It’s time to create the next generation of business leaders. Yes, we’re talking about you!


But if you have a unquenchable passion for fashion, if you are ready to get into the apparel business, we’re here to help.

    Want your info in short bursts?  That’s our Saturday morning seminars.
Want something more in-depth information so you can get your ideas produced?  Are you looking to beef up your resumé?  Those are the business classes.
Either way, our goal is to make you a success and keep you from going broke while enjoying your creative life.
All classes are taught by professionals from international companies, local production companies and fabric manufacturers.  Wherever they work, they all know the industry rules.

Saturday Seminars

10 am-1 pm. Online

Sign up for one or sign up for the whole series and get juicy info from the best in the biz who will share the secrets of their success.
Here’s the what, when, who is teaching it and what’s in it for you.

> Start an Apparel Business
January 14
Karen Spencer, Searchfunder
Learn the basics & rules of setting up your apparel business.

> Future of Fashion

January 21
Jena Nesbitt, PCF

    Spot & forecast fashion trends months and even years ahead.

> PR Techniques
January 28
Kim Bedwell, Wild Hive Marketing

    Get noticed and get coverage from media & bloggers.

> Excel for Apparel
February 4
Dana Ditto, Nike

    Manage your costs, track your business, create spec sheets & more.

> Costing & Pricing
February 11
Dana Ditto, Nike

    Learn what you can afford & how much to charge.

> Sourcing
February 18
Dana Ditto, Nike

    Where will you get your fabric and labor?

> Apparel Business Legal Basics
February 25
Talya Tapley, attorney

    Protect what you are creating through LLC, IP & contracts.

> Working with Production
March 4
Corazon Reynolds, A&K Design

    Find out how to get your product made at the right time, right way, right price.

> E-Commerce Concepts (AI, digital, DTC)
March 11
Jena Nesbitt, PCF

    Get the basics of successfully selling online.

> Selling Wholesale
March 18
Jena Nesbitt , PCF

    Learn how to approach stores and enter a wholesale relationship.

> Social Media Marketing
March 25
Rebecca Russell W+K

    Get the secrets of how to use social media.

> Accounting Basics
April 1
Christina Gallagher, accountant

Get the basics of QuickBooks to set up a business & get ready for the IRS.

Business Classes

At the end of each, you will have serious results and understandings you can put to use.

Here’s the what, when, who is teaching it and what’s in it for you.


Fashion Analytics

with Robert LaCosse, UX expert
Mondays, Jan 9-Feb 13, 6-9 pm
Do they like you?  Really, really like you?  What did you do right?  What did you do wrong?  User experience or UX is in nearly every job description for good reason.  You need to know how to interpret analytics to better succeed in today’s online world.

A UX strategist with more than 15 years experience, Robert shares insights with large and small companies, agencies, freelance engagements, and universities.


with Jena Nesbitt, PCF
Tuesdays, Jan 10-March 28. 6-9 pm
Create your own e-commerce website without wasting time and money.  Have it work for you rather than you working for it.

Visual Merchandising

Fridays, Jan 13-Feb 17, 2-5 pm
Present your merchandise — whether online or bricks & mortar — by using tried and true marketing secrets to show your stuff at its best and increase sales.

Fashion Buying & Merchandising

Fridays, Feb 24-March 31, 2-5 pm
Learn how meet manufacturers and sales reps and make friends, as well as a profit.

Nesbitt has more than 10 years of experience as a product designer, creative director, brand strategist and business developer.

Strategic Marketing

with Karen Spencer, Searchfunder
Wednesdays, Feb 22-March 29, 6-9 pm
Who is going to buy your stuff?  Where?  At what price?  How are you going to promote & distribute?  Find the answers in this class.

As a trainer and counselor, Spencer consults and works hands-on with start-ups, non-profits and established businesses from Silicon Valley to Nike.

Materials Development

with Anna Fort, Exit21
Thursdays, Jan 12-Feb 16, 6-9 pm
You can’t patent a design but you can patent a textile or a component.  Learn how to create your own, how to use them and where.

Fort is a leader in fabric & fiber and has worked in materials for Columbia Sportswear, Merrell and Nike.

Product Development

with Daniel Roeder, Nike
Thursdays, Feb 23-March 30, 6-9 pm
Live the life of a typical industry job with a seasoned product developer.

Roeder has worked in the industry for more than 20 years and currently leads product integrity operations at Nike.

Sustainable Design

with Trish Langman, internally acclaimed sustainable designer
Fridays, Jan 13-Feb 17, 10 am-1 pm 
Work with a leader in waste couture.  Find ways to reduce energy, water and chemicals and use circularity in your designs — all while staying in business.

Langman has over eighteen years experience designing for prestigious fashion companies worldwide.  She just completed a community-funded sustainability project for the city of Los Angeles.

We’re ready to give you the #business. Let’s get started on the new year with a new you.

The New Norm in Fashion

By Eden Dawn
@edendawn @PortlandMonthlyMagazine

Friday, August 7, 7pm, free
Virtual event:

What Will the New Normal in Local Fashion Be?
Producer Abibat Durosimi releases a series of interviews with local creatives diving into the subject.

