Classes · Embroidery · software

Embroidery software classes – taking your embroidery to the next level

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.

The Sew Happy Software & Stitch Workshop is on Tuesday 21st June 2022 and you can click here to book your place. Places are limited but don’t worry if it’s fully booked, as we run regular software workshops on all aspects of the embroidery software. I will be running another Software & Stitch workshop on Wednesday 10th August called Floral Encore, which will teach you how to use the line floral SuperDesigns to create stunning Encore embroideries.

A Floral Encore SuperDesign

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.

I hope that this gives you an idea of what a software workshop at Coles involves and just how much you can learn with us. You can click here to browse and book our upcoming software classes – we add more classes periodically, so it is worth checking regularly to see what we have on offer.

If you’re interested in trying the latest software, mySewnet Embroidery 2021, you can view more about it on our website here. You can also read my previous post, 10 Reasons why I love mySewnet Embroidery 2021, to learn more about why it’s worth taking the plunge!

If you have any questions about our software workshops then comment below, or email me at info@colessewingcentre.co.uk. 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!

Patterns · Prym · Sewing

Do you cut or trace your patterns?

I’ve been sewing my own clothes since I first made my school uniform skirt 25 years ago. It was only when I stated working at Coles five years ago that I discovered that a lot of people trace their patterns out rather than cut them directly from the pattern pieces. At first I thought it wasn’t worth the bother but since then I’ve changed my mind, so read on to learn why it’s worthwhile to trace out your patterns instead of cutting them.

Why is it useful to trace off a pattern?

Making the same pattern in a different size

You might like to make clothes for other people as well as yourself, but that becomes difficult if you are different sizes and you have already directly cut out the pattern pieces. Similarly, if you have made something that you love that no longer fits you correctly then you can trace off the pattern again in your new size and make it again! Tracing off your pattern gives you the opportunity to make it in as many sizes as you like.

Multiple pattern pieces on the same sheet

Some pattern companies print multiple pattern pieces on the same sheet, so if you cut one out you destroy the rest! Unless you are happy to buy the same pattern several times over, then you need to trace off the pieces you need.

Patterns that come in books often have overlapping pieces – tracing them off preserves all of the pieces and helps to prevent mistakes

Same piece for multiple views

If the same pattern piece is used for different views then it is worth tracing it off, that way you can adjust the piece if necessary and not worry that it won’t be usable if you make a different view at a later date. Plus you can keep all of the pieces for the same view together, which, if you are anything like me, makes organising your patterns much easier!

Adjusting pattern pieces

If you are an adventurous stitcher then you might like to adjust your pattern pieces to fit differently or to make best use of limited fabric. While you can fold, cut or pin your pattern pieces directly, its much simpler to adjust and re-adjust as you trace it off until you get it perfect.

Patterns printed on thick paper

A lot of the independent pattern companies print their patterns on lovely, thick, quality paper, which is great for making them last but isn’t well suited to being used directly to make your garment. Similarly, if you have downloaded a pdf pattern and printed it off at home then you are faced with creating an A4 pattern jigsaw with sellotape. It’s a lot easier to work with thin pattern paper, so trace the pattern off and the problem is solved!

Tilly and the Buttons patterns come on beautiful strong paper and they recommend tracing off your pieces

How do you trace off a pattern?

Pattern paper

I like to save any unprinted sections of pattern paper from printed patterns, but unless you have a large stash of blank pattern paper then you are likely to need to buy some. Burda Tissue Paper is easy to store and transport as it comes folded – simply lay it over your pattern piece and trace with a pencil. You might like to iron it first to remove any creases.

I should have ironed this paper first – it doesn’t lie flat!

Prym pattern paper comes in two versions: blank and gridded. It comes on a roll so you don’t need to worry about crease marks and gridded paper is ideal if you want to enlarge or adjust your pattern. We only sell this paper in-store so come and see us if you’re interested in this useful pattern paper!

Pattern weights

You’re going to need to hold everything in place to make sure it doesn’t shift while you’re copying your pattern. You can use anything heavy for this but pattern weights are the ideal tool as they prevent shifting without leaving marks. Prym have a cute series of orange, kiwi and melon-shaped weights that double as pincushions, as well as set of four mini weights in either pink or blue. Simplicity Vintage’s pattern weights are flat and wide, so are less likely to be accidentally shifted or knocked.

Tranferring your pattern

Once you’ve laid your paper over your pattern piece and held it in place, you can simply trace it off using a pencil (and easily rub out any mistakes). An alternative to the pencil and paper method is to use carbon paper and a tracing wheel. Place the carbon paper between the pattern piece and your blank paper; once you have the hang of it then this can be a lot faster than tracing with a pencil. Some people even transfer the pattern directly onto their fabric! Using carbon paper is particularly useful if you struggle to see the pattern piece through the pattern paper when tracing – the pattern piece is uppermost and so can be seen clearly. You can also transfer different line styles dependent on your wheel – a smooth wheel will transfer smooth lines while a toothed wheel will give a dotted line.

