Junior high school boy!

Junior high school boy!
Junior high school boy!

Sidra has started junior high school this week! Yesterday was the entrance ceremony at his school.

The junior high school is actually right across his elementary school, and most of his friends go there, so there is not much difference than the elementary school days. But still, he looked so different and mature in uniform than he was before.

After the ceremony, we went back to a spot near the school where we took a picture 6 years ago after the elementary school entrance ceremony.

Several elementary school kids stopped by to watch us taking pictures with tripod and timer under the light rain. Everyone else took pictures in front of the school gate but we went to this spot beside the street, these kids probably thought about how weird these foreigners were.

I asked Sidra once, “Everytime Papa and I go to school, why are the kids staring at us and whispering to each other?

Sidra said, “Because you are foreigners!”

“But you are a foreigner too!”

“Yeah, but they see me as a Japanese now.”

Apparently, Sidra is a Japanese kid with foreigner parents (^_^”)

Elementary school entrance ceremony 2009 Junior high school entrance ceremony day 2015

Thank you for all the replies on my previous post about Japanese school uniform. I’m happy that many people also find it interesting. Several people asked me about the care and cost of the uniform, so I will break it down here witn approximation in USD.

  • – School jacket – 50% wool, 50% polyester: ¥21,600 / USD180
  • – School pants for winter – 50% wool, 50% polyester: ¥10,150 / USD85
  • – School pants for summer – 95% polyester, 5% cotton: ¥5,620 / USD47.
  • – Long sleeved white shirt: ¥1940 / USD 16
  • – Short sleeved white shirt for summer: ¥1830 / USD15
  • – Belt: ¥1580 / USD13
  • – White socks (3 pairs): ¥1080 / USD9
  • – Inside slippers – to be used all day inside school: about ¥1080 / USD9
  • – Inside sports shoes – to be used during sports class in the hall: about ¥2,800 / USD23
  • – Sports uniform – this includes short sleeved T-shirt and shorts, long sleeved top and track pants: about ¥14,000 / USD117
  • TOTAL: ¥61,680 / USD515

The cost for uniform jacket for girls is slightly lower than the boys, but the skirt costs higher than the pants, so the total cost is more or less the same. I don’t know much about second hand uniform, although I’m sure people can find one to buy. When my husband and I went to the junior high school for the school explanation, there was a hanging rack with several second hand uniform in sale with very cheap price.

The uniform is washable, and actually they are pretty durable. I’ve asked a friend about it, and she said that she washes the uniform by putting them into laundry net bag and use the soft setting on the washing machine. She washes the uniform only on weekends. Sometimes the uniform gets too dirty on weekdays, then it can be washed at night and it will be dry in the morning. She said that she doesn’t have to be extra careful about taking care of the uniform. Her son also uses the same pair of pants for both winter and summer. I’ve seen that his son has spent the entire three years using the same uniform, so I think Sidra’s uniform will be fine.

In addition to the uniform and all the regulated items above, we still have to buy a school bag and a pair of sneakers to be worn during the walk to and from school and outside sports class. The bag and sneakers can be in any color, but we bought both in black for Sidra because well… it looks good with his uniform, isn’t it?

I guess that’s about all that a Japanese high school student needs, besides books and stationery items. Hopefully Sidra will experience a happy three years in these uniform!

Japanese junior high school uniform – with user’s manual

Japanese middle school uniform
Japanese junior high school uniform

Sidra is entering junior high school next month, and this is the uniform that he will be wearing for the next three years. No, I didn’t make this, but it is a very interesting uniform so I want to post about it.

I think every parent with a growing child understand how difficult it is to find a good fitting clothes for their child. A good fitting outfit is nice to look at, but sadly can only be worn for several months or maybe a year.

Then people usually buy or make clothes that several sizes too big to prolong the wearing life, which unfortunately don’t look too good on the child. That is why so many children are wearing either too big or too small clothes.

This set of uniform is not too cheap, so people want them to last for the three years of school life. Not many people want to buy a new set of new uniform each time the child grows up.

But uniform in several sizes too big won’t look too good, not to mention uncomfortable for daily school life. This is where the Japanese engineering comes in. The uniform is designed in such a way that they can be altered to several sizes up!

Japanese middle school uniform
User’s manual

This is the user’s manual that comes with the uniform. It says something like, “Thank you for purchasing this product. This is the manual to ensure long time wearing.”

Japanese middle school uniform
How to care

First, the usual care information.

