Traveling with a 10-Month-Old Baby: Other Logistics

After settling the itinerary, gearing up for the flight, booking the accommodations and deciding what and how to feed your baby, there are other logistics to settle. One big item for us to decide was whether to bring a stroller for the trip. Some mummy friends have also asked about my breastfeeding experience in Japan, whether Japanese are okay with breastfeeding in public etc. Some also asked about the availability of changing stations. These will be the 3 items, plus a shopping tip,  that I will be sharing about in the last instalment of this series.

Should I Bring My Stroller?
After reading a few posts on traveling in Japan with a baby on some travel forums*, we decided to wear her in the baby carrier and not bring our stroller along. It was a decision made at the very last minute: a week before we leave. Though the stroller can relieve us off her weight or hold our shopping, we are more mobile with our baby in the carrier. While most subway stations in Kyoto and Osaka have lifts and/or escalator, some sightseeing venues aren’t that stroller friendly.

Ginkakuji and Fushimi Inari

I am sure you wouldn’t want to bring your stroller to Ginkakuji and Fushimi Inari

There are also places that allows you to push your strollers along. Two main reasons why we decided not to bring the stroller. 1. It is another piece of ‘luggage’ that we need to handle. We choose a small luggage over the stroller. 2. We don’t want to be carrying the stroller up and down all the time. We also don’t want to restrict ourselves to stroller-friendly places.

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Other parts of Fushimi Inari, Philosopher’s Walk, Kiyomizu-dera area, Arashiyama and Dotonbori are more stroller friendly

We encountered a family who brought their baby in the stroller up on the bus and it was taking up most of the space of the aisle, so it was a little difficult to pass through. I am not sure if the stroller is not foldable, but if you are bringing your stroller up the bus, it would be considerate if the stroller doesn’t take up almost the entire aisle :)

Wearing our baby in the carrier though can be a little tiring, it gives us a lot of mobility. It gives us some handsfree moment while we sightsee (especially when we need to take photos) or shop, Our baby also take her naps while we travel from place to place in the carrier itself. It also keeps us warm in colder days. You can even breastfeed discreetly in the carrier!

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*Many mentioned that they brought both the stroller and the carrier but if they were to do the trip all over again, they would prefer to use the carrier exclusively. 

Breastfeeding in Japan
My breastfeeding experience in Japan has been pleasant. Even though I was prepared to nurse in public, I was a little concerned about the nursing culture as it is contained within an Asian culture (which tends to lean towards the conservative side). I am not sure whether I was oblivious or the Japanese are generally supportive (they are extremely friendly towards baby by the way), I do not feel intimated, or uncomfortable nursing in public in any way. 

I use a nursing cover whenever I nurse on the bus, at cafes, restaurants, Fushini Inari and up at the Ferris wheel in Osaka. I also made sure that my attires are all separates as I don’t have any nursing tops or dresses. I also wore bra tops from Uniqlo underneath my tops. They are one of the best nursing bras around – provides support and avoids any unnecessary exposure of skin when you lift your tops.

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Changing Stations
I wouldn’t say that changing stations are abundant but they are definitely available in Kyoto and Osaka, mostly in the malls or larger/main subway stations. When we are unable to locate a changing station, we change her in the handicap toilet. There was once we changed her on a wide bench in a discreet corner.   

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Wherever changing stations are available, there are very spacious with sufficient space for a stroller. We have seen or use one at Tokyo Haneda domestic terminal, a couple a Arashiyama (one at the foot of the hill along the river, one at the main station), and one at Osakako Station (nearest to Kaiyukan). We are more flexible regarding the availability of facility, but are more concerned about getting the deed done.

Changing room in Tokyo Haneda Airport. I am standing in front of the changing table.

Very spacious hanging room in Tokyo Haneda Airport. I am standing in front of the changing table.

