DIY Filipiniana Costume for Racial Harmony Day 2019 (Part 1)

Racial Harmony Day is a day in Singapore to celebrate its success as a racially harmonious nation. It is observed on 21 July every year, with most activities organised by schools and grassroot organisations, including religious groups. (From Wikipedia)

I love celebrating Racial Harmony Day. I love the idea of acknowledging how multi-racial Singapore is, and how good it has been in teaching people to respect each other.

For this sewing mommy, Racial Harmony Day is also a day for me to try making a Filipiniana costume (baro’t saya) for Lia for the first time. She’s in K2 now and excited to wear something unique at school that showcases her Filipina roots. Last year, the Filipiniana costume she wore (a wrap skirt) had a slit at the side and she liked the “kita legs” (i.e. peekaboo) style and she was excited to wear something like that again.

I’m on fabric ban so I looked through my stash and chose this teal double gauze and floral cotton twill. Then I drew the design I wanted.

I had only 3 days to get this done, so I needed to do something simple and easy to do. For the top, I took one of Lia’s loose tops and used it as a pattern.

I looked for instructions to do the butterfly sleeves and found this helpful blog. So here is how I drafted the sleeves. If you want poofier sleeves, definitely add more than 3″ at the top.

I basically just had four pieces – the front, the back, and the two butterfly sleeves. I sewed the shoulder seams together then serged the edges.

I tried to gather the sleeves but struggled a bit because the fabric was so soft so in the end it looked like a mixture of pleats and gathers.

I kept most of the gathers in the middle for maximum poof. I then attached it onto the bodice, sewed then serged.

I sewed the side seams together from the sleeves to the hem and serged the edges. I then finished the neckline with store-bought bias tape because it’s the quickest method for me.

When I turned it out, I realized that the sleeves didn’t really poof. The main reason is because the double gauze fabric I used is so soft and delicate that it had no structure. I didn’t want to unpick the sleeves to add interfacing so I had to find creative ways to add it after. This is how I did it.

Not the best way to go about it but it worked. After hemming the top and the sleeves, it was done!

I’m having issues with WordPress right now so I did a part 2 where I talk about the skirt and other accessories to complete the look.