A Surprising Contact from an Old Friend

In between the year of 1999 and 2000, I was in my late twenties and I did not know what I wanted to do with my life. One day, I was walking in the city of Kumamoto, Japan, which is my home town and saw a sign of  “Studying Abroad in London”. It got my attention so I went into the office to see what was involved. In that office, I was introduced to courses to go to the UK to study English for a reasonable fee while working.

A great majority of Japanese people would like to improve English because Japanese schools taught  mainly using textbook English with grammatical focuses and their main purpose was conquering tests. That is why mastering spoken English has always been so problematic for Japanese people. And yet, a great number of Japanese people would like to improve their spoken abilities. Because if their overall English level is great, it certainly serves to get a higher salary, take advantage of having a better career, or simply making foreign friends.

I met two girls through the study abroad agency and they also wanted to study English in the UK. All the preparation time passed and I left Japan a bit earlier than them but they arrived soon after that. We had a great time together in the UK even though we were in different classes. In the end, I got close to one of them, Terumi.

Then, our year-long study abroad finished. Unfortunately, we drifted apart because I did not make an effort to keep in touch with her.

Years later, I received a postcard which was forwarded to my mum’s care home facility because I already moved to Australia. Mum is old and becoming forgettable year by year that is why she did not tell me that she had a postcard for me. I discovered it 6 years later when I was tidying up her possessions.

I felt bad about not knowing Terumi’s effort to reach me even though I did not know that I received it so I immediately contacted her to apologise. She was surprised to hear from me. She understood the situation and there was no problem.

Some more years passed. One day, my computer went wrong and I lost all the emails I had received. The message from the friend years earlier was in my mailbox and I did not jot her address down in any other places in case of occurring problems of a computer. I was so shocked that I could not recover my old emails and I thought I would never be able to contact her nor some of my other friends.

Recently, my friend Terumi found me on Facebook and left a message. It was so wonderful to hear from her. In the meantime she had married a British man and lives in the UK with their beautiful children👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

I am not into Facebooking much but for this reason, I am so happy to have a Facebook account.

May my friend Terumi be happy💕


Best wishes,




A First Review on My Japanese Vintage Obi Product


What I learned with my previous online business was that selling products through the Internet was not easy. Sometimes, what to do with the products that I could not sell still gives me a headache because they have filled up my storage. The fact that I have so many items left at home does not encourage me to make more items.

From time to time, I sell my products on Etsy which is an online marketplace to showcase handmade products. I had not used Etsy for a while but some months ago,  I started to sell my items again. I decided to sell them for reduced prices in order to clear the products.

I received so much traffic but it did not lead to sales for months. But I am pleased to announce that I sold an item on Etsy the other day.

The purchaser from Western Australia who bought this mini bag left a positive review on the Etsy website. I was so pleased and felt so much gratitude for her generous comment. I hope the bag will serve her well. The review said;

“Utterly excellent quality. Extremely well made, beautifully finished. The seller is an artist – every detail is superb. Parcel arrived very quickly and the goods were well (beautifully) wrapped and more than adequately protected. I loved it so much that I immediately purchased two more items. An absolute bargain (especially at current prices!).”

As the buyer described above, she came back and ordered another two items. Honestly, I was over the moon.

Sometimes, my doubtful mind tells me “People say nice things because they are trying to make me feel good”. But when I received a positive review from an outsider, I allowed myself in a humble way to accept the fact that I have been making quality products. That encouraged me enough.


On the very same day, another person from Sydney purchased two items below. The vintage Japanese obi clutch bag and the Japanese chirimen cosmetic pouch.

Surprisingly, the purple cosmetic pouch is the best seller from my range. This was the fourth time that I sold it. Somehow, people like this purple pouch.





My First Pattern Making Project On My Own

It is daunting when I think about pattern making. Although I had some lessons for a few years and made many samples, I was not and am still not that confident in my ability.

The reason was that I always had my teacher around when I made patterns. I always had access to her when I needed help. Now that I am doing on my own, it is a good idea to try making patterns on something I like as a way of practice and examine my capability.


