Quilting is a passion and a way of life for Judi Cogliati who spends her day and spare time quilting and sewing.
It’s an obvious labour of love when you meet Judi in her sewing haven at River City Sewing Machine Centre in Edith Street. Surrounded by bobs, threads and sewing machines from small to gigantic she is happy in her world and being able to impart the art of sewing and quilting to generations of young and old.
“We get customers from all around the world,” says Judi “with around 80% from the Brisbane region but a few from overseas, including the United States where there are over 16 million quilters”.
She visits the US each year for training and attends the annual Houston Quilt Festival – the world’s largest – working on the stands of one of the leading equipment manufacturers, Gammill.
“We are one of only three dealers in Australia, and we specialize in teaching computerized computing using the Gammill machines.” says Judi.
It’s a great boost to the Wynnum Central region economy with many staying in local accommodation visiting shops and cafes on their trips.
“We have many regulars,” says Judi who makes it a ‘social sewing’ experience.
“We try to teach them what they want to learn rather than follow a standard course,” Judi explains, “and offer a personalised service by listening to what they want and give them guidance.”
Classes run most days attracting mainly ladies over 45 years although as Judi notes “We are seeing a younger age group with many girls in their twenties and thirties looking to make alterations with clothes they have bought or just to get a start in dressmaking.”
Judi comes from a very different background in manufacturing working in the nuts and fruit business together with her husband’s family. Together with Moreno they sold the business and after taking some time out looked for a quilting business. In the meantime Judi had bought a Gammill quilting machine which required a home.
Fortunately they came across the sewing business in Wynnum that had been run for 14 years by previous owner Bev. Living outside the area they had ‘a soft spot for Wynnum’ being regular visitors to the waterfront.
“It has a country town feeling with its strip of shops and being able to get to know your regular local customers.” says Judi. “It has the advantage of being close to the city but not feeling like that.”
They purchased the business in November 2011 and has since developed to stock all the popular and modern machines running also classes on all model machines from Bernina to Pfaff.
The Gammill machine is a massive structure with all 14 ft (4.2 metres) taking up the old office space at the rear of the shop. It’s reminiscent of a ‘Houston’ mission control centre with its computerised screen on the wall and its ability to work from memory. Judi calls it Sheldon after the TV series ‘The Big Bang Theory’ with others named Leonard, Howard and a petite sewing machine appropriately named Penny.
Outside the shop Judi continues her love of sewing at home. ‘My hobby is my relaxation’ she says.
Judi is confident of the future of Wynnum Central. “It’s at a pivotal point and I can see the tide turning and it continuing to grow.” she says adding, “I am sure it will look very different in 5 years from now.”
It seems in that time Wynnum Central will continue to be an epicentre of sewing and quilting attracting many visitors from near and far.