Tips

  • It’s a good idea to use a pencil so that you can rub out any mistakes, but did you know that Pilot Frixion Ball Pens come in a variety of colours and can also be rubbed out? Be careful if you choose to use Frixion pens though, if you iron your pattern piece you will lose all of your markings!
  • If you’d rather stick with a pencil but would still like to colour code your pattern pieces, then the Prym Cartridge Pencil has a set of refills in yellow, pink and grey
  • Don’t forget to transfer any markings such as notches – they’re easy to overlook but you will definitely miss them if they’re not there! The Prym Aqua Trickmarker is perfect for transferring markings to your fabric, as the ink disappears with a dab of water
  • Make sure you label your pattern pieces with the pattern name (and number if it has one), the piece name/number and the size you have copied
  • Rather than try to cram everything back into your pattern envelope, use a transparent press-seal bag to keep your pieces together – don’t forget to label this too so you can easily find your pattern pieces again in the future!

Now that I know the benefits, I always trace my pattern pieces off but ultimately it’s a matter of personal preference. Let us know in the comments if you like to trace, use carbon paper or cut directly!

Classes · Embroidery · Patchwork · quilting · Sewing

Sew with Coles

At Coles Sewing Centre, we’re not just a shop – did you know that we have a classroom upstairs? Our classes can take you from complete beginner to confident sewer and even the most experienced stitchers can find something new to learn. Our classes are also a great opportunity to make friends with similar interests and many of our regulars enjoy the social aspect as much as the sewing!

When we opened our doors back in 1996, we ran just one class a week; fast forward to 2019 and our classrooms were buzzing with people attending classes every day of the week. Sadly, we had to close our classroom doors in March 2020 as Covid hit and when Covid restrictions started to lift in April 2021, we began to realise that reopening the classroom was going to be the most difficult part of our business to restart. Somehow we had to adhere to social distancing and continue to follow Government guidelines to keep everyone safe.

So, with screens in place and tables well-spaced, we reopened the classroom doors in September 2021 but only ran one class at a time to avoid overcrowding. As the Covid vaccine rolled out and people started to feel more confident about mixing, we have gradually added more classes. Our variety of classes isn’t what it was pre-Covid, but we are getting there and plan to have a full program up and running in the autumn, with lots of new and exciting classes!

To everyone that has attended our classes we would like to say a big THANKYOU, your support has been very much appreciated!

Our classrooms

We have one large classroom area that can accommodate up to 33 people or can be divided into two or three smaller areas, accommodating groups of 12 or less. The classroom areas are bright and airy with large tables for cutting out patterns or for laying out quilts, including a table that adjusts in height for those that are unable to stand to work. If you want to bring your own machine then you can take it up in our lift, but Husqvarna Viking sewing machines are provided for students to use when attending our classes, as well as overlockers and embroidery machines – if you are considering purchasing a machine you can attend a class and try before you buy. And, of course, tea and coffee making facilities are available too!

Our classroom, with the first half set up for a sewing class.

Classes at Coles

Our classes cover all aspects of sewing, so whether you are a patchwork/quilter, embroiderer, garment maker or you prefer to focus on home crafts, we have something that will interest you. We can help you get to grips with your new machine, expand your skills with software, or give you inspiration to be creative with your stitching. All our tutors are experts in their fields and enjoy inspiring, encouraging and sharing their skills.

Machine Owners courses and workshops

Although the instruction booklets are excellent – and as easy as the machines are to use – there is nothing quite like having an expert at your elbow guiding you through new procedures… and offering you useful ‘tips of the trade’ at the same time!

The sewing and embroidery machine owners courses and workshops are taught by me, Rosemary Coles. These courses are aimed at owners of Husqvarna Viking embroidery machines and are designed to help you get the most out of your sewing/embroidery machine. They are free to customers who have purchased their sewing/embroidery machines (selected models) from us but can be purchased by anyone who wants to brush up on using their machine.

We also run a one-day Overlocker Owners Course, taught by Catherine Crew. Catherine will help you to you get the most from your new overlocker and to discover all the wonderful features it has to offer. This course is free for overlocker owners who have purchased their machines from us, but if you have bought your overlocker elsewhere or have a different make of overlocker then the course can be purchased. In the coming months Catherine will be introducing some brand new one-day workshops to take your overlocking to another level, so please watch this space!

