DIY alteration project on a rainy Saturday

Two weeks ago, Faye sent a Reddit link to me about a guy who became quite adept in altering his old and/or thrifted clothes. I’ve been wanting to try this project out, given that I have recently bought a sewing machine for my mother, but the busy graduation week last week prevented me from doing so. But as it rained so hard this Saturday afternoon and as I had no plans to go out, I had all the time I needed to experiment on some of my clothes that needed some revamping. The first two things I thought of working on was this retro-looking longsleeves and a pair of navy blue pants.

A 'before' shot of the MEXX longsleeves shirt

Before the drastic chop and alteration

The longsleeves was in a stretchable fabric, and I was quite worried over what kind of stitch to use. It  would only be the second time to sit in front of my mother’s sewing machine and I only used the basic, running stitch over a minor alteration on that previous occasion. Should I use the zigzag stitch or just stick to the running one? I have also tried using the tailor’s chalk to mark where I needed to cut and stitch the new seams together, but the fabric did not seem to have the slightest orange stain on it. I resorted to using a black ballpen and good thing that the marks were placed inside because I had mistakenly drawn a lot of stray ones.

The first cut was difficult. The length of the shirt was about five inches longer than what I would normally want it to be, so I had to cut it. From the tutorial, he went straight away sewing the marks, without putting on pins. However, I wasn’t that comfortable in doing the same thing, so I had to put on a lot of pins before sewing. I started with the armpit to the sleeves, then back to the armpit all the way to the newly-unfinished hem. I had a hard time sewing the sleeves, though, because I can barely fit the hole beneath the machine’s feet. I eventually got there somehow, and after several runs with the acting-up bobbin, I was able to hem the sleeves.
Holding the fabric with pins before sewingAs for the pants, I only got to wear the pair once on a Valentine’s night since buying it, but it stayed inside the closet since then. The fit was just weird, and even if it has been already altered by my beloved tailor, I still did not like how it sits on my behind. Frankly, I had no idea what to do with it while altering, but I just ran a half-inch adjustment from the crotch up to the hem. The sewing machine is not a heavy-duty/industrial type, so I was careful not to push it too hard and break a needle. Most of the time, I just manually move the wheel just to lock the stitches.I even altered this pair of L.O.G.G. pants for a better fitEt voilà! I think I have made a fairly good job with the alteration of this longsleeves to a short sleeves,  and changing a straight cut pants to a slim fit one. It was not as tasking nor difficult than I had expected. What was first a guinea pig garment for experimentation, actually turned out to be something I will definitely wear in the coming days. As for the pants, I am very sure that they will look nice with every pair of boots that I have. I might try altering two longsleeves tomorrow, that is if Mama will not use the sewing machine, as she was so inspired by my DIY work and will most probably alter a few garments of her own.

Altered MEXX Shortsleeves polo and altered L.O.G.G. by H&M navy blue pants

Friday, Friday!

On Fridays, we are allowed to wear jeans but I still opted to wear black pants because my beloved pair of jeans is still yet to be laundered. However, I was more keen to use this printed shirt with the robot bag because they both have the capacity to make me look, errrr, younger. LOL

1017 printed shirt, black skinny pants, Yves Saint Laurent patent sneakers and green Prada tessuto robot 2 tote

I’ve been using a lot of canvas and nylon bags lately, and even if I hate to admit it, I’m also kind of getting over my love of heavy leather bags. Under the summer heat, I prefer not to lug around a heavy luggage and anything non-leather makes my life easier. But in a month or so, summer will be up soon, and rainy season won’t be too kind as well. I have been looking at a functional bag on Ebay, from a brand I have never owned before. And that was when I saw this Porter by Yoshida Freestyle 2 Way briefcase bag.

