What began as a simple idea to make a quilt from a piece of contemporary, hand dyed batik fabric; quickly grew into a serious appreciation for local textiles, a desire to learn about the rich textile culture in this country, a weakness for textile pasars, and a friendship with Jakarta tailor Yana Tjoa.
Yana’s work was endorsed in a blog post I read three years ago about Pasar Mayestik, written by Expat Blogger Ana Gaby from Stumble Abroad. Ana wrote;
‘We have a favourite tailor..there are hundreds in Jakarta. Her name is Yana’
So I called Yana! Yana explained that ‘quilts were one of her specialties’, and that she would like to come to my house and we could ‘discuss what I wanted’. We met that day, and on many other occasions afterwards. But as it turned out…I received so much more from Yana than a ‘simple business transaction’.
Yana…Taught me how to choose the right piece of batik, its dimensions and origin…Demonstrated how easy it is to scrunch fabric in your hand to determine its composition…Shared her top 6 ‘best places’ to purchase fabric in Jakarta…Travelled by motorcycle to my home to measure, fit and deliver…Met me at a local mall to introduce me to one of her favourite shops that sold lace, feathers and sequins…Made everything from cotton sheeting and pillow cases to ball gowns and business shirts to dance wear and simple alterations…Yana also provided fast turn-around services for guests visiting us in Jakarta. No job was too big or small.
And the batik quilt? The more I learned about Indonesian textiles the more I understood that a piece of batik fabric is not merely a piece of cloth; but a highly developed art form, steeped in history and culture. With that knowledge my original purpose for the fabric changed…but with Yana’s help I intend to make something fitting for this beautiful work of art. Watch this space!
If you have a piece of fabric that you are unsure what to do with, or have always dreamed of having something tailored especially for you, why not contact Yana. Her contact details are below.
Read on for Yana’s story…
* Kenalkan Yana
Where did you grow up and study?
I was born in Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia. There are 10 children in my family, five girls and five boys. I am number nine child. Now seven siblings live in Jakarta. Two live in Lampung, One lives in Kalimantan. My father lives in Lampung. He is 86 and still drives.
Chemistry was my favourite subject at school, but I wanted to be a dentist at that time. Education is very important in my family. Both my brother and sister travelled to Sydney, Australia to study. My brother studied Electrical Engineering and my sister Accounting, and they lived in Randwick. My sister’s son is studying now in Melbourne.
I moved after high school to Jakarta and studied Accounting for three years at Sekolah Tinggi, Salemba. After that I worked at Elizabeth Arden Perfumes. I didn’t enjoy it. Then I did Marketing for Elizabeth Arden and I liked it. I liked the communication and talking with people. I had work clothes made for myself, but I didn’t really like the styles. So I decided to start a little business, a tailor. I drew and designed and found someone to work with me. I machined. What we made was ‘ready made’ for the office. Jackets were my specialty. I found out after some time that they were difficult to sell. What I didn’t sell I gave to my church to give to people who needed clothes.
When did you learn to sew?
When we had holidays when I was at school, normally one, two or three weeks, I worked with my Mum. Mum gave lessons from when I was nine years old. She started by showing me knitting. I didn’t like knitting. So I made tablecloths, and embroidery for tablecloths and cross stitch, and at Christmas I would make a dress. I designed one for myself each Christmas. I would draw a picture and Mum would make it. I also had a special dress for Chinese New Year. My Mum would make me three. All five girls in my family could sew.
Your memories of early childhood?
If we had a holiday my father took us to the beach. We had ice cream and rujak (Indonesian fruit salad) for lunch and went swimming at the beach. We had a family dog named Freddy who always came to the beach with us. The beach we went to was Batu Menyan in Lampung, now named Klara beach. We would go to an island near this beach. It was very clean. The sun was soft, it didn’t burn. It was very nice. All of us in the family could swim.
How long have you been a tailor in Jakarta? 17 Years
What are you making now?
Gowns are my specialty, long with beading and Sworovski Crystals. I make gowns for balls and weddings, kabaya, dresses for everyday, suits for men, shirts, tuxedo, quilts, bedding, sheets and pillowcases. I can also make batik tulis. I’ve just made all the outfits for my nephew’s wedding. The wedding gown, bridesmaid dresses and grooms jacket.
6 favourite places to buy fabric, accessories and sewing materials in Jakarta?
1. La Moda Toko
2. Centro Moda Mayestik – Here you will find original fabrics by Emilio Pucci, Givenchy, E. Ungaro, R. Cavalli, Versace and Valentino
3. Pronto or Pronto Moda have shops in Pasar Mayestik and Pronto Moda Bintaro
4. Toko Master Fabric in Pasar Mayestik
5. Toko Fancy in Pasar Mayestik
6. Toko Renda – can be found in Plaza Indonesia and Plaza Senayan. Toko Renda is one of Yana’s favourite shops. Toko Renda was established in 1969 and sells everything from Swarovski crystals to diamond lace. You can also find buttons, beads, feathers, rhinestones and pearls. You can also have necklaces and earrings custom made.
Can you share with us the services you provide?
I can help my customers with more than just sewing. I can advise where to buy fabric and how much to buy. Sometimes I meet my customers at Pasar Mayestik or Plaza Indonesia. If people want, I can give all kinds of suggestions and help with all budgets. I also want to make sure that my customers are happy with what I make for them. I want to make sure that the fitting is right and comfortable. If it is not, then I want to know.
Do you work on your own?
No, I have 10 staff members who work with me, nine men and one woman.The youngest is 20 years old and the oldest is 53 years. I make sure I pay them well. I work with my heart to help them and their families.
Food to try if you visit Jakarta?
Gado Gado and Sate (Satay)
Your favourite drink
Green garden. It is made up of vegetables, pineapple, strawberry and hamboi. You can buy it at China town.
Your favourite street food?
Soto Ayam (chicken soup) especially when it’s raining. If you are tired you will look better.
Martabak manis (a sweet Indonesian snack)
Otak Otak (fish steamed in banana leaf) My Mum was very clever at home. She used to make this.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have a cat named Garfield. He is one year old and is a ‘cucing kampung’ – ‘village cat’. When he was little he would visit me at the workshop. When I opened the door, he loved to come in and get out of the heat. I’ve had him since he was small. He likes the air-conditioning in the workshop!
3 words to describe your Jakarta?
Makan (Food) – there is a great variety of food in Jakarta
People – busy, but nice when you meet them
Where do you get inspiration for your work and designs?
Internet, Magazines, Pinterest
What are the colours of the season in Jakarta this year?
Peach and orange
Pantone 2015 colour – Marsala
Bunglon – best translated as ‘chameleon’. Fabric that changes tone or colour on movement.
How can you be contacted?
You can contact me on Blackberry Messenger, Whatsapp Messenger, SMS, Email and Facebook
I can meet you at your house, at a Mall or Pasar
SMS: +62 815 878 7910
Whatsapp: +62 858 1199 9267
Facebook: Yana Tjoa Facebook
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*Kenalkan: Let me introduce
Words: Liz Photography: a journey bespoke and Yana Tjoa