Until now the owners courses have taken place in our classrooms, but we are currently working on them becoming online videos that you will be able to download and watch over and over again. This is still in progress, but an announcement will be made on our website as soon as the videos are available. If you didn’t purchase your sewing machine or overlocker from us, don’t worry – the online courses will be available to buy.

Patchwork & Quilting

Our patchwork and quilting tutor is Gilli Theokritoff, who has been with us for many years and is keen to encourage new quilters with her lively and engaging classes. Gilli is an experienced quilter who has won awards for her contemporary quilts.

Our weekly Patchwork and Quilting class is held on a Thursday morning and is aimed at all abilities, whether you are a complete beginner or already an avid quilter. If you are a novice then 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’s beautiful Starlight Sampler Quilt

If you work during the week then you might be interested in Sampler Quilt Saturday. This class is ideal for those new to quilting or those who would like to build on existing skills. Each month you will work on a variety of different blocks, exploring different techniques, including appliqué, complex piecing, curved seams, foundation piecing, etc. There are a variety of quilts to choose from, or if you’re looking for a shorter project there’s also a table runner option.

If you are looking for a one-day quilting workshops, then take a look at the Herringbone Table Runner on 14th April or our very popular Tuffet Workshop on 7th May, where you can make your own tuffet footstool.

Garment Making

Our garment making classes are particularly popular, so we have two tutors to take you through constructing your very own garment. Lorna Keeling has been with us for many years and has a great depth of knowledge of the sewing trade from designing to manufacturing. Tracy Corns joined us in 2021 and has been a freelance tutor for the last five years, teaching at venues across Leicestershire.

We offer two weekly Garment Making classes – Tracy teaches the Tuesday morning class and Lorna teaches on Friday mornings. With their expert guidance you can make a garment that will be a perfect fit and have a professional finish. These classes are suitable for all abilities – if you are a beginner then our tutor will take you through the whole process from how to read the pattern, to how to cut your fabric (accurately!), as well learning the skills such as darts, hems and inserting zips. Those with sewing experience can learn new skills and techniques to take your sewing to another level.

For those of you who have some sewing experience, you can take your skills to another level by attending our Pattern Cutting and Design class, which runs once a month on a Saturday with Lorna. This course is for anyone with an interest in pattern cutting or garment construction. The course covers pattern cutting, garment design, fitting and garment construction. If you already have some pattern cutting experience this will give you the opportunity to develop your skills further.

If you work during the week then you might be interested in our Saturday Garment Making and Home Crafts class that runs once a month on a Saturday, where you can stitch a garment, soft furnishing project or craft project, all with expert guidance from Tracy.

Soft Furnishing and Crafts

Jill Dean has been a tutor with us for over 10 years and enjoys making all kinds of items for the home, from cushions to Roman blinds and curtains. She teaches our weekly Soft Furnishing and Crafts class on a Tuesday, which is suitable for all skill levels. This course will teach you how to make a variety of soft furnishings for your home, cushions, curtains, roman blinds etc., or if you prefer you can work on a craft project – maybe a bag or embellished cushion! If you can’t make a weekday then you can join our Saturday Garment Making and Home Crafts class, which Tracy runs once a month.

Workshops for Software Owners

There are so many modules within the Husqvarna Viking software packages that it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start, but we have our very own software expert, Anna Mather, on hand to help you. Anna has lots of ideas up her sleeve to help you get the most from your software package and is experienced with helping even the most tech-novice of embroiderers. Her Software and Stitch classes will run in our classroom but she will also be introducing some Zoom classes for those of you that aren’t local to Nottingham, so if you are an owner of Premier+2 Ultra, Extra or Embroidery then why not join Anna on Tuesday 10th May for her first Zoom class!

Machine Embroidery

Kathleen Laurel-Sage teaches our creative machine embroidery classes. She is a freelance designer and embroiderer, who in her own words, loves to “create, inflict and infect fellow creative folk with the bug to master and perfect their creativity”. Kathleen has incorporated hooped machine embroidery into her workshop repertoire using a Husqvarna Viking Ruby 90 embroidery machine and software. She has created some amazing workshops, which are designed to give you the confidence to try new things and gain new skills and are ideal for owners of Husqvarna Viking embroidery machines.

Kathleen will show you how to create a beautiful waterfall of flowers and butterflies on her Floral Waterfall workshop on Saturday 25th June, using your embroidery machine, organza, water soluble fabric and a soldering iron. Watch out for many more new machine embroidery classes in the Autumn!

Hand Stitching

Mary Broddle is new to Coles this year and brings with her a range of hand embroidery workshops, including one for children this Easter. Mary encourages mindful stitching, where you let your needle and thread move through the fabric without overthinking its path – this can have a calming effect, aiding relaxation and reducing stress.