Japanese middle school uniform
Button types

Japanese middle school uniform Japanese middle school uniform

The jacket has metal buttons with metal shank on the other side, connected through small buttonhole. In this way, the buttons can be removed and installed back easily. I guess it will create much stronger buttons than the ones attached with thread. As you can see, the buttons on Sidra’s jacket are type A.

Japanese middle school uniform
Lengthening the sleeves
Japanese middle school uniform
Tiny yellow stitches

The steps for lengthening the sleeves.

  1. Remove the buttons.
  2. Unpick the stitches connecting the lining to the sleeves hem, indicated by yellow thread.
  3. Once the yellow stitches are removed, the hem can be folded out.
  4. Press to remove the fold mark.
  5. Mark the buttons placement.
  6. Attach the buttons back.

I think the sleeves have two levels of hemmed edge. The first level is attached the ordinary way at the edge of the sleeves. Then moving up several cm, the hem and lining are stitched together again using the yellow thread to shorten the sleeves. To lengthen the sleeves, the yellow thread is removed. You can see the tiny yellow stitches in the picture.

Japanese middle school uniform Japanese middle school uniform

The manual shows two types of jacket, one with partial lining and the other with full lining. Sidra’s jacket has full lining. The jacket can be lengthened the same way as the sleeves, by removing the yellow stitches thread along the hem.

The little hands on the manual points the position of the stitches that need to be removed. To keep the hem from falling open, there are several yellow bartacks on the lower part of seamlines. The bartacks are removed as well when lengthening the jacket.

Japanese middle school uniform
Enlarging the jacket

Japanese middle school uniform Japanese middle school uniform

The jacket can be enlarged simply by opening the darts on the underarm of the jacket and the pleats on the lining.

Japanese middle school uniform
Enlarging the pants

Japanese middle school uniform

The center back of the pants has two seam lines, one in blue and the other in black. The pants can be enlarged by removing the blue stitches as indicated in the manual.

And here is some more details on the uniform, if you’re interested.

Japanese middle school uniform Japanese middle school uniform

The pants has a name label attached on the lining of the back pocket. The cuffs have snap-on buttons so they can be lengthened as well. Sidra’s pants are actually too long but they have been altered by the store where we bought the uniform.

Japanese middle school uniform Japanese middle school uniform

The inside part of the jacket. The name label is on the inside of the left side upper pocket. The pocket on other side of jacket has zipper.

For me, the most impressive thing is the fact that all these alterations can be done even by someone who has no experience in sewing. No sewing machine needed, and the only hand sewing required is for attaching the buttons on the sleeves – which most people can do.

The shoulders are still a tad too long for Sidra, but I guess altering jacket shoulders with pads is quite a difficult thing to do. The jacket and pants are made with washable wool with a bit of stretch in it so they are quite comfortable to wear.

Now that I don’t have to worry about the uniform becoming too small, I hope they can withstand all the activities that a junior high school boy will do for the whole three years!

Graduation suit!

Graduation day Graduation day

Here’s Sidra in his new suit!

Graduation suit Graduation suit

Graduation suit Graduation suit

Graduation suit Graduation suit

The trousers have thigh-length partial lining. I connected the seam allowance at the inseam using chain stitched thread.

Graduation suit Graduation suit

Graduation suit Graduation suit

Sidra had a blast at the graduation day yesterday, laughing and taking pictures with his friends. Some of the girls from his class were crying as if they will never meet again, but actually most of them will go to the same junior high school.

Graduation day

Sidra's selfie stick was quite popular at the graduation day Fun with selfie stick

Graduation day
Graduation day

This is a picture of us in front of our old apartment before going to Sidra’s elementary school entrance ceremony. And the second picture is us in front of the house after the graduation ceremony. Everyone’s getting older now. How time flies by!
Entering elementary school Graduation day

All patterns from Burdastyle, size 134:
Jacket: Boy’s Classic Button-Up Blazer 02/2015 #142
Trousers: Suit Trousers 02/2012 #138
Waistcoat: Boy’s Waistcoat 02/2013 #145

Elementary graduation suit: in progress

Making graduation suit Making graduation suit

Sidra is graduating from elementary school this week! It seemed that not a long time ago he was entering first grade. Time flies so fast. It seems that not a long time ago I made him an entrance ceremony suit.

I asked Sidra to pick the color of the suit he’s going to wear to his graduation ceremony. He said, “I want a white suit!”

