’ve seen) to skirts and blouses. But the true artistry was in the necklines, subtle and stylish. Fontaine Jacket by StudioSKB

That’s it. Everything old is new again. Shop your closet. Sew something wonderful to add joy and we’ll see you in 2020.

Sew Green. Sewing Eco-Fabrics.


Hemp Jacket, Peace Silk Top, Organic Cotton Jeans STUDIOSKB

Sew GreenSewing Eco-Fabrics

Bamboo isn’t something you grow in your garden.  Today, it is something you sew.

With good reason.  Bamboo and “green” or ecofabrics bring new, interesting textures, drape and performance with a twist of being earth-friendly.

Here are six of the most popular green fabrics on the market today – plus two more coming your way.  I’ll show you what makes them green, the pros and cons of each and how to sew them.

At the end you’ll find a list of places where you find eco-fabrics online.

SBA:  Ecofabrics: Not a fashion fad

Creating clothes from eco-fabrics has captured the apparel industry’s imagination.  According to the Organic Trade Association, sales of organic fibers grew to $85 million in 2013, an increase of about 23 percent from 2012. They expect sales in the U.S. to grow by nearly 16 percent a year.

SBA:  What makes a fiber green?  At least one of these:

  • Chemical-free. No synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, genetic engineering or toxic chemicals to process and dye the fibers.
  • Closed-loop processing. Solvents needed to break woody fibers into weavable filaments are reused and kept out of the environment, saving energy and water.
  • Eco-fabrics break down since they are natural fibers and contain little or no petroleum by-products.
  • Regenerated or renewable content. Some fabrics use recycled plastic bottles.  Others use recycled cotton or polyester.
  • Animal friendly. For wool, this means sheep cannot be overgrazed, dipped in insecticides, exposed to pesticides and hormones or scalped on the hindquarters to prevent blowflies.
  • To this list, many would add fair labor practices. They’d also want manufacturing placed close to consumers to save transportation costs and fossil fuel pollution.

BAMBOO is a fast-growing grass.  It doesn’t need fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides and regrows quickly after harvest. Most is pulped into fibers with chemicals in a patented process held by one factory in China.  A newer, greener process creates a more linen-like bamboo. The plant is wild harvested or farmed on plantations.

Bamboo wicks.  It draws moisture away from the body. Bamboo insulates.  It keeps the body warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Bamboo is anti-microbial.  It kills odor-causing bacteria.  Bamboo is soft and silky.  It does not irritate the skin.

  • Fabrics: Jersey and double knits, French terry, shirting (in a dobby weave), denim, corduroy and velvet.  Jersey and blended knits with 3 or 5 percent spandex – called bambino – are easiest to find.
  • Best use: Drapey tops and dresses.  The jersey is thin.  Plan to wear a slip or line with another layer of bamboo or tricot.  It is not durable so it is not suitable for children’s wear or activewear.  For a more opaque and durable knit buy bambino or a double knit.
  • Sewing tips:  Treat jersey like any other jersey, other bamboo knits as an interlock.

Treat bamboo shirting as you would a fine cotton.  Sew with size 10 universal needles and a stitch length of 2.5.  On denim, corduroy or velvet, use size 12 universal needles and a stitch length of 3.0.

  • Care: Wash on gentle cycle in cold water.  Lay knits flat to dry.  Hang wovens to dry.

HEMP has been used to weave ropes and make apparel since the Stone Age.  It is cultivated nearly everywhere in the world except, until recently, the U.S.  Most hemp fabric comes to U.S. through Canada.

It resists disease and pests, doesn’t need fertilizers and grows in almost any quality of soil and needs very little water to grow.  It is soaked in water then pulped into fiber.

Hemp insulates.  It wicks moisture.  It blocks ultraviolet rays.  It resists bacteria and mold.  It is the strongest natural fiber known.

  • Fabrics: Wovens and knits.  Hemp can be blended with cotton, linen or silk.

Hemp-cotton feels like a jersey knit.  It has a matte surface.  Hemp-silk is 2-sided.  One side is slubby, the other smooth and lustrous.  Heavy wovens in herringbone or tweed are easiest to find.

  • Best use: Use woven hemp in jackets and skirts or wherever you might use a heavy linen or canvas. Use hemp-cotton for tops and dresses.  Use hemp-silk in blouses, dresses.  Hemp-cotton and hemp-silk are easy to dye.
  • Sewing tips: Woven hemp and many hemp blends ravel.  Be sure to overlock or zigzag the raw edges after cutting.  For wovens, use a size 12 universal needle.

To eliminate bulk: Press seams open flat.  Cut darts open, finish the edges and press open flat. Face waistbands and hems with a lighter-weight fabric.