Mary’s hand stitching workshops include Clothes Embellishment, Mindful Stitching and Hoop Art, designed for the days when you don’t want to sit in front of your machine but you want to relax and be creative. If you are like me and aren’t a keen hand stitcher, I would encourage you to come and give it a go – it really is very relaxing and it’s perfect for all abilities, even if you’ve never threaded a needle!

You can view and book all of our upcoming classes online here – keep an eye out as we will be adding more classes for autumn soon! I hope this post has given you an insight into what goes on behind our classroom doors and maybe we’ll see you on a class very soon.

Happy Sewing!

Fabric · New in · Offers · Prym

What’s new at Coles this March: MASSIVE FABRIC DROP!

Get ready for the massive March fabric drop! We’ve had some fantastic new fabrics arrive at Coles Sewing Centre this March, including lovely lightweight dressmaking fabrics so you can get started on your summer wardrobe, several brand new quilting collections (including some absolutely gorgeous Liberty fabrics) and a new craft fabric that you can draw on with chalk like a chalkboard! We’ve also got a couple of special offers that you don’t want to miss, so let’s have a look at what’s new at Coles this March.

Chalk Cloth

Chalk cloth, also known as chalkboard fabric, can be written or drawn on with chalks and when you want a change then simply wipe clean with a damp cloth and you can write on it again and again! Use it for a tablecloth that the kids can draw on, make a doodle book to keep children entertained at restaurants, or why not make placemats that you can personalise for every meal?

Dressmaking fabrics

Spring is finally here and so are our latest fabrics for your Spring/Summer 2022 wardrobe. We have several new denims, with patterned chambrays for dresses and shirts, as well as denims for jackets, jeans or dungarees. Our blue denim with gold embroidery would make a stunning jacket to go over a summer dress, while our new black denim is a bit heavier in weight and has a touch of elastane for extra comfort.

If you’re looking for something light and floaty that you can use to make a summery top, a beach coverup or a light summer wrap then look no further than our new cotton lawn and viscose fabrics.

To make these new dressmaking fabrics even more irresistible, Simplicity patterns are all on sale between 11th and 27th March with 50% off – now really is the perfect time to get started on your summer wardrobe! We have even more dressmaking fabrics due in over the next few weeks, so keep your eye on the website for more exciting updates!

Quilting fabrics

This month’s quilting fabrics are absolute beauties. We have Playtime and Roar from Dashwood Studio – perfect for children and dinosaur lovers alike!

We also have a new selection of Classic Tone on Tone fabrics, which are great to use as blenders in your quilting. They also make great fillers to make your designs pop, as they have a little more to them than a plain but won’t overwhelm your focal fabrics. They’re a little hard to see clearly online so I would recommend viewing them on the Coles website, where there are a selection of images that you can click to enlarge – they’re really lovely so it’s definitely worth a look!

Tonal Vineyard is subtly patterned with traditional vine designs for a sophisticated vintage look. It is an extra wide fabric, giving you a whopping 274cm (108″) to back your quilt. Extra wide fabrics like this are also great to use as a border fabric as you can cut long strips without needing to piece. Of course, these are beautiful enough that you could use them in your main design!

Originally designed for Liberty Fabrics in 1933, their Wiltshire print has been reimagined into a two-colour shadow silhouette to become the perfect fabric blender. The muted leaf and berry print of Wiltshire Shadow is designed to coordinate against other layouts from Liberty’s vast archive of prints for a seamless mix-and-match effect.

We have one final collection from Liberty and it’s just gorgeous: Flower Show Sunrise. There are 15 fabrics that would look amazing in any quilt but this collection is so much more than quilting fabric!

These fabrics would look fantastic as a dress for a little girl or a summery top for you, but you can also use them to pick out details in a garment – use them inside pockets for a flash of colour, make some bias binding with the Prym Bias Binding Maker (available in 6mm, 12mm and 25mm sizes) and use it to edge a neckline or hem, or make more of a feature of it with a collar or patch pockets!

If you’re looking for a present for the quilter in your life then you really can’t go wrong with some Liberty fat quarters but we also have a new product that anyone would be delighted to receive – the Prym Patchwork & Quilting Starter Set. Ideal for taking to classes, this set is also perfect for beginners and includes a folding cutting mat, rotary cutter, quilitng ruler, quilting pins, quilting needles, stitch ripper and trick marker. This set is normally £72.00 but you can get it from Coles for £59.99 until midnight on Friday 25th March – that’s a saving of more than 15%!

There are some really fantastic new fabrics this month but you just can’t beat those new Liberties, such beautiful prints on great quality fabric that is a joy to sew. And with those great offers on the Prym Patchwork & Quilting Starter Set and Simplicity patterns, it’s going to be hard to resist getting a little something for myself! Don’t forget, we have even more dressmaking fabrics coming in over the next few weeks – I can’t wait to show you what’s new next month!

