Final thoughts for my final year

A cube of various colors organized in 3 by 3 set with the rest of its color clan at their respective sides sits daring anyone passing by to mess up its neatness. A daredevil comes along, picks up the the cube, light in their grasp, dared to twist the colors off various sides. A row of red would sweep to the left, with the rest of the red would go the other way. A blue would break the rows up. A yellow enter the scene. There’s a green that popped up in one corner. Oh the white says hello. The orange slides through. Utter chaos of colors as the daredevil jumbles to cube in his hands, tongue out. Twisting up, twisting down. One row to the left, a column to the right. He pushes his hand as if daring anyone to organize it back. Everyone would look at each other. One by one they’d twist one row to the next so the colors would return back to its family of colors. Often one side would return to its organized state, but the rest still in chaos. As the next side gets reorganized, the first one would go ballistic, then back. Nobody got it right back up. Then again, til someone, experienced enough to know the pattern of each colors, would push one row after another. He’d twist the cube so swiftly, calmly nothing’s getting organized. He’d stay at one side of the cube, only turning to other side to check his progress. Back to the same side he’d twist each row. As he’d twist, the colors start to build back up and soon, the Rubik’s cube was back to its organized state.

It’s the only way I know how this year has unfolded. I began my year, organized and well planned, then something came along to add chaos (yeah, I’m talking about coronavirus), then it was a game of twists and turns trying to organize one side, then messing it up while reorganizing another. In the end, I just had to focus on one thing, look at the progress, then keep going.

I didn’t find that focus until late this year. I started pattern making my dresses, knowing exactly how to do it. I organized my weeks making sure I’ve toiled enough, so that by the time I’d get to making the final garment, I was ready. Turns out, something was still against me. The fabric choice was a curveball, french seaming was unprepared for, weaving was too overwhelming. It was utter chaos. As the project progresses, a lot of what I know in garment construction and patter making, had to be unlearned so I can accomodate to some mistakes and mishaps I learned. The weaving, most especially, was the part of the project that was all learning along the way. I never worked with a nail and a hammer, I suddenly have a 1m x .7m loom with 70 nails on one side, 50 nails on the other. Did it without breaking a fingernail. I never designed my own textile, here I had to weave a whole lot of panels to make a garment. I just had to keep doing new things, don’t I? It was this newness of the method and the project that always led me to ask, am I good enough with what I’m doing? Am I really pushing the limits more? Why am I still holding back when I’ve tipped the edges up a bit? Am I really a designer? Am I pushing boundaries here? Do I provoke questions? Am I designing to solve a problem? Which problem needs solving?

I have gone through all of those questions and until now I never know the answer. All I know is that I enjoyed the game and I’m getting addicted to it. I wanted more Rubik’s cube, some made in white frames, plastic, wood, glass, I want them all. Small size, big size. A marathon, a relay, a competition, give it to me. I want to keep going. Further, I want to make this research into reality. With coronavirus hitting those on the lower end of the social status harder than the 1% who can pay 900,000 Philippine pesos for a lockdown worth of grocery (that actually happened, and made it known on social media), there’s a need to keep the people thriving and alive. Fashion has changed in the face of Covid-19. It had pushed the conversations to actions. We’ve only been talking about the problems, but rarely do we make it a reality. Instead, companies keep searching for loopholes to stay profitable than ethical. The Philippine fashion industry is not as innovative as those making names in the world stage. But, as in true Filipino spirit, we take the negative and make something out of it. Rajo Laurel staged his latest collection digitally, making it the first digital runway, seen live by millions on Facebook, elites and the mass, Filipinos and foreigners alike.

I don’t know where I will find myself after this year. I have ideas that needs a lot of confidence to make true. But I am hungry to do more, to learn more. I am hungry to make this project’s ideas into a reality where I can bring more Filipino craftmanship to New Zealand, then the world stage. It’s a collective work, and designers are doing their own part. I want my works to contribute to making this a reality. But it is such a big dream, and I have just finished four years of introductory learning to such a large industry. Fashion is so vast, and culture is so wide. There’s so many ways forward.