Shopping for Japanese Snacks/Tidbits
Everyone buys snacks and tidbits from Japan when they are there! You can buy most of them such as Meiji, Collon, Glico, Kitkat etc from the supermarkets or the speciality shops downtown. We did our snack shopping on the last day at Dotonbori, lug them all the way back to our accommodation, repack before heading to the airport. If you would like to save all these trouble, you can actually buy most of them at the airport. Prices are more or less the same! All you need to do is to prepare a (huge) bag for dump them all in.

This concludes the series of my experiences of traveling with a baby. The other three instalments of this series can be found here:
Before You Travel with Your Baby and Itinerary
Accommodation and Food
On Flying and What to Bring On Board

I hope that it has provided some useful information on traveling with a baby and make it an enjoyable experience for the whole family. It is important to be a little more flexible on the usual routine and make do along the way. Our first family trip to Japan was definitely an experience and I am looking forward to our next family trip!

“Let’s Go To The Zoo” Dress

Ever  since the baby came along, I don’t have much time as expected to sew for the both of us. I sew more for myself than for the baby. So for her first birthday, I want to sew a dress for her. In fact I want to sew something for her every birthday!

I planned to sew a dress in floral print but ended up with an animal print by Michael Miller which I think suits her a little better. For the pattern I chose the peasant dress. I have no idea where it originated from but you can find many patterns available online. I modified the pattern to a 12-18mo from sewmuchado and prettyprudent. I am not quite sure if it is the generic 12-18mo but it definitely fits my baby. I took 2 nights to complete the dress. Thank you little friend for sleeping early. It is not my neatest work. In fact I have a lot to work on the insides.

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I had about 1/2 yard of fabric left after completing the dress so I made a diaper cover to match it. Pattern and directions from Dana Made It. There is a little more fabric left so I might sew a pocket patch on my favourite tee just to match her dress!

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The peasant dress got to be one of my favourite to make because the combination is countless. I foresee myself making a million of peasant dress in many different colours and prints. Prior to this, I made 2 other dresses for our little friend before. Both require a little more time to work on the finishing, especially the bias tape at the neckline. The peasant dress is definitely a keeper and I might figure an adult size for myself!

 

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Traveling with a 10-Month-Old Baby: On Flying and What to Bring On Board

After planning your itinerary and packing, it’s time to fly! Many mummy friends have told me that one of the greatest fear of bringing their baby overseas is the flight. We were thankful that our little friend was extremely cooperative throughout all the 7hrs of international flight to Tokyo, 1hr of domestic flight to Osaka, 1hr bus ride to Kyoto and another 1hr20mins of bus ride to Keihoku on our first day. We must be some crazy parents!

On flying
I did a little research on flying with babies before actually deciding to travel with our little friend and booking the tickets. From what I have gathered, there are generally 2 main concerns: 1. Overstimulation on the plane/ grouchy fussy baby 2. Air Pressure.

1. Overstimulation on the plane/grouchy fussy baby
We selected flights that coincide with the baby’s sleeping time, praying that she sleeps through the flight. Our plan is to latch her during take off, and she falls asleep. Prayer answered! I only latched her when the plane reversed and made its way to the runway. If you are not breastfeeding, I guess you can also feed your baby a bottle. I also packed some of her favourite and new toys to keep her entertain just in case she doesn’t sleep.

2. Air Pressure
Some parents may be concern with the difference in air pressure, causing discomfort for the baby and hence a crying baby. Just make sure that you latch or offer the baby a bottle or pacifier during take off and landing – as long as the baby is sucking/swallowing. You might like to take note that the effect seemed to be greater during landing than take off.