Embroidery machines · Machine care · Overlockers · Sewing Machines

You’ve bought a new machine, what now?

A new embroidery or sewing machine can be quite an investment so it’s important to take good care of it. There are a number of simple steps you can take to make sure that your machine stays in good working order, so read on to find out what we recommend for stress-free machine ownership.

1. Keep your packaging

Keep the original packaging, including the polystyrene inserts. This is designed to fit your machine perfectly and will protect it from knocks and bumps while it is being transported, whether that is for its yearly service, if you have to move house or even just to take it to a class.

2. Regular service

It’s advisable to get your machine serviced yearly to make sure that it stays in tip top condition. During a service, the engineer will strip down your machine, clean and lubricate it as necessary, perform a safety check of the electrical parts and reset it to the manufacturer’s specifications. They will then conduct a full sew test, balancing the feed mechanism, thread cutters and tensions. If you’re a heavy user but it isn’t time for a full service yet, then an interim service may also be beneficial – we strip off the covers, clean and lubricate where necessary, balance the tensions and feed and then conduct a sew test. What about if you haven’t used your machine for a long time? This can cause its own problems, from not having the latest updates on a computerised machine, to seizing up through inactivity.

Make sure that you keep a note of your purchase date so you know when to book it in for its first service – I have a reminder set on my phone so that I don’t forget! If you are interested in a service then you can request a call from us to make arrangements and don’t forget to quote offer code Sew22 to get a discount – the more machines you have serviced, the more you save!

3. We register your warranty

There’s no need to worry about registering your warranty, we take care of that for you when you buy with us. Do keep a note of your warranty length though, as once your warranty is up, you can purchase an extended warranty from us. This can include a service in the price, depending on which version you select, so can end up paying for itself!

4. Replace your needle

It’s easy to overlook, but your needle is the part of the machine that does all the heavy lifting. It will become dull over time so make sure to replace it regularly with a new, good quality needle that is appropriate for the fabric and thread you are using – universal needles are not always best! We recommend Schmetz needles.

5. Use good quality threads

It can end up a false economy to use cheap threads. We recommend Gutermann, Madeira and Mettler threads as these produce less fluff and are less likely to shred or snap. Like needles, make sure you use the right thread for the project you are working on. Don’t forget to match your needle to your thread – if you aren’t sure which needle is best for your thread then have a look at the description of the thread on our website, as this gives the recommended needle type and size.

6. Use approved accessories

If you have a Husqvarna Viking machine then it’s best to use Husqvarna Viking accessories. Not all accessories are compatible with all machine models so make sure the accessory you have chosen is suitable for your make and model. If you’re not sure whether a Husqvarna Viking accessory is suitable for your machine then just drop us an email and we will be able to help. There are so many accessories that can make sewing a breeze so check out the Accessories Catalogue to see what’s available – this also has handy information about compatibility.

7. Clean out debris

Debris can build up inside your machine over time so it’s a good idea to regularly remove broken threads and lint from around bobbin area. Some fabrics (e.g. velvet, towelling) create more lint than others so keep an eye on fluff buildup if you are sewing or embroidering on these. Just look at the picture below to see how lint can build up inside a machine – this shows how important a regular service is because it was necessary to take off the covers to remove it (which should only be done by a trained service technician). Neil gives you more information about cleaning out your machine in his January 2022 post, which is well worth a read.

Lint build-up in a sewing machine

8. Check your threading technique

Even the most experienced stitcher can make a mistake in threading their machine, from wrapping it in the wrong direction to missing the tension disks. A mis-threaded machine can create all manner of problems, so checking your threading is always a good first step if your machine isn’t working as it should – you can refer to the guide in your user manual. Overlockers can be complicated to thread (except the amazing air-threading Amber Air S|400 and S|600) but Husqvarna Viking have added comprehensive threading guides to their YouTube channel for the S15, S21 and S25.

9. Maintain your machine

As I mentioned earlier, Neil has already written about how to maintain your sewing machine, and you can also refer to your user guide to find out how to clean out dust and lint as well as oil your machine (if necessary) to keep it running smoothly.

10. Troubleshooting

Having problems? Refer to the troubleshooting guide in the back of your manual – this is an excellent first port of call and can help to resolve a number of issues. If you’re still having trouble then drop us an email or give us a call!

It’s so exciting to get a new machine but you can want to tear your hair out when you don’t get the results you’re excpecting! Following these steps will help to keep your machine working beautifully and make your stitching the best it can be.