The Porter by Yoshida briefcase bag on Ebay

(Photo from the Ebay seller)

Technically, I’ve been seeing this bag listed on Ebay since last year, and I kept on having tentative decisions whether I should just go for it or not. The first thing that put me off was the color. It it were on a happier color (i.e. red or even blue) or anything neutral other than black (preferably camel), I would have definitely gotten it in a snap. But as I already have a lot of black bags, common sense tells me that I don’t need another bag in black. Frankly, I’ve been trying to get rid of some of my bags by selling them online, but things are not going as fast as I’ve originally hoped. I’m really determined to downsize my stuff this year, given that I will be working in another sector where I need more discreet and less recognizable items to use. This Porter by Yoshida bag perfectly fits the bill. Discreet – check, functional – check, weatherproof – check; so what am I waiting for? The seller.

Porter by Yoshida Freestyle briefcase bag from BLACKBIRD

I’m still waiting for the seller’s reply. I remember haggling for the price way back in February but I have completely forgotten about asking. And then I thought of checking if the bag is still available, and saw that the seller had actually answered my request. It has been almost three months since that reply, and I’m still hoping that the offer still stands. I think i’m getting an extremely good deal over it at Php 1,500 total, especially the same bag is sold for US$ 500 on BLACKBIRD, and for US$ 603.25 of Ebay.com! The item looks leather-y but it is actually polyurethane-coated canvas, making it  really durable against the elements. Of course, I’m just justifying this purchase again with all my reasoning might. =D

UP Diliman University Graduation v2.0

Yesterday afternoon was foreboding. After the sunny day during the early morning college graduation, it rained really hard that it made me worried about the fate of today’s weather. There was even a report of tornado and hail stones and somebody also sent me a message that there was a Low Pressure Area forming in Luzon. As the University-wide graduation would happen in an open area, the prospect of a bad weather will literally dampen our spirits. Looking back at my first University Graduation, I remember that it was so hot that I had been sweating a lot both from the influence of the direct sunlight and the uncomfortable barong that I was wearing. But for today, leaving our house at exactly 2:00 PM, the sky was gray and I was eagerly  praying for another chance with the sun. LOL The sunflowers were not-so-perky that I had to hold a couple of them upright   Our first itinerary upon reaching UP was to take pictures with the sunflowers along the University Avenue. My family was particularly excited about this as they kept on seeing news feature this entire week about the graduation in UP Diliman, and how the sunflowers were finally in full bloom just in time for the event. But frankly, I was disappointed to see that the sunflowers were no longer that perky because of the bad weather yesterday. The petals were no longer as nice-looking as the ones I’ve seen last Friday. =/ Anyway, that did not prevent my family, along with Mon, Lot and Lay to take lots of photos with the sunflowers. But the photo-op was cut short — it sporadically rained and we had to run for cover.

Mandatory picture with Oble   So proud of the three UP Pep captains   I was carefully evaluating the weather and I thought that it would eventually stop, with an overcast sky  as the worst that could happen. I was right. Around fifteen minutes before the start of the program, the weather had sort of ‘stabilized’ and I was confident that it will no longer rain. When Erin and I went looking for the designated meeting place for our college, I chanced upon this small group of people: the UP Pep Squad captains for the school year. I was really happy to see them and who would have thought I would be finishing my graduate degree, the same time as these kids finished their undergrads. I suddenly felt old. I even remember my very last halftime (as an alumnus, because I was one of the ‘babysitters’) with Irish in 2007, when she was still a freshman.

Goofing around before the university graduation

I still have mad skills in taking a picture of a group with me as the 'photographer'

Finding our line, I was happy to know that we were situated at the back, giving us more freedom to move and just budge when we were to finally go inside the Amphitheater. We even managed to buy a cone of ice cream each!

