In the wake of the success enjoyed by Portland Garment Factory, another local production facility is coming to the fore: Spooltown spun off from Queen Bee Creations during a restructuring that freed up former QB Production Manager Sara Tunstall to open a small-run factory within the same building. Like PGF, which opened to fulfill a perceived void in manufacturing options for local designers who were somewhere between the wide space between sewing everything yourself and meeting the minimums for large-scale production houses, Spooltown aims to do the same, but specializing in tough, hard to work with materials.
"Spooltown's focus is driven mainly by our machines and skill set," says Tunstall, "We have heavy-duty machinery (3 walking foot machines, 6 industrial needlefeeds, etc), so we're best suited for medium to heavy duty fabrics. Because of that, most of the work that we've been doing has been with leather, faux-leather and waxed canvas (you know... difficult, unforgiving fabrics). We're currently doing regular handbag production for Queen Bee and The Good Flock, and are working with a number of other clients on pre-production product development. I'm also interested in doing more home goods production. We've done some production and sampling of tea towels, napkins, pillows, lampshade covers etc. We just completed a project for Schoolhouse Electric's new home goods line, making super-sweet Valentine's zippered pouches."
This kind of local small-scale production is still relatively new in Portland, but if the success of PGF is any indication, there's plenty of demand for it. Britt Howard, who founded PGF, says that they have been "freakin' booked" with projects, and is happy to welcome another house to help carry the weight. "We have contracted jobs to them, sent clients over there, and refer people to them... I think they do a great job and run a good well-oiled machine over there." I hope to tour the mini-factory later this week, so stay tuned for more details and images soon.