Events · Patchwork · quilting

Join us on 17th February for Project Linus 2022

This week we will once again be hosting a quilting session in aid of Project Linus UK and we would love it if you could come along and sew with us.

Project Linus UK is a volunteer organisation that provides new homemade patchwork quilts and knitted blankets to local hospitals, children’s hospices, women’s refuges, foster carers, special schools, bereavement services and many other places where support is given to children ‘in need of a hug’. These beautiful and unique quilts and blankets help to provide a sense of security and comfort to sick and traumatised babies, children and teenagers across the UK. It is also a fantastic opportunity for volunteers to contribute to their local community while doing something they love.

You can see some of the gorgeous quilts that our volunteers made last year here, along with a little bit more information from Project Linus Co-ordinator Caroline Spalding about how these quilts help children across Nottinghamshire.

Some of the beautiful Project Linus quilts from previous years

At Coles Sewing Centre we are proud to be supporting Project Linus again this year. On Thursday 17th February 2022 we will host a session between 10am and 1pm for you to stitch a quilt. As we have to allow for social distancing again this year then numbers are limited and booking is required, but the £2.00 booking fee will enter you into a prize draw and all money will be donated to Project Linus. We would love for you to join us for our Project Linus quilt making session – we’ll provide the fabrics, threads and sewing machines, all we need you to do is come along and sew! You can book your place online here.

If you are unable to come to the sessions but would like to make a quilt at home, we suggest you make one of the following sizes:

  • Neonatal: 20” x 16” (51cm x 40.5cm)
  • Incubator quilts: 40” x 32” (101.5cm x 81cm)
  • Baby quilts: approx. 24” – 30” square (61cm-79cm square) or 24” x 30” (61cm x 79cm)
  • Children’s quilts: approx. 36” – 42” square (91.5cm-106.5cm square) or 36” x 42” (91.5cm x 106.5cm)
  • Teenagers’ quilts: approx. 42” square (106.5cm square) or 42” x 48” (106.5cm x 122cm)
  • Knitted blankets: approx. 24” square (61cm square) or larger

All quilts must be machine washable and please do not add embellishments such as ribbons and buttons, which could come off and be swallowed. You can drop any completed quilts and blankets off with us at any time and we will pass them on to our local area co-ordinator.

You can learn more about Project Linus UK on their website, it’s a wonderful charity that makes a big difference in children’s lives when they need it the most. Any contribution, large or small, is gratefully received – from donations of fabric, wadding and thread to making a quilt or a blanket, it’s up to you how you take part. So please join us on Thursday 17th February to help provide security and comfort to children in need of a hug.

Fabric · Haberdashery · New in · Sewing

New in at Coles this February

It’s February already so it’s long past time I shared the latest additions to the Coles Sewing Centre catalogue! This month our newest products include fabrics, patterns, scissors and snips, so read on to see what’s new at Coles!

Patchwork and quilting fabrics

Take a look at these new patchwork and quilting fabrics, they are absolutely stunning! Imperial Collection 17 by Robert Kaufman Fabrics has a selection of Japanese-inspired designs, including a serene koi carp print with gold highlights (Dusty Blue, 25370). The centrepiece of the collection has to be the Imperial Garden (25372) print: with its vista of a river populated by peacocks and cranes, it could be taken from a Hokusai woodcut print.

We also have the complementary collections Lucky Charms and Band Practice from Figo Studios. These cute prints are perfect for children or anyone musical, and have grey, mustard and coral colour theme.

Dressmaking patterns

In the last few weeks we’ve added new patterns from all of the pattern companies that we stock. Tilly and the Buttons have released Pearl, a v-neck wrap cardigan that’s cropped at the waist and fastens at the side with an adjustable tie. With adjustable length sleeves that can be either straight or balloon, Pearl is likely to become a staple that you wear with every outfit. Also from Tilly and the Buttons, we have the Skye Dress – an adjustable length empire-waisted summer dress with straps wide enough to cover your bra straps and the all-important side seam pockets! Summer will be here before you know it, so why not get started on your summer wardrobe now?

We have three new patterns from The Avid Seamstress: The Culottes, The Day Dress and The City Trousers. The Culottes provide the ultimate middle ground between skirts and trousers; all the swish factor of a skirt with the practicality of trousers. The Culottes are edgy, versatile and a wardrobe staple suitable for all seasons. As you would hope, they include large inseam pockets that are designed to sit flat and not interrupt the silhouette.

With a fitted bodice, gathered skirt and inner pockets, The Day Dress will be one of the prettiest dresses in your wardrobe and with three ways of making the front bodice (button front, centre front seam and no centre front seam), your options are endless.