Quezon Hall in varying degrees of daylight - UP Diliman, 2013 Commencement Exercises

Quezon Hall in varying degrees of daylight

Mon and I in the University Graduation

Our Sablay now officially transferred from right to left

To be honest, it was tedious hearing the speech of the Guest Speaker. Apart from the low volume, it did not help that the speech he was delivering was written exactly on the pamphlets distributed on top of our chairs prior to occupying our seats. Why listen when I can always read it later? Just kidding. There was also, I think, a slight error in the sequence of the program. By the time we have already transferred our Sablay from right to left, majority of the graduates were no longer paying attention to the valedictory address. Poor kid. I could not even remember a lot of the things he said, apart from comparisons with national heroes and jokes that took me a moment to digest.  But I’m happy to remember him saying about his advocacy to give back to the community by teaching along with a couple of students. I’m extremely happy to hear that. Gomz, though, asked me about my experience with my previous university graduation, and whether it was this unruly (he did not attend his university graduation in 2008).  From what I can recall, everybody was quiet and intently listening to the valedictory address of Mikaela Fudolig, the Wunderkind who finished summa cum laude at 16 years old (Yikes!). I still remember about the “take not the road less traveled” from her speech. The whole event was festive but not unruly as the one we just had last Sunday. Oh well.

I did not know that I brought along UP Pep fans with me!

Yihee!

Family picture after graduation

After the graduation — time to take photos! I have taken lots of photos with friends, classmates, family, etc. But I did not realize that I brought along UP Pep fans with me! Same as yesterday, some UP Pep drummers were present and I dropped by to take a picture of the drummers playing. I saw Kiko and Irish again, and the next thing I knew, Lot and Lay were begging me to ask the captains if it was okay to take a picture with them. LOL Same as the afternoon, I had little chance taking a photo with Oble. There was a very long queue of people waiting for their few seconds to have their picture taken, that I did not bother having one at all, except fpr a quick shot with Mon. I was too hungry for dinner.

Famished in A VenetoA Veneto dinner in Trinoma - chicken, pizza and pasta galore

Already well-fed --- family picture after dinner

I was really worried about getting a decent place to eat in. We did not have any reservation placed and when we reached Trinoma after rushing away from Diliman, we still did not know where to eat. We first thought of A Veneto but there were groups waiting outside, so we transferred to the seafood resto next to it (I forgot the name, was it Seafood Island?). But ‘lo and behold, we had to wait longer as we were the third in line, so we went back to A Veneto. By the time we finally made up our mind, we were seated within five minutes! =D Chicken, pizza and pasta galore, all of us were hungry that it took us less than thirty minutes as soon as all the dishes arrived to get our fill. Monday awaits all of us, and Mon, Lay, Lot, Kuya and Ate Ja had to leave to go home to Cavite and Makati. I can’t be thankful enough that they shared that special day with me.

My official graduation 'self-portrait' LOL - UP Diliman Sablay and CSSP master's degree token/medal

The earliest graduation ceremony of my life

I was on half-day leave the day before because today’s recognition rites (a.k.a. college graduation) took place very early in the morning. The assembly time was at 7:00 AM, even if the ceremony itself would not take place until 8:00 AM. I had a hard time sleeping because at 12:00 AM, I am normally on my way home, so sleep was difficult to come by. Perhaps I was a bit excited as well? =)

The earliest graduation ceremony I have ever attended - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

I was very happy to graduate with these guys - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

 

Fresh-faced graduates - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

 

We arrived five minutes after 7:00 AM and there were already a lot of people outside the University Theater. The weather was good but I think the ladies were not particularly keen with the sun shining brightly over their freshly made up faces. However, there was a collective sense of anticipation in the air, and everyone was busy taking photos with their families and friends, and congratulating each other over finally making it. Around 8:00 AM, the first group (i.e. that was ‘us’) made our way inside the theater amidst the cheering crowd of graduates who were so delighted with the processional.