Hemp can irritate the skin. Line jackets and skirts.

Treat hemp knits as you would jersey knits.

  • Care: Machine wash. Hang to dry.  Hemp-silk wrinkles, but is easy to press or steam.

SOY fabric is a by-product of pressing beans to make soybean oil.  The bean cake is spun into a fiber with a polyvinyl alcohol solvent in a closed-loop process. The result is a fabric that is so soft, it is called soysilk or vegetable cashmere.

A company in China patented the process in 1999 – even though Henry Ford once used soy wool to upholster the seats of his cars.  He also wore a soy wool suit.

Studies show that soy absorbs moisture, resists bacteria and UV rays.  The bad news:  Soy is one of the most genetically modified plants.  Clearing land for this crop is one cause for the loss of Amazon rainforest.

  • Fabrics: Mostly knits. Sometimes blended with cotton and spandex.
  • Best use: More durable than bamboo.  Use for tops and casual jackets for both adults and children.
  • Sewing tips: Treat soy knits as you would interlock knits.
  • Care: Pre-shrink. Machine wash and line dry.

TENCEL® is a brand name for Lyocell — a synthetic fiber made from wood pulp.  A solvent breaks down the pulp into a solution called “dope.”  The dope flows through the fine tips of spinnerets and dries into fibers.  Washing retrieves the chemicals so they can be reused. Tencel is made in the U.S.

  • Fabrics: Wovens and, more recently, jersey knits.  All have a supple hand that’s silky and suede-like.  Tencel drapes well and dyes easily.
  • Best use: Use the wovens as you would cotton, linen or rayon for casual pants, jackets and skirts.
  • Sewing tips: Use a nap layout with wovens.  Serge the cut edges with a two-thread overlock or zigzag stitch.  Sew seams with a straight stitch and press flat with the iron on medium heat.  Use knit interfacing and understitch.  Sew with a stitch length of 3.0.

Treat tencel knit as you would jersey knits.

  • Care: Machine wash; hang to dry.  Tencel woven can wrinkle but is easy to press or steam.

PEACE SILK. Silk is one of the oldest known natural fibers.  Most silk originates in China, India and Southeast Asia.  It is considered by many to be an organic fiber.  Domestic mulberry silkworm pupae spin it.

Commercial growers pierce, boil or suffocate the pupae to kill them before they emerge as adult moths. That way, the cocoon can be unraveled as one long continuous unbroken thread.

Peace silk allows the moth to eat a hole in the cocoon to emerge.  The hole makes it impossible to unreel the cocoon.  So the fiber must be spun.  The result is a more matte finish with a rougher look.  Peace silk is also called wild silk.

  • Fabrics: Wovens, knits.  Peace silk typically is a woven.
  • Best use for peace silk: Blouses, skirts, scarves.  Underline to make lightweight jackets.
  • Sewing tips: Treat peace silk as you would a charmeuse.  Check the fabric for nap and color variations.  Avoid making too many pin or needle holes.  Use weights to hold the pattern to the fabric.  Pin in seam allowances with fine needles.  Cut with sharp scissors rather than rotary cutters.

Hand baste slippery or difficult seams to avoid any seam ripping later.  Use size 8 universal machine needles and a stitch length of 2.5. If you want to press the seams open, pink the raw edges to finish them.  Otherwise, sew narrow French seams.  Hold the seam taut while sewing to prevent puckers.  Use a warm, dry iron and press seams lightly over a seam roll to prevent the seam allowance from indenting the fabric.

  • Care: Gentle wash in cold water; hang to dry. Peace silk is not as strong as regular silk and can pill after several uses.

ORGANIC COTTON is grown worldwide, particularly in southwest U.S.  Organic cotton does not use chemical pesticides, fertilizer or other toxins.  Some is “colorgrown.”  The bolls come in natural colors such as mocha, sage or honey, rather than white. Other organic cottons use fiber-reactive, low-impact or plant dyes.  But growing any cotton, conventional or organic, uses a great deal of water.

Wal-Mart buys more organic cotton than anyone else in the world.

  • Fabrics: Wovens, fleece, knits.  Most durable of the sustainable knits.
  • Best use: Jackets, tops and dresses.
  • Sewing tips: Treat as you would any other cotton. Use size 12 universal needles for wovens and size 12 stretch for knits.  Overlock knits with wooly nylon in the upper looper.
  • Care:   Machine wash; hang to dry.

