We have a fantastic offer on Husqvarna Viking’s latest embroidery software: all levels of the boxed version of mySewnet™ Embroidery 2021 are 20% off during February 2023, meaning you can save up to £300!
The great thing about the boxed version of mySewnet Embroidery 2021 is that you pay a one-off price and the software is yours to keep forever, with no need to pay a monthly subscription. There are three full versions, Silver, Gold and Platinum, plus the Platinum Upgrade version, which allows you to upgrade from a previous generation of embroidery software. If you are interested in purchasing your own copy of mySewnet Embroidery 2021 software but you aren’t sure which version would best suit your needs, then read on to learn more about what the different versions have to offer!
mySewnet™ Embroidery 2021: Silver
If you are new to machine embroidery then Silver is the perfect entry level software. It lets you enhance and embellish ready-made designs, add text to your designs as well as frames, borders and flourishes. Your projects can be as large as your imagination as Split Project and Endless Assistant help you to reposition your hoop. As with all versions of mySewnet, you can wirelessly connect to the cloud to save your designs, or download designs to your WiFi enabled embroidery machine – location is never an issue, making it possible to be creative anywhere.
The Gold version has everything that Silver offers, plus it allows you to digitize with minimal effort with step-by-step wizards guiding you through the creative process. Turn photos into embroidery with Photo Stitch, add appliqué to your embroideries or give the new Spiro Wizard a try to create incredible unique designs (you can learn more about Spiro in the video below from mySewnet UK).
The Platinum version gives you the complete collection of tools and step-by-step wizards for full control of the creative process. Draw and paint in the software, digitize your own designs, or add embellishments such as ribbon embroidery – this software is the ideal outlet for your creativity!
If you already own a previous generation of Husqvarna Viking embroidery software like 4D, 5D, 6D, Premier+ or Premier+2, then you can save even more by upgrading to mySewnet Embroidery 2021 with the Platinum Upgrade. mySewnet UK has created a helpful video, which you can see below, that demonstrates some of the changes in layout with mySewnet™ 2021.
mySewnet has so much to offer that it’s impossible to cover it in one post, but the chart below gives you an at-a-glance comparison between the three versions. You can also take a look at Anna’s post of 10 reasons why she loves mySewnet Embroidery 2021, which gives more info about how the software has changed with mySewnet, plus there’s loads of information about each package level on our website. If you have any questions then you can comment below, give us a call on (0115) 9881550 or pop into the shop for a chat. The 20% off special offer is available for the whole of February 2023, but only while stocks last so make sure you don’t miss out!
Comparison of the Silver, Gold and Platinum versions of mySewnet™ Embroidery 2021
This post is an updated version of one originally published on our WordPress blog on 07/10/21. It has been updated to reflect 2023 prices.
Sewing is a great way to relax, to be able to switch off from everyday life and to let your creativity flow! Our aim is to encourage you to develop your sewing skills, whether you are a beginner or more advanced stitcher, and we hope that your will meet new friends and have loads of fun along the way.
Our classes are taught by tutors who are experts in their subjects and have a passion for sewing and sharing their skills with others. There’s no need to bring your own sewing machine: our classrooms are fully equipped with sewing machines, overlockers, and large cutting tables for use during the classes. Importantly, the kettle is always on and tea and coffee are provided!
Let’s take a look at our tutors and what they have to offer – grab a coffee and read on!
Catherine has been valuable part of the Coles shop team for over 10 years, so if you’ve been into the shop you may have met her. Along with being part of our shop floor staff, Catherine teaches overlocker courses for new owners, as well as more advanced techniques for people who have be using their overlockers for longer. Catherine has studied City & Guilds Tailoring Level 2 and Pattern Cutting Level 2 and gained distinctions in both; she has also completed a teaching course for adults at Nottingham Trent University.
Catherine teaches a regular dressmaking class on Wednesday mornings and afternoons and new for this year she is teaching a dressmaking and tailoring class that runs once a month on a Saturday. Our dressmaking classes are designed for you to work on your own project at your own pace, whether you want to make something from scratch or upcycle (or alter) an existing garment.
