‘We have a favourite tailor..Her name is Yana’

Yana in beadshop 2
Jakarta tailor Yana Tjoa introducing me to one of her favourite sewing and accessories shops Toko Renda in Plaza Indonesia

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!

Pink batik fabric
Here is the cotton hand dyed fabric that inspired me!

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.

Yana and her Father
Yana and her Father, Bapak Po Ai Tjoa. Yana is holding a traditional Chinese red basket filled with mandarin oranges. It is tradition at Chinese New Year for daughters to bring their parents oranges.
Yana, her mother Liawati Wijaya and father Bapak Po Ai Tjoa at Yana's nephew's wedding
Yana, her mother Liawati Wijaya and father Bapak Po Ai Tjoa at her nephew’s wedding

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.

Some of Yana's important tools of trade
I’ve come accustomed to Yana producing  these 4 important tools of trade when she visits to ‘consult’ and ‘measure up’

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.

Yana visiting Belitung, east coast of Sumatra, Indonesia
Yana loves the water and travel. Here she is visiting Belitung, an island on the east coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.

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.

Bride and bridesmaids
Bridesmaid dresses and Bridal gown made by Yana
Bridesmaid dresses made by Yana
Bridesmaid dresses made by Yana
Bride and groom
Yana’s nephew Deni Kurniawan and his bride Cindy Pojan. Yana made Cindy’s gown and Deni’s jacket.
Yana and her family at her nephew Deni’s wedding. Yana is sitting to the right of the groom.
One of Yana's quilts
Yana and her Rose & Tulip design quilt. This meticulous work takes a maximum of 3 months if everything is hand-made to make a 2m x 2m quilt.
Pink quilt
Another spectacular quilt made by Yana. The design name is Amish Medallion.

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.

Yana is happy to meet you in any of the malls, and introduce you to specialty sewing shops.
Yana is happy to meet you in any of the local malls, and introduce you to specialty sewing shops
Yana inside Toko Renda
Yana inside Toko Renda

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.

Top 3 places to take visitors in Jakarta?
Taman Mini Jakarta – It’s all about Indonesia
Chinatown at Glodok
Old Town Jakarta – Kota Tua

Food to try if you visit Jakarta?
Gado Gado and Sate (Satay)

Rempah kita food

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!

Yana's cat Garfield
Yana’s cat Garfield

3 of your favourite restaurants?
Rempah Kita for Indonesian food
Magnum Cafe Indonesia in Grand Indonesia for ice-cream
Bakmi Toko Tiga for Chinese food
Jl. KH Wahid Hasyim No. 63 Jakarta Pusat

Rempah Kita restaurant
Yana introduced me to one of her favourite restaurants in Plaza Indonesia, Rempah Kita, which means ‘Our Spice’

Rempah kita kue

Yana and Liz outside Rempa Kita, Plaza Indonesia
Yana and Liz at Rempah Kita admiring traditional Indonesian kue (cake and cookies)
We shared one of Yana's favourite desserts, Biji Salak at Rempah Kita in Plaza Indonesia
We shared Biji Salak (Sweet potato, tapioca dumpling with coconut milk) at Rempah Kita. It was delicious! .. Enak Sekali!

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
Hot pink
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
Email: yanatjoa@yahoo.co.id
Facebook: Yana Tjoa Facebook

If you enjoyed this post, please pass it along to a friend. We have made it easy for you to share via social media, email and receive a printed copy. The icons are on the right of your screen.

We would also love to hear from you if you know someone whose Jakarta story we could share here? Please email us at hello@ajourneybespoke.com

*Kenalkan: Let me introduce

Words: Liz  Photography: a journey bespoke and Yana Tjoa



  1. Judi says

    I wished my Mum was still in Jakarta when I read this! She is a fanatical quilt maker and is crazy about Batik. She would have loved to go shopping with Yana!

  2. Ricke says

    Yup… I met Yana for long long time ago, and we’ve been close friends for almost 18 years.. I usually call her as “mbak” Yana, means sister Yana. She is like a sister to me, she gave many useful ideas, advises,and solutions for me, especially in fashion. How lucky I am, to have a friend like her… I have made travels overseas and domestics, so sometimes I need special clothes for different occasions. Mbak Yana always gave her time and attention to discuss fashion matters in order to find the best comfort clothes for me.. If someone talked and gave positive comment about gown, kabaya, batiks, and silk I wear…..I just send a thankful to my sister, mbak Yana. She works with big heart !

    • ajourneybespoke says

      Hi Ricke, thank you for sharing your connection with Mbak Yana with us. We agree she is a very talented and special lady.

  3. indah says

    Thank you for your advertising in here. From your blog, i know Ms. Yana Tjoa. Our company uniform made by Yana Tjoa, we’re satisfaction. Good job !

  4. Elizabeth says

    Just to say thank you for your profile on Yana. She’s tailored some beautiful batik additions to my Jakarta wardrobe! Now off to Pasar Mayestik for some more fabric for her to work with…

    • ajourneybespoke says

      Hello Elizabeth, we are so happy you found Yana. Ahhh and Pasar Mayestik! One of our favourite places too. Happy fabric shopping!

    • ajourneybespoke says

      So glad you found us here. Yana has some services which work perfectly for me. She travels to my home for consultations, fittings and to deliver finished clothing. Yana has also met me at Pasar Mayestik to help choose fabric. Another service I appreciate.


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