Projects

LOCK UP YOUR PHONE (BUT READ THIS FIRST) by Britt Howard

The "phone itch" is real. It's that nagging impulse to check your device when you really shouldn't: during a meeting, at a concert, in a movie theater. The ingenious Yondr case, which was prototyped here at PGF(!), can help us resist temptation by locking up our phones. The pouch is gaining popularity (NPR link HERE) in schools and performance venues—you'll never see Dave Chappelle on stage without first popping your phone into a Yondr. And while to some it sounds like the greatest invention since velcro, the pouch is igniting debate about personal property, control, and safety. It's true that phones give us access to so much and often provide a sense of comfort, but at what cost? Maybe the Yondr case can help us experience what we've been missing since smart phones blasted into our lives. Let's lock 'em up and see! 

Illustrations courtesy of Yondr! 

SOFT OBJECTS FOR A HARD WORLD: AN INTERVIEW WITH MALIA JENSEN, PGF'S PILOT Artist-in-Residence by Britt Howard

 Malia Jensen in her PGF studio. 

Malia Jensen in her PGF studio. 

PGF pilot Artist-in-Residence, Malia Jensen, sits down with PGF’s Gabi Lewton-Leopold, to talk about design projects she’s exploring during her three month residency at PGF.

Gabi Lewton-Leopold: Your work seems to occupy two main strains: a fine art, primarily sculptural, practice and design objects that have a functional quality. How do you see these two sides of your practice?

Malia Jensen: With the design side, I feel like I get to explore more humor and be a little more lighthearted and maybe explore ideas that I wouldn’t put in my “serious” fine art practice. The turnaround is theoretically quicker. I get to processes something with a greater immediacy.

GLL: Have there been certain concepts that have crossed both sides of your practice?

MJ: I have an affection for useful things and tools, and I tend to think of my fine art as thinking tools with a conceptual aspect, like poetry versus an instruction manual. In contrast, my design objects, like the Bookworm, solve a very literal, direct problem for me, although the problem has an element of poetics too because it’s funny. In the case of the Bookworm, the problem is that your book won’t stay open. I want to address that with this finely made yet humble thing.

  Bookworm  in action.

Bookworm in action.

GLL: You've mentioned before that you make, “helpful objects that you didn’t know you needed.”

MJ: Yes, I think that part of what I wanted to do here at this residency was explore things that can take care of you. If you have a tool that maybe also makes you laugh and holds your book open while you're reading and eating dinner, or using a cookbook, or just looking at an art book that you want to stare at, if you have some nice way to keep it open, maybe it feels like someone is looking out for you.

GLL: And it also counters the feeling of there being so much crap in the world, physically and emotionally, because you are actually making thoughtful things that are helpful.

MJ: I was thinking of calling it “soft goods for a hard world.”

GLL: I like that! There’s also something very satisfying about the tactile materials you use.

MJ: Yes, and then there are pieces like the "spill your guts" fanny pack. I like morphing things that are gross and hard to think about, or painful, into things that are beautiful and approachable. That idea crosses over both sides of my work—when I say thinking tools in my art work, that is what I try and do too, to give a space for something to be reconsidered or redeemed. Redeeming pain. I like the word redeem because you can redeem a coupon for something or you can also redeem a soul. It’s the same word for this kind of transaction where you make something or turn something into something else, it’s shifting value.

 The "spill your guts" fanny pack.

The "spill your guts" fanny pack.

GLL: I’m curious also about your use of materials in both sides of your work. You use so many different materials—fabric, ceramics, metals, wood, and so forth—in the past, and still do. You seem to have mastery over all of them!

MJ: I don’t know about mastery, I think I just have will. Funny because sometimes I go headlong into something I actually don’t know how to do, and by the end I’ll just be able to fool you that I knew what I was doing.

GLL: Are all these things mostly self taught?

MJ: Mostly.

GLL: What was first?

