Victorian outfits focus of new Naseby business

A new business has sprung into life in Naseby, based on something that happened 150 years ago.

Two women have stitched together an enterprise, focusing on the Naseby and surrounding goldfields 150th jubilee celebrations in early January.

Marilyn Swinbourn, of Naseby, and Dot Davidson, of Ranfurly, have combined their sewing skills to make period costumes for those wanting to dress in theme for the occasion. Called the Naseby Sewing Room, the business is based in Derwent St, in the town centre.

''The business came out of a casual conversation over a coffee one day ... and six hours later, this was what we ended up with,'' Mrs Swinbourn said.

''This room was empty and we're both sewers so we wondered if there was a future in combining our skills and running a business and doing sewing from here.''

Business is brisk, with bonnets, caps, pinafores and vests among the biggest sellers. As well as making costumes to order, they can recycle other clothing items to suit and are also happy to advise and encourage other sewers.

''Our stashes of material, lace and buttons now have a new home and people have even come in and donated material to us,'' Mrs Davidson said. ''The word's spreading about what we're doing but we need people to get in early if they want something to wear to the celebrations as we'll run out of time.''

The women are kitting out whole families, from babies through to grandparents. They are excited about the prospect of adding to the ''colour'' of the occasion. Because the celebration will be at the height of summer, they have chosen light fabrics and short sleeves for all the garments, where possible.

''Our charges are fairly modest - we're doing this more for the entertainment than for the money,'' Mrs Swinbourn said.

The women at the Victorian Wardrobe in Oamaru had been helpful, sending suitable patterns and giving advice to them.

The future of the business after the goldfields celebrations will depend on the demand for general sewing work, Mrs Davidson and Mrs Swinbourn said.

• The anniversary celebrations in the Maniototo span six days, starting on New Year's Day with a Naseby family fun day. Other events include a jubilee parade, a walking trail following the path of early miners to Waipiata, visits to Hamiltons' cemetery, guided walks through Naseby and a vintage machinery display and Victorian tea party in Ranfurly. A 150th Classic tournament will be held at the Naseby Bowling Club, played with old-style bowls and costumes to match and the jubilee will close with a ''cribbies v locals'' cricket match on Sunday, January 6. lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz