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March 2020 Newsletter

March 2020 Newsletter

40 Coutts Street

Kilbirnie, Wellington 6022
(04) 387 4505

Read about this stunning mural later in this newsletter.


Now that NZ is in lockdown, we have some idea of what's ahead of us all, and it's not going to be easy. I know we're all incredibly grateful for the continuing work of those in essential industries, many of whom are being exposed to far greater risk of COVID-19 than those of us holed up at home. And we all feel for those who are unwell, alone, confined to uncomfortable quarters, frightened or devastated by the effects of this awful virus on their families and livelihoods.

The government's financial support for employers is a lifeline for many small businesses, enabling us to keep our employees on the payroll for at least 12 weeks and use our operating capital for other ongoing debts - rent, insurance, GST, stock purchased in the month before lockdown, website charges, other subscription service fees, bank fees, IT and accounting support, telephones and power, etc etc! But inevitably, the longer the lockdown has to continue, the greater the fallout in terms of lost jobs and business closures.
It is now clear (after some confusion) that, during the lockdown, couriers can only deliver essential supplies. This means that we can't sell anything through our website because we can't engage couriers (or anyone else) to deliver our goods. The result is that our business - like many others - is totally shut down for now.

Some businesses, including some in Kilbirnie, won't recover, even if the lockdown is only for 4 weeks. Our local and national business landscape is going to look and feel very different once the lockdown is over. It will be more important than ever to support local suppliers of goods and services, although consumers will have less money in their pockets.

The best thing that can happen now is that the lockdown and its casualties are kept to a minimum. I'm sure none of us is in doubt about what we need to do to keep ourselves and others safe.

I'm confident that as long as the lockdown doesn't last for many months, Wellington Sewing Centre will survive. We'll be bruised, as will our suppliers, and that will have effects on the range of our stock and delivery times,but we look forward to being back serving our lovely customers to the best of our ability.

Sad news

We were devastated to learn, at the very end of 2019, that Hugh Poulsen, our hard-working and charming machine repairman, had a terminal illness. Hugh passed away just 6 weeks later in early February. In that time he sold his business - Sewing Machine Services on Jackson Street Petone - to Zaine Mosavel, who is well-known especially to industrial sewing machine owners, for he has serviced and repaired many of those machines - and also domestic machines - for more than 25 years.
Zaine and his wife Sheryl have spruced up Hugh’s shop and have worked hard to catch up on the backlog of machines that built up during Hugh’s illness. We had just started doing a weekly run to and from Zaine, on a Wednesday morning, before the lockdown started.
Once things are back to our new normal, we expect that Zaine’s workload will be higher than Hugh’s because Zaine is continuing to work on industrial machines - which Hugh didn’t do. Also, the Sewing Depot in Petone has changed hands recently and Zaine will be picking up service work that was done by the previous owner.
In light of this, we have made arrangements for the service or repair of Babylock machines, and also newer models of Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff machines to be done by approved technicians in Auckland (Babylock) and Hastings (Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff). Also, machines of all brands that are under warranty will be serviced or repaired by the suppliers’ own technicians - all of whom, except Bernina are based in Auckland. (The Bernina technicians are in Lower Hutt and we will take newer machines there as needed.) For service/repair work done outside the Wellington area, there will be a freight charge, generally between $30 and $50.

Service and repair costs

Not counting any freight charge, the service of a domestic sewing machine or overlocker will generally cost between $160 and $180. If parts are needed, they will be extra.
For machines older than about 25 years, it can be difficult - or impossible - to get certain parts, even for the brands of machine that we carry or which have NZ suppliers. (We carry Janome, Elna, Singer, Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff and Babylock. Bernina also has a NZ supplier.) For other brands, parts aren’t available locally and are very expensive to source (if available) from overseas. Do bear this in mind when you bring in your machine for service or repair. Technology has changed hugely even in the last 25 years and sewing machine manufacturers don’t keep making parts forever for their superseded models. And new machines aren’t scary or super-expensive, plus they have wonderful features like LED lights, needle threaders, even push button scissors on the flasher models - and they don’t weigh a ton but have strong motors and can do everything (and much more) that an old machine could do.
Once we're back in business, we have a terrific range of new machines that we can show you starting from under $300 - just saying!