We extend a warm welcome to Emma, who joined us at the end of last year and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the team. Emma is an avid dressmaker and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others discover the joy of sewing and develop their own skills and experiences. She has a degree in fashion and textiles and has spent many years in the UK manufacturing industry.
Emma has reintroduced Pattern Cutting into our programme. Buying a commercial pattern and getting it to fit can be tricky and, as we all know, one size really doesn’t fit all! Creating your own pattern block allows you to be able to make clothes that really do fit, and you will also be able to use the skills learnt to alter commercial patterns. Emma will also be part of the teaching team for our weekend sewing retreat in February, along with Catherine.
Tracy joined our team two years ago, having been a freelance tutor for the past six years and teaching at venues across the East Midlands. She enjoys helping learners of all abilities refine their skills to produce high quality bespoke items. She specialises in teaching dressmaking, homewares and bag making, often creating her own patterns.
Tracy teaches a regular dressmaking class on a Tuesday morning and afternoon and new for this year she is teaching a beginner’s class on a Saturday morning and a junior class for 11- to 16-year-olds on a Saturday afternoon. Learning something new can be daunting, but both these classes have been designed to give you the confidence and skills needed to take your sewing journey to the next level!
With recycling and reusing in all our minds these days, Tracy is running the first of our Don’t Ditch it Repair It classes this February. You can come along and learn the basic skills needed to repair your favourite garments, from replacing a missing button to repairing a hole in your jumper or rescuing your favourite pair of jeans.
Gilli has been part of our team for many years, she is an experienced quilter and teacher and has won awards for her contemporary quilts. She is an active member of the Quilters Guild and is keen to encourage new quilters with her lively and engaging classes. Gilli teaches around the country and exhibits her work at national and international quilt shows.
Gilli teaches a regular Thursday morning Patchwork and Quilting class, which is aimed at all abilities. Whether you are a complete beginner or already an avid quilter, Gilli will take you through the whole process from choosing your fabric to completing your first project. If you are already a keen quilter this is an opportunity to learn new skills and techniques or finish that UFO!
Gilli also teaches a monthly Quilt Saturday class, ideal for those new to quilting or those who would like to build on existing skills. If you want to have a go at a sampler quilt, Gilli has plenty to choose from, pop over to our website and take a look!
Jill first came to classes as a soft furnishing student herself and has now been teaching for us for over 10 years. She enjoys making all kinds of items for the home and enjoys sharing her passion and enthusiasm whether you are learning to make your first cushion or measuring up for a curtain.
Jill teaches a soft furnishing and craft class on a Wednesday morning; the class is suitable for all skill levels. Jill will teach you how to make a variety of beautiful soft furnishings and crafts for your home from blinds and curtains to cushions and bags, the choice is yours!
Anna has been a member of the shop staff for over 10 years and on our teaching team for the past 6 years. She is a keen quilter and embroiderer and is a beta tester for the Husqvarna Viking software. Anna has a degree in fine arts and loves to share her ideas and creativity with her students.
Last year Anna launched a range of software Zoom classes and will be launching more of these later this year, as well as more face-to-face software and embroidery classes in our classrooms. New classes and dates will be launched in our newsletter.
Anna is also one of the tutors for our Epic Retreat in September, a weekend of workshops, product demonstrations and Q&As with Husqvarna Viking that is designed specifically for owners of Epic and Ruby 90 machines. This weekend always books up quickly, so please don’t delay in booking if you are interested.
Last year I filmed the owner’s courses for our online learning centre and this year I have more filming planned so that we can build our learning centre syllabus and add some project-based classes. Like Anna I’m also planning some Zoom classes, as well as face to face classes in our classroom. New classes and dates will be launched in our newsletter very soon!
Last year we launched our online learning centre, where you can find online classes for owners of Husqvarna machines as well as some free tutorials on accessories. We have plans to add more classes this year, which we’ll let you know about by newsletter so please make sure you’ve signed up to receive it! We also have plans for more Zoom classes, so again please keep an eye on our newsletters.
From time to time we have guest tutors visiting us. Kathleen Laurel Sage will be returning to our classrooms later this year, so please watch this space! Jamie Warren from Husqvarna Viking will also be back in our classrooms in September for our Epic and Ruby 90 retreat.