MJ: I studied painting and then I realized after I got out of school that I had an affinity for objects that I wasn’t addressing in painting. I guess art school at the time was really painting oriented, I don’t know it was the 80s!

GLL: What were your paintings like?

MJ: They were big figurative paintings that had a kind of portent—doom was always around the corner in pretty much everything. Now I add humor but doom is still around the corner! I’ve always made and built things, so I brought that into my work. I have makers and artists in my family; my mom always made a lot of things, from weaving to painting, and my dad was a potter.

GLL: What attracted you to the idea of a residency at PGF?

MJ: What drew me to it was partly that as an artist I often work in solitude. I love the idea of working with other people who are busy and are doing their own work. That in itself is an inspiration, just to be around people who are manifesting projects. I also wanted to experiment with a different kind of problem solving. This is a work place and I want to come and bring some of my problems into the work place and say “how do I work through this and make it into a viable design” or what ideas do I let go of? That has been really interesting because I’ve let go of a lot.

GLL: Did that surprise you?

MJ: Oh, kind of. There were a few high-minded ideas that I let go of in favor of pursuing things that are smaller and funnier, and maybe less about solving the world’s problems. This is a unique program, there's an aspect of independent study to it. You're in a busy environment and learning by looking, because of course, it’s a working factory. It’s not structured like other residency programs, it’s exposing you to a different practice. If it was a typical residency program you'd have a studio and just be left alone to pursue your work in a different space, surrounded by other artists who are also working in the solitude of their studio spaces, and you probably all get together for meals. The artist role as the PGF AiR is about self-driven projects but also about generating an exchange between art and industry.  It’s quite a different beast. I've found coming here 3 or 4 days a week gives me the time I need to maintain the rest of my studio practice and work life. 

GLL: Let’s talk about your new project that you are working on at PGF.

MJ: I’ve literally had allergic reactions to bras and have had a long obsession with not wearing them, so I decided to offer a service. If you send a t-shirt or sweater to me at PGF I'll sew leather pockets onto it so that you can feel defiantly discreet. I’m calling the company Sans-a-Bra... maybe. Particularly in the summer when it’s hot and you’re working outside or just doing anything physical, it's a challenge to feel comfortable while wearing bondage around your torso. I know that some women structurally need the support that leather pockets on your t-shirt just won't provide, but I want there to be another option. A "more comfortable" bra is still a bra. I think there’s a tyranny of squishing your nipples down, or putting adhesive products over them. Clothing, if it’s for women, is designed with the assumption that we're going to wear a bra under it. Shirts typically have one breast pocket, how about two? Then you have some coverage. Think of this as leather jackets for your breasts. 

 Malia wearing her "Sans-a-Bra" work shirt. 

Malia wearing her "Sans-a-Bra" work shirt. 

GLL: How does the service work?

MJ: Put your T-shirt or sweater on, make sure it's straight, mark your nipples with tape, safety pins or chalk, send it to me here at PGF, or drop it off, and I’ll send it back with leather pockets on it. $20 for machine stitched shirts, $30 for hand-sewn sweaters. $5 for shipping would be great but you can also come pick it up at our super fun program launch/open studio at PGF on November 30 from 5:00- 7:00!

GLL: We started talking about developing this program back in June. How does this project and your other work here fit with how we envisioned the AiR program? 

MJ: After working with you and Britt this summer on shaping the program, and knowing it would develop as we went, it has been humbling and illuminating to actually be here as the AiR. Finding the reality between envisioning something and manifesting it is always interesting and the range of ideas I came in with has given me some solid satisfactions and some glorious failures. I let go of several project ideas pretty quickly but I feel great about what I am working on now. 

I think the Bookworm is a good example of my willingness to take what might be a funny, spontaneous idea far enough to make it into a sincerely useful and perhaps even chivalrous object. It wasn't something I'd planned to make prior to being here but it might be my favorite thing.

GLL: Can you talk about your decision to turn Sans-a-Bra into a service? 

