How to Turn Any Dress Into a Filipiniana Costume (No Sewing Machine Required)

I still can’t believe how fast 2019 is coming by! With just a blink of an eye, it’s August!

Most people associate August as the ghost month, but if you are a mom like me with school age kids, you know very well that August is time for Linggo ng Wika – hence, most likely your kids will be asked to wear a Filipiniana costume anytime soon.

I usually refrain from buying my kids costumes unless it’s really needed. I think it is a waste of money to buy them something that they will only wear once. Aside from that, it also takes up precious closet space after! So if you’re trying to be practical like me, you’re in the right page, because I am going to show you how to turn any of your daughter’s existing dress into a Filipiniana costume. And the good thing about this is that the sleeves is detachable – you can remove it after the program so she can still use that dress after as if nothing happened!

No, you also don’t need a sewing machine for this project as you can sew everything by hand. So here goes:

Materials Needed

First, you need a dress. You may choose from your child’s existing dresses. The perfect dress would be one a simple sleeveless dress, it can be of any material also although based on my experience, cotton would be the easiest to sew

Second, you need a coordinating fabric. Take this also in consideration when choosing a dress. You don’t need to buy this too – if there’s no actual fabric, you may use an old pillowcase, a throw pillow, bedsheet or curtain. Preferably a fabric that is thick and has structure, although soft fabrics will also be okay

Third, a cardboard. Either an illustration board, or a corrugated one.

Fourth, your sewing tools: a nice pair of scissors, thread, needle, and pins

Now that you have all the materials ready, it’s time for the fun part!

Step by Step Instructions

.1. Determine how big you want your sleeves to be. This is entirely up to you. In my daughter’s case, I just let it rest about 2 inches above her elbow so she will still be comfortable while wearing it. Draw your desired size in your cardboard and cut 2 pieces.
2. Using a ruler, get the midpoint by drawing a horizontal and a vertical line in the middle of your sleeves. Mark it.
3. Get your dress and lay the opening of the sleeves down the sleeves board. The midpoint should be in the middle of the sleeves opening. Draw the sleeves opening using a pencil following the curves
4. Measure around the sleeves opening. Add 1 inch allowance then right it down the board
5. Lay down the sleeve board on top of the coordinating fabric. Use the measurements taken earlier plus the 1 inch allowance and mark. Cut a mountain-like shape similar to the one above.
6. Sew together the lower part of the sleeves (see red lines)
7. With the carbdboard sleeves inside, carefully fold the outer fabric towards the center to be able to get the shape of the board The number of pleats depend on how big your sleeves is. Pin each of the pleats and sew the ends to keep the pleats in place
8. Get a long strip of fabric. Cut it into 2inches x the sleeve opening measurement. Fold the fabric such that both outer ends meet in the middle. Iron
9. Fold it again in the middle
10. Sandwich the middle part of the sleeves board in between the long strip of fabric. Handsew to make sure that all layers of fabric are in place
11. Repeat steps 1 to 10 to create the 2nd sleeves
12. Now get your dress and attach the sleeves to it! The middle part should be tucked inside the dress when sewn as shown above

And there you have it!

I really hope the instructions made sense! hahaha. If you have any questions, just feel free to send me a message in instagram or in facebook. 🙂

Do send us photos too of your finished products should you decide to give this a try. Good luck and happy sewing!

What to Consider in Buying a Sewing Machine

So you’ve finally decided to get your own sewing machine. Congratulations!!!

But then you realize that there are a lot of options in the market and now the question is, which one to buy?

Don’t panic! For me, buying a sewing machine should not be complicated as long as you are crystal clear with what you need. Do not rush buying also, because your sewing machine will be your constant companion for years to come.

My Story and What You Can Learn From It

I acquired my very first sewing machine in 2013. It was a portable Brother sewing machine refurbished from Japan. Yes, I bought mine at Pier!

It was cheap! I got it for about Php 4,000 only, complete with a transformer and some accessories. The store owner kindly helped me pick from the many sewing machines available, and also demonstrated to us how to use it.

I was happy, until a week later, when it just stopped working.

I live far away from Pier and it will be too expensive to get a cab back and forth so I did not bother to return it.

My point here is – there’s nothing wrong in buying second hand machines, but my mistake was that I went there with no knowledge, no idea, of what I should look for or check. So make sure that if you decide to buy there, you have at least some basic knowledge of sewing machine operation, or at least tag along someone who does. If no one is available, I suggest just buy a brand new one.