Sit & Sew Classes
Sometimes it’s nice to spend time with like-minded people and by that, I mean people that sew and share your passion! We’ve introduced Sit & Sew sessions, where you can come along to our classroom with your latest project, take advantage of the large cutting tables and sew and natter to your heart’s content. Sewing machines are provided and the kettle will be on, but please note there’s no tutor for these sessions!
You can book all our classes online. Did you know that if you are spending over £30 then you can pay with your PayPal account and spread the cost over 3 months? We do recommend early booking – our classes fill up quite quickly and class numbers are limited as we like you to have plenty of room to sew. We wouldn’t want you to miss out and be disappointed! We recommend you read our conditions of booking before booking a class.
It’s December, and we all know what that means – it’s just over three weeks to Christmas and the Christmas shopping is getting more urgent! As always, at Coles we’re here to help so here are some ideas for gifts for the stitcher in your life.
The Emerald 116 and Emerald 118 both come with a free sewing machine bag that is ideal for dust-free storage as well as letting you safely transport your machine to classes. The Emerald range is great for dressmakers and there is a great range of additional accessories available that can make completing your project quicker and easier, such as the Clear Seam Guide Foot that makes adding an even seam allowance of any size a doddle!
If you’re looking for a machine for a quilter then look no further than the Opal 690Q. This is an absolute workhorse of a machine that is easy for a beginner to use but also has lots of advanced features that a more experienced stitcher would love. This Christmas it comes with a £100 Coles gift card that can be used in store on anything that takes your fancy – feet, fabric, you name it!
If an overlocker is more up your street, then you can’t go wrong with the Amber S|100. It’s Husqvarna Viking’s newest release and has 4, 3, 2 thread capability with 16 different stitches to help you complete any project. It also comes with a £50 Coles gift card to spend in store on anything you like.
All of these offers are available until 31st December 2022 or while stocks last, plus all new machines from Coles come with free tuition to get you up to speed quickly. Not sure where to hide such a big gift? We have a Wrap & Store service – we can wrap and store your machine for you until the big day, you just need to collect it before the shop closes at 2pm on Christmas Eve! Simply contact the shop to take advantage of this time-saving service.
Husqvarna Viking Accessories
The Husqvarna Viking boffins have been busily creating again and there are several new products available this Christmas. Check out our staff picks below to learn more about the Husqvarna Viking Designer Quilter’s Kit, the Husqvarna Viking Circular Attachment Templates and the Husqvarna Viking Serger Case. There are also several more familiar items that it’s always worth taking a look at, including extension tables, the Interchangeable Dual Feed and the Quilt Binders, which are now available in 1/2″ and 5/8″ sizes. These products are some of our most regular sellers for a reason – they’re incredibly useful for all types of sewing. It’s important to make sure that they will fit your recipient’s machine, but as long as you know what type of machine it is then the product pages will give you all the information you need. If you’re still not sure whether you’ve made the right choice then our helpful shop floor staff will be able to advise you either by email or phone.
Deborah has chosen the Prym Love Starter Set for her staff pick this year. She says it’s great gift for any beginner sewers, but it’s also perfect for taking to classes. Anna is excited about a couple of Husqvarna Viking’s newest products: the Designer Quilter’s Kit and the new templates to use with the circular attachment. The Circular Attachment Templates help you to stitch perfect flower, heart and leaf shapes with your circular attachment, while the Designer Quilter’s Kit contains a whole host of tools for quilters, including a brilliant rotating cutting mat.
Jackie loves to make clothes for her lucky granddaughter Evie, so will probably be getting some of Dashwood’s babycord to make Evie a Christmas dress. Catherine has her eye on the new Husqvarna Viking Serger Case. This wheeled case lets you transport your precious overlocker safely and easily and it is big enough to take even Husqvarna Viking’s largest overlocker, the Amber Air S|600. If she found one of those under her tree then she would be absolutely over the moon!
As for me, I’ve chosen Sewgirl’s Chelsea Girl Hat pattern. Being the owner of an inconveniently large head, then hats are difficult for me to buy, but the Chelsea Hat can be adjusted to fit me perfectly so I can keep warm this winter without giving myself a headache!
