Sunday, November 24, 2013

MORNINGS AND COFFEE AND FAIR TRADE.

One week later and I am still LSS-ing to Shrek the Musical.  This time to the song Morning Person. It is a veeeeerrrrrrrry cheery, sunshine-y, forget-all-your-troubles-now-and-don't-wait-for-Christmas song. :) So enthusiastically delivered by princess Fiona, just reading these first few lines makes you want to get up in the morning with a grateful heart, blast it to full volume on your iPod, and start a meaningful day.

 ♫ ♬ Good morning birds
Good morning trees
Oh what lovely day
The sun's so big it hurts my eyes
But really, that's okayyyy!

A brand new day with things to do
So many plans to make
I've had six cups of coffee sooo....
I'm really wide awake!

I've always been a morning person
A morning girl
Hooray! ♬ 

When you encounter wonderful melodies like this that mention two of the best things we know in life--(1) Mornings and (2) Coffee--you just know that it's a song for keeps. And a song worth playing in your head over and over until the next morning and the next rounds of coffee.

I love cold mocha drinks, and in the unusual events that I do not get to drink one (which literally translates to MiniStop's Chillz), I drink coffee. Any coffee will do. In these times that I spend so much time juggling many tasks in a day, I just have to have coffee.

I don't drink coffee if it's not in my Bugs Bunny mug. Yes, I don't get it too. :p This photo was taken on one of those Sunday afternoons when I was teaching myself how to serge.

Interestingly, I was feeling as energetic as I am when I am drinking coffee while I was working on these 150 coffee bags for Cordillera Coffee.

Finished coffee bags made from hessian (jute) cloth.
These bags were made from hessian cloth, which is made from jute, a natural fiber. I could say that this fabric, hence, is as natural as the love for coffee and fair trade of clients from Cordillera Coffee in Xavierville QC--the lovely Fresnoza couple Ms. Iona and Kuya Paolo--who personally handpicked the materials for their coffee bags (Bag design is also c/o Cordillera Coffee). This was the same fabric used for the wedding boutonnieres earlier featured in the blog. 



This fabric and the strings made from natural fiber perfectly complement what Cordillera Coffee is all about as the quaint cafe promotes organically grown coffee from the local highlands.

Photo courtesy of Cordillera Coffee

If you are a lover of coffee and fair trade and local art and ukulele, Cordillera Coffee in Xavierville QC is probably already on your list of places to go and check. I've had the chance to enjoy their coffee (cafe mocha, of course!) and cupcakes when I visited with former officemates last month. Artwork and handmade items from local artists decorate the place and stories from the owners-slash-ambassadors of the creative community themselves will keep you inspired. It is rare these days to find a place to just hang out, drink coffee (they offer unlimited coffee during Saturdays!), be part of benefit shows and workshops, and meet people who can passionately talk about coffee and Philippine art and culture (and even play ukulele with you) while they serve you coffee...for a cause. 


My visit to Cordillera Coffee sometime in October....Mocha! :)

Yes! Every coffee there is for a cause. I am happy to say that even the coffee bags I made were part of that cause as the funds earned from the coffee packs will go to COFFEE AID, which, as its name implies, is composed of individuals who work hand in hand in helping uplift the lives of native coffee growers through community initiatives. For one, they hold annual harvest activities (usually November-December) as well as tree planting activities (June-July) where volunteers travel to the Philippine highlands to get to know the farmers as well as help them in their harvest/planting.


Photos from recent the coffee harvest activity courtesy of Coffee AID's Facebook page




Coffee Aid volunteers in Atok Benguet with Nana Meldina Calubsing, one of the Coffee Aid's heroes. 

Through Coffee AID, farmers receive fair trade and regular income. Know more about this family, their advocacies, and initiatives here.

Going back to the coffee bags, if you are wondering what it's like working with this kind of fabric (especially if you are a sewing enthusiast), it can be very tricky as the fabric tends to fray easily. My advice is to use zigzag stitch to secure the hems. For most of the bags, I used a serger. Then again, it is important to double check and to NOT overlook the thick parts of the jute fabric as they are a convenient way to break your needles. :p I broke two of mine. hehe. Lesson learned is to DOUBLE check your fabric for thick lumps before feeding it into your serger or sewing machine. :) You can actually sew through thick areas BUT ONLY if you do it manually, which means you neither use your foot pedal nor automatic sew button; instead, you slowly turn the handwheel of the machine to get the needle moving until you get past the rough fabric areas. :)


Keep your sewing process organized. Measure and prepare your fabric accurately.

I inserted the string before finishing the hems and not after as it can be difficult to insert jute string using safety pin along the narrow opening of  the material. Because of the texture of the fabric, the safety pin gets caught in the opening.

Watch out for thick lumps of fabric when serging jute fabric.

Serged hems.

Check finished hems.



Besides from being caffeine-filled, this project has been meaningful and rewarding for the most part. Especially the part when I get to be part of the coffee story of Cordillera Coffee and Coffee Aid by simply sharing what I know in helping prepare these coffee packs. Yay!


Ready for delivery.
Cheers to coffee, fair trade, community, and to all modern-day Filipino heroes who keep producing and supporting local products for all the world to discover and enjoy.

