Sewing patterns online

I’ve been receiving a lot of questions on where to buy patterns here in Manila/Philippines.  Unfortunately, there really aren’t any stores/shops that carry the actual paper patterns (which are so much fun and so exciting to open).

A good alternative though if you’re keen on getting new designs is to purchase online through  You just have to create a user name and log-in and you can purchase using your credit card.  My experience has been pretty good (no shipping required obviously), although you will need to keep the following things in mind:

  1. Make sure you test print that you’re printing to scale.  There will be a test page and you have to make sure that the size you’re printing is accurate or the whole pattern will be totally ruined.
  2. You will need to have LOTS of paper and tape on hand and a BIG space to put everything together.  My entire living room floor gets filled up when I’m taping the printed pattern together before cutting it out!  Turn off your electric/ceiling fans (Don’t do what I did and get stuck chasing papers around and having a hell of a time reorganizing them hehehe)
  3. Have big envelopes/plastic dividers/clear books on hand.  I organize the patterns I bought in big Manila envelopes for easy reference.
  4. For the patterns I’ve downloaded, you can only print each up to 5 times.  This isn’t really a problem though, in fact I could see myself sharing patterns with my friends who sew too.

DIY Ge lai practices (Chinese confinement) in Manila

As the daughter of a pure Chinese mother, my mom expects me to undergo the traditional Chinese “confinement” or “ge lai” post-partum.  This is supposed to speed up your recovery after childbirth and ensure that you don’t feel any untoward effects due to childbirth as you age.  I didn’t follow this to the letter when our first baby was born, but I plan to try to adhere a little more with our second.  My mom underwent this tradition but unfortunately she never learned any practices or recipes from my grandmother (who did this all for her) so I’m sort of winging it or doing it myself and asking advice from my close friends and relatives.

I found some great resources online regarding this practice, but few recipes and information on where where to buy the things I needed such as the tea, Chinese wine/Seravallo wine, herbs, etc.  Luckily a trip to Binondo/Ongpin solved all that!

We headed to Binondo on a Sunday to look for a Chinese drugstore.  Hong Kong Chinese Drugstore along Ongpin was closed but as we were driving around we saw a Chinese drugstore across the fruit stands in Salazar where I was able to buy Chinese herbs for the following types of tea:

  1. Seng-hwa-teng tea – to clean out “dirty blood,” should be taken for the first 3 mornings after giving birth.  This cost 40 pesos per pack (1 small pack per day) only.  Instructions for this were to boil in water until the volume is reduced by half.
  2. O-tso-tong-sim tea – to be taken from the 4th to the 30th day post-partum as replacement for water.  This cost 1,680 for a month’s supply.  Instructions were just to boil and drink either hot, warm or room temperature but not cold.

I was also looking for native chocolate tablea from La Resurreccion and was hunting around Ongpin near the church for the stall but found out from a tricycle driver that they had moved to a permanent shop in Benavidez.  Sadly, La Resurreccion is closed on Sundays good thing the lady in the neighboring store informed me that I could buy it in Chinese groceries around the area.

Of course, for Chinese groceries I always go to Bee Tin where you can find almost everything you need.  This is where I buy tamarind paste, Malaysian white coffee, etc.  In preparation for meals post giving birth, I bought the following:

  1. Seravallo tonic wine – 480 pesos, to be taken after menstrual bleeding stops, estimated on the 14th day post-partum according to the owner of the grocery
  2. Black sesame oil – 280 pesos for a big bottle
  3. La Resurreccion tablea – Unsweetened is 750 pesos for 100 tablets, sweetened is 700 pesos for 100 pieces of tablea.  Suggest you get the unsweetened and just add sugar to your liking
  4. Sibut herbs – 250 pesos for 10 servings (individually packed)

I’m currently in the process of looking for recipes for black/native sesame chicken and other confinement recipes for my DIY confinement.  Any resources/links you can all share with me would be much appreciated.  =)

Links to other super helpful posts on ge lai are as follows:

This Mom’s Life

Chronicles of a Nursing Mom

Smart Parenting Article

Everyday Mommy Diary