 

Our flight experience
We flew with ANA and the experience was pleasant. The air stewardess were also attentive to us, making sure we are comfortable or if we need any assistance. We requested for a bassinet for the international flights. I wasn’t sure how it worked so I called the airline and the officer told me that it is an arrangement made during check-in and he will put the request in for me. There are limited seats that can accommodate the bassinet so it is important to check in early. One perk that comes with the bassinet is the extra leg room like this:
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Another part that impressed me was the baby meal that I preordered when I booked the tickets. The baby meal was beautifully packaged. It consists of food for babies between 6 months to 2 year old. So you might like to select whichever that is most suitable for your baby. For the meal on our flight home, there is a packet of juice, baby biscuits, yoghurt, jarred sweet potato dessert and the mains (stew in tomato sauce and broccoli in cream sauce). On both occasions, babystingrui was sleeping when meal was served so we brought the food down and fed her when she woke up.
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What to bring on board
I picked a large roomy bag to be brought on board rather than a diaper bag. We throw everything we need in the diaper bag which makes it heavy and cumbersome. We usually use it when we have the car. When traveling, you would want to bring the essentials and travel as light as possible. Pick a lightweight bag (preferbly waterproof) and I compartmentalize the items in smaller bags and ziplocks. Here is what I brought onboard:

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1. Nursing cover, especially if you are still nursing. It can also function as a blanket or a really small pillow when folded for the baby.
2. Extra t-shirt for yourself – just in case baby vomits and such
3. Essential bag with diapers, extra clothes, handkerchief and wet wipes
4. Comfort item – I picked her bunny
5. Toys in ziplock bag
6. Feeding bowl, fork and spoon, and “scissors” in ziplock bag. If you are bringing an actual pair of scissors for cutting food, please remember to check it in.

 

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Her toys are mostly non-toys items. She likes things that allow her to make sounds with or are textured. We packed in a cactus hello kitty which tickles her all the time, a pink fabric flower, bottle cap, container cover, improvised shakers and coloured blocks. You can consider packing a variety of items that your baby likes.

So these are the preparations we did prior the flight. And of course coupled with lots of prayers! Most important thing is to observe your baby. All in all, we had quite an enjoyable flight and I am sure babystingrui enjoyed her first flight experience too!

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Next up, I will be sharing some miscellaneous logistics that you may be considering such as whether to bring a stroller or use a baby carrier, breastfeeding and changing stations.

Traveling with a 10-Month-Old Baby:
Before You Travel with Your Baby and Itinerary
Accommodation and Food

A Massimo Dutti inspired skirt and a furry baroque-esque blouse

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This skirt was made two years back but I just didn’t have the time or opportunity to document it on photograph. So here it is, featured for the first time in Me Made May 2015! So sometime in 2013 I walked past Massimo Dutti and was attracted to a black lace skirt on display, which I do not have a picture of unfortunately. I stood at the window display and examined the skirt very closely. It is black, made of sturdy cotton lace and it’s essentially a rectangle skirt with lots of gathers. The original was a mini-skirt which I did not fancy so I made mine longer.

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Then immediately, I went to my favourite fabric shop at Chinatown and asked for the specific kind of lace. The always so helpful owner showed me a beautiful piece of black lace, which didn’t cost much. $8/m and I need just 1m. Perfect lace, perfect price. I lined the lace with a soft polyester lining in white, to bring out the pattern of the lace. It is one of my favourite skirt that sits in my wardrobe. This skirt is extremely versatile. I can dress it up with a formal work blouse for work, or down with a denim shirt. I even wore it till the mid of my second trimester during pregnancy.

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Featured in the same photo of the all black lace on lace ensemble, is the furry baroque-esque blouse that was my project for the month of March. It is a really basic blouse, made in my favourite Anda. I also love the main feature of this blouse, that is the fabric itself. It is lace of some sort, furry velvety patches on really fine tulle/mesh. The prints reminds me of the baroque style. Hence the name furry baroque-esque blouse. It is another versatile number in my wardrobe that I’ll most likely be wearing very often!

 

Traveling with a 10-Month-Old Baby: Accommodation and Food

One of my greatest concerns for the trip is accommodation. She would be 10 months old by the time we travel and she will be crawling around! Hotels aren’t my best options. There wouldnt be much space in the room and I am not sure if the floors/carpets are really clean. After researching a bit more, I figured that tatami style accommodation is best suited for us.