If you’re still not sure not to buy then we’ve got you covered – with a Coles gift card then you can get anything in the shop! We have them online in amounts of £5, £10, £20, £25, £50 and £100 but if you would like to give a different amount then just give us a call or drop us an email and we can help you out. There’s no need to worry about it expiring before it can be spent – our gift cards don’t have expiry dates so you can use them up at your leisure.
This is our second Christmas since we started our blog, so if you want some more ideas then you can take a look at last year’s Christmas Gift Ideas blog post (although not every item on there is still available) and there are even more ideas in store. Don’t forget, we are open until 2pm on Christmas Eve so there’s still time for those last minute purchases! If there’s anything you’d like to know more about, or if you’d like to take advantage of our Wrap & Store service, then you can email us on email@example.com or call the shop on (0115) 9881550. In the meantime, everyone at Coles wishes you all a very merry Christmas!
Anyone who follows us on Facebook will know that we have recently received a brand new cabinet full of Mettler Silk Finish Cotton 60. But what you might not know is what a fantastic all-rounder this thread is. So why is it worth trying Silk Finish Cotton 60 (SFC 60)?
It is called Silk Finish Cotton because of its silky feel, while the 60 refers to the weight of the thread: the higher the number, the finer the thread so a 60wt thread is a medium-fine thread. This means that SFC 60 is finer than other cotton threads like Gutermann Natural Cotton (50wt), Cotton 30 and Cotton 12. It is also finer than other embroidery threads, like Gutermann Sulky Rayon 40 and Rayon 30. However, if you’re looking for an ultra fine thread for something like English paper piecing, then you’ll want 100wt, which is far finer than SFC60.
Mettler provide a handy graphic so you can see how to use their threads, which as you can see below shows that SFC 60 is at its best when used for quilting and embroidery. It can also be used for sewing but it isn’t recommended for use in an overlocker.
SFC 60 is great for quilting. When you piece with it then you lose less of your seam allowance when you press your seams because it lies flatter than seams stitched with a heavier weight thread. This difference is minimal on individual seams, but really builds up across the quilt as a whole and can throw out the measurements for your final quilt. Also, if your quilting is particularly dense then a finer weight thread will give you a lighter, less stiff result. Over the quilt as a whole then a slightly finer thread can really make a big difference!
A lot of people use 40wt rayon embroidery threads, which give a lovely sheen. However, sometimes a matt finish is preferable and you get this with a cotton thread like SFC 60 – you can see in the image below that the Gutermann Rayon 40 on the bottom row has much more shine than the SFC 60 on the top row. Also, if your stitching is particularly dense then you will also find that your embroidery has less bulk with a finer thread.
When embroidering, SFC 60 looks lovely as your top thread but it’s also great in your bobbin. Pre-wound bobbins and bobbin thread have more stretch to them than cotton, so can lead to puckering on some embroidery stitches (particularly running stitches). Using cotton in your bobbin can help with this issue, and because it is a finer weight then you can wind more on, meaning you have to change bobbins less often.
You can also sew with SFC 60, although this is not its primary use. It’s best to use it with lightweight fabrics as it is finer than other sewing threads.
Where SFC 60 really shines is the beautiful lustre created by the mercerisation process. This, in tandem with the long staple Egyptian cotton fibres that it is spun from, creates a beautifully smooth thread that sheds less, creates less fluff in your machine and is less likely to shred. What this adds up to is less thread breakage and less debris clogging up your machine, which can cause all sorts of issues of its own (if you want to know more about the importance of cleaning our your machine, then read Neil’s post on keeping your machine in tip top condition).
We have our whole range of SFC 60 thread available on our website. Simply select the colour you would like and then choose the length from the drop down menu. Not all colours come in all lengths but you can refine your search by length if you want a particular amount, or by colour group if you know you want a blue (for example), but want to browse the shades on offer. As always, we are available on email at firstname.lastname@example.org and telephone on (0115) 9881550 if you would like any advice about your thread choice. I hope you’ll give Silk Finish Cotton 60 a try – let us know what you think in the comments!
You only have until midnight on Saturday 1st October to enter our Liberty competition and be in with a chance of winning one of our three Liberty prizes!
How do I enter?