MJ: The Sans-a-Bra project evolved from wanting to produce something (dare I say, a "line"!) that would be available for purchase, to becoming an alteration "service." It's interactive by nature and feels like a perfect fit with some of the mission ideas we talked about this summer, like creating ways to reach out to our shared communities and build conversation around creative endeavors.

GLL: Any other design ideas that you haven't had a chance to dive into yet? 

MJ: For years I've been obsessed with the apparent fact that there's no classy bag designed for the back of a wheelchair. My dad always used a tote bag pulled awkwardly sideways on the handles. This was an idea however, where I quickly realized I was over my head and also recognized it would be hard to finance, but I'm not done with it yet. I love the idea of collaboration and maybe there's still time to do something together with PGF when we're all not so busy with everything else!

Thanks to Malia for being our pilot Artist-in-Residence! She’s helping define and test out the program and we’re excited to also have her as a member of the AiR Advisory Board. Don’t forget to send or drop off your t-shirts and/or sweaters to Malia at PGF for her Sans-a-Bra service! She’ll be accepting orders at PGF through November 15th. Questions about this special service? Contact Malia directly: malia@maliajensen.com. Orders will be available for pick up during the AiR launch party/open studio on November 30 (5–7pm)! 

PGF LAUNCHES NEW ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE PROGRAM by Britt Howard

 PGF's Britt Howard & Malia Jensen share a love for 1980s landlines

PGF's Britt Howard & Malia Jensen share a love for 1980s landlines

PGF is excited to announce its new Artist-in-Residence program, which seeks to create a dialogue between underrepresented emerging and mid-career artists, and the daily operations of PGF. The PGF A-i-R program supports artists of color, LGBTQA artists, and women artists by providing a unique platform for their work and ideas to be seen and heard. The PGF AiR program encourages the development of innovative work that reaches beyond the typical scope of the AiR’s practice, including the broadening of materials and processes and the exploration of new concepts within the factory setting. During their residency, artists are given access to PGF’s space, tools, materials, resources, and guidance from PGF staff. Artists are able to realize fabric-based projects with assistance from PGF’s team. The PGF AiR program encourages artists to explore the intersection between art, design, and manufacturing, and the ways in which the studio and the factory overlap.

PGF’s pilot AiR is celebrated Portland artist, Malia Jensen. Please join us at PGF for the launch party and open studio with Malia on November 30, 2017 (5–7pm) to learn more about the program and experience the work she has made during her residency. Malia will give a short artist talk at 6pm. 

PROJECT FOCUS: SCOUT BOOKS PORTFOLIO by Britt Howard

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PGF collaborated with Scout Books, makers of our all-time favorite notebooks, to design and fabricate a custom portfolio to showcase their wares. With a sturdy black canvas exterior and two-tone grey felt interior designed to hold a variety of notebooks, these beauties are ready to hit the road with the Scout Books team! A behind the scenes look below! And even more on the Scout Books blog

 And voila! The portfolios complete with blue and yellow zippers—the signature Scout Books palette! 

And voila! The portfolios complete with blue and yellow zippers—the signature Scout Books palette! 

PROJECT FOCUS: ADIDAS ORIGINALS CRAZY DUFFELS by Britt Howard

 Playboi Carti & Young Thung sporting Crazy adidas Originals (note the "Crazy" Lamborghini!)

Playboi Carti & Young Thung sporting Crazy adidas Originals (note the "Crazy" Lamborghini!)