CSSP@30 displayed prominently on the stage

 

I needed to have a solo picture LOL - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

We were seated two rows behind former UP President Nemenzo and my Anthro prof two years ago, Dean Nestor Castro - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

We were given a copy of the program, and I was delighted to see the name of former UP President Nemenzo as the guest speaker. He was the UP President when I entered UP Diliman in 2003, when he was eventually replaced by the President Roman in 2005. I was quite shocked, however, how elderly President Nemenzo was. I remember him being extremely energetic in an event in the Faculty Center before, but then that was almost a decade ago. Of course a lot of things has changed by 2013. I particularly loved his more than twenty minute-speech, because it has a lot of facts on realities of life in the Philippines (and also being Filipino in the impending economic integration of ASEAN in 2013), which would, honestly, not make sense years ago if I did not take International Studies. =D

From what I recall from his speech, he gave three pieces of advice to the graduates. First, he pointed out the importance of remaining a student forever, and how graduation is not the end of one’s education and it is a new beginning. His second advice was over the importance of the liberal arts and how it was wrong to question its relevance, given that it humanizes the impacts of technology because the latter has social implications. Lastly, he gave a very candor caveat “hope for the best and prepare for the worst”, warning on both the benefits and consequences of the neoliberal order, and the possibility of exploitation, especially on the Philippines if it will be furthermore integrated into the capitalist model of development. Marx, Engels and Wallerstein suddenly began speaking to me again. What struck me the most in his speech was the importance of having a critical mind, which gives the burden and challenge for the knowing to do something for others:

“With a critical mind, you can distinguish good from evil, right from wrong, wisdom from non-sense. It allows us into fits of outrage at corruption and the abuse of power; but it also obliges us to support, what is just, reasonable and progressive.” – former UP President Francisco Nemenzo Jr.

With Mon during my recognition rites - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

Mama and me, with the token (medal) gievn to the graduates of master's degree - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

There was almost a mishap with Mama. When it was time for the graduates to go on stage and receive the diploma and medals (for some), we were just informed right there and then that our parents should be going on stage with us. I had to make a quick phone call to Mon, so that he can let Mama know and she can sprint all the way to the stage. She just made it in time when my name was called and in the process, she has almost slipped and has already lost her Php 100 corsage. It was a surreal moment for me, and I could not imagine how more surreal it was for her. She has never done this in any of my graduation and I could not believe it was finally happening. We walked hand in hand and she was almost teary-eyed while putting the medal on me. After more than two decades, I have a parent on stage with me. =D

We were the first bunch to have our pictures taken here - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

Mama, Mon and I -  CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

It was a long ceremony and good thing Mon went outside to buy some snack from vendors selling street food. The two pieces of toasted bread I have eaten for breakfast seemed ages ago. At around 12 noon, the whole event was already over and that our group were so delighted that we did not bother finishing the recessional and headed straight to the stage to have our pictures taken with the big “CSSP@30″ on stage! After taking my photos with my classmates, I went looking for Mon and Mama, but turned out, they were already outside the theater. LOL I had to call them back inside because I needed my photos with them on stage. Yep, I am really that traditional with this sort of photos.

UP Pep Squad drummers outside the University Theater - CSSP@30 Recognition Rites

 

And of course, the sound of the bass and snare drums followed. It is usually customary that UP Pep Squad drummers and/or dancers go to the recognition rites of whatever college/institute/school inside the campus, as long as it has a graduating member. In 2007, I even had a short stunt with some of my teammates when my name was called. LOL That was quite a scene. This time, though, I was just a mere expectator and I was delighted over the support of the drummers to their CSSP graduates. I heard familair beats and it sent shivers down my spine. I can still ‘mentally’ do the routine on some of the things they have played, but alas, the mind was willing but the body was not yielding! =P

Six years apart - one from CAL and the other from CSSP

Nothing special when we went home after, because I was saving the dinner outside with my family and friends after the University Graduation tomorrow. I then thought of digging out the token I got from my college graduation and even if I was decimal-murdered, the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters that time, National Artist Virgilio S. Almario, was gracious enough to provide everybody with a medal. No one went home empty-handed, fair enough. Looking at these two, it was really amazing to think over how far I have come along. Few minutes after taking the photo above, I posted in on Facebook and  made an official announcement about the leap from working in the corporate enviroment to an NGO/the humanitarian sector. Well, I will still be technically working in my old company but I am really excited to start working for the NGO. Meanwhile, I have to wash the barong tagalog and the camisa de chino, which I will be both using again tomorrow for the University Graduation!