Tips for Using a Tailor in Jakarta

It’s Saturday morning, and you’re staring blankly at your wardrobe wondering what to wear!  Sound familiar? Perhaps you have been toying with the idea of having some new clothes made by a local tailor, but the idea sounded a little too daunting … well worry no more.

Jo and I have been using the services of a range of tailors in Jakarta for a few years now, both for ourselves as well as family and friends; and wanted to share our tips to help you get you started … No, seriously … you can do this … but read this post from start to finish first!

And if you have visitors coming to Jakarta anytime soon, perhaps they too will enjoy having a few bespoke items made for them. But for this advice, you’ll have to tune in next week as Jo shares how to maximise the chance of success and minimise the stress of having items made for your visitors.

Tailors in Jakarta

  • Tailors will either work out of their home or shop; or will come to your home or office to show you swatches, and take your measurements.

tailor

Some will sketch out the design you are looking for

tailor
This is Ibu Yana sketching and working from a range of images from Pinterest at my house.

How to find a tailor in Jakarta

  • The best way to find a great tailor is to ask around. Find someone as convenient to your work or home as possible to make it easier to get there. If it’s too far away you are most likely to keep putting off taking your clothes to be altered or to have that new dress made.
  • It is generally best to find someone who understands the mechanics of making an outfit from scratch. Many tailors subcontract the work to other tailors. The person taking your order doesn’t always cut or sew your garment. It is preferable that the person who measured you and saw your body either makes your garment or closely oversees its creation.
tailor
It is preferable that the person who measured you and saw your body either makes your garment or closely oversees its creation.
  • Look for tailors who advertise as specialising in custom menswear, – they should be able to handle your most difficult alterations.
  • Know what your tailor is known for, as you might need to give additional instructions to get what you want.
tailor
Pak Nana is my go-to for blouses, simple dresses and alterations. Pak Nana also loves to work with Batik.

Getting Started

  • Ask to see a piece of the tailor’s work.
  • Start out small. I’ve learned that clothes never come out perfect first time.
  • Keep it simple. If this is the first order with a new tailor, or the first time you’re taking a shirt to a tailor to get it adjusted, only take one of them.
  • Don’t take 10 shirts to be adjusted only to find out that the tailor didn’t understand what you were asking for.
  • Bring an easy starter piece to be altered before you bring out the really expensive and complicated ones.

For Best Results

  • Consider having an existing item copied.
  • If you are copying an item, bring it with you, and ask the tailor how long they would like to hold onto this piece. Usually this is an item you have on rotation!
  • If you have a project such as a long dress for a ball or a special occasion, give the project plenty of time, enough time to communicate your requirements and for at least 3 fittings.
  • Did you know? In Haute Couture fashion, clients have up to 9 fittings before the garment is 100% perfect.
  • Copying from photos is difficult, so bring more than one picture of various angles. Let the photos speak for themselves.
  • Be specific, I mean REALLY specific. I’ve learned to get the best result by bringing different clothes with me to the tailor; parts of each piece I like and work for me. I might have a dress made using design features of three different dresses or pieces. Try this next time, it does make it easier for the tailor to visualise your design by seeing real examples.
tailor
I’ve learned to get the best result by bringing different clothes with me to the tailor; parts of each piece I like and work for me. I might have a dress made using design features of three different dresses or pieces.

 

Make sure the fabric is right – The fabric makes the outfit. If you are not sure, ask the tailor to recommend a type of fabric that would suit the design you would like. Some tailors will do the fabric shopping for you.

tailor

tailor

 

Most Important

  • Your tailor wants return business so it is in their interest to complete the job to your satisfaction.
  • Try all your clothes on after tailoring, and before you leave the tailors shop or they leave your house.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for amendments until you are 100% satisfied.
  • Don’t feel shy or feel fussy when you ask for changes, there is no reason to settle for less than perfect.
  • Don’t let the tailor rush you, take your time.
  • Don’t forget to ask the turn around time. i.e. Tanggal Selesai? Date of completion?
  • One last thing… ask for the final price of your tailoring job in writing.

tailor

Local Trends and Cultural Differences

  • Keep in mind that your tailor isn’t always going to be ‘up to speed’ with the latest fashion trends, so arming yourself with lots of pictures from magazines or Pinterest will help a lot.

Useful Bahasa Indonesia words and phrases

It goes without saying a trip to the tailor does require you to be armed with a certain degree of terminology. Read on for our list of useful Bahasa Indonesia phrases to get you started and most importantly to help avoid any miscommunication.

  • Please make this bigger  –  Tolong buat ini lebih besar
  • Please make this smaller – Tolong buat ini lebih kecil
  • Please make this longer – Tolong buat ini lebih panjang
  • Please make this shorter – Tolong buat ini lebih pendek
  • This is too big – Ini terlalu besar
  • This is too small – Ini terlalu kecil
  • This is too long – Ini terlalu panjang
  • This is too short – Ini terlalu pendek
  • This is too tight – Ini terlalu ketat

Liz’ top 3 pieces tailored in Jakarta

tailor
Liz’s top 3! 1. Floral cotton jump suit with covered buttons, drawstring waist and button tabs on the sleeves 2. Cotton long sleeve blouse with covered buttons and front and back yoke 3. Sejauh Mata Memandang silk made into a strapless, long gown with boning in the bodice

Best places to buy fabric in Jakarta

Pasar Mayestik
Jl. Tebah 3, No. 1Kebayoran Baru,
South Jakarta

Alta Moda and Pronto Moda
Jl. RS Fatmawati No.15, Cilandak and Sector 9 Bintaro

Finally, what makes for a rewarding tailoring experience in Jakarta is the relationship you build. From our experience, this relationship will take time to develop, but once you get a few things tailored perfectly, a whole new world of fashion will open up for you!

Do you have a tailoring success story you would like to share with us or any other tips? Leave us a message in the comments section.
We read and reply to every one!

Related:

Pasar Mayestik
Pasar Tanah Abang South East Asia’s biggest textile market
Ibu Yana, local seamstress
10 Minutes with Pak Nana, local tailor
Chitra Subyakto : Founder of textile brand Sejau Mata Memandang

Words: Liz   Photography: a journey bespoke

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