Our most luxurious accessory to date: plush leather duffel bags for the adidas Originals' Crazy 8 ADV capsule collection! The process began with duffel prototypes made from black canvas, and ended with 100 limited edition screen printed leather bags lined with soft satin. Trust us, these babes are truly DELUXE! Click through to see the process unfold:

 TYLER GLICKMAN/HYPEBEAST

TYLER GLICKMAN/HYPEBEAST

 TYLER GLICKMAN/HYPEBEAST

TYLER GLICKMAN/HYPEBEAST

 TYLER GLICKMAN/HYPEBEAST

TYLER GLICKMAN/HYPEBEAST

PROJECT FOCUS: ELLEN LESPERANCE'S W.I.T.C.H. CLOAKS by Britt Howard

The feminist/socialist collective, W.I.T.C.H. (Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell), first established in NYC in 1968, has emerged in years since in various locales, including a current Portland chapter. The long history of the activist group inspired Portland artist, Ellen Lesperance’s recent project W.I.T.C.H. 1985, on view at the Portland Art Museum through Nov. 5th. PGF was honored to collaborate with Ellen on the 13 black wool cloaks, which before being displayed at the Museum, were part of a series of performances at the Seattle Art Fair. Ellen based the design for the garments on a cloak worn by an activist at the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, which was featured in a scene from the 1985 made for television video, "Can't Beat It Alone."

 Process images and photographs of Ellen’s performance below!

The cloaks in action: W.I.T.C.H. 1985 performance at the Seattle Art Fair (images courtesy of Adams & Ollman). Wooden pentagram pedestal by Jason Rens

 The performance continued outside in Seattle's Pioneer Square. Image:  @ellenlesperance

The performance continued outside in Seattle's Pioneer Square. Image: @ellenlesperance

WEAVING WORKSHOP WRAP-UP by Britt Howard

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We had a blast hosting an off loom weaving workshop with Bay Area fiber artist, Meghan Bogden Shimek last Sunday. Amazing to see how everyone's weavings, although made from the same material (wool roving), were utterly unique—and so beautiful!

 Roving, roving, roving and students in full weaving mode! 

Roving, roving, roving and students in full weaving mode! 

 PGF's Britt Howard and Sasha cooking up some fluffy wall hangings.

PGF's Britt Howard and Sasha cooking up some fluffy wall hangings.

 This lovely student brought her adorable new born! 

This lovely student brought her adorable new born! 

Meghan also made and installed a few pieces at PGF. Next time your in the neighborhood, stop by to check them out!

GUEST POST FROM PGF'S SUMMER INTERNS by Britt Howard

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Hi! This is a guest blog post from PFG's 2017 summer interns, Hanna and Calli. Over the summer we have been involved in various projects at PGF, and we wanted to share two fun ones we've worked on. 

The first project was well-suited for PGF's commitment to reduce the amount of fabric waste in the clothing industry. Together we collaborated on a few pieces of clothing made from fabric scraps. 

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"I like the challenge of working with the limited nature of piecing together scraps into something wearable, functional, and fashionable."
~ Calli

First, Calli went through the scraps and found some that she wanted to work with, then she sketched out ideas for what the scraps could become. 

The next day, we settled on a design, which was a coat that had panels of large white mesh, and sleeves of tighter mesh with variations on the mesh throughout the piece. We also wanted to make a slip dress from some satin we had found to compliment the coat. We started by overlocking the fabric squares for the coat. 

Then, we adjusted the panels on a dress form to find the fit we were looking for and made alterations.

This went back and forth until the panels were where we wanted them, and then we worked on the sleeves. 

And behold the finished look! 

Another project we worked on this summer was preparing for PGF's booth at OMSI's Mini Maker Faire (September 16–17). Our booth activity involves making wearable and usable items from leather, metal snaps, and fringe, so stop on by! Calli prepared the leather for our activity, and made some samples of the finished products. 

Our booth decoration is very... flower-y! Hanna cut out all the pieces and combined sewing with iron-on glue patches to complete our photo booth. 

"During my time at PGF I really enjoyed discovering the hidden gems within the scrap bins and making projects like these flowers come to life!" 
~ Hanna

MEGHAN BOGDEN SHIMEK WEAVING WORKSHOP @ PGF by Britt Howard

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In collaboration with Portland gallery, Nationale, PGF is hosting an off the loom weaving workshop with Bay Area artist, Meghan Bogden Shimek. Sign up for this rare opportunity to learn how to create your own large-scale wall weaving from luscious wool roving HERE. Workshop caps at 15 participants, so sign up soon! 

