TAMBORINE MOUNTAIN STORIES give you an insight into many of the local businesses and characters you will find when you Escape to Tamborine Mountain.


A Stitch in Time – Wisteria Sewing Services

Living in a place like Tamborine Mountain, a place that exists in harmony with nature, tends to open your eyes to a way of living more suited to keeping that balance. Why throw out those old clothes that don’t quite fit anymore when you’ve got much better options? At least, Donna McKillop of Wisteria Sewing Services thinks so. For 8 years she’s been making alterations and adjustments to clothes, curtains and cushions galore from her mountain shop, and she’s seen more than a few storied items come through her dor. She’s happy to share those stories with us today.

by Kyle Hitchmough

What was your inspiration to open Wisteria Sewing Services?

I have been in a sewing job since I was 16! I was working in a surfwear factory, then I started up my own label doing kids’ clothing and went on to alterations from there. I raised three children in there too!

For those who might not be familiar, can you explain what it is you do here?

Mainly alterations. If zips need to be replaced, or clothing altered to fit better, if you need new cushion covers or curtains hemmed… I make dog beds, I do car seat cover repairs, lots of different things! Whatever needs stitching, basically.

What kinds of things do you find yourself working on most often?

Hemming pants, especially jeans.

There is a big push towards sustainable living on the mountain. Do you feel like you contribute to that?

Yeah, a lot of people are given clothing and if it doesn’t fit them, they’ll bring it in and I’ll tweak it so it fits. That’s definitely a form of recycling. If a zipper breaks on a pair of jeans, you don’t have to go and throw them in the bin when you can have a new zipper put in it.

Do you notice any patterns or fashion trends in the things that people bring in to you, any resurgences of styles?

Probably the scary part is that I’m seeing a trend in online shopping, in the garments people buy arriving and not fitting. So they bring it in and I’ve got to try and work out how to sort it out for them. There’s less purchasing direct where you can try something on, and if it fits then take it home. They buy online cheap, and then they have to pay me to alter it. That’s sadly the trend.

Have you noticed any particular trends in your clientele?

It’s a huge variety, huge. Young ones, maybe for school uniforms, and then the 30-year-olds… I think the 20-year-olds don’t care if their jeans are too long! But the 30-year-olds start doing a little bit more and then the older clients who don’t sew so much anymore need somewhere to bring it.

Wisteria Sewing Services

What goes into the average day here for you?

I come in here at 8:30, and I will start on each job. Then make a cup of coffee at 10:30! I never know who’s coming in to pick up or drop off, because you don’t need an appointment. I’m in here till 5pm, Tuesday to Friday, so no appointments are needed. It prevents people from clashing if someone’s a little late and someone’s a little early.

Do you use any specific brands of equipment or materials in your work?

Industrial machines, has to be. They’re faster, and I can get a job done in 10 minutes instead of 20. My threads and elastic I get all wholesale, I buy in bulk.

As a local, what’s your opinion on the Tamborine Mountain area and community?

I love it! We moved up here 8 years ago from the Sunshine Coast. I had a little shop in the Noosa hinterland doing the same thing. I moved down here and I’ve never felt homesick. It’s so friendly, you feel like you’re part of it. Everyone up here’s grateful and generous. It’s just beautiful.

What’s your favourite thing to do on the mountain?

I’m a homebody! Any moment I get off I spend in my garden. I send my husband out to do the grocery shopping while I stay home!

What do you think Wisteria Sewing Services really provides to the area?

If I wasn’t here, they’d have to go all the way down to the Gold Coast. That’s an hour and a half round trip to drop off a pair of jeans for hemming, or whatever. Convenience, good service, and quality work. People are like me, they don’t want to leave the mountain for anything! Why would you?

What do you enjoy most about doing this?

The satisfaction of customers. I’ll see someone on the street and I won’t know their name, but I’ll know what garments I’ve repaired for them! They’ll stop me on the street and say “I’ve got more stuff to bring to you!” It’s nice. The shop is also my social outlet, that’s why I don’t need to go out and do stuff.

What’s been your most memorable moment in your time doing this?

I think I’ve got a soft spot for making curtains or cushion covers for camper vans. I used to have a camper van and I miss it so much, so when I’ve got to do measure-ups for that sort of thing I just love it! It gets me excited because I know that van is going to go on some crazy wild holiday adventure that I would have been craving if I still had my van! When I’ve done the furnishings, it’s like I’m part of it. It’s cool!

Wisteria Sewing Services

We are always looking for new topics for our blog. If there’s something you like to see more of, send your suggestions to: social@professionalsserendipity.com.au, or email the writer at kyle.hitchmough@hotmail.com