Zero Mill Waste and the Woolen Mill Store
As a brand, Pendleton Woolen Mills offers some unique experiences to consumers, like tours of our working woolen mills in Oregon and Washington (health restrictions permitting). That’s where we weave most of the wool textiles used in our wool apparel and world-famous wool blankets.
Weaving generates a variety of trimmings, selvages, and “headers” (the point where a run of blanket material joins with the next run of a different blanket material). Pendleton has always had a “zero mill waste” policy. Efficient use of all mill products was part of our mission in 1909, when we re-opened a stilled factory in Pendleton, Oregon. It is an even stronger part of Pendleton’s mission today. That means our leftover fabrics and trimmings go to one of our most unique locations; the Woolen Mill Store in Milwaukie, Oregon (just outside Portland city limits).
This store occupies what was Pendleton’s “Foundation Woolen Mill” for many years. Back in the day, “foundations” were linings, and the entire output of this mill was devoted to lining for men’s woolen neckties. Over the years, many other fabrics were woven here, until 1999, when this mill’s operations were merged with our mill in Washougal, Washington. The facility was used for storage until 2008, when the Woolen Mill Store relocated from its original “Little Red Store” location to the Foundation building.
The store occupies 12,000 square feet with 350 rolls of Pendleton fabrics. More than just a fabric store, the Woolen Mill Store sells Pendleton yarn, buttons, notions and patterns. Weekly deliveries from Pendleton’s mills bring multicolored selvage and blanket trimmings, prized by crafters all over the county for rugs and other creative pursuits. The store also offers Pendleton apparel, hats and bags, and one the largest first-quality blanket selections found in any Pendleton store—the blanket wall here is a marvel.
Today’s Refreshed Woolen Mill Store
We have just refreshed this store inside and out. The exterior has a new bold color scheme that recalls a National Park blanket, and lit signage.
Inside, we have an improved layout, expanded classroom space, and a wealth of informational and historical displays. When you visit, you’ll see a one-of-a-kind banner behind the cash wrap that celebrates the materials and craft at the heart of the Woolen Mill Store.
Measuring 8′ x 12′, the banner was designed and created by Pendleton’s Marketing team. The design is based on the Mt Hood graphic on a vintage shirt box, which is also used in our current Born in Oregon logo. The pattern was enlarged onto a full-sized paper pattern using a slide projector.
This pattern was cut apart and used to trace the shape of the mountain and the shoreline.
The sky and lake shape are made from the same fabric – the face and reverse of a wool denim. The 150+ stylized trees were cut from a wide range of plaids, stripes, jacquards, and solid fabric, including our Sunbrella outdoor fabrics.
The richly colored fabrics, all in shades of blue, were appliqued together with a fusible bonding, and then machine quilted with a layer of wool batting and a solid cotton backing fabric. This secured all the fabric layers and created a diamond patterned stitch design over the entire surface. The quilting was done by Nancy at Just Quilting in Portland. You can find her at @justquilting on Instagram.
Once quilted, the layers of needle felted trees and the logo were added on top, and the banner was bound on all sides in felt by store staff. The logo was created using 3-D logo letters wrapped in wool yarn and sewn to the sky area of the banner. Shading on the lake is created with airbrushed fabric paint, the only element not sold at the Woolen Mill Store. The larger trees at the bottom, are created by freehand needle felting.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes movie of the process.
This is a celebration of hand crafting, and a fitting salute to our quality materials and the work that our customers create. Here’s a closer view, and we hope you’ll visit us to see it in person soon.
Woolen Mill Store site: The Woolen Mill Store
Woolen Mill Store Instagram: @pendleton_wms