I don’t have anything against white suit, really. There must be a right occasion for that, but this is an important event for all the graduating children. It won’t be fair if everyone has their attention caught on this one kid wearing sparkling white suit amidst the sea of greys and blacks.

After several back and forth, fortunately we were able to settle on grey or brown. I bought this grey tweed fabric in Okadaya, Shinjuku. Before I started a project, I love to put the fabrics and all the notions in one plastic bag to make it easier later to find something.

Since Sidra is a bit skinny, I use pattern size 134 cm although his height is 137 cm. The muslin was a bit short, so I lengthened the body about 2.5 cm.

Making graduation suit Making graduation suit

I was considering using proper hair canvas for the interfacing but decided to just use the fusible ones. I’ve never used hair canvas before so I am curious! Maybe for a future project.

Making graduation suit Making graduation suit

I cut the undercollar on bias so it would roll better. Here it is being pinned on the dressmaker’s ham after being steamed into shape. The jacket also has a back stay cut from muslin and a couple of thin shoulder pads. The shoulder pads help to shape the shoulder and upper sleeves.

After stitching the facing, I basted them into place and pressed them.

Making graduation suit Making graduation suit

My husband ordered an adjustable tie from an online store but it turned out to be in adult size. I cut it open, shortened it, and put it back together.

Making graduation suit Making graduation suit

The book is Making Trousers by David Page Coffin, it is a great book with lots of information on construction techniques that couture seamstress might use. I don’t usually use this book for making ordinary pants, but this is a special occasion that deserves special treatment.

Making graduation suit Making graduation suit

Sidra said the fabric is itchy, so I added lining to the pants. The pants has back welt pocket, zipper fly, and grosgrain ribbon waist facing. I added a waistcoat to the outfit, which has a couple of welt pockets on the front. I think by this time I have had enough exercise on making welt pockets!
Making graduation suit Making graduation suit

His comment? “The pockets are not big enough.” LOL. I might change the pockets later after the graduation ceremony. More pictures later!

All patterns from Burdastyle, size 134:
Jacket: Boy’s Classic Button-Up Blazer 02/2015 #142
Trousers: Suit Trousers 02/2012 #138
Waistcoat: Boy’s Waistcoat 02/2013 #145

Culottes and tops

Cropped top and culottes Cropped top and culottes

I haven’t sewed for quite a while because it was too cold so I’m happy that it is now getting warmer everyday! This cropped top is part of Burdastyle February Flagship kit that contains about 40 patterns.

I printed the pattern at 92% as I usually do for Burdastyle patterns, not realizing that it is already a petite pattern! So I have to add the length back to the pattern. I should have used size 17 in normal printed size (100%). If you’re not a petite, this top might be too short as it is already the perfect length for a petite person.

Cropped top and culottes Cropped top and culottes

Cropped top Culottes

The fabric is some medium-weight cotton with Japanese style pattern. I think I bought it about 5 years ago to make a shirt for Sidra but then he didn’t like the fabric…. Anyway, the top is very simple with only three pattern pieces. The neckline and underarm were finished with bias binding. The original pattern has the back completely open, only connected by a button and loop, I changed it so it is closed with an opening at the top.

I also made a pair of culottes with this Burda pattern, as usual in size 38 printed at 92%. The culottes has two front big pleats, back darts, zipper fly, and a couple of side seam pockets. I hemmed the culottes at midi length.

Cropped top and culottes Cropped top and culottes

At first I wasn’t so sure about wearing culottes as this is a new silhouette for me, both culottes and the midi length. I like them, they are more comfortable than a skirt or a pair of pants. My husband said that they look like silat (lndonesian martial arts) pants though!

Striped T-shirt and culottes Striped T-shirt and culottes

Since I was already at the sewing machine, I also whipped up a quick T-shirt with some striped jersey. The pattern is based on Ensis tee by Papercut patterns. The top parts are connected back to the bottom parts so it becomes a regular T-shirt pattern. Then I cut a curved form on the front part to make the stripes get distorted a bit at the seamlines.

It is still too cold to wear these tops without a jacket or coat now but I’m ready for spring!
Striped T-shirt and culottes Striped T-shirt

Striped T-shirt and culottes Striped T-shirt and culottes

Top pattern is Cap Sleeve Cropped Top 02/2015 #127 (PDF) – part of February Burdastyle Flagship kit, size 19 printed at 92%.
Culottes pattern is Wide Patterned Culottes 03/2015 #126A – Burdastyle(PDF), size 38 printed at 92%.
T-shirt pattern is Ensis Tee – Papercut patterns, size XXS (altered).