Most importantly, cheers to blessings of new mornings that give us opportunities to enjoy more coffee, practice our crafts, and spread joy and love to others.

Have an awesome week and a bountiful Monday morning!

With handmade love,










Friday, November 15, 2013

NIKKIE MOUSE

I have been LSS-ing to songs from Shrek the Musical, particularly to that song that goes ‘ Are you there God? It’s me Fiona….,’ where princess Fiona somehow ‘appeals’ to the heavens to bring her the knight in shining armor she has been waiting for all her life.

Oh yes, when I am not—and sometimes while I am—sewing, I sing broadway style. It’s the nearest realization I have to my dream of becoming a theater actress (haha). Remember I said in a previous blog that I wanted to be a many persons when I was young? This was one of it. hihi




But seriously, musicals are easy to fall in love with, especially if you love music and costumes and stories and to witness something ‘real,’ which, paradoxically, may not be as ‘staged’ as films. If you get what I mean… :p

I met princess Fiona and Shrek in Universal Studios in Singapore about three years ago. It’s really amazing how stories can turn  these otherwise horridly looking creatures into lovable characters. Just look at Mickey and Minnie Mouse. They are essentially rodents but Disney embraced thoughtful stories around them that they have become, to this day, beloved characters that people, especially kids, also pay for to get pictures with!

Just like what happened to my friend/client Nikki who recently wore the Minnie Mouse-inspired dress I made for her to a birthday party. Weeks ago, she asked me to design and sew for her a dress for a kid’s birthday party she’s going to with her family.  She later told me that because she seriously took the birthday theme to heart and dressed like Minnie Mouse, it looked like she was the one celebrating her birthday. hehe

Minnie Mouse is ready to come out and play! 
I love this belt. It can be used to ribbon together books or other stuff at home after wearing it with the dress.

                                 Birthday photos were grabbed from Nikki's Facebook page.

Hey Nikkie Mouse! 
Little Mickey and grown-up Minnie reunited!
'Awww Mickey, when you play the harmonica, my heart sings!; Mickey: Minnie, you're all the music I'll ever need. ♥  (Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, 1999)



With the family and non-Disney, McDonald's character I don't know the name of. hehe

Below is us after dinner/design consultation. This was also my first time ever to take a client’s body measurements in public. Haha. I asked her if she wanted a dress that was really costume-y—meaning, a dress solely dedicated for the event and similarly themed events—or a dress she can still wear even after the party. Of course, I advised her to go with the latter as I am all for functional and lasting pieces, which was also what she was thinking too all along! J

 
Design consultation at Fatmelts Diner with Nikki. They serve the best Aglio Olio I ever tasted until I met the Seafood Aglio Olio of Mama Lou's. :)

So this is the sketch and here I am sewing the belt accent. I only used the polka dot fabric on the belt and head ribbon. I used plain red fabric for the main dress, and black jersey (from my own stash) for the belt, ribbon, and ears!

You will see in the final dress that I added ruching to the neckline and redesigned the sleeves too, which turned out better than the original. :) Also, the final dress did not come with mouse whiskers. :p

I used thin batting to stuff and give shape to the ears, and had handsewn the ears onto the headband.

Who moved my ears? :)

Speaking of jersey, I just learned that it is waaay easier to sew jersey (a type of stretch fabric) using a walking foot (or quilting foot) with a stretch zigzag stitch (it’s that slanted zigzag stitch of the machine) than with a straight stitch, which, I’ve been using for the past. Also, you DO NOT use a pointy needle with jersey, you use a ball-point needle, which is golden-colored and usually comes as an extra needle with the sewing machine when you purchase one. These knowledge also come in handy as I am currently working on a jersey dress to be worn in a wedding by another client/friend. I just love the community of sewing enthusiasts around the internet. Very helpful!

Going back to life-size Minnie, Nikki also requested that I complete her dress with a by Louberry garment label. As my product label materials have not arrived yet,---and here, I believe that my dad deserves a shout out for doubling as my purchasing assistant for my label materials (hehe)---I decided to hand sew the label. I am glad to have the thread color of the brand.





This dress, will go down in the by Louberry history, as the first ever labelled piece I had created. :) It is also the first dress I had ever sewn a lining on. It definitely adds a touch of couture, don't you think?


During final fitting! Went home with a happy heart because she said I made her day by just wearing the dress. 

And what would be a would-be significant and historical by Louberry piece without a special package?


With handmade love. I've kept this unused Japanese paper and polka dot ribbon, which made perfect wrapping materials for this special dress!

What made this handmade story more meaningful is that the dress has also gone to Church! Nikki sent this photo of her wearing the dress with a striped bolero.



Thank you, Nikki, for trusting me with the design and creation of this dress and for making mice like Minnie Mouse look so adorable! Truly, it is people like you who share and believe in the love and vision of these handmade stories that I have that make these stories even more meaningful and worthy to be told.

Minnie Mouse's father Walt Disney captured it best when he said:

You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.

I am grateful for all these stories. They will always have an LSS effect on me---specially marked in my mind and would undeniably occupy many more creative hours of my life. Unfading and forever inspiring. :)


#ThankYou #IAmGrateful :)

With handmade love,