If I had to learn only one thing the whole time I was at Massey, is that with the right support and great environment, we can do anything. While Massey showed me a snippet of what the industry looks like, I had to also go out there and experience it. I’ve left a comfortable job at a coffee shop to work in menswear retail. I’ve volunteered in cultural foundations. I’ve met new people. I was pushed to text people I barely speak to. I learned to be specific with what I need and want. I learned to step on rocky ground so I get to the other side. I have met great friends that walked with me, some have left me, some said hi, others watched. I met great mentors, that although I barely picked their brain for ideas and suggestions, I will always have their guidance to help me throughout a new endeavor. I know I’ll always take every opportunity to come back to Massey and remember everything the past four years have allowed me to take in. I’d bring these learnings to the Philippines, so I can bring the Philippines back to New Zealand. It’s about time people, and I mean the world, to know about the Filipino art and design. We’re not just singers, we’re makers too.

So, thank you for a crazy final year. It was intense, it was invigorating, it was creative, it was vibrant. And it was never depressing. Off to the next one.

And no. No more studying. Just yet.

Finalizing the Barong Dress patterns & Making the Final

I have final arrived at the design I’m hoping. Therefore, what’s left was to clean up the patterns for the final garments to make and submit. The placket I first toiled with didn’t have enough length to cover the raw edges. So I just added extra length.

Below is the first two layplan created for two different fabric widths. The first was the original silk/linen choice I wanted but was too expensive. Then I found my final pure linen piece. Just like with the Terno lay planning, using Illustrator was faster and easier for me to use for the time to work on the pieces.

Making The Final Garment… and mishaps

This is when it started to become stressful for me. As my first choice of fabric was too expensive, I had to find an alternative. $42 was just too much when I barely make money and I needed about 10 meters for 3 garments. I looked for linen with a bit of shine to emulate what Pineapple fiber fabric would be like. I learned to just stick with the first instinct and go with it and never decide impulsively. I have always been the worst at decision making, I always needed a second person to talk to. I could have saved a lot of stress, worry and I could have loved the pieces even more so. I do love the pieces now, but the original choice would have made more of an impact. The linen sateen was too lightweight for my liking for this and that would have retained more of the shaping I wanted as opposed to the lightweight linen. I don’t mind the creases, I think that adds to the charm. If I were to do this piece again, I’ll use the silk/linen choice. However, the linen sateen’s saving grace is that the garments felt very casual, which is what I like. The silk/linen fabric would have made the designs closer to a more formal feel, which is often what Filipino garments are used for. This project humbles down these garments so more people wear them on an everyday basis.

One of the stresses this fabric gave me was the cutting process. Due to time constraints and having about 8 meters of fabric, I wasn’t able to wash the garment. The grainline warped because of how lightweight it is and the amount of creasing it has, the cutting was compromised. I wasn’t sure what to do. I wanted to fuse the whole length of the fabric just to give it stability, but what was the point of buying the fabric if I would have to alter it. I started making the Barong dress when I was informed to fuse my seam allowances. I did that for my Terno dress, however, not for the Barong. I had so much allowance removed from French seaming to redo my seams.

Another mishap was the front panels. I planned, but not trialed french seaming for the right angles and that caused a lot of trouble. I had to ask Claire for another alternative and rescue me from breaking down. Claire suggested a felled seam, which worked out well because it made the right angles prominent and made the design feel more like a barong.

Lastly, adding the facing seams did not meet the seams of the bodice, because of how much the garment stretched during cutting. I had to work with what I’ve got.

PDF Download

I’ve also created a PDF of the patterns for A4 printing at home. This is raw and still needs to have a title page, details page, instructions page, and, ideally, graded. But this is a start of a pdf in the making.

Click to download PDF

Barong Dress

Final Garment

Editing the Barong Dress in CLO3D

This is the first time I used CLO3D program. I always knew about it but never had the chance to try it out. and since there was only 30 days of trial I can use, I timed it so I can use it for this project. That is if the program is straight forward enough. It took a bit of tutorials before I got the hang of the program.

I didn’t get to take images of the the first few trials of the Barong dress on CLO. I didn’t think at this time that I would use CLO as part of my process. What I first did is started from a block we have at Massey. Transferred the file to Illustrator, then to clo. I explained this part in the Making of the Terno dress post. There I did the pattern the way I did in Accumark. Same results, same feeling.