PGF will also be hosting an evening pop up reception with Meghan after her workshop. We'll have her pieces installed at PGF for one night only! 

The Details: 
Off Loom Roving Weaving Workshop with Meghan Bodgen Shimek @ PGF
Sunday, August 13 (1–4pm)


Pop up art show/reception with Meghan Bodgen Shimek also @PGF
Sunday, August 13 (5–8pm)

EILEEN FISHER FANS UNITE AT PGF by Britt Howard

The PGF crew is still beaming from our weekend sale with EILEEN FISHER's circular design initiative, FISHER FOUND. It was so inspiring to be surrounded by amazing women coming together over a shared love of EF and all that the company stands for. One shopper captured the mood perfectly when she wrote: "To be in a dressing room full of women trying on clothes, complimenting, laughing, and uplifting each other was magic." We couldn't agree more! 

Thank you to all who attended and made this weekend so special—together we raised $2,500 for Dress for Success Oregon! Thank you to all of the volunteers, we couldn't have pulled this off without you! A big shout out to A to Z Wineworks for their generous wine donation! And lastly, a huge thanks to EILEEN FISHER/FISHER FOUND for teaming up with PGF on this epic and wonderful weekend. Here's to many more collaborations! 

 The lovely and amazing ladies of FISHER FOUND in Seattle, Kerri & Lilah doing their thang on Saturday

The lovely and amazing ladies of FISHER FOUND in Seattle, Kerri & Lilah doing their thang on Saturday

 Tops, sweaters, dresses, pants...EF brought over 2000 garments to PGF! 

Tops, sweaters, dresses, pants...EF brought over 2000 garments to PGF! 

 Things getting crazy in that pant pile :-)

Things getting crazy in that pant pile :-)

 Expert sewer, Trang mends garments for shoppers

Expert sewer, Trang mends garments for shoppers

 Lil' cutie makes friends while her mama gathers some EF

Lil' cutie makes friends while her mama gathers some EF

 The wonderful Annie, Joey, and Jill from FISHER FOUND in Seattle holding down the fort on Sunday

The wonderful Annie, Joey, and Jill from FISHER FOUND in Seattle holding down the fort on Sunday

 Christina from EF in Portland & Jill chat over a cuppa

Christina from EF in Portland & Jill chat over a cuppa

 Just look at that treasure trove of high quality and stylin' garments!

Just look at that treasure trove of high quality and stylin' garments!

 PGF's Britt Howard delivering the EILEEN FISHER check to Shari Dunn, Executive Director of Dress for Success Oregon 

PGF's Britt Howard delivering the EILEEN FISHER check to Shari Dunn, Executive Director of Dress for Success Oregon 

PGF + AXIOM + PICA by Britt Howard

Axiom Custom Products designed a futuristic garden/greenhouse for PICA's (Portland Institute for Contemporary Art) fundraiser/party, Hot House. PGF was thrilled to make the plant-inspired hanging elements that floated above party-goers. Take a look at the project below—these are the kind of collabs we love! 

 Axiom's designs for the event featuring the hanging "plants pods."

Axiom's designs for the event featuring the hanging "plants pods."

 PGF's production assistant, Lyla working on the prototype. 

PGF's production assistant, Lyla working on the prototype. 

 Beth, PGF's patternmaker checking out how it hangs...

Beth, PGF's patternmaker checking out how it hangs...

 The pieces installed at the event above a cluster of rad mirrored floor sculptures design and made by Axiom.

The pieces installed at the event above a cluster of rad mirrored floor sculptures design and made by Axiom.

 And look, it's Britt squared! 

And look, it's Britt squared! 