Organic Cotton Knit Dress WANDERING MUSE

Two that are newer to the sustainable scene:

PLA– or polylactic acid – is an organic polyester made from plant sugars.  The sugars come from corn, cane, beets or wheat.  The fabric composts to dirt within 90 days with 140ºF and 98 percent humidity

It attracts and wicks moisture then dries quickly, making it good for activewear.  It also protects from UV.

Most PLA comes from chemical manufacturer Cargill Dow under the trademarked name Ingeo.  Ingeo uses, in part, genetically modified corn.  Right now it is only available commercially and is used by apparel companies such as Nike and Nau.

PET– or polyethylene terephthalate – is a polyester fleece made from recycled plastic bottles.  It was first developed in the 1990s as EcoSpun.  Patagonia used it to make jackets and vests.

A new process EcoPET creates a filament that can be woven into knits as well as fleece.  Most EcoPET is made in Japan.  Most is sold to manufacturers of T-shirts, thermal underwear, outerwear and sports garments.

Consumers can buy PET on-line as EcoFelt.

Online sources for eco-fabrics: – Naturally dyed peace silk, hemp, organic cotton knits and wovens – Bamboo and bamboo blends – Bamboo, soy and hemp blend wovens with cotton and nettle, bamboo jersey – Hemp and hemp blend wovens, hemp blend jerseys, bamboo, cotton and soy blend jerseys and spandex blend knits, organic cotton wovens including colorgrown – Bamboo dobby, organic cotton wovens, EcoFelt, seacell (made from seaweed) and organic cotton blend voile – Hemp canvas and twill – Hemp and hemp blends – Organic cotton crepe knit, organic wool jersey, interlock and twill – Organic cotton jersey, French terry, fleece and blends, organic cotton wovens including colorgrown, hemp and hemp blend wovens, peace silk – Bamboo jersey and fleece, organic cotton jersey


How to get a job, part 2

How to get a job at one of Portland’s many smaller apparel companies.

Not everyone wants to work at a large company.  Many of our students want to keep their hands on the work and the opportunity to take a product from idea to final garment.  Many feel it gives them more control and creativity.

Last week we asked Adam Andreas, a senior product developer at Columbia Sportswear, how to get a job at a major company.  This week we asked Erich Treeby, tailor for Wildwood and Company.  Treeby graduated from the Fashion Forward program at PFI and produced his own clothing line, Favorite Son.  Prior to being hired at Wildwood, he worked for 4 years as the head of alterations at Duchess Clothier.

Here’s what he had to say:

Q. In your field of work, what education, skills, and training do you seek in the ideal candidate?

A.  Coursework and/or job experience with garment construction, hand sewing and pattern drafting at minimum. Specific coursework and experience with menswear tailoring (both traditional and contemporary) and familiarity with industry-standard pattern drafting systems would be ideal. Candidate should be familiar with conventional industrial seam allowances and have experience using industrial sewing machines.

Q. Does your field of work genuinely hire full time?

A. Yes.

Q. Are there specific schools or training you recommend?

A. In Portland, I believe PFI may be the only school offering a comprehensive training program for those interested in entering the apparel industry (now that AI has closed). In general, a focus on textiles, construction, pattern drafting, and technical design/product development is more useful than conceptual fashion design and illustration.

Q. Does this job have any special requirements? (Ability to travel, shift work, special licenses, etc.)

A. Ability to work under pressure and tight timelines.

Q. Do you know other employers that hire for this or similar occupation?

A. Yes. A few area businesses that would hire individuals with sewing/tailoring experience: Duchess Clothier, Silhouette, The House of Rose.

Q. What is your entry-level salary range

A. An entry level seamster will probably earn between $11-13/hr if employed by a smaller independent company.

Q. Are there advancement and educational opportunities?

A. Absolutely. A person who demonstrates aptitude and is motivated can definitely set themselves apart from others and become eligible for higher paying positions. In my experience, most continuing education will be the responsibility of the individual (other than the skills you learn as part of the current position).

[Editor’s note:  To follow Erich’s path, look for such classes as Apparel Construction, Couture and Patternmaking at PFI.  To start your own apparel business, take Strategic Marketing and Branding.  These can lead you to a business grant to help you launch.  Now let’s enjoy a bit of hand sewing here.]

How to get a job

How to get a job at Columbia Sportswear — or any of Portland’s major apparel companies.

We asked Adam Andreas, senior product developer at CS and instructor at PFI.  Here’s what he had to say.

Q. In your field of work, what education, skills, and training do you seek in the ideal candidate?

A. I seek someone with concrete skills in design and computer applications like Adobe Creative Suite who can demonstrate and show those skills. Ideally someone with a college degree and certificate, or certificate in apparel and demonstrating high level of skills and understanding of apparel construction and design. [Editor’s Note:  PFI offers these certificates.]