This is when I decided to make the design into a Kimono sleeve. I remembered from second year that the lower I open the sleeve up, might as well do a kimono. I don’t know why I didn’t start from here. I think I wanted a tailored shoulder look. But as I did it in CLO, it worked out better. I also wanted to add pockets, because, again, modern dress. And I played around in CLO where to place them.

I went back to uni to change the patterns to a kimono style sleeve, added pockets, and applied it back to CLO to have a little bit more fun. This didn’t take long at all. But I was able to fix my patterns and placements in CLO before finalizing the patterns and making my final toile. Here are some of the ones I was able to record:

Transferring the new patterns to CLO3d. I simplified some of them because folds are a bit of a mission when first starting.

I wanted to try what would happen if I give the collar more volume.  I liked the end result, but instead of having rounded shape. I ended up having a final collar piece with shaping at the shoulder. I changed the final piece in Accumark.

Final Thoughts…

Simple: I am adding 3D into my process as soon as I can afford the subscription. It cancels a lot of toiling process to get to the final, saves on fabric and time. I can even start using it after the sketching process, because I can do iterations while already making the pattern.

Model: Maria Knowles

Making the Terno Dress

The first mentoring session, I knew I needed to ask about the lineup and improve it a little bit. I took Sue’s suggestion to lengthen the dress and make it a maxi length to create drama. Who knew adding a few more centimeters can change the look of a garment. (I always forget this sort of iteration where I can simply change one little detail of the garment). The pattern making began with these suggestion in mind. The length was added with what I think is enough length for an average tall person. However, I expect changes.

Making the pattern for this dress was straight forward. I hid all the darts in the bottom flare and added more. I wanted a generous amount of volume to the hem.

The collar/lapel piece will help determine the weaving length and width that will go on top of it. It may also serve as facing if needed.

Sleeve measurements taken for the terno sleeve pattern making.

Some adjustments were needed, particularly at the sleeve. I need to lower it to make it comfortable. (Spoiler alert: I’m glad I did.)

pre-final garment changes

Finalizing the Patterns

I didn’t change the patterns too much as the first toile worked out well. Fit was good, which I’m glad. While, I did think the length was a little too long, I think, given the change, I would have had it as it was in the first draft. Having it drape on the floor made for a more dramatic effect. The final ended up having a shorter length. 

Making the pocket

It can not be a modern dress if it doesn’t have pockets. It’s just necessary feature. I had to add it. I designed the pocket based on the Pattern making book by Armstrong. It’s the best way I know how to. As I followed it, the pockets had grown on facing at the front and back pattern pieces. However, I decided to remove it as the pocket will be cut from the main fabric anyway. You”ll see these changes in the following photos.

Making the facing

This will perhaps be the first time I will make a facing on my own. I don’t think I’ve ever done facings before. Linings, yes. But not so much facings. I opted for about 5cm facing (did this, cut the fabric before I received feedback to make my facings 6cm). At first I thought I had to straighten the strip of facing by making the sides parallel to grainline. But I researched this before I committed. Unfortunately, I don’t have the source I got the information to just have the facing as it is on the pattern. So I changed it and did not touch the grainline anymore.

Lay Planning

I did a quick lay plan for this so I know how much fabric I should buy. I am using the same fabric for all my white garments so I needed to buy just enough as I can not afford to have too much. I first planned for a 119cm wide fabric, then found the one I used as my final one, which was 142cm wide. So did my lay plan twice. The reason I used Adobe Illustrator is its ease of use and convenience for me. I am very familiar with the program. For what I need to do, it’s an easier and faster method for me.

Cleaning pattern lines

This is the part of the process where I was going through repetitive actions and I was getting overwhelmed with the amount of work. For a bit of break from pattern making, I make the patterns look clean and tidy, then I’d transfer it to CLO3D and just play a bit. It’s unnecessary step, that probably was the reason I had to ask extension. But at the time, I needed something different to keep me going.