Classes - we had planned lots of them, for adults and children!

Our adult class timetable (scheduled up to early July) is brimming with interesting offerings. Some classes will now have to be deferred but others may be able to be delivered online! The more technically savvy members of our team are working on the logistics of this right now.
Everyone who has enrolled in and paid for a class that must now be deferred or changed will be offered their choice of a full refund, credit or transfer to the next available class. Robyn is already onto this! If you have any questions, please email us at
We'll update the website list of classes as we know more about the lockdown and online options.
Apart from our regular beginners classes, one of our new offerings for overlockerers will be Gemma's StyleArc Sage pants class - where you'll make a pair of pants entirely on your 4 thread overlocker (except for the hem).

And for machine sewists who want to upskill, Maria will be offering a class making the StyleArc Carnegie dress and also her popular trade secrets classes, where you'll learn how to insert /do all sorts of zips, pockets, collars, cuffs and hems like a pro!

For children, we were offering 7 classes in the April school holidays - but will now defer them to the next holidays. The classes will cover machine sewing, handcraft and needlefelting - a kereru this time. (Gemma’s kakapo needlefelting kids’ class was so popular last holidays that we’re now offering it to adults.)

Sewing and other crafty tips while we’re closed

We suspect that, during the lockdown period, some of our regular customers and class enrolees will be missing the opportunity to come into the shop, or phone up, to seek answers to questions arising from their latest project. Well - we can still help! If you email your lockdown i-sew-lation questions (or knitting etc questions) to attaching photos or other explanatory material if necessary, Jo will ask Gemma or Maria to answer you - or will do so herself if she can.
We may not be in the shop but we’re still ready to help you!

New stock!

We refresh our stock regularly, including machines, yarns, fabrics, patterns and the haberdashery and notions necessary for the various crafts we support.
Our latest machines include the brand new Janome 544D overlocker ($599) - a reliable and easy to use machine that is a well-priced addition to our overlocker range.

Our yarn selection occupies about half the shop these days and our dressmaking fabric selection grows every time Jo's let loose on a buying mission! Our website displays a good cross-section of our stock (which normally you could buy and have delivered) and we use Facebook and Instagram to announce the latest exciting arrivals instore.

One of our new wool lines is the Wendy 10 ply (aran) 100% wool, in 200 gram balls and accompanied by some lovely patterns for women and men. Gemma is very happy with it!

As for our latest dressmaking fabrics, Kirsten Dunst was photographed recently on a film set wearing an Italian viscose fabric that Jo had bought several weeks earlier! Proof of our good taste we say!

Kilbirnie mural news

The Kilbirnie Business Network (KBN), that Jo chairs, is investing part of its annual budget in beautifying Kilbirnie. The latest mural is on the huge RentaDent wall facing the EBIS netball courts, on Tacy Street. It’s stunning! When we are out of lockdown go and have a look! Resene donated the paint - which was a fantastic contribution to the project.

The KBN hopes that this mural, designed and painted by Miriama Grace-Smith, will inspire other commercial landlords in Kilbirnie to offer their walls for painting. We have offers of two other very large walls, which we will work on as our budget permits, but some smaller walls would be nice - and way more affordable!.
The website has more information about the mural and soon two videos about it will be posted soon, one featuring Jo.

In light of the current lockdown. KBN will now prioritise providing practical support to local businesses. It has instituted regular security company sweeps of the Kilbirnie shopping area during the lockdown and is making available all the official information that has been published for business owners, whether as employers, tenants, mortgagors or taxpayers.

The Ballad of Covid19

If you haven't seen and heard the video of the original song, "The ballad of Covid 19", written and performed by Jack Buchanan (Jo's son) here's a link to it. There's another song and video in the pipeline, featuring our household bubble (wish Jo luck).
Jack's aim is not to make light of the current situation but to help inform and lift the spirits of those who might benefit from that right now.

That’s it from us for now. Stay healthy and keep being kind to those who need help.

Best wishes
Jo, Gemma, Maria, Robyn, Trish and Toni

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