Simply purchase any Liberty fabric from us, either in store or online, and your name will automatically be entered into the competition. Each full metre purchased counts as one entry, so you can mix and match half metres and fat quarters – as long as it adds up to one full metre within the same transaction then it counts! The more you buy, the more entries you have and the more chances you have of winning!
If you already have a sewing machine, you may have wondered why an overlocker is worth bothering with. After all, you can do almost everything with your sewing machine that an overlocker does, can’t you? But an overlocker has so much to offer and having one in your sewing room will revolutionise your sewing!
An overlocker, known in the USA as a serger, allows you to stitch, trim and overcast in one step. You can use your overlocker from beginning to end of your project, and as it does all this at double the speed of your average sewing machine then you can complete projects in a flash. Just think, there’s no need to sit and trim all of your seam allowances by hand and then go back to the sewing machine to finish those fraying edges – with an overlocker it’s already done!
Overlockers can stitch using 4, 3 or 2 thread capabilities, allowing you to adjust the strength and bulk of your seam according to your project. They can be used on all fabric types, including knitted garments that may be tricky to sew using a standard sewing machine. They are particularly useful for sewing on stretch fabrics due to their differential feed. This means that they have two sets of feed dogs that feed the top and bottom layers of your fabric independently through the overlocker, preventing your fabric from stretching out of shape while it is stitched.
This differential feed also allows you to create decorative finishes such as gathers or ruffles, but you have even more options with additional feet, including more complex gathers/ruffles, more hem options (including, blind hem, flatlock, mock bands, rolled hem, lettuce leaf) and a variety of seam types (including French, mock French and mock flat felled seams, although some will need to be finished on your sewing machine).
On top of all this, you can embellish your projects using decorative threads, ribbons or yarns, plus you can apply lace and elastic, add tucks or pintucks, stitch narrow spaghetti straps with ease… the list of what you can do with your overlocker is enormous!
If you want a really professional finish to your knitwear and activewear, or to further embellish your projects with decorative stitching, then you need a coverstitch machine. While this can mean purchasing a separate machine, the Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S|600 also has a coverstitch function, making it two machines in one. This is a worthwhile purchase if you sew a lot of stretch garments as it produces a robust finish that is as good as anything you can get in the shops, while avoiding the puckering that can occur when stitching with a twin needle on a sewing machine.
When you buy a new overlocker from Coles then you get a one-day owner’s class with me to help you learn how to use your machine, absolutely free. If you’re interested in buying an overlocker but you don’t know whether it’s for you then you can browse what we have on offer on our website here, give us a call in the shop for advice on 0115 9881550, or better yet, come and visit us for a demonstration!
We have some fantastic prizes on offer in our Liberty competition! All you need to do to enter is purchase Liberty fabrics – every metre purchased counts as one entry so the more you buy, the more chances you have of winning!
The name of Liberty conjures an image of gorgeous florals and subtle designs that are inspired by nature and history, and with good reason. Liberty London is one of the world’s most iconic fabric manufacturers and has been at the cutting edge of design for over 145 years, producing exquisite fabrics with timeless appeal. The Liberty name is synonymous with quality and elegance – with beautiful prints on high quality cotton, Liberty fabrics make the perfect addition to any quilter’s stash!
Liberty collections at Coles
We currently have three Liberty collections available both in store and online: Flower Show Sunrise, Wiltshire Shadow and A Woodland Christmas.
Flower Show Sunrise brings together botanical designs from across Liberty’s iconic print archive. Drawing inspiration from the glory and tradition of classic British flower shows, the collection features diverse flower forms united in a cacophony of colour, illustrating Liberty’s rich heritage of floral design.
Wiltshire Shadow is the the perfect fabric blender and its muted leaf and berry print is designed to coordinate against other layouts from Liberty’s vast archive of prints for a seamless mix-and-match effect.
A Woodland Christmas transports us to a magical winter wonderland of prancing reindeers and glittering stars. Charming scenes unfold within an enchanted forest where snowflakes fall around a Christmas cottage, and brightly coloured baubles hidden among the evergreen firs complement traditional designs of holly and berries.
How do I enter the competition?
Simply purchase any Liberty fabric from us, either in store or online, and your name will automatically be entered into the competition. Each full metre purchased counts as one entry, so you can mix and match half metres and fat quarters – as long as it adds up to one full metre within the same transaction then it counts! The more you buy, the more entries you have and the more chances you have of winning!
The first prize winner will receive eight assorted Liberty fat quarters, a Gutermann Sew-All 30 spool thread set, two packs of machine quilting needles and a copy of Quilting with Liberty Fabrics by Jenni Smith. This beautiful hardback book comes in a slipcase to protect it and contains 15 quilting projects as well as a complete fabric design history of Liberty and a full colour reference index for every fabric used. It features beautiful details of the classic fabric designs produced over the years and each quilt will inspire readers to finally cut into those precious bits of fabric and begin enjoying them in pieced projects of their very own.
The second prize winner will receive 10 asorted Liberty fat quarters, an 18 spool Mettler Seralon thread set and two packs of machine quilting needles.
The third prize winner will receive six assorted Liberty fat quarters, an 8 spool Mettler Silk Finish Cotton thread set and two pack of machine quilting needles.
The competition will run from Monday 1st August 2022 to Saturday 1st October 2022 and all qualifying purchases within this time will be entered. The winner will be drawn at random, live on our Facebook page – join us at 2pm on Tuesday 4th October 2022 to see if you are one of the lucky winners! Please note, international customers can enter but prizes will only be shipped to a UK address.
You can shop our collection of Liberty fabrics online here – why not get a head start on your Christmas makes with the brand new A Woodland Christmas collection? This offer is only available while stocks last so make sure you don’t leave it too late!
We’re all a little sad at Coles this week, as we have had to say goodbye to our Garment Making tutor Lorna Keeling. Lorna is retiring after 20 years, and we had a little goodbye party last Friday to wave her off. In her two decades with Coles Lorna has taught countless students, many of whom came to her as complete beginners and have gone on to work in the fashion industry all over the world. Lorna’s classes were always in high demand because of her expert knowledge of garment making, as well as the clear and practical way she communicated it. Her passion for sharing her knowledge ignited a love of garment making in everyone she taught, and we are all very sorry to see her go. We hope she enjoys her retirement, but we’ll all miss her!
As we say goodbye to Lorna, we have some new tutors to introduce who have their own expert knowledge to share. Our own Catherine Crew, who you may already know from the shop floor or her excellent overlocker classes, will be taking a weekly Garment Making class on Wednesday mornings. We have Lorna to thank for having Catherine here, as she first came to Coles to attend one of Lorna’s dressmaking classes! Since then, Catherine joined the Coles team and has become an expert in overlocking as well as garment making.
You may not know that Catherine passed her Level 3 in both Pattern Cutting and Tailoring with distinction, and she is now working towards her Level 4 in Tailoring. She brings this expertise to her new classes, as well as her in-depth knowledge of all the latest sewing products from working in the shop. She is so excited to teach Garment Making in addition to her popular overlocker classes! She is looking forward to spending more time with other creative people and helping them to see their projects through to fruition. Catherine will be taking a four-week summer class on Thursday mornings beginning on 28th July, before moving to a regular weekly Wednesday slot in September.
Our next new tutor is also a familiar face – we are welcoming back Jayne Childs, who will be teaching some fantastic embroidery workshops in the coming months. Some of you may remember Jayne, as she worked for us (when we were Husqvarna Studio) for several years before moving on to be sales manager at Husqvarna Viking UK. Jayne makes embroidered lace, designed by hand and created using Husqvarna Viking computer software and embroidery machines. She uses text within her lace to weave stories and tell tales inspired by her research into lace and social history.
For the past twelve years Jayne has been making and selling a range of lace fashion and home accessories, under her brand name of JC Middlebrook. She recently became a UK brand ambassador for Husqvarna Viking mySewnet software, and she also works part time at Nottingham Trent University as a Research Assistant for the Lace Archive, as well as teaching on the Fashion BA course.
Jayne is looking forward to sharing her software and embroidery knowledge with you in her workshops. All three of her upcoming workshops are based around designs that Jayne has created especially for the classes, which are inspired by Nottingham’s lacemaking history. In her Paper Embroidery Workshop she provides vintage papers for you to embroider on and create some unique art. Her Embroidered Lantern Workshop and Embroidered Lampshade Workshop will lead you through the creation of some beautiful homewares, once again inspired by vintage Nottingham lace designs.
Our final new addition is completely new to Coles. Emma Smith has been a freelance tutor for various venues across Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire since 2019. She is a prolific dressmaker for her own personal projects and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others discover the joy of sewing and develop their own skills and experiences. Emma originally completed a fashion and textiles degree and, having spent many years in the UK manufacturing industry, she brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the team.
Emma has some amazing things planned for her classes with Coles. Coming up, she has an Introduction to Patchwork and Quilting class for people completely new to the hobby, as well as two-day and three-day workshops helping you through trouser-making and jeans-making. These are two of the more challenging garments to sew, and her workshops promise to be extremely informative.
You can find all of our upcoming classes online here and you can book online or by calling the shop on 0115 9881550. As you may already know, our classes are very popular so we do recommend early booking to avoid being disappointed. We hope to see you in one of our classes soon!
So, we opened our doors on 1st June 1996, a staggering 26 years ago! It’s fair to say a lot has happened since then!
Our very young children are now grown up and have families and careers of their own. Staff have come and gone and come back again! We welcome back Jayne Childs, who opened with us in 1996, and is coming back to teach classes in the autumn. Sewing machines, fashions, techniques, fabrics, and inspiration have all changed, the advance of technology in sewing machines has frankly been breathtaking.
But some things remain the same. We opened with a mission to get people sewing again! Against the backdrop of a cyclical recession, we mortgaged ourselves to the hilt to open a new kind of sewing store. One designed to inspire you to sew, with great products, inspiration, knowhow, and classes to make the experience of sewing a joy, therapeutic, and to create a community of stitchers who would want to come back for more and more.
Of course, the whole thing nearly crashed and burned. It was two months before we got any sort of revenue stream, but with plenty of money going out! I remember one day being here all day to take £2.50. The window cleaner came, and I had to pay him £3. I thought then, what have I done?! Rose was working nights to pay the bills at home and looking after our 2 boys during the day. I am not sure quite how she did it.
Anyway, we hung on and as summer turned to autumn, things started to improve. Our footfall increased and a lot of orders started to come in by phone (pre websites!). People started attending our classes, and sewing machines started arriving for service.
We managed to acquire a tie up with People’s College who used our space and machines to host classes in our premises. Lorna Keeling, who is just set to retire, started teaching with us from those days – I know that staff and customers alike are going to miss her when she goes.
Our embroidery software club took off with people coming to us from all over the country. In 1999, we managed to get onto the NEC Exhibition circuit, and gained a lot of new customers from those shows. We started getting contracts for servicing sewing machines in schools and supplying new machines too.
As things started growing, we needed more staff and our massive premises started seeming to be shrinking. Launches of new products, especially sewing machines, were well supported, and everything was going well. Of course everything changed in March 2020, thanks to Covid 19. I remember locking the door on 23rd March and wondered if we would ever open it again. We diverted the phone lines to home, tied down every cost and hoped.
What we didn’t expect was that everyone would start sewing masks, gowns, and take sewing up as a hobby while stuck at home. Not only were our wonderful customers supporting us where they could, but we also had interest from new stitchers and before we knew it, Rose and I were in every day shipping out orders.
We had so many online and phone orders that soon Catherine was able to come back to keep our mail order department running. Then came the demand for sewing machines to be repaired, so Lee returned to the workshop and in no time we were back to about 40% of where we would expect to be at. All the while, Sam was supporting us as our Finanace Manager, working hard from home until she was able to return to the office.
The lockdowns came and went, the toughest for us being Jan – April 2021, when sales fell away. Once things re-opened for good, we could bring back our other staff and people gradually started to come back in. Starting our classes again and seeing our regular customers and tutors more often, along with having Catherine, Anna, Debbie and Jackie back on the shop floor, has brought the shop back to life. We are still working at getting back to where we were in 2019 but without our loyal customers and supportive staff and tutors then we really wouldn’t still be here.