Unresolved problems

One of the last things I stitched was the Terno sleeve. It was so straightforward, yet so overwhelming at the same time. While the sleeve length worked out well to fit the arm whole of the dress, the facing didn’t. By this time, I had my photoshoot done, I had to have my garments ready for presentation. There was just not any time. There was barely any energy left and I had to make the decision that this garment will have to have a hanging facing at the arm hole. (I’m still meant to overlock that, woops). It just wouldn’t fit. My theory is, since the main garment isn’t fused, it retained its flexibility and stretch, especially with the curves. The facing, either shrunk in the heat or retained the scye length according to pattern and my calculations were wrong. It was heartbreaking to let an unresolved problem be seen and assessed, but I had to choose sanity. I can fix it after it’s graded, right?


Final Garment

Overall Thoughts…

Making the terno dress is an enjoyable process. I was able to do one toile and make it work the first time. Even after a little bit of changes without another toile, it has still worked out. Adding the terno sleeve was a whole new ball game, though and that presented different challenges. The fabric definitely put me off guard and I had to work with what I got. The cutting was what stressed me the most. In the end, I just had to make it work. If I ever re-do this piece, it will be done with a different fabric.

Terno Sleeve Pattern Making

After years of rummaging the Internet for tutorials and information on how to make a Terno sleeve, I have finally found the best tutorial that show how to pattern make and also sew this sleeve. I also bought a book (still in the possession of my sister in the Philippine, in which she took photos of important pages for me to study) that show patterns of various Filipiniana dresses throughout history. It includes information on the how to make, maintain and the art of the terno manga (terno sleeve). This book is available for purchase at

Page courtesy of Patterns for the Filipino Dress published by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. This is posted for University assessment only.
Page courtesy of Patterns for the Filipino Dress published by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. This is posted for University assessment only.

I’ve applied the instructions onto CAD, which was not as hard as I thought it would be.

I took the arm scye measurements and divided it by four. That dictated the quarter circle seen on the square on left side image. I then copied this curve line to complete the oval shape. This has become the template for the rest of the sleeve. The top half was overset about 3 inches, and then again another 3 inches. The quarter half of the oval was traced to complete the sleeve at the arms and everything was closed with straight lines.

I added the pleats by hand after cutting the fabric, in which I used it to create the notches for the final pattern. Traditionally, 11-13 pleats are created to build the curve of the sleeve. There are many other ways to create the sleeve, however, for this collection, I wanted to emphasize the tradition amongst the modernity of the rest of the design.

This is the first sample of the sleeve using __ fusing. The result show a stiff sleeve, and although it does the job, it can look better. The cardboard-like stiffness also creates certain creases to the sleeve that makes the sleeve look cheap and craft like – far from what the sleeve should portray. I also, if possible, want to omit the glue on fusible for a more sustainable reason. The glue on fusible changed the look and feel of the fabric. I then tried three other interfacings to trial the sleeve stiffness without being too cardboard-like.

1. This one is using Buckram

2. This one is using hair canvas interfacing.

3. This last one is using sew-in interfacing.

All are using a basting technique to hold the pieces together before it gets attached to the bodice of the garment. There is no need to do extensive basting such as the first two sampled, it only needs to attach using straight stitches at the seam allowance, which was used as a technique on the third sample. While both choices create the sleeve look acceptable to the traditional terno, buckram creates the best look that has both stiffness of the shape and softness at the curve.

Tatsulok Final Garments

Barong Shirt dress with Tapis
Baro’t Saya Combination
Balabal dress

Promotional Ideas

The promotional part is a collaborative work with my dear friend Regine Panlilio, who’s been on board with this project since day one. Actually, since second year. I’ve let her have free reign in the media part of the project, visualize it her way, but keeping in line with the brief.  We have had meetings together to talk about the film, which then complements the photos that will be part of the lookbook. We wanted to create a film that not only shows the clothes, but provides more of the story, a summary of how colonial thinking are infiltrated in people’s mindset, and overall, in a community. As a mainly Christian country, the biggest influencer is the church, and thus the white dress. At home, we get to be a little bit freer, thus the woven dress.

The execution of the lookbook, however, was perhaps the last bit I thought of in the entire project. Keeping in mind the whole project, I still made sure that regardless of time constraints, the lookbook still speaks with the theme of the entire project. So many of the project is part hand made, part digital. So I knew that juxtaposition is in there too. I opted for raw edges to get that look and feel.


