This past spring, Portland Sewing threw a graduate fashion show for their 2011-2012 Fashion Forward students—a diverse collection of designs from people who had been accepted into a program that offers a well-rounded concentration on launching a brand rather than just teaching the nuts and bolts of sewing. "It's not enough to know how to sew," says owner/founder Sharon Blair. "To make money and keep going from year to year, we want to show designers how to, as one sales rep said, 'make a great product that consumers want and take those products to the market place.'"

Portland Sewing is a relatively new and small operation, but the Fashion Forward program is particularly exclusive, accepting only six to eight students at a time, chosen by Blair and a panel of industry veterans. The next round of instruction starts in mid-September and concludes in April, and the time to get your applications together is now: all are due on August 31 at 5 pm—get the application here—and read more about what the program entails right here.

Design by Lisa Silveira, one of the programs recent graduates.
  • Design by Lisa Silveira, one of the program's recent graduates.