It has been a tough road, but we have pivoted. We have invested in our website, which Ellie has tried to make more user friendly and contains more of our range than ever. Anna and Rose have worked hard to make our Zoom classes just as crammed with useful information as our in-person classes and Anna’s online software classses are selling out just as quickly as ever! We want to make online learning even easier for you to take part in so we are currently setting up a learning website, which is due to launch in July.
I’m glad to say that we not only still have all our staff, but have also taken on a service and retail apprentice, so we are planning a rosy future! Our senior service engineer, Lee, has gone from joining us as an apprentice 13 years ago to sharing his expert knowledge with an apprentice of his own. George has been with us for over a year now and is learning fast. We have also been joined more recently by Oscar and Amelia, who are learning about retail and sewing from Debbie and Anna.
Hopefully, we can do an update in 26 years’ time. In the meantime, thank you for all the support over the years, it really means more to us than we can express. We wish everyone safety, health, and a bit of wealth.
Using embroidery software can be a confusing experience, especially for those with limited computer knowledge. The features are always evolving, and while it is exciting to be able to do amazing things with your embroidery machine (that can give professional-looking results), it can be difficult to take full advantage of everything the software has to offer without a little help. But don’t worry, that’s what our embroidery software classes are for!
As the Coles Sewing Centre embroidery software expert and tutor, I have been teaching software classes since 2016. In that time, I have worked with all the latest Husqvarna Viking software packages, from 6D and Premier+ through to Premier+2 and the new mySewnet Embroidery 2021. In my classes you will be made to feel relaxed and excited to be using the software. We go at your speed and level of experience to help improve your skills and expand your creative horizons.
So what happens during a software class and how can it help you to take your embroidery to the next level? Let’s take a look at one of my upcoming software classes, the Sew Happy Software & Stitch workshop, so you can see what our software classes have to offer.
As you walk into the classroom the first thing you will see, other than a smiling tutor (that’s me), will be a table with samples for inspiration to get you excited for the day ahead. These will show you examples of how you can modify the same elements of my Sew Happy design to give different outcomes that can be turned into so many things, like a pennant wall hanging, a tote bag, or a cushion. Have a look at the images below to see how just altering the colours can transform a design.
When you arrive, you pick a table, set up your computer and open the software ready to start the workshop. We have a projector screen set up so that students can clearly see what I have on my computer screen as I give my demonstrations. Each aspect is demonstrated separately, with time afterwards for you to have a go at adapting a design yourself with the aid of a handout worksheet. We provide plenty of breaks to let the information settle in, as well as time for lunch.
For the Sew Happy workshop we explore the different methods of individualisation that you saw in the samples at the start. I give you hints and tips of how to use the software to its full capacity, as well as things to look out for to make it easier to create and customise your embroidery.
When the demonstration part of the day is over, we move on to stitching out your compositions. This is a fantastic opportunity to put knowledge into practice, letting you see the results for yourself. I am available for you to ask me questions as challenges arise, so I can help you then and there to improve your embroideries and to grow more confident to go home and create by yourself. When you leave you will know how to select Fonts and SuperDesigns, adjust the size and orientation of individual elements as well as the design as a whole, how to place elements to give the shape and effect you are looking for, and even more.
I like to make my software workshops enjoyable and as easy to understand as possible. There are often smiles and laughter as the lightbulb moments happen and it all becomes easier. I love sharing my knowledge of the software openly and watching my students grow and improve. I don’t want students to ever feel silly for not knowing something – we all start out as beginners! For all software owners, experimenting and playing with your software is always the key to making creating and learning an enjoyable process.
I will also be teaching a Zoom class next week (Thursday 26th May 2022), Spiro Wizard Inspiration, where you will learn how to use the sliders and functions within the Spiro Wizard to create your own designs. As always, I will show you samples for inspiration and how to avoid common mistakes. And because it is a Zoom class, you can take it in the comfort of your own home, plus you will receive a pdf copy of the notes that you can refer to again and again.
If you have any questions about our software workshops then comment below, or email me at email@example.com. We also really enjoy show and tell at Coles and we love to see the projects you have been creating, so please do send us images of your latest creations so we can showcase them in the Customer Makes Gallery here on our blog – you may inspire someone else to make something just as amazing!