The film was indeed Regine’s vision, however, we had multiple meetings to make the film capture the message of the collection. As this is a project to empower Filipino culture, I wanted to get as many Filipino creatives I know as possible. I’ve always known the photographs will be great. We’ve worked together since 2011 or so and I knew she’ll be able to portray the images with the message in mind. It was the film that was a little bit harder because it’ll be our first major film to do together. 5 minutes of film can say a lot of things. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A film is made up of thousands of pictures. Also, adding the speech made by Manuel L. Quezon, elevated the film up a notch and pulled together the film.




The music was arranged b y my brother, Renato Robrigado from the original song Tatsulok where the title of the project is based from. Composed by Rom Dongeto and originally performed by folk-rock Buklod. It was the first time I worked with my brother creatively and I never knew how to professionally give him a brief nor did he not ask me for any questions regarding the feel of the music. I was never strong with my music description. I listen to what sounds good, but I can never understand it the way music artists do. So it took a few renditions before arriving at what made to the final film.

Lookbook Ideas

Lookbook Ideas

Pop out style pages, from
Stitch bound style, from Originally found at
Accordion style, originally found in

Operational Form: Class Exercise

How to lift a pen:

Engage the muscles of your right arm and open your fingers. There’s a blue inked object on the work bench. Reach out towards it and, with your fingers, pinch its plastic body and lift.

How to raise your hand:

  1. From a relaxed position, tense the muscles of your arm, either side.
  2. Pull the lower arms towards the sky bending at the elbow.
  3. Stretch out your fingers as if saying hi. Doing so will give you more visual cues that can call attention.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Manifesto Homework: The Vision, A Creative Manifesto

This manifesto is via WGSN. It embodies everything I believe as a fashion designer in 2020 and the future.

Keys are:

Red: Underline what the manifesto is championing, advocating, arguing pleading for or against.
Blue: Highlight significant persuasive or emotive language.
Yellow: Highlight evidence in the text that indicates who the manifesto written for (audience/ reader).
Green: Underline the key points of the manifesto.
Orange: Point out anything you do not understand, and anything you think is extraneous.

Speech Homework: Manuel L. Quezon’s Speech to the Filipino People

Upload the url to your blog and add notes that document your observations about how the speech is delivered, use of imagery, sound, gesture, back ground relevance, emotive use of language, volume, pace etc.

This is the first time I have encountered this speech. Not one of my high school teachers ever encouraged us to read or listen to this president speak. This was delivered in 1920s, when the Philippines was under the United States, a time when the foreign nation is gaining great power and had infiltrated their culture into the Philippines through a different method of colonialism. Manuel Quezon was the first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, but he was the second Philippine president in history after Emilio Aguinaldo, who was the president of the first republic.

The content of the speech is so inspiring for someone like me who is putting Philippine culture into every creative work I do, through which I allow myself to absorb my culture no matter where I am in the world. I grew up in a time where the Philippines wasn’t at its best. It was the 90s, every who can left the Philippines in search for a better life, everyone who didn’t wishes they could. But in a time where the American presence is so largely felt in the country, someone fought for the independence. This is the speech, I wish I heard when I was young. I probably wasn’t one who wished for a different life.

The speech was so well presented, so simple yet so strong. Delivered twice, in the languages the locals spoke at the time. I wished though it was spoken in Tagalog or any other Philippine dialect. The Filipino language is the one that isn’t spoken as much without any interference of an English word. It even shares words with the Spanish language as some words never had any translation to Tagalog or another dialect. (For example, cheese is keso in Tagalog, which is also the term in Spanish only spelt differently: queso). We have always been a nation encouraged to speak the English language. It seems like an advantage in a time of globalization, but when it becomes the preferred language, especially of the educated, forgetting our own, then the problem is presented. Speeches as such would help bring the language back on its own pedestal.

I am glad the video reveals Manuel Quezon captured by cameras of the time. He has such a presence one can trust to lead the country. He has a commanding presence, that even though his grammar isn’t according to the rules of the English language, he never flinched or excused himself. He kept speaking showing that Philippines will not be broken.