Accommodation
So for this trip to Japan, we booked all tatami style apartments via airbnb, which I have used for my past holidays. We selected tatami style apartments for a few reasons. We don’t have to worry about our little friend falling off the bed or requesting for extra cot/bed (no surcharge though).

Tatami style accommodation in Keihoku

Tatami style accommodation in Keihoku

We also wanted to make sure that she is not confined to the bed or cot, and has ample space to move around. That’s a major plus point!

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It is also extremely useful to book an apartment instead of a hotel room because there will be facilities to prepare her meals and to do laundry. Another bonus point!

On meals and food
While there is an option to buy the ingredients from the local supermarket and cook, we decided to prepare her favourite foods at home, freeze and bring them over. We considered jarred/instant baby food but our little friend didn’t fancy them. So homemade it is. The frozen foods are transported over in a cooler bag (my unimom cooler bag), small enough so that all the packets are tightly packed together. Since they are all frozen, they keep each other cool in their frozen state.

I store her food in breastmilk bags, 2 portions (lunch and dinner) in each bag. They are a selection  of her favourites: azuki with mixed fruits, japanese sweet potato apple cinnamon, salmon belly porridge, pumpkin azuki porridge etc. Before we leave for the day’s activities each day, we heat up her food and store it in the thermal flask. We scoop up a portion during lunch and keep the rest for dinner.

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Homecooked food frozen in a breastmilk bag

In the morning, babystingrui will have a milk feed before we leave and a morning snack along the way when we are traveling. We brought along some baby biscuits from home, and bought some bread and dorayaki (pancake sandwiched with red bean paste – we gave mostly the pancake bit). Our little friend seems to enjoy anything made from flour so she likes all the japanese bread and pancakes. Not to mention that the Japanese bread and pancakes are sooooo good!

Enjoying pancakes and chiffon cake

Enjoy pancakes and chiffon cake

Between lunch and dinner, she has milk and some snacks too. I am so thankful that I am still breastfeeding her which makes her milk feed so much easier. All I need is somewhere to sit, nursing cover and myself. It’s extremely convenient, lesser things to bring out and wash!

Now about the adults. Some of you may ask if we visit baby friendly restaurants in Japan. We didn’t. The only thing we make sure was that the restaurant is a non-smoking one. We ate at wherever we want: some counter top eateries, a yakitori bar, some tatami style restaurants provided a little more space for the baby to move about. There was one meal when I breastfeed her throughout while we are at a conveyor belt sushi place. The husband and I took turns to entertain and feed her during meal times.

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Now that we have settled the planning of itinerary, accommodation and food, I will be sharing our flight experiences and preparation.

Traveling with a 10-Month-Old Baby:
Before You Travel with Your Baby and Itinerary

The “Perfect for Lacey Days” Blouse

IMG_0276 The project that I embarked for the month of May is a blouse in a romantic shade of blush. The blouse was designed to match the Aprils in Paris skirt that I made in April. I also need a simple nudish/blushish blouse to add on to my staples. White doesn’t look too good on me and I find nude a little too yellow to match my skin tone so I would prefer blush over white or nude anytime. The blouse takes the form of a modified Sorbetto, another favourite pattern of mine: u neckline, took in a couple of cm at the arm hole, lace panel down the center front, and no zips attached.

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The fabric is from Kluang, from about 4 years ago. I’m not sure what it is exactly but it definitely is a polyester blend of some sort.  Lace is a trimming that I bought from Troyes 3 years ago. I definitely wasn’t planning to use the trimming as a decorative panel.

 

As much as I love the overall look of the blouse, there are a few places of improvement. Firstly, is the armhole. It was cut a little too big for my liking so I need to reduce the size of the arm hole for other patterns. Secondly I have still having problems aligning the hem of the front and back piece. For some reasons they just don’t align. I really need to work on this because it cause me to shorten the length of my blouse or dress at times. Lastly, I need to improve on overall workmanship. For instance the lace panel is sewn a little too tightly into the bodice hence the tension marks.