Portland Japanese Garden Happi Coats by Britt Howard

When you visit the newly expanded Portland Japanese Garden, you'll notice garden staff and volunteers all wearing Japanese happi coats. These traditional cotton coats, are boxy handsome numbers with three-quarter length sleeves, historically worn to festivals, often with a family crest on the back. Here at PGF, we were excited to learn about this celebrated garment while making the new happi coats for the Portland Japanese Garden (images above!).  A hearty thank you to the staff and volunteers who let us snap a few pics of the happi coats in action!

A few images below survey the happi coat from traditional portraits, to the 1966 arrival of The Beatles in Japan.

And here's a look at the happi coats being made at PGF:

 Stacking, laying the pattern, and cutting the fabric for the happi coats. 

Stacking the fabric and laying the pattern for the happi coats

 After the pattern has been cut the happi coats are ready to be sent to the screen printer. 

After the fabric has been cut, the happi coats are ready to be sent to the screen printer

 Ning sewing the coats after they've been to the screen printer.

Nghien sewing the coats

 An sewing on the front sashes that read "Portland Japanese Garden"

An sewing the neck band onto the coats

EILEEN FISHER + PGF: DREAMS REALLY DO COME TRUE by Britt Howard

The incomparable womenswear clothing designer, EILEEN FISHER has long been a business role model for PGF. EF designs, made from natural fibers like linen, cotton, and silk, are elegant, timeless, and a pleasure to wear. But it's not just the EF look that we admire, it's also the forward-thinking company ethos that makes EF a worthy business idol. From numerous environmental initiatives, to supporting amazing non-profit organizations, and providing grants to women-owned businesses, EILEEN FISHER continues to be a paragon of what businesses can and should be.

All of this is to say that we were extremely honored to have had the opportunity to work with EF on a recent project of making tote bags from upcycled EF garments through the company's clothing recycling program, FISHER FOUND (formally Green Eileen). 

Two tote styles were cut and crafted at PGF—rectangular made from stretch cotton and circular fashioned from linen—with many color scheme variations. The circular tote was designed here at PGF and is a special collaboration between PGF and FISHER FOUND. 

We're gearing up to host a FISHER FOUND Not-Quite-Perfect Sale of used EILEEN FISHER clothing at PGF in June—check back soon for more info or SIGN UP for our mailing list to be notified first!  

In the meantime, here are images of this unique upcycled tote-making process!

 PGF received boxes and boxes of used EILEEN FISHER clothing still intact. We cut the tote patterns from these garments and separated them by color, as each tote had a designated color scheme. 

PGF received boxes and boxes of used EILEEN FISHER clothing still intact. We cut the tote patterns from these garments and separated them by color, as each tote had a designated color scheme. 

 Safety first! Stephanie cutting a stack of pant legs wearing her metal mesh glove for protection. 

Safety first! Stephanie cutting a stack of pant legs wearing her metal mesh glove for protection. 

 Cutting the many pieces for the rectangular tote. 

Cutting the many pieces for the rectangular tote. 

 Stephanie and Britt planning out the color placement using full garments for the light-hued circle tote. 

Stephanie and Britt planning out the color placement using full garments for the light-hued circle tote. 

 Ngoc sewing the rectangular tote.

Ngoc sewing the rectangular tote.

 Rectangle totes in process.

Rectangle totes in process.

 An ironing the tote straps.

An ironing the tote straps.

 Blue & black circle totes ready for tags. 

Blue & black circle totes ready for tags. 

VISUAL VALUES by Britt Howard

Abstract, visual renditions of PGF's Core Values are now hanging in the factory above our amazing sewers. Made from factory fabric scraps, each flag takes a creative spin on PGF's five driving beliefs (in no particular order, all are created equal!):

  • RESPECT TIME. An hourglass shape, a reminder of the importance of time & pace. 
  • THINK FORWARD. A road leading to many paths with infinite ideas ahead. 
  • HONOR PROCESS. It bends and winds before it ends, each step with a clear purpose. 
  • INVITE CHALLENGE. Stacking of forms, recall climbing a great peak. 
  • BE HUMAN. Can you spy the makings of a face in fabric? 