Saboten the chihuahua

Saboten the chihuahua

After Shake the dachshund left, we took a break from fostering for several months. We started again recently and this cutie pooch has been staying with us for a couple of weeks. His name is Saboten, which means ‘cactus’ in Japanese. It is not his real name though, so he doesn’t really understand when someone calls ‘Saboten!’. Nobody knows his real name or age because Saboten was found abandoned in a cage. This is Saboten’s profile page in ARK website.

Saboten the chihuahua

I can’t imagine why someone would just get rid of a dog like Saboten. He behaves very well, doesn’t make a mess and doesn’t demand attention all the time. He’s very confident and not as noisy as most chihuahuas. Most of all, he really loves children. My house is often full of boys after school and Saboten just casually hangs around with the boys. Our previous foster dogs would get very nervous, hiding or barking all the time.

Playing with Saboten

So it is not surprising that he already found a family! The family has several school-age children, perfect for Saboten. He will be leaving at the end of the week. I will remember Saboten as one of the sweetest dog that I’ve ever known. Good luck Saboten!

Saboten and Fuwawa
Saboten the chihuahua
With Saboten
Family picture with Saboten

Denim repairs

Apparently not much sewing done in the past couple of weeks. I guess I’d rather stay under the kotatsu than stand in front of my sewing machine feeling cold. I managed to finish a small mending project though.

Sometime ago I posted about repairing the pocket lining on my husband’d jeans. The jeans had since started showing holes on the crotch area. I could have made a new pair for my husband, but it seems that once you start fixing something, it become more difficult to just throw it away. So I googled ‘denim repairs’ and stared at the images in my screen.

Something about a piece of clothing that got repaired, patched, and darned over and over again stroke a chord in my heart. I think it is very beautiful and full of love. When something is broken, you try repairing it instead of just throwing it away. It is love. And it applies to a lot of things, not just denim repairs.

With my newfound philosophy, I went about repairing my husband’s jeans crotch. The holes are still quite small, but they would go bigger in no time. I ironed a couple of thin interfacing patch behind the holes. You can see the zigzagged raw edges on the inside. I didn’t have a serger three years ago and used zigzag stitch to finish all my raw edges.

Mending jeans Mending jeans

Mending jeans

Darning the holes was quite simple. I used three step zigzag stitch on my sewing machine with wider width and short length, in this case 5 in width and 0.5 in length. Then I simply went over the holes back and forth until they closed up. I also did the same to the other side of the crotch as the thread on this area had weakened.

The back and forth stitches creates a new layer of ‘fabric’ that cover the holes. I think the result is quite good! The color of the thread could have been matched better next time, but it’s not bad for my first denim repair job.

Next, I went to the back pocket area. My husband keeps his train card pocket in his right back pocket and the friction has created several holes there.

Obviously I can’t use my sewing machine to fix these holes, unless I unpicked the stitches, fixed the holes, and attached the pocket back. Actually I had disassembled the whole front pockets and assembled them back when I fixed the pocket lining, but this time I wanted to use other techniques.

Mending jeans

I found some images of traditional mending where the holes are patched by hand. So I cut some denim patches and attached them to the back of the holes using several running stitches. I kinda like the finished result, although next time I might use thicker thread for it.

Mending jeans

I really enjoyed making these repairs that I planned to keep darning and patching these jeans until they become too ragged to be worn anymore. One might think that I was so unselfish for doing all of these, but I know that it was all for my own amusement!

Soft bra set – Merckwaerdigh BHS10

Soft bra set Soft bra set

Merckwaerdigh BHS10
Merckwaerdigh BHS10

My first sewing in 2015! Actually I didn’t really plan to make this set. I was tidying up my lingerie supply stash to see what I have when I found some leftover fabric. I made the peach and grey lingerie set in 2011, the bra is not worn anymore as the size turned out to be not quite right.

This time I use Merkwaerdigh BHS10 for the pattern. It is such a useful set of patterns with different backs that can be mixed and matched. I chose the soft bra option, the yellow one on the bottom left in this picture.

I still have some grey plush elastics just enough for the underband and the sides of the bra. But for the panties I use peach colored plush elastic.

Soft bra set Soft bra set

The bra uses the lace edges on front and inner straps, I reinforced these area with clear elastic stitched on three step zigzag stitch. The bra straps on the back are reused from the first peach and grey set.