I had a green jacket that I liked and I decided to copy the design as a practice. Usually, I am not fond of mimicking designs because there is no originality. But the more I looked at the jacket the more interested I became. My dilemma was this; it looked so difficult. I was not sure whether I could figure everything out because there were layered lapels with different height, lots of zips and studs as features. However, I still wanted the challenge regardless of the hurdle.


I started with my personal basic front and back patterns. I had to guess the height, length and angle of the lapel and making standing collar was still unclear to me so I decided to make its pattern by draping. Many hours later, I completed the front and back patterns.


I have not practised enough to make two-sleeve construction myself so I decided to borrow a pattern from one of my pattern making books.



Seam allowances were added and cut on each pattern. I had two meters of “not-so-expensive” soft denim fabric at home so I decided to use it instead of purchasing another piece of calico. I wanted to make the jacket properly so I used different kinds of interfacing to support the material well.



Back view, the sleeves are pulled back more than they were supposed to be. I should not have, but I emailed my teacher for help and asked whether I could have a lesson to solve this problem with her. Unfortunately, it did not work out so I decided to keep figuring it out myself.



I added a bit of fabric and another piece of fabric to see whether I could get what I wanted for the back. In the end, the jacket improved a bit but it was not still acceptable to my standard. I thought of unpicking and start from the beginning but I put so much detailed work in between the procedures and I knew that it would take an awful lot of time undoing the jacket.

The thought of unpicking had given me dread so I left it for a few days. Finally, I decided to keep on sewing and finish the jacket since I knew that I could still wear it and for the sake of not wasting the fabric.



This was the first time I tried to use ornamental studs. They vary but the studs that matched with the jacket were quite easy to attach. I had never used pliers before and I was concerned whether I could place the studs properly without damaging the fabric.



This was my first attempt at making a jacket pattern on my own. Thinking back, I could have tried a simpler jacket or even tops to start with. But I have learned a bit more along the way and still have a lot more to learn. In a way, it was a blessing in disguise that I could not have a lesson with my teacher because I would have relied on her to solve the problem. I have to say that my pattern making teacher is one of the most helpful and generous people I have ever met.

When I face difficulty, it gives me a bit more confidence each time whatever I do whether it is a creative endeavour or life itself.

Thank you for your time,


A Day of Harvesting Olives

Olive season went past and it seemed late but we decided to harvest some olives because we had so many this year. Some of our friends came over to help us pick some olives because they wanted to have the experience.


Jeff is using an electric flapper for getting olives.


Rosalie was preciously holding some dark olives in her hands. I love her beautiful smile!


I was hand-picking some olives.


Because we were five of us, we filled olives up with our containers within a day. Two weeks after that, we went to a pressing premise to ask cold-pressing the olives. Then we went to a packaging place to finish and box the oil off.

We could not get many olive oil boxes this year as much as we hoped but we all enjoyed the sunshine, chat and the activity itself. I hope our friends enjoyed it, too. By the way, the taste of our Skilly Hills oil is yummy!


All the best,



8th Wedding Anniversary

 After being together for almost three years, Jeff and I decided to get married in September 2009 and we celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary the other day. Fortunately, we have been having a good husband-wife relationship for those years and I have posted this blog because I want to express my gratitude, showing how content I feel with my husband.


We did not do anything big nor we had to. Rather, we drove to our favourite cafe and had a celebratory lunch.


I tend to accumulate some little presents wrapped up with paper for special days such as birthdays and Christmas and open the presents on those days. On this anniversary, I received Dr Martins summer boots, two books, a course for my personal improvement, two crystals and a jacket.


The green jacket I purchased through online was not dark enough for my liking. That is the drawback when buying a product on the Internet. However, I like the design of the jacket and the material is cotton so it is easy to handle and it is good for travelling so I decided to keep it.


Above photo shows some presents for Jeff. Four black and white photo books and a vintage camera.


Most importantly, growing old together with my husband is a dream of my life. We have had our good times as well as difficult ones. But we always overcome obstacles and keep sharing our gratitude and love together.


Much love,



SALA Exhibition 2017

The South Australian Living Artists (SALA) Festival is a state-wide Festival of Visual Art. The SALA Festival was established in 1998 to promote and celebrate the many talented visual artists in South Australia. It allows all artists at any level and working in any medium annual SALA Festival every  August.