Special thank you to PGF intern, Shelby for all her hard work co-designing with Britt and sewing the banners! 

TESTING, TESTING! by Britt Howard

Love the look and feel of a well-worn cotton t-shirt, and ever wonder how to get your tees to get to that coveted stage faster? PGF's dear friend Claire McKinney took on the challenge in her new column TESTING, TESTING! Check back for periodic experiments from Claire's test kitchen—she'll do the dirty work, so you don't have to!

CHAPTER 1: GETTING THAT WELL-LOVED T-SHIRT FEEL

A few weeks back I set my sights on finding the secret recipe for achieving the look and feel of a lifelong-favorite t-shirt—thin, soft, well-loved (see above). I figured there must be a way to burn out certain parts of the fiber while keeping the shirt intact—not by physically hand-distressing but through  *science*

Attempt 1: SALT

The internet is littered with this recipe. For the amount of articles written about salt-soaking it seemed tried and true.

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts warm water
  • cup salt

    Stir mixture until combined. Add t-shirt and let soak for 3 days. Wash as usual.

This recipe yielded no changes to my t-shirt. I also tried boiling the mixture and letting the t-shirt bubble in the pot for about an hour before letting it soak for 10 days. Again, no difference in softness. I've worn this trial t-shirt often for 7 months and it's just beginning to soften, but I doubt it has anything to do with the salt process. Luckily all that was lost was a $2 bag of salt and 10 days of my patience.

 

Attempt 2: TSP / Lye 

While sifting through all the articles about salt-soaking, I found what appeared to be a truly secret, highly successful and hardly-tested recipe. There it was, on a craft blog thread from 2004: 

4 tablespoons TSP (Trisodium Phosphate)

1 tablespoon Lye 

2 gallons water

Protective clothing, goggles, dust mask, rubber gloves (Lye is extremely caustic and can cause severe chemical burns)

Combine TSP and hot water in a plastic bucket. Stir until water stops steaming but is still warm, about 10 minutes. Wearing goggles, mask, long sleeves and rubber gloves, slowly add lye. Soak shirt for 8 hours. Remove shirt and rinse in steel sink or tub—protective wear on! Dry on well covered surface, then wash and dry in normal cycle. Dispose of water in drain and rinse well.

While it was obvious that the chemicals in this recipe were dangerous, I believed their potency would create the results I wanted. TSP is used to deep-clean roofs and walls and was easy to purchase at Home Depot. Lye, on the other hand, was more difficult to find—you can only buy this product at soap-making stores as it's been banned from all home improvement stores for some scary reasons you probably shouldn’t google. The protection needed to work with these chemicals definitely took the "fun" out of this experiment. And unfortunately the results were nothing close to what I hoped for—the t-shirts actually became more stiff. I think the deep cleaning process puffed up the fibers and reversed the shirt's natural wear.

After running these experiments I came to realize you could spend a lifetime finding an at-home solution for softening and thinning t-shirts. There are tons of (safe) products that can help keep t-shirts soft—fabric softener, borax, white vinegar, baking soda, the list goes on. And some pseudo-scientists on the internet have proposed that hot-acid baths could potentially thin a 100% cotton t-shirt, but I’ll let them try that first.

From my failed attempts it seemed that fiber content was a significant factor—the salt-soak recipe claimed to work on all fiber contents, while the TSP/Lye recipe claimed to work on cotton/poly t-shirts specifically. This led me to question the fiber contents of some of my favorite 70s-era t-shirts, all of which I had found at thrift stores at their prime thin-and-soft stage. All were 50% Cotton 50% Polyester—the texture is unique in that it doesn't seem naturally worn-down but just finer-knit than t-shirts today. Most cheap t-shirts today are 100% Cotton—the tri-pack Hanes ComfortSoft tees take a good amount of wear (and sweat) before they start to feel soft like a vintage t-shirt. So this leaves me wondering, were t-shirts knit with different techniques back then? Does the polyester content influence the wearing-down process? Or was my favorite vintage t-shirt once someone else's favorite t-shirt, worn to every Dodgers game for 20 years? 