The lower cup and bridge of the bra are lined with non-stretch fabric and the back band is lined with powernet. All the seams, except for where the side lace meets the cups, are enclosed within the fabric and lining. The side lace is stitched on top of the cups using three step zigzag stitches.

Soft bra set Soft bra set

I wish I have enough fabric for a second panties, but there was only little remnants left after I finished cutting. Well, I still have a couple of panties from my first set so I can wear them with this bra.

Soft bra set Soft bra set

Pattern is Merckwaerdigh BHS10 size 30D. Panties pattern is self-drafted.

Sewing in 2014

Happy New Year! The three of us caught influenza just a few days before new year so we didn’t do anything special this year. We are better now and hopefully next week we can go out and enjoy the holiday. Except for my husband who has to go back to work. Boo!

Anyway, here’s a compilation of all the sewing I did in 2014. I love doing this every year so I can see what kind of things that I should make more, make less, or stop making.

For myself: Surprisingly only two dresses! They didn’t get much wear either so maybe I don’t really need more dresses in my life at the moment. Everything else got worn quite often, and my favorites are the Burda military jacket and wool coat.
Lola woven pants Plantain top and Sara leggings Floral bomber jacket Kate dress

Issy top and Elle pants Summer concert tee Cyd top and Wallis pants Bellatrix blazer

Coco cat topRunning belt Tara top Striped Jorna dress

Plaid shirt and denim skirt Scout tee and Anima pants Scout tee and Anima pants Coppélia cardi

SJ tee and Sandra jeans Ensis tee Oversized cardigan  Bronte top

Wool coat Wyome boyfriend jeans Military jacket

Linden sweatshirt Linden sweatshirt


Lingerie: I love and wear all of them! Except for those tights. It turned out that the back seaming really bothers me because I always try to make sure that they are straight all the time, which is impossible. Too bad, because those tights are really nice to look at.

I started to learn drafting my own bra and panties from a book, and have been really enjoying it. The last two sets that I made were self-drafted. Making lingerie is still one of my favorite thing!

Bronze bra and panties set Here Kitty Kitty set #2

Rose hip tights Rose hip tights Rose hip tights Rose hip tights

Fuchsia and black set Colorful dotty bra set

Soft bra set (Merckwaerdigh BHS10) White bra set

Print mesh bra set


For Sidra: Two pairs of pants and a couple T-shirts – both in stripes. As he is growing, Sidra no longer wants unnecessary details on his clothes and prefers them to be as practical as possible. Which is not very challenging to sew for me. ‘What? No more colors and cute characters??’

It is okay though, he is becoming a man with his own taste and style. I will learn to know more about what he wants to wear. He really likes those jeans though, so I can make him another pair this year.

Stripes t-shirt and khaki pants Small Fry Skinny jeans


For my husband: Speaking of jeans, this is what I made for my husband. I really enjoyed making those jeans, all the details are very fun to make. Again, this is all about what I like and not what he likes. Of course my husband will wear anything that I make for him, but he doesn’t actually care about a specific kind of denim. He wears these jeans all the time, but he just needs any pants that look good and are comfortable to wear.

This year I want to learn to know more about what he really wants to wear, and I will make them if they are interesting to me.

Men's jeans FOP07Men's jeans FOP07 Men's jeans FOP07





For Fuwawa: Do dogs need clothes? They don’t care about fashion and they already have fur to protect them. I agree that dogs don’t care about fashion, but some dogs do need clothes! Fuwawa has very thin and wispy hair that you can see her pink skin. She also has some health problems that gets worse when the weather changes. I notice that she doesn’t shiver as much when she’s wearing clothes. Of course, dog clothes are fun to make, a good way to use up leftovers, and they are just soooo cute!

Fur bolero Dog raglan shirt Dog turtleneck T-shirt Dog T-shirt Dog T-shirt Dog overall

Fuwawa’s T-shirts

The good thing about having a dog is that you can use all your leftovers to make them some T-shirts. Unless you have a big dog of course….

Fuwawa is a Chinese Crested Powder Puff and although her coat is long, it is also quite thin so she gets cold easily. Wearing clothes is a necessity for her, especially in winter. She is not an active dog though, you can find her sleeping near the heater all day but I noticed that she gets a bit more active when she’s wearing clothes. Just a litle bit though!

Here is some of the clothes that I’ve made for her this year!

PDF patterns by MillaMilla (Japanese store, Etsy store), size M.