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