Sewing group learns to make dolls

WITH ATTITUDE:  The sewing group who call themselves Slightly Weathered Ladies, including their Taihape hostess Sue Woollaston, Pauline Baddeley of Quilted Gumboot, and fabric doll designer Jill Maas.
WITH ATTITUDE: The sewing group who call themselves Slightly Weathered Ladies, including their Taihape hostess Sue Woollaston, Pauline Baddeley of Quilted Gumboot, and fabric doll designer Jill Maas.

The Quilted Gumboot in Tui St, Taihape last week became the workshop of Jill Maas, a fabric doll designer and tutor from Whanganui and a sewing group who call themselves the Slightly Weathered Ladies - but, they add, "with attitude".

A two-day workshop produced an interesting array of fabric dolls made from scratch under the guidance of Mrs Maas who travels New Zealand and Australia giving instruction. She also sells patterns that are her designs.

Most of the women in the sewing group have been meeting annually for a number years with some getting together each fortnight in Australia. The interesting mix is made up of good friends who come from Napier, Auckland and places in Australia.

Ex-Taihape woman Val Merwood has been living in Queensland for 10 years. Another group member Lola Menzies introduced her and they all have become friends.

"We had originally planned to come to Taihape last year but through circumstances it didn't happen so I asked if we could do it this year as it is my mother's 100th birthday and they all agreed. Mum is in residential care at Somerset Home in Whanganui we are all going to see her on Saturday."

Lola Menzies is Auckland-born but has lived in Sydney for 30 years.

She has enjoyed lots of trips to Taihape when the Merwoods had their farm. He husband Brian was born in Taihape, and his dad was Jim Menzies, the postmaster in Taihape. All five of the Menzie kids went to St Joseph's and lived in Goldfinch St.

"Twenty years ago I learned to drive in Noel and Val Merwoods' bull paddock."

Catherine Westaway from Sydney is credited with starting the sewing group. She said there were five in the group who spent a weekend sewing in Temora, NS,W in 2008. Since then the group had grown and had done something similar every year, as in a weekend away sewing.

"Two or three of us get together every fortnight."

Mrs Westaway has been to New Zealand one other time but this is her first visit to Taihape.

Yvonne McCann, who works for Karitane in Sydney, said she had known some of the women for more than 20 years. Although she had been to New Zealand before this was also her first visit to Taihape.

"I love it here, lovely people and great shops!"

Michelle and her husband Chris Hoy from Bendigo, Victoria, were in Taihape for three years but that was 28 years ago. Mrs Hoy said she met Val Merwood at church.

"Val said I hear you are new here, come and have a cuppa. We have been friends ever since. We have come back to Taihape a few times - love it here."

Mary-Ellen McCaughan did not have so far to travel, coming from Howick, Auckland. She has driven through Taihape but this is her first time stopping. Lola Menzies is a sister - that's how she became involved in the sewing group.

"Every year I go to see her. In the last four years there has been a sewing course so I went as well. So I have known the other ladies for quite a few years."

Another near-local is Therese Hawkins from Napier. She drove over the Gentle Annie for the first time and really enjoyed the great scenery.

"My husband and I used to come over and farm-stay when Val and Noel Merwood went away so we know a little of Taihape.

"I saw some of Jill's (the tutor) work in a home I visited. When Val mentioned the sewing group - I put my hand up."

The group of visitors say one of the biggest highlights of their visit was staying with Sue Wollaston the hostess with the mostest.

Central District Times