Design Week is in full swing right now—digitally, of course. When the pandemic ruined the annual city-wide showcase of all manifestations of beautiful things, the org pushed to August as we all waited to see what unfolded. (As you already know, what unfolded was many more months of eventless quarantine life.) So this year the celebration is an online one, currently running everything from collaborative online zine workshops to the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism hosting a panel on ethical design in immersive media. And on Friday night, in lieu of the big fancy fashion show that was set to happen in April, producer Abibat Durosimi launches a mini-documentary called The New Norm in Fashion.

The 35-minute long video features socially distanced interviews that Durosimi conducted in July with seven local creatives about the state of fashion. The film is meant to be an extension of the events and panels that she’s put on through Bloom Beauty Collective for the last few years in hopes to create more space and visibility for Black creatives in fashion and related worlds. Now Durosimi aims to add production and talent agency under that umbrella as she pivots from the events world to a new future.

“I feel like I have a better opportunity to conquer the mission. We have the open space for people of color to get acknowledged for who they are and what they do, and people are opening their doors,” she says. “Everything we’ve done for years has prepared me for this moment, how to learn to pivot when I need to…. I love that I got to do this mini-documentary. I love hearing people’s stories and learning from them.”

Watch folks like expert tailor Tony Iyke, athletic and outdoor apparel designer Jocelyn Rice, and founder of Portland Fashion Institute Sharon Blair (and, full disclosure, me) talk about how things are shifting in regard to sustainability, diversity, and even attitudes around fashion.

# # #

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.

5 Easy Ways To Go Sustainable

Fresh off its successful April Eco-Month, PFI pulled comments from its Advisory Board members and asked new teacher Annin Barrett from the Textile Hive to a new class on sustainability.  Look for Barrett’s Sustainability Tech class this Fall.

Meanwhile, why wait?  Here are five tips from long-term fashion designer Nicole Miller for keeping things green.

1. “I’ve been involved with Riverkeeper and Rocky Mountain Institute for many years, so saving the planet has always been a top priority for me.”

2. “Our recyclables used to be overflowing at the end of the day, and now it only needs to be emptied once a week. When anyone puts plastic in their trash, it will not be emptied at night.”

3. “Years ago, I started implementing better practices in my showroom, studio, and home. I stopped buying bottled water and switched to filtered water. We stopped buying plastic cups and dishes. Everyone here uses their own reusable plate, mug, and cup.”

4. “We reuse everything from plastic bags to hangers. We also recycle our fabric scraps—nothing goes to waste here. We have upcycled vintage cashmere and denim. We have eco-made jeans with fibers from recycled plastic and plant-based materials. Recently, we made an anti-plastic T-shirt and our own water bottles that say Bring Your Own Bottle on them. I also do an online newsletter to bring a lot of these issues into light. Recycling is important, but it’s better to use less in the first place.”

5. “I designed a whole line of carbon-neutral ties—each one with a message on the back. I found that it’s really important to get the word out, but it is often frustrating. I go to the gym and spin class and people are not bringing their own water bottles. I always bring my own reusable cup to Starbucks or any place when I am getting coffee, and my employees do the same.”

Courtesy of our friends at Fashion Snoops

Can fashion be sustainable?

Why is sustainable fashion on everyone’s minds now? That’s because fashion has a massive environmental cost.
– It is one of the largest polluters and consumers of fresh water. One pound of cotton consumes 1,320 gallons. That means 650 gallons for one new cotton t-shirt.
– It can take 200 years for a polyester garment to decompose.
– Fashion is responsible for about 5% to 10% of all human-caused carbon in the world.
– The amount of clothing in landfills is more than four times what it was in 1980.

Blame it on fast fashion. That is, getting trendy clothes out to customers as fast as possible and priced low enough to encourage overconsumption. The average person:
– In 1990, bought 40 garments per year. Today, 66 garments per year.

– Throws out 70 lbs of clothes/year to make room for new fast fashion.
– Most consumers admit to a closet full of clothes that they don’t really like or want to wear.

But the cost is also cultural.

We’ve raised a generation of consumers who struggle to recognize quality clothing; who lack basic mending and repairing skills and have lost touch with their clothes, where they come from, how they’re made and why it matters.

So what can you do? Here are some tips to help you pursue your fashion dreams, sustainably:

  • Educate yourself. Learn the elements of good design.
  • Look for brands that produce garments using less water, fewer toxic dyes, fewer chemicals and fewer nonrenewables like virgin polyester.
  • Cherish garments you love and make them to fit you.
  • Go slow. Make choices carefully. Build a functioning wardrobe of clothes that you love.
  • Buy secondhand clothes and make them suit you. Make locally; buy locally.
  • Learn to sew & repair. Wear clothes 9 months longer & reduce your carbon footprint for that garment by 30%.
  • Read “Overdressed: the shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth Cline
  • Support local upcyclers like Looptworks

Sources for Eco-Fabrics

Q. Do you have any tips on how to source existing fabric? I’d like to order more but no longer have the info about the fabric. Do you have organic cotton sources? — Heather

A.  Most all of our sources are wholesale.  If you can buy wholesale amounts (12+ yards), you’ll get a better price on these expensive fabrics.  Most will ask you to register and make a minimum purchase initially, yearly and each time both in dollars and yardage.

You know our favorite source for organic knits:  Pickering.  Birch Fabrics also carries organic cotton.  You might also try the following.  I’ve had good luck with all.

— Bamboo Fabric Store
— Jasco fabrics
— NearSea Naturals (Organic Cotton Plus)
— Spiritex Organic Fabric
— Wazoodle Fabrics



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