Kimona, Patadyong and a Yukata: Sewing across boundaries.

November 18, 2010 § 2 Comments

Earlier this year, I made these costumes for my daughters to wear to their International Friendship day program at school. I made a blue and white floral ‘Kimona and Patadyong’ for Daughter #2, while Daughter #3 wore her big sister’s old pair. A Kimona and Patadyong  is a blouse and skirt pair that is a  traditional Filipino costume. The blouse, which is usually adorned with embroidery and comes with a sash (for wiping your brows with, i think) pinned on the garment’s shoulder, is paired with a simple skirt that was wrapped around the waist. This combination was worn before by our females while working on their farmlands, planting rice.

The ‘Kimona’ is a blouse traditionally made of fine Pineapple Jusi or fiber, but since I can’t/couldn’t get my hands on Pineapple fiber as it is also quite expensive, I made my Kimona out of tulle and decorated it with fabric yoyo’s. I hand stitched the side seams together and it just goes over on top of a simple tank top or like we call it back home, ‘sando’. I also made another traditional blouse for her to wear alternatively (for when she was feeling more modest than usual) – a ‘camisa‘, a blouse with bell sleeves. My version though, was made in lightweight plain white cotton which I also adorned with fabric yoyos (made out of the fabric for the skirt) and pre-made little blue flowers I also bought from my favorite notions store in Chinatown.

As for Daughter #1, who is a big fan of anything Japanese (from the food, manga, drama to boy bands and Matsumoto Jun), requested that I sew her a Yukata, a Japanese summer dress made of cotton. It is shorter than a traditional Kimono and is usually worn by the Japanese during summer festivities. (Am I right, Taeco?) Which, after much researching and googling, I happily obliged to make her.

I bought the Japanese quilting fabric at Chinatown, and I didn’t really have to look further because when I saw it right away, I knew it would be just the perfect thing for a child’s Yukata. If you look closely at the fabric, you’ll see little demure Japanese girls wearing Yukatas, some with opened umbrellas and some with little fans on their hands. The print also has gold detailing, making it all the more pretty special and perfect for the project. So, in spite of my husband’s horror, I bought four yards of it despite its hefty price tag of 48 SGD (12 SGD per yard).

I got my pattern from Otsukaya, a Japanese sewing site online that offers free patterns in PDF format. Although it is in Japanese,you can use Google translate to read the page in English. It is not a complete pattern though, and the instructions are in Japanese, but it’s not really very hard to decipher the instructions even if you can’t read the language.  There are drawn instructions on how to draft the Yukata with numbers in centimeters and a complete step by step sewing instruction on how to put it all together.

Can you tell from their picture that they’re loving the clothes I made for them? Even though it’s 5:30 in the morning, they’re grinning from ear to ear. I am really happy they like it. What is more is that it’s really pretty neat what I learned through sewing my children’s costumes. I learned a lot! Even though as a child this should not be new to me, for I too wore my own share of traditional clothing for school programs and events, more when I was in high school as a member of the ‘Rondalla’ group. I learned about the types of costumes during Primary and Secondary school but this time I got to read and learn about how to draft the patterns for the costumes the traditional way and finding out a way to do it my own way using limited textile resources, alternating the materials used traditionally to make them with what is on hand from where I am.

As an Anthropology student back in college, I took integrated beginner to advance Japanese as a language elective and had an amazing Japanese Sensei who told us a lot about her culture. From her lectures I found out more about what a Kimono was, what it looked like, and how it was worn, but I didn’t know what a Yukata was even if my life depended on it. So it was like, “Mommy, prepare to be educated by an 11 year old…”  LOL.

So, it is just amazing how this craft, sewing, crosses cultural boundaries and it is amazing what life lessons it can teach you (for me is that an 11 year old can know more than you in a lot of things…duhhh!) and how it can surprise you everyday in your journey to being wise. All you have to do is not be afraid and be prepared to do some learning, even if is going to be a lot, and you won’t leave empty headed, errr…handed. Hahaha!

The book to read if you want to know more about traditional Filipino costumes and dresses:

Patterns for the Filipino Dress (From the Traje de Mestiza to the Terno 1890s-1960s) by Salvador F. Bernal and Georgina Encanto (c1992 CCP, Manila) –

If you want/need to know more, here are related sewing links to making your own Yukata and other stuff for costume sewing:

How to make a Yukata by Amparo Bertram:

Cosplay free patterns and tutorials: –> This is where I got the easy tutorial I used to make my Obi belt to wear with the Yukata.

Another link how to draft and sew your own Yukata:


Baby shoes and school holiday hurrahs!

November 16, 2010 § 2 Comments

Finally! Tomorrow is the Hari Raya Haji Muslim holiday here in Singapore and there are only two more days of school left to go and it’s vacation time again! This means I will have the big girls here to help me around the house and take care of the handful toddler, which translates to MORE SEWING TIME!! Yahoo!!

Another thing to be happy about is that I finally figured out how to work my husband’s quirky Nikon, and managed to photograph some of my finished projects. I have also been able to install Photoshop and edit my work. So, tadaaa!!! Baby shoes!

This pair, I made out of Japanese quilting fabric left over when I made Daughter #1’s Yucata for International Friendship Day earlier this year. Aren’t they lovely? The cotton fabric has gold detailing in the print, making it more special.  And if you look closely, you’ll see little Japanese girls wearing summer Yucatas. Pretty, pretty!!

These baby Mary Janes  are reversible and can be hand washed. I did not use the very stiff  interfacing required by the project instructions, because this was my first time making these, and these are really very tiny (I made size 3), I thought that I would have a hard time sewing with it. I was wrong. Sewing these couldn’t be easier! I’m going to use stiffer interfacing next time to give the shoes more body.

