Dyeing Using Philippine Indigenous Plants (Natural Dyeing)

For every mystery solved, another mystery shows up. The study of textiles and how it is made is what started this journey—a journey to uncover how Filipinos made textile in the past and present. Not less than a year ago I wove my first fabric using commercial polyester yarns. After experiencing weaving in May 2015—an extremely laborious, meticulous and meditative task—I entertained the possibility of using natural yarn as a material. This was made possible when one of my design entries became a finalist in the 53rd Japan Fashion Design Contest. In October 2015, in collaboration with the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), I managed to finish my first textile design using the fibers cotton and abaca. And now I am exploring the use of cotton and silk. Before I only got to use black dye for my textile, this time I hope to explore more dyes. Another pandora’s box just opened.

For this month’s adventures and misadventures, I knocked on the door of our local textile institute once again so that I may learn the secrets of Natural Dyeing. They were gracious enough to accommodate my request. Through PTRI we learned how to extract and apply natural dyes on natural fibers.

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Studies on Form using Handwoven Textiles

Despite my busy schedule I managed to squeeze in this little project commissioned to me by Director Celia Elumba of the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI). I was asked to create seven miniature dresses on miniature dress forms that will be given as tokens to the guest speakers of TELA Nation Conference. When I learned that I will be using handwoven cloth I agreed to take on the project without second thoughts.

Finally, I get to work with some of PTRI’s collection of handwoven fabrics. These are all experimental textiles, if I am not mistaken. And they are fabulous!

I worked with natural fibers and some blends. Cotton, silk, banana, pineapple and abaca where just some of the fibers used. I particularly loved the openweaves and double weaves that created layers of unusual textures. Looking at them up close and touching them gave me so much inspiration.

PTRI _Mini0
Experimental fabrics from PTRI.

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Di-Matinag: One Step Forward

During my flight on the way to Japan last October 7, I wrote a litany of thank yous to every person and institution that supported an idea first sketched on paper. Now, I finally find time to post it.

Truth of the matter is, no matter how brilliant an idea may be, it all boils down to execution. Often this part has always caused me a tremendous amount of frustration. However, the timing and the support of a various people had been ideal. These sparked a fire that lit a path that was once too dark to walk through.

After almost three months of hard work I finally realized the idea that was just a vision in my head. It has gone through many revisions and has evolved from a mere concept to an actually wearable ensemble that finally walked the runway in Sugino Hall in Tokyo last October 10, 2015.

This is how it looked:


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