My husband Jeff Schiller and I participated in it in 2015 at Auburn Institute along with other local artists but this time Jeff wanted to try exhibiting his photographic art at a small chapel on our property. The photo above is a self-portrait by Jeff and the photo below is our Skilly Chapel.




We had several groups at the opening even though the weather was miserable. Above photo shows Sabrina from Clare, SA on the right and John Smith in the middle who is teaching English as well as life passionately in China. John was visiting Clare during his summer holiday.


Nick Bell on the right who contributed his time to build the grey wall for Jeff. Judy Searley on the left was helping to promote Jeff’s event. We were so grateful for their help.


The photo above was taken by Judy Searley.


David was taking Jeff’s photos to show his photographer friends.


On the second week, Jeff sold two prints and on the third, he sold another one. Jeff was very happy because he was not expected. Obviously, I was very happy for him. Again, there were several people went through and we were pleased to meet new people.

The photo above shows my Japanese friend Miho with her two beautiful girls and a Japanese high school student who was staying to study English with Miho’s family while his summer holiday.


One of Jeff’s cousins Rosalie and her husband Leon.


On week three, many groups went through than we expected. We were really glad to welcome our friends as well as visitors.

I was not planning to show my handmade products but I found some space to fit them in so I decided to exhibit my pieces. I was grateful that some people showed interest and purchased some of the Vintage Japanese Obi products.


Jeff Schiller and me!

Please come and visit Skilly Function Centre if you are around in Clare Valley. The exhibit is still on until the fourth weekend in August 2017. See the link for the map.



Once again, thank you for our friends who gave us a BIG help and also we appreciated friends and visitors who came and visited our Skilly Chapel.

May God bless us all,


Subtraction Cutting

Julian Roberts is of one of my greatest fashion design and pattern making teachers. He is a British fashion designer and academic. “Subtraction Cutting” is the name given to an experimental method of hollow construction developed by him. Julian has been teaching his methods in 25 countries since 1998.

I discovered him by being introduced by another teacher and I got hooked his method for a long time. I have been following where and what he is doing through social medias from time to time and I have bumped into a conversation he had with one of his students.

The student who participated in his workshop asked him whether she could purchase his demonstration piece and he kindly replied to her that yes she can but he does not want money, all he needs is only the postage. The dress was made and autographed on the corner of the dress by Julian. He is one of the greatest fashion and pattern making tutors in the world. So presumably the dress would be worth a lot even if it was a prototype.

I have come across his generous gestures sometime before like this. One time he asked for donation to his followers of the intention of giving that a donation to women’s health or cancer research when he participated a long marathon. When I saw his conversation with the student, it reminded me how generous he was and has been.

On this post, I wanted to share some of the photos that I tried using the technique of subtraction cutting over the years to create garments for myself.


The above photo is a subtraction cutting dress. The materials are taffeta and cotton.


The wooden dummy is wearing the sub-cut coat. It was difficult to make it for real size so this was only an experiment.


The back view of the photo is actually a poncho. It is hard to figure that out because it looks like a long dress.


Above photo was me experimenting the method with a quarter size mannequin.


Again, it is me working with a real size mannequin.


The back view of my sub-cut trousers. But I did not use good fabric so it became my pyjama pants.


Above photo shows a sub-cut skirt. The material is deep red taffeta and it is comfortable to wear.


Another dress


More dress …


I love his techniques so much and I tried a lot. I did not take photos every single time when I made something because I created so many garments using the technique. I made dresses a lot, trousers, a poncho, wraps and shrugs. I participated one of his workshops but I really learned this method through trial and error. Of course, I was disappointed when the result was not successful because I ruined the fabric. Julian encourages us through social medias not to feel defeated when things go wrong because there is always something to teach us. Instead, let go of the failures and try again.


Julian Roberts and me. I was at his workshop in Melbourne in 2014. Wearing a sub-cut dress I made on that day.


Exploring and designing many creations through Julian’s method is very exciting and compelling. That is why I have kept coming back to use his techniques when I want to make something unique. I will make more trials again to delve into his methods and see how much I could go beyond my limitation.