Effortlessly stylish, the City Trousers re-imagine the contemporary, cigarette fit with a minimalist chic flair. A narrow waistband with an invisible zip at the back creates the ultimate body-slimming silhouette. With easy to insert side pockets and optional side slits at the hem, this astoundingly versatile pattern is fit for any level of sewing experience.

If you’re looking for something for a little one, we have the Juniper Skirt from Poppy & Jazz. Suitable for children from 18 months to 6 years, Juniper is quick and simple to make. Sewn in cotton it’s great for summer, but worn with warm tights it’s equally perfect for cooler winter days. It has two variations, which make it either a super quick make, or a fun sew with a few more details.

Simplicity also released a new issue last month – patterns S9432 to S9462 can be found on our website in the Simplicity department.

Scissors and snips

Looking for some new scissors or snips? We have loads to choose from on our website but lately we’ve added some new Fiskars thread snips and a Hemline Scissors Set. The Hemline Scissors Set makes a great gift for a (right-handed) new stitcher, as it includes a pair each of embroidery scissors, sewing scissors and dressmaking scissors, all with comfort soft-grip handles. The Fiskars Ultrasharp Thread Snips are suitable for left or right handers and make quick work of snipping through fabric, thread, ribbon, floss, yarn and more. Their pointed tips make it easy to trim in tight spaces and their spring-action design with Softgrip touchpoints makes cutting comfortable and easy. They’re great for taking with you to classes too, as they have a built-in blade guard that lets you safely travel with them.

Gutermann Maraflex

Last but not least, we have Gutermann Maraflex, an elastic thread with high stretch that gives amazing results. It’s perfect for sewing on stretch fabrics without needing an overlocker or an overlocker stitch – it lets you sew with a straight stitch on a stretch fabric and will stretch right along with it, up to 80% on top of its original length. We have every colour in store and, of course, you can also find the whole range online. Have a look at my post all about Maraflex to learn more about this new thread and why it’s so popular!

The best way to keep up to date with out latest products is to keep an eye on the New Products section of our homepage – it shows the 10 most recent items added to the website and changes regularly. Don’t worry about missing something though, I’ll be back soon with another update about our latest additions!

Machine care · Offers

Keeping machines in tip top condition

The sewing machine is an invention of advanced engineering developed over several centuries and incorporating mechanisms of horizontal and vertical rotation to produce an accurate and regular stitch. From lockstitch, to buttonhole, decorative, embroidery and stretch stitches, the humble sewing machine is quite amazing. We pick up our sewing machines, thread them up and expect them to work… and mostly they do! But when they don’t it’s easy to assume that there is a fault when really all they need is a little TLC.

The mechanics of the sewing machine

It’s worth taking a moment to think about what’s going on under the fabric because it’s deceptively simple. There is an electric motor driving an upper shaft, which then drives the lower shaft and other mechanisms involved in forming a stitch. The ranges of motions are horizontal for the shafts but this is then translated into vertical motion for the stitch forming mechanism. In addition, gears will be driving the hook that links the top thread to the lower thread, plus shafts and cams (or sometimes belts or gears) making the feeder (moves the fabric along) synchronise with the stitch forming mechanism and hook. There may be additional parts driving the needle from side to side. There could also be a thread cutter mechanism. There is a lot of complex machinery involved in creating a simple stitch!

This animation from Threads Magazine gives a really clear idea of what’s going on when a stitch is formed:

An average domestic sewing machine creates stitches between 800 and 1200 times a minute (and industrial machines can be 5000 stitches per minute!) so there is quite a margin for things to go wrong. We all love our sewing machines, so let’s see how we can help them with a bit of TLC to keep them happy!

Back to basics

First of all, let’s quickly go over a couple of basics that you all probably know, but are easy to forget when your machine isn’t behaving as you would like.

  • You need a good needle – sharp, not bent, inserted correctly and of the correct type for the fabric and thread. A lot of problems can be caused by old or incorrect needles, so make sure you replace them regularly.
  • You also need a decent quality thread. Cheap or poor quality threads will shred more readily, causing breakages and lint to build up inside your machine.
  • The upper and lower threads need to be threaded correctly. Have a look at the threading guide in your machine’s user guide, you might be surprised to find a few useful tips in there. Make sure you floss your top thread through your tension disks and that your bobbin is positioned with the thread in the right direction.

Lint

Owing to the nature of fabric and thread, sewing machines get full of lint and fluff. Over time this compacts down and can almost form another layer over the metal parts. We have seen feed dogs so full of lint they cannot lift the feed teeth above the stitch plate and so much fluff inside the machine that a hamster could be living in there!