Q. Does your field of work genuinely hire full time?

A. Yes generally 90% of roles in design/development are full-time. Usually if temp there is opportunity to be hired on which happens quite often.

Q. Are there specific schools or training you recommend?

A. I recommend a training in apparel design or tech design. It is important that the person who has training has it specifically in apparel and not another design concentration such as industrial or interior design as the ideal candidate has knowledge in apparel construction.

Q. Does this job have any special requirements? (Ability to travel, shift work, special licenses, etc.)

A. Ability to travel is a must. Typically 1-2 international trips to vendors, some domestic travel at times. No other special requirements.

Q. Do you know other employers that hire for this or similar occupation?

A. Yes.  There are quite a few apparel companies [in the Portland area].

Q. What is your entry-level salary range?

A. $40-50K per year is typical entry level salary.

Q. Are there advancement and educational opportunities?

A. Yes. There is an online and onsite Learning and Development department with classes available to increase skills in every way possible. For advancement opportunities there are many. There are opportunities to move up in departments and there is also opportunity to move laterally between many different apparel focused departments such as design, development, materials, quality, merchandising, sourcing.  All areas are valid to move into with an apparel design background.

[Editor’s note:  Adam teaches Flats & Techs plus Concept & Development for PFI.  Look for all of these classes at PFI.  After all, “we are apparel people teaching apparel people.”  Flats by Erich Treeby, PFI graduate and tailor at Wildwood & Company.]

Lake Oswego teens win $2,000 Fashion Design Scholarships

Charlie Ryan and Dieter Vlasich just landed a future in fashion design.

Each won a scholarship contest and $2,000 worth of fashion design classes at Portland Fashion Institute, an apparel design and sewing school in northeast Portland.

As a result, each will build their skills and create a portfolio that could land entry into a prestige fashion design university.

“Normally, we choose only one winner each year,” said PFI director Sharon Blair.  “But both of these applicants were so strong, we had to choose both.”

Ryan chose a sportswear theme he calls “Spacesuit for the Streets”.  A varsity lacrosse player, he took advantage of a knee injury to design what he saw was missing from menswear:  An updated angle on the traditional t-shirt, hoodie, sweatpants that every teen wears. Bright orange and white with lots of zippered circular pockets, his outfit is not only functional, it is stylish.

“I aim to create high fashion for everyday use,” Ryan says.

Vlasich won based on his designs for an oversized angular suit he calls a “reaction to the toxicity of modern society.

“I wanted something fierce, aggressive and empowered.” His colors and silhouette reflect current trends and reminded PFI’s judges of high fashion designers Yves St Laurent and Comme des Garcons.

“I’m looking forward now to learning professional techniques at PFI,” Vlasich says.

Both taught themselves to pattern, fit and sew. Both are 17.

Vlasich plans to attend Central St. Martins in London. Ryan is interested in possibly attending Parsons or Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.  All three schools are internationally recognized colleges for fashion design. Their alumni include designers Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen and Stella McCartney.  Such schools require portfolios as part of a very competitive admissions process.

This is the eighth year for the annual contest. 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 included directors and managers for Kroger, 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.


Color Trends for Spring/Summer 2019

So, what will be the new color palettes as we look forward to a new year in fashion? Pantone, the world authority on color, has its color trend predictions set for Spring/Summer 2019.

Featuring 12 colorful shades and four neutral tones, the report declares the mindset for Spring/Summer 2019 to “reflect our desire to face the future with empowering colors that provide confidence and spirit; colors that are uplifting; joyful hues that lend themselves to playful expression and take us down a path of creative and unexpected combinations,” according to Pantone.

Pantone describes the roundup of colors as choices that “transcend seasonality for both men’s and women’s fashion,” and, at a glance, that seems to be true. Hues like Jester Red, Terrarium Moss, and Toffee would be just as lovely and at home in autumn and winter, while Living Coral and Pink Peacock are as summery as they come.

Here is the full report:

It’s not a surprise to see colors like Sweet Lilac, which recalls the Millennial Pink craze, and Princess Blue, an electric take on the mainstay color that promises to dominate the year ahead.

Turmeric, Pink Peacock, and Aspen Gold are all bright, cheerful colors that will prove exciting additions to any warm-weather wardrobe, and the quartet of neutrals in this recent report are beautiful and breezy.

There are some similarities to the 2018 Spring/Summer report, but the choices here are a bit more saturated, where 2018 had more of a pastel look about it. The 2019 selection is decidedly bolder, brighter, and fun. It will be very interesting to see which colors turn out to be crowd favorites, but at first glance, it looks as though 2019 may be a year for orange.

Images courtesy of Pantone