A few pieces of advice for those looking to "hack" the thin-and-soft t-shirt game:

  • Wash t-shirts as much as you can—whenever you wash anything, throw in your t-shirts. They'll just get softer over time. 
  • Go somewhere where they actually sell worn-in, old t-shirts for cheap. Your best bet is the Goodwill Bins or anywhere you have to dig for items yourself. Super-worn undershirts tend to come with pit stains, but I always consider this the perfect opportunity to make a pot of dye and experiment with color. 

                                                                                                                                    -Claire McKinney

Think Forward: Our New Silver Sustainability Certification by Britt Howard

Big news: We just achieved Sustainability at Work Silver Certification!

 one way we reuse fabric at PGF! 

one way we reuse fabric at PGF! 

At PGF we strive to Think Forward, conducting our daily operations with one eye on the future, not only of garment industry technology but our impact on the planet. Naturally, sustainability is integral to our business model. How can we combine innovative production methods and recycling practices to reduce waste and environmental impact? Here is our Sustainability at Work plan authored in implemented by our Sustainability Leader, Stephanie Liedman, and a few photos of recycled and up-cycled projects by our very own Kristina Nelson using factory scraps. 

 Kristina makes dreamy tops and pouches from left over fabric and...

Kristina makes dreamy tops and pouches from left over fabric and...

Daily Activities

From using scrap paper for notes and drafts, to reusing lightly used packing material and boxes, we’ll keep waste paper and cardboard out of the landfill and give used materials new life. We’ll continue to use washable cleaning and dusting rags and send our used printer cartridges out for recycling and refilling. Fabric scraps will be recycled by Gemtext or through creative reuse projects.

 ...cozy blanket sewn from Solmate Socks scraps...

...cozy blanket sewn from Solmate Socks scraps...

Energy

In an effort to reduce our energy usage we’ve recently set all office computers to sleep after 15 min or less of inactivity. We will continue to turn off all computers, lights, machines, and heating systems at the end of the day. 

Community

We are committed to educating our clients and our community about fabric recycling options. We will notify clients about recycling options or offer to recycle scraps for them at the factory. We will communicate to our community that we have fabric scraps, strips, and scrap drawing/patterning paper available free to the public. 

 ...sweet lil' woven coasters made from small scraps and...

...sweet lil' woven coasters made from small scraps and...

Disposal and Recycling

In addition to fabric, PGF also recycles plastic bags, plastic film, and rigid plastics. We also offer our employees the ability to recycle and safely dispose of batteries, fluorescent lightbulbs, old cellphones and electronics, and hazardous waste including old cleaning supplies, insecticides, etc. 

All our old furniture and equipment will be sold or donated when upgrades are made. 

 ...rad leather goods too! 

...rad leather goods too! 

Extras

PGF provides a bicycle repair kit, pump, and lock for employees and guests. Additionally, we have a shop bike available to employees for short trips. All employees and guests are welcome to bring and store bicycles on site in a secure location when visiting and working at the factory.

Housline Minimalist Desert Wedding by Britt Howard

It's the first day of summer, which also means it's the first day of...WEDDING SEASON. 

Weekend after weekend, dress after jumpsuit after dress, we're dusting off our fancy hats and formalwear. To start this wedding season off right, here are some photos from PGF friends Sarah and Sage's wedding in the Alvord Desert last year. Clad in a white PGF Houseline jumpsuit, Sarah met Sage on the dry lake bed to tie the knot beneath the Steens Mountains and Southeastern Oregon sky. The results are nothing short of magical.

Gorgeous Photos by Free The Bird, Hairstyling by Alison Brislin, and Jumpsuit* by Us!

*Unfortunately our production schedule prevents us from taking custom wedding orders at this time, however if you're in the market for a fantastic locally made dress, check out our customers Elizabeth Dye and Claire La Faye