STITCHED UP: Judy Spencer, Ann Vaughan and Pam Whitley at the Material Girls retreat.
STITCHED UP: Judy Spencer, Ann Vaughan and Pam Whitley at the Material Girls retreat. Alex Treacy

The material world of Monto's Material Girls

WHEN Madonna sang about material girls, it was about how unimpressed she was by the romantic efforts of boys trying to woo her.

For Monto's Material Girls, flirting is the last thing on their mind.

They are here for one thing and one thing alone: to quilt, stitch, patch and sew until their fingers are sore.

At the Monto Material Girls retreat.
At the Monto Material Girls retreat. Alex Treacy

The four-day social retreat, which meets twice-yearly, has become an important calendar event in the five years since Pam Whitley started it.

The March retreat, which runs until Sunday, was attended by 26 ladies, who have come from as far away as Hervey Bay, Brisbane, Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast.

"Everyone brings a plate to share, then we'll all go to the pub tonight for tea, that's 26 meals in town,” Mrs Whitley said.

Material Girls organiser Pam Whitley.
Material Girls organiser Pam Whitley. Alex Treacy

Not to mention hotel beds and caravan spaces, she added.

"A lot of men can't understand why we buy nice fabric only to then cut it up,” friend Ann Vaughan said.

In fact, the only man there is Trevor Whitby, the well-known draper from VanCootens Howard Drapery on the Fraser Coast, who spends the time ferrying in and out tubs of textiles.

They would love to get more men involved, Mrs Whitley and Mrs Vaughan said.

A hive of activity for the Material Girls retreat in Monto.
A hive of activity for the Material Girls retreat in Monto. Alex Treacy

Several expressed their admiration for Councillor Wayne Honor, from Bundaberg Regional Council, who has a reputation for his prowess at the sewing machine.

A similar retreat is held regularly in Boolboonda and many ladies attend both.

Judy Spencer, who travelled from Calliope, said she was keen to start her own retreat in Tannum Sands.

But hang on, isn't sewing supposed to be on its way out?

"No,” the ladies cried in unison.

Mrs Spencer's 24-year-old granddaughter was on the way to join in the festivities and Renee Keitley's daughter Charlotte would be in attendance as soon as she finished school.


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