A Mother's Day gift of a sewing machine and a life-long love of fabric are the ingredients in Tracy Bedford's internet-sales children's clothing business.
Her designs will be modelled at a fundraising fashion parade for Hokowhitu Kindergarten on September 24 which is fundraising to replace outdoor play equipment.
Tracy sews from home in Bulls, in her spare time. She's got her machine set up at one end of her lounge, with garment racks, a cutting table, shelves for fabric and the iron permanently set up. She tests patterns and designs, often modifying them to create comfortable, practical, attractive garments that she guarantees won't fall to pieces in the washing machine.
"I've sewn all my life. My mum was a wonderful sewer, made everything, and my grandmother taught me knitting and crochet and crafts like that. I used to make clothes for myself in the 80s, tube skirts and things, but I never thought of trying to do this commercially until my husband encouraged me with a new sewing machine."
That was about 18 months ago, and she's decided on a line of girls' clothes for 4 to 10-year-olds, and boys' clothes for toddlers to 5.
Most of her sales are from custom orders placed through her website, but she's building stock to take to craft markets.
She feels strongly that the commercial clothing market doesn't do a particularly good job for girls in the 6 to 8 age bracket.
Most of what's offered is cutdown versions of teenage clothes, lots of skin showing and glitter. It is too old and often inappropriate for little girls.
"If you happen to have a taller-than-average 8-year-old, who needs size 10 and 12 clothing, it gets worse. You've got a little girl dressed up like a teen."
Tracy sews with pure cotton fabrics, mostly imported, and her designs are pretty and practical at the same time. Among her designs are a basic peasant frock, which she varies with hem bands, sashes and different fabrics, and a pinafore that offers endless opportunities for variation.
Her skirts have "the twirl factor" - full enough to be swishy but not silly-girly. She appliques plain-coloured T-shirts for girls and boys, and makes stylish longer shorts for boys that offer sun protection and sturdy construction. She does a line of hair scrunchies, head bands and hats.
"It's still evolving, but I'm finding there's an increasing demand for what I'm making, and I can do it to fit around my family."
■ See the designs at shinekidsclothing.co.nz, or her Facebook page Shine Kids Clothing.
■ Hokowhitu Kindergarten committee member Emma Costley said children's clothes from chainstores would also be modelled at the fashion parade at 7pm on September 24, at the kindergarten. Tickets are available at the kindergarten or the iSITE in The Square.
- © Fairfax NZ News