Central Leader - - NEWS -

It was the fabrics that first caught Christina Mackay’s eye.

‘‘I used to look at mag­a­zines when I was lit­tle and think what a lovely dress, I wish I could wear some­thing like that.’’

Luck­ily her mother was good with her hands and worked on a fin­ish­ing ta­ble. She en­cour­aged her daugh­ter’s in­ter­est in the craft.

She started by chop­ping up paper. Then her mother would pull apart old sheets and pil­low­cases for her to prac­tise sewing with.

‘‘That was it as far as I was con­cerned. That was truly what I wanted to do,’’ she says.

The Hills­bor­ough res­i­dent opened Christina’s Stu­dio on Mt Eden Rd 12 years ago af­ter spend­ing years hon­ing her skills at cloth­ing com­pa­nies Jantzen’s Swimwear and Line 7.

As well as do­ing al­ter­ations and dress­mak­ing she of­ten sources fab­ric and but­tons for people.

‘‘But­tons can make or break a gar­ment,’’ she says.

‘‘You can get a Plain Jane out­fit and put a re­ally el­e­gant or tex­tured but­ton on it and sud­denly you’ve got some­thing re­ally nice.’’

She has a cou­ple of thou­sand dif­fer­ent types of but­tons in her col­lec- tion, in­clud­ing some very old ones given to her by her mother.

School ball sea­son is al­ways a busy time at the shop but not ev­ery­one agrees on how some cloth­ing should be al­tered.

Try­ing to please both moth­ers and daugh­ters can be a chal­lenge when it comes to dress length. The daugh­ter usu­ally wants the hem shorter but nine times out of 10 the mother ends up win­ning, the 63-year-old says.

One of the more un­usual re­quests she’s re­ceived was when she was asked to cre­ate a patch­work clown’s out­fit.

The cus­tomer asked her to buy the fab­ric in spotted, stripey and pais­ley prints. Luck­ily it turned out well and the woman was very happy with it, she says.

Mackay’s phi­los­o­phy is if some­thing’s worth do­ing, it’s worth do­ing well. That means, among other things, pin­ning both legs when al­ter­ing trousers. Some­times she’s the first to have told some­one they have one leg shorter than the other.

Ac­ci­dents in the sewing room are rare but the tai­lor re­mem­bers one mishap with a silk dress years ago.

‘‘I had an open pair of scis­sors on the ta­ble and the fab­ric was sit­ting nearby. I went to pick up the scis­sors and they snipped right on the side of the dress.

‘‘I had to re­place it. I felt so bad but when I rang the cus­tomer she was re­ally good about it.’’

What ad­vice does Mackay have for people buy­ing clothes? Check the stitch­ing.

‘‘Things are made so quickly now. When­ever you buy some­thing look at the zip area first to make sure it has been fixed prop­erly, that the but­ton isn’t just held on with one stitch and darts are stitched well.’’

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