 

Nonetheless I really love this blouse. I can dress up or down with it. It is comfortable, easy to wear and yet presentable – perfect for “lacey” days!

Singapore Spoolette

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It is finally up! A mini brainchild of Ade from Adesays, Jessie from Jesssewfabulous and I, we have pioneered the Singapore branch of Spoolettes. I met Ade on Instagram during MeMadeMay and Jessie through our blogs. One day we were discussing on social media about the idea of having a meetup for dressmakers in Singapore. This discussion went on to forming a dressmaking community, specializing in women’s apparrels. Viola!, a week later, Singapore Spoolettes is born.

What are we about? We are a community of dressmakers based in Singapore with a focus on women’s apparel. Through Spoolettes, we hope to have a close knit community of dressmakers to discuss on challenges, commercial patterns, drafting, fabric finds, sewing machines, techniques, tutorials and tips, and anything else related to dressmaking. We also aim to provide a platform for sewists to socialise, collaborate and cheer each other on! We will be organising our first meet up soon. Stay tuned for details!

If you sew women’s apparel whether experienced or a beginner, or simply are interested in sewing women’s apparel, join us! Sister sewists to The Spoolettes: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpoolettes

Traveling with a 10-Month-Old Baby: Before You Travel with Your Baby and Itinerary

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Yes we did it: traveling with a 10 month old in Japan! It wasn’t as scary as people warned us and it was a very good opportunity for us to spend some quality time together as a family of 3. The trip has also opened up a whole new lot of experiences for our little friend. We have never seen her so happy before! We are so glad that our baby enjoyed herself in Japan, and so did we.

Traveling with a baby is definitely different from traveling without one. Many have also dissuaded us against bringing our baby for a holiday. Concerns raised were that we will tire ourselves out, we wouldn’t enjoy ourselves because we need to take care of the baby, baby will be fussy in an unfamiliar environment, and the list goes on. Truth to be told, I was a little wavered but the husband and I are so glad that the decision to go on this trip is one of the best decisions that we made. Since this trip worked for us, I am going to share some of our experiences with you, based on questions that our friends have raised before and after the trip. They will be shared over 4 weeks, in 4 different posts. Once again, these are experiences that worked for us. They are not formulas for traveling with a baby. Our experiences are specific to this trip to Keihoku-Kyoto-Osaka, with a 10.5 month old baby.

Before you travel with your baby
To travel (and fly) with our little friend was a decision that we made. It was our choice, which means that we accept that there will be times our little friend enjoy herself and times she might be cranky during the flight or any part of our trip. So we read up a little on traveling with babies, and found that blogs are especially helpful. They are experiences from other mummies and daddies after all! Travel forums are also useful for specific concerns e.g. should we bring a stroller to Kyoto-Osaka. We did whatever preparation we could, and prayed for the best!

On itinerary
We were planning to go somewhere else for 2 weeks but decided on 8 days in Japan (Kyoto-Osaka) eventually. 8 days were just nice for us. Any longer we might tire ourselves out.

Since we have our little friend with us, we wanted our itinerary to include a little more nature and activities that might possibly interest her, and spend lesser time in the city. So we planned to spend 5 days in Kyoto: do a little more sightseeing, and possibly day trips to Nara and Uji, and about 3 days in Osaka. Then we chanced upon this mountainous region of Keihoku while searching for our accommodation, and decided to spend 2 days there instead of Nara and Uji. It was at Keihoku that babystingrui enjoyed herself the most. It was slow paced at Keihoku so it was good for the adults to recuperate from the traveling while doing some sightseeing too. Generally, our little friend enjoyed the nature and sightseeing, and became bored when we were shopping in the city. She got to be connected with nature which is not as abundant in Singapore. She also got to see and touch lots of flowers which excites her. So while planning for a holiday with your little one(s), you might like to consider your destination/itinerary to include activities, sights and/or sites that might interest or is educational to your little one. This time round, nature and sightseeing worked for us.

