Sunday, August 25, 2013

MAKE DO & MEND: Breathe new life and love (actually) into your old jeans.

I am starting a Make Do and Mend series that is going to feature projects I've made from upcycled materials.

Before anything else, let us first define what Upcycling is. It is when old and useless products are given more value, or converted into newly functional items

The Make Do and Mend series is partially inspired by the past days when all I do is clean the house (the rains from typhoon Maring left our home flooded) and find old items, some of which I have salvaged (like old buttons and clothes) for use in my future projects, and some, I placed in bags to be given away to people who might joyfully find better use of them (i.e. shoes, bags, clothes, school supplies, etc.).

While cleaning, I actually found this Mother's Day handmade gift I did when I was still very young (Sorry I haven't cleaned it yet!). I remember how all of the items used for this were salvaged materials from our occasional general house cleaning. The base wood was certainly from my grandfather's woodworking den in the backyard. The eggshell frame is already broken and the right shell is already gone. I remember delicately placing this handmade gift in a box before wrapping it up and proudly presenting it to my mom.

I loved making handmade gifts from used materials as a child. This is a Mother's Day gift I found recently while cleaning.
Another handmade Mother's Day gift I found. Made when I was 12 years old.

When I started discovering the limitless number of projects I could do with my sewing machine, I did not have any box-full of fabric. What I had were items that I planned to alter. I had an oversized vest turned into a summer bag, and a long-sleeved top (I've never worn because I did not like the fit) turned into a sleeveless top. I actually blogged about this top, the first thing I used my sewing machine on, here.

Just this February, I worked with denim for the first time and turned an old jeans into an iPad case. It was a request by my boyfriend (who is a gadget freak! :)). Word of advice when sewing thick fabric, use the needle size for every fabric you use as indicated in your machine's manual. True, replacing needles may be a difficult feat (and it IS a lot more difficult with sergers), but trust me, the thickness of fabric, when sewn with improper needles, can cause your needle to break, if not while you sew, sometime soon. I know this because mine (needle meant for cotton and less thick fabric) just broke two weeks ago. hehe. Good thing I have extra needles. Another word of advice, keep a stock of needles of various sizes, always. You know....just in cases----oops, did you get that film reference? hihi. 

My favorite love story of all. :)

Moving on (from film references and interconnected love stories), I retained the front pocket for both design and functionality. I used the top waist band for the enclosing detail. I had no interfacing at the time I created this so I relied mainly on the thickness of the denim to serve as cushion. It is, however, advised to always use interfacing especially when making items meant to contain delicate/fragile items such as gadgets, or, when you need to add structure to your project. I consulted with my client-slash-boyfriend and he assured me anyway that he did not need any interfacing as his iPad has a protective case already. 

The old, sad jeans.
Jack, the seam ripper, is my ever personal assistant. :)
Ripped the waistband for the enclosing detail. You can see the design/drawing I did on the notebook before I carried on with the project.

His new iPad case. Made from upcycled jeans.
I was able to finish this overnight and the proud boyfriend showed it off to everybody in the office the next morning. hihi. Recently, I added velcro (as requested again by my client) to help secure the opening of the case.

With velcro.

It IS amazing the things we can create from old materials. It is even more heartwarming to see people appreciate and use these upcycled materials. If we could take the time to look into our drawers and closets and forgotten spaces, we might find items just waiting to be picked up to be part of something valuable. 

Just like love which can be found in the most unusual places, we can discover stories of stunning transformations from the things we have around us, and from the creativity we have within us. 

So be ready with a list of things you NEED so that you may thoughtfully decide whether you have to buy them, or just source or create them from the things you already have. Also, always be ready with your creative ideas for upcycling-worthy items.

Just in cases. :)

With handmade love,

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Just today, I’ve decided to blog about all the sewing projects I’ve had since I started learning how to sew. Well, it was part of the plan when I started this blog a year ago, but, in the words of Summer in '500 Days of Summer,' sometimes, what always happens...happens--Life. :)

A lot of people ask me if I studied sewing whenever I tell them about my passion in handmade crafts. I tell them I studied sewing on my own—and by studying on my own, it truly meant a great deal of discipline and patience in trying to read the User Manual and instructions that came along with my sewing machine, Zooey. Also, I have to give credit to Ms. Marisa Lynch whose woman-empowering New Dress a Day blog heavily moved me to finally learn sewing. Thank you Ms. Lynch!

I’ve always been the self-reliant type so it was not new to learn on my own. I guess I've had this in my genes also. You see, my grandmother also learned to sew on her own when she was young, and she would make pretty dresses for me and my twin sister as children. Now, she hasn't stopped sewing, and is my proud supplier of fabric all the way from California! :)

Then again, learning on my own was not easy. And when I decided I wanted to sew more clothes and dresses (and finally pursue my dream of creating my own wedding gown in the future), I knew I had to learn how to make patterns. And by patterns, it meant getting acquainted with rulers and numbers and computations and a plethora of body measurements I never knew existed! I knew I could not learn everything on my own, especially when mathematics was involved, and I had little time and even more little patience to understand numbers. That was when I decided to take Saturday classes on Basic Patternmaking.

I asked for this Sewing Book by Alison Smith for our company Christmas gift-giving party back in 2010. It has become my study buddy over the years. I take turns studying sewing and the ukelele, which  was also on my Christmas wishlist. :)

I took the class at the Fashion Institute of the Philippines in Makati. I had a particular inclination to the school because way back in 2009, I met the twin designers John and Paul Herrera (who now have their own fashion school!--Style & Design Academy Manila) for a TV shoot when I and my twin sister modelled their creations. I learned that they both studied in FIP (in Quezon City) when I was scouting for a fashion school, I immediately googled FIP and inquired personally at their Makati branch, the one nearest my place. I enrolled in September 2012. J

2009 Fashionistas by Heart shoot with twin designers Paul Herrera (left) and John Herrera (right).
That's my twin sister in violet!

I had the privilege to have Sir Joy Chicano, then a newly graduated FIP student and the winner of the coveted FIP Designer of the Year Award for 2012 , for my instructor. He was later on chosen to participate in the MEGA Young Designers’ Competition in early 2013, and was part of the final three! J

I knew from the first day of class that he was a kind and humble soul who deserved to go places. He might not have that teaching experience to impress the amateur designer but he spoke passionately about pursuing one’s dreams and truly working hard towards it. And more than anything, I admired him for that.

Finishing my final pattern project at FIP back in December 2012. Here, with the person who gave me my first formal basic training in fashion, Sir Joy.

One of my favorite collar patterns- Peter Pan!

So there, I learned the basics—the tools needed when patternmaking and the basic tips and tricks when taking body measurements. When my classes ended by December, and because I only took the basic class, I had to continue learning on my own through lots of practice making patterns, reading, and sewing.

And more sewing.

Since then, my creative world just continued to get more and more interesting by the day. I will always be grateful for my first formal education (even if it was just short!) :) and for inspiring souls like Sir Joy who live to share their creative passion.

Today, I am taking classes in Fashion Design, and later on, in Dressmaking, at Slim's Fashion & Arts School. But more of this new learning experience on another blog!

With handmade love,