I made both these shoes using scraps from my Red, polka dotted Lisa Shirt:

Dotted Lisa by Kaith (via

Cool huh? These baby shoes are a great way to scrap-bust, they’re easy to cut and make, and the photo- instructions that came with the pattern were very clear, very easy to follow by any dummy like me. LOL! Any Mom-to-be is going to be happy to receive them for their little ones.

You can find more about where to get the links for the baby shoes pattern and instructions for the shoes from my earlier post here.

All cut up and nowhere to go.

October 7, 2010 § Leave a comment


T´abas n. a cut for a dress · magtabas , tumabas, tab´asin (mag-:-um-in) v. tocut the design or according to a design or pattern, as of cloth, paper, etc. (via Tagalog Dictionary)

Speaking of cutting, I cut my pinkie finger on a can of corned beef and it hurts pretty bad so I basically can’t do much. It’s quite big and I could see the insides of me finger while I was washing it with water and trying to stop the bleeding. My daughters think it’s gruesome. I thought it was cool. This was the first cut/cooking accident I have had in years!

Since I can’t do anything much using my left hand, I  decided I would just trace and cut patterns from 1.) the Japanese book i bought a while ago; 2.) a diaper cover tutorial pattern and; 3.) Market skirt form MADE; 4.) Mary Jane shoes from and; 5.) Baby T-strap shoes from




The Market Skirt by MADE.



Baby T-strap shoes from



Diaper cover by MADE.


I’m done with cutting up fabric and ironing on the interfacing for the baby shoes, for the baby clothes, diaper covers and for the toddler skirts today so for tomorrow I’ll start sorting them out from easiest to sew to complicated. I’m also going to factor in how many steps to making each garment so I know how long it will take me to finish them all.  Maybe it will be easier if I sew them by groups (top, bottoms, bonnet, shoes, etc.) as I more often than not, get fed up making up the same thing twice. LOL! If all goes well, I might be done before next Monday, for next week there will be less to no sewing done because it’s examination week for the kids!

Backlogs and baby booties

September 30, 2010 § 3 Comments

Maybe it’s a case of adult ADHD,  i don’t know, I always get distracted by something new and shiny and then my brain goes into overdrive. If you sit close to me you’ll even hear it whirring, like an old Seagate external hard drive and I can’t sit still.

When one of my high school buds gave birth to a baby girl last week, my internal light bulb went ‘ting!’, “Why not make something for the new baby??”. The urge to sew for little ones grew even greater after I saw this book at Kinokuniya and at Etsy. I’ve only sewn PJ pants for my little boy, Coco, who’s two, and the clothes here were so lovely, I thought to myself: “Why not make something for him for his birthday?”



“Why not?” My other self answered, forgetting she had a lot of backlog work to attend to. I’ve finished the skirts and worn them to the mall and to my daughters’ music classes. I’ve photographed them, but when I didn’t like how the pictures came out, I put them aside and automatically my head started to think of something else to do to forget about my failed attempts at photographing my skirts. I’ve forgotten I have 6 pairs of boxer shorts already cut, that has been waiting for me since Father’s Day, which I had promised my husband I would sew two weeks ago. There is also one pair of wool office pants my husband bought, that has been hanging in the closet for two months waiting for me to alter them, and a couple of PJ pants for my fast growing tweens that I keep forgetting about.

Backlog. Not to mention the pile of laundry waiting for me and I have to clean the house, change the sheets to four beds…

To forget the ever growing pile of backlogs, I decided I needed eye candy so I headed off to Etsy where this caught my attention: reversible baby mary janes by Sewingwithme7.

Mary Jane and Mary Jane Pleated PDF Patterns 2 Patterns-Reversible

They’re so cute, I went ahead and bought the PDF patterns to make them! Now I’m distracted again! I’m almost done with my first pair and I’ve already finished cutting two pairs of these babies using some of my Japanese sewing fabric scraps leftover from when I made Daughter #1’s (D1) Yucata.

I’m just thanking the stars for another long weekend coming my way, maybe just maybe I’ll get rid of the backlog and finish the current project I’m on…or…maybe I’ll  get tired of housework and will want to just rest, or worse see something shiny again, procrastinate and forget the things I have to do. LOL.

Happy, happy sharing!

September 23, 2010 § 1 Comment

Isn’t this shirt very pretty? The lovely Taeco from Love Sewing drafted this pattern herself. I was blog prowling, stopped by her blog to read her new posts, admire the shirt for her husband, and  to stare at the pretty t-shirt more, checked the comments section and lo and behold! She replied to my comment/request on her post and she is going to share the pattern with me. Yey! (I can’t wait, too excited!) Thank you, Taeco! Blog prowling is indeed beneficial!

Marine T-shirt via Love Sewing

Now what fabric from my stash (not hoard, husband!) am I going to use?? After I’ve finished hemming my last skirt and sewing on the hook and bar closures, I’m off to Chinatown for some fabric prowling! Heehee!!

UPDATE: I received the PDF pattern from Taeco via e-mail and I’ve already printed them out. I’ll just have to figure out how to enlarge them a bit to fit me, squeeze in the time to make it, and enjoy it with jeans. Thanks again, Taeco!!

What have I been up to? Oh the skirts…

September 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve been so busy with making skirts I forgot to post anything here.

I self-drafted a skirt pattern to knock off this baby here (from Old Navy) and I am now in zipper installing mode. All in all I have made four skirts already, three with front flies and one with an invisible zip. More details later though, but now I leave you with this snazzy video from Fashioning tech and a couple of links on how to install our favorite but mostly feared zip closure – the invisible zipper!!

Marmalade Kiss invisible zipper tutorial:

Clever Nesting invisible zipper tutorial from Whipstitch:

Sew I Knit! invisible zipper tutorial:

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