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A rough 8 day itinerary looks like such:
Day 0: International flight to Tokyo for transit
Day 1: Domestic flight to Osaka, bus to Kyoto and bus to Keihoku, rest and relax
Day 2: Tailor-made tour of Keihoku
Day 3: Travel to Kyoto, Ginkakiji and The Philosopher’s Path
Day 4: Kinkakuji, Nijio Castle, (Fabric) shopping at downtown
Day 5: Fushimi Inari, Kiyomezu-dera
Day 6: Arashiyama, travel to Osaka
Day 7: Kaiyukan, shopping at downtown
Day 8: Dotonbori, home sweet home

After planning the itinerary, your next consideration should be accommodation and baby, which I will be sharing next!

The Black Flare Skirt;

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This year I wanted to sew a lot more basic staple pieces to add to my wardrobe. To be more specific, I need more basic skirts and blouses so that I can wear separately so that they are a little more breastfeeding friendly. I have already made two pencil skirts (1 plain and 1 printed) and it is time for a different skirt shape: my favourite flare skirt. I decided on black because I want a plain black skirt. I drew inspirations from the following outfits, some exuding a bit of French flair with the stripes and basic colours:

The skirt is made from a material called rose skin, which feels so much like the texture of rose petals! It is a heavy fabric (I wouldn’t want to deal with flying skirt with a baby in tow), falls and drapes nicely and have a matt finish. It is another versatile number, which I can dress up or down with. I also selected a modest knee length, which is much more convenient as a mummy on duty and for teaching. I wouldn’t want to worry about exposing myself when I bend over or chase after my baby!

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I also used an interfacing to tidy up the waist line, instead of the usual waist band.

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Me Made Holiday: Keihoku-Kyoto-Osaka, Japan

I had lots of fun last month in MeMadeMay and I decided to extend it to Me Made Holiday for my Japan trip in June. I had done 2 Me Made Holiday for my previous holidays, and I thought why not try again! The greatest concern for a Me Made Holiday is the temperature of our holiday destination. So far, it has been rather friendly or familiar to my me-made closet. Packing for this trip is a little tricker for various reasons:
– I need to wear separates because I am going to be breastfeeding her
– Clothes to be baby friendly: colour, style etc
– I want to pack light
– As me-made as possible

As weather seems to be fluctuating between 17degC (in the mountains) to 29degC (in the city), I decided to pack my usuals, a parka for rainy days and a cardigan for cooler days (if I need to keep myself warm). All in all, I brought along 5 tops, 2 skirts, 1 pants, 1 leggings, 2 outerwear. Out of these combinations, thre are 3 blouses and 2 skirts that are me-made.

Day 1: Favourite nude blouse, something comfortable for a long day of traveling and loose for breastfeeding.
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Day 2: I made a new blouse as my June project, to go with leggings for trekking and exploring Keihoku and Miyama. I will share on this soon.
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Day 3: Massimo Dutti Inspired  Lace Skirt. Something more airy for the warmer weather as we travel from Keihoku to Kyoto and visit the Ginkakuji-Philosopher’s Walk.

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Day 4: Rewore the blouse to go with pants for Kinkakuji, Nijio Castle, (fabric) shopping in Kyoto downtown on a rather chilly day in the afternoon. No photos because it got lost somewhere during the teansfering from phone and such. You need to imagine the combination.

 

Day 5: Batik Pencil Skirt to Fushimi Inari.
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Day 6: Nude blouse and Batik Pencil Skirt for Arashiyama and traveling to Osaka.
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Day 7: All black, lace on lace ensemble for Kaiyoukan and shopping in Osaka downtown – Fury Baroque-esque Blouse and Massimo Dutti inspired lace skirt.
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Day 8: Batik Pencil Skirt again for Dontonburi and Home Sweet Home. Pardon the creases. We did our laundry but there was no iron.
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Me made outfit combination is really addictive. It spurs me on to wanting to sew more so that I have a me-made item to wear everyday! Time is really the factor that doesn’t allow me to sew. There is simply many other things to do, especially with a baby. One stitch at a time mummy!