Stitch in time
FOR many families the sewing machine is as much a part of the household as a lawn mower. Its shape and size may have changed but they still have a place in our lives.
John Watts is a man who has spent his life with sewing machines, 55 years in fact. His successful enterprise, John Watts Sewing Machines is testament to his knowledge and passion for this industry.
"There was a job advertised and dad said there would always be a need for the sewing machine so I applied and got an apprenticeship with JG Webster which was for five years," Mr Watts said.
During this time he repaired all brands of sewing machines, something he believes gave him a good grounding for his career.
"I was a young bloke finding a vocation, it was never monotonous. I was working with anything from old pedal machines to electric machines. We used to repolish the cabinets of the old machines," he said.
Many people tend to think of the sewing machine as being a relatively new invention, but Mr Watts said the first electric machines were out in the 1890s.
The technology has changed dramatically with top-end machines now fully computerised.
The John Watts story is linked to invention and pioneering spirit.
"I started my own business in Longreach. Friends were running the Outback Aerial Mission and we went out to help and support them," he said.
Mr Watts returned to Brisbane and operated businesses in Gordon Park and Everton Park.
His current venture, John Watts Sewing Machines at 168 Brisbane St, Booval, has been under his management and guidance for 15 and a-half years.
Mr Watts said people are getting machines now for fun rather than only making their own clothes.
"People can buy garments from China so cheaply that they will not save money. For younger people, some have not been taught how to sew and others have had it done for them by mum - they now want to do it themselves," he said.
John Watts Sewing Machines offers classes that range from basic sewing to embroidery and he said are all very popular.
His sewing machines vary from around $200 through to $13,000.
Mr Watts and his colleagues have also developed their own quilting frame, designed about nine years ago, and it does in four hours what used to take four days.
The quilting frame has gone international and connects to a person's own machine.
"It is the only quilting frame is accredited by the Australian Technology Showcase. This means a purchaser knows the product is strong in technology and also quality," he said.
Mr Watt is supported by his retail manager, Vanessa Yarrow, Doug Horne, chief technician and a part timer, Lee McKenzie.
John Watts Sewing Machines is open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm and currently Saturday 9am to noon during a special promotion. They can be contacted at 3282 4711.