My very first sewing machine – a refurbished Brother portable machine from Pier

A year later, I bought a Brother GS2700 at Automatic Center at Megamall, and still using it until now. 🙂

Here’s my list of what you should consider in buying your first sewing machine:


First, set your budget. A quick scan at Lazada can easily tell you that sewing machines can go as low as Php 1,399 up to Php 30,000 and more. I do not, however, advise buying those cheap unbranded sewing machines because they break easily and you will just end up frustrated. Best to go with either Brother (from Php 5,999) or Singer (from Php 6,400).

What Type of Machine?

If you have enough space and would be mostly sewing thick and/or stretch fabrics, and most especially if you plan to use it for business, go for Industrial Sewing Machine. Just note though that it costs more than portable machines, are heavy, and has louder sound. It’s also heavy so you cannot just move it around.

On the other hand, the main advantage of having a portable sewing machine is – you guessed it – its portability. You can basically sew anywhere! It’s the perfect home machine because it is lightweight, it’s relatively quiet, and has many optional accessories. Careful though because they make break easily especially if you’re using it everyday. They also have a hard time sewing thick fabrics.

Personally, I’ve been using my Brother GS2700 since 2014 for business. Considering that I am using it for several hours everyday, I’m pretty happy with its performance. It’s motor got replaced once already, and other than that I haven’t encountered any issues.

My Sewing Area. Here’s my Brother GS2700 Sewing Manchine and my Juki MO-50e serger


Next consider the features. My best advise at this point is this – don’t be blinded by the many stitches a machine has. The truth is, I am only using 2 stitches – straight and zigzag. Really, you don’t need a lot of fancy stitches especially when you are just starting.

Also, very convenient and very useful if the machine that you will get has an automatic needle threader. This saves my life especially during those night-time sewing!

Final Thoughts on Choosing Your Sewing Machine

As with any big purchases, it is important that you do your own research before heading out and buying your sewing machine.

In my almost five years of sewing, I’ve realized that sewing machines need not be fancy – at the end of the day, it’s your imagination and creativity that matters.

How I Became a SEW-ntrepreneur

My name is May, and I’m the Mommy Sewntrepreneur. I am from the Philippines, a mom with 3 kids, and wife to my amazing husband. I can’t say that I know everything about sewing, but my heart bleeds and shouts sewing and crafts every since I was young.


Probably like many of you, I started nurturing my love for everything fashion and creating ever since I can remember. I was a kid during the time when DIY paper dolls made of cardboards and paper were still a thing, and I have precious memories playing with those. Unfortunately, at that time, I thought a career in fashion was not practical, so I pursued Journalism in college. Thereafter, I pursued HR as a career, and worked in corporations for more than 10 years.

Life happened and my love for sewing took a backseat, but sewing has always stayed with me. Taking sewing lessons were always a part of my new year resolutions before and I did try twice. However, I did not finish both for various reasons. I guess I was too preoccupied during those times and didn’t have enough money and motivation to push forward.

Fast-forward to 2014, I gave birth to our daughter, Macy. That’s when my desire to sew all came back to me! I finally invested in a new sewing machine and started sewing dolls using free patterns I found online.. Eventually, I also started creating dresses for her. On her first birthday, themed “Macy’s Dollhouse,” I made 10 different fabric dolls as centerpieces and made her 2 dresses as well! It was a result of many sleepless nights but was oh so worth it!


Eventually, my friends started to notice Macy’s dresses and I started getting inquiries. My first big break was for a cousin’s wedding, and then for a friend’s, which was what I consider as my breakthrough in the wedding scene =)

I continued to build Macy’s Dollhouse from the ground up in the next 1 1/5 years as a sideline, with no capital, no staff, while still working full time. It was difficult, yes, but fulfilling! On our first full year, we had 79 weddings with over 180 dresses delivered!


We were also able to join bridal fairs, was featured both in print and online, and our brand has grown from a small time online doll shop to what it is now, the go to shop for luxury kids clothing in the country (happy dance!)

Early this year in 2018, my husband and I decided that it’s now time to grow Macy’s Dollhouse some more, so I resigned from my job to focus on the business full time. To continue honing my craft, I also enrolled mastery sewing and pattern making classes at ICEFAD. I want to help other crafty mommies earn from sewing also, hence this blog was born.

A Sewntrepreneur (read: sew|en|tre|pre|ne|ur) is a person who is passionate about sewing and also earns from it whether as a sideline or full time! This blog is here to inspire, provide a community to share ideas, and maybe one day, provide jobs as well!

So welcome! And I hope we’ll be able to inspire you pursue sewing, or whatever other passion you might have. It will be a blast!

If you have any story suggestions, or if you wish to contribute, please email me at