An example of lint build-up in a sewing machine

Different fabrics create different amounts of lint. As you might expect, anything with a nap will create more lint and fabrics like velvet and towelling can create a great deal very quickly. You can see just how much fluff can build up with regular use over time in the image above. The grey part you can see to the right with the coloured wires coming out of it is the motor, which can heat up as the machine is being used. With a big enough build-up of lint, the heat from the motor can actually ignite the lint.

Both upper and lower threads are controlled by tension devices. Thread or lint can stick between the two tension disks or under the bobbin case tension spring. The tension device on more modern machines can be concealed into the front of the machine, but just follow the threading path to find them – they are normally near the adjusting dial.

To clean between the tension disks, raise the presser foot to open the disks and drag a non-linty piece of fabric (e.g. calico or quilter’s cotton) or a blunt needle end between the disks.

To clean under the bobbin case spring, gently run a needle between the spring and the body of the bobbin case.

If you want to learn more about tension and how to adjust it, take a look at my post from September 2021, Tension caused by tension.

Please do not remove any covers around the tension device that are not mentioned in the instruction manual as being removable. Leave that to trained service technicians!

Wear and tear

All the surfaces that the threads pass over need to be smooth and undamaged by needles or wear and tear.  Any of the stitch forming parts (thread paths, presser foot, needle plate, and shuttle hook or bobbin case) can become worn or damaged by usage, but they can be cleaned up to a point with a bit of fine emery.

Damage to a needleplate which would cause stitching issues

So, a bit of cleaning (and on some machines a drop of oil – but please check your manual before oiling your machine as some, especially computerised machines, do not require oiling), can go a long way! Have a look at our YouTube Channel for some help with this, your instruction manual will have some information too.

It’s worth cleaning your machine out regularly to prevent build-up and compaction of lint. You can use the pipe attachment on your vacuum cleaner, after removing any loose items of the machine that might disappear up it first of course! It is advisable to wear a dust mask as well as glasses or safety glasses to protect your eyes.

Safety warning: Please turn off the power to the machine and remove the needle before doing anything. A dust mask and safety glasses are also strongly recommended.

Getting a service

Even with a regular cleanout at home, every 1-2 years (dependent on usage) it’s a good idea to have your machine professionally serviced and set back to the manufacturer’s specifications. This will ensure that all the stitch forming parts are polished to allow the thread to flow over them freely, that all the mechanisms and timings are correctly set up so they work together correctly, and that the tensions and reverse stitches/buttonholes are correctly balanced. It will also include a check of the electrics for safety and condition, as well as a PAT test. You should get a service report with the machine, giving a list of checks performed, and pointing out any advisories.

Special service offer

If your sewing machine or overlocker is in need of a service, why not take advantage of our current special offer and get at least 10% off the regular price? If you have more than one machine serviced at the same time then the discount is even bigger, so why not get together with friends and save?! All you need to do is quote voucher code Sew22 when you book your service. If you can’t get your machine to us then don’t worry, we can help with collection and delivery too. Please see our service page for more information.

The more machines you get serviced, the more you save! Simply quote voucher code Sew22 when you book.

Hopefully this will help you to keep your machine in tip top condition, ready to serve you on projects old and new! Happy stitching!

Books · Embroidery designs · Fabric · Offers · Website

Clearance bargains

We have had a little New Year spring clean on the Coles website and now you can find all of our bargains in one place! Go straight to our new Clearance section by clicking here, or read on to see a few of the special offers and clearance items we currently have available.

Fabric

If you have browsed our selection of fabric online, you might have noticed that we often have special reductions on offer. In our Fabric Clearance department you will find Ends of Bolts, which are the very last pieces from a bolt of fabric. These are reduced by up to 50% and the price is for the whole piece, so you know exactly what you are paying. Fabrics in the Special Offer department are also reduced by up to 50% and both craft and dressmaking fabrics are on offer, depending on what we currently have available. We add more to the selection throughout the year, so it’s worth checking back every so often to see what’s available. Special Offer fabrics are sold by the metre, but with a minimum purchase of 10cm for dressmaking fabrics and 25cm for craft fabrics you can buy precisely the amount you want. You can even order a 10cm sample of dressmaking fabrics or a fat quarter of craft fabrics!

There are some real bargains available at the moment – we have several Liberty fabrics Ends of Bolts, or if you’re more interested in dressmaking fabrics then there are more than twenty to choose from, including several Tilly and the Buttons jerseys.

It’s also worth watching out for our Fabric of the Week. Periodically we put a few special fabrics on a 25% discount for just a week. We don’t always have something in fabric of the week but when we do you know it’s going to be great. This week it’s a checked jacquard in black, yellow and coral on a mid-grey background. It’s a viscose and polyester blend with a touch of elastane, so its beautifully soft with a slight stretch, but still very washable. It would be perfect for a skirt or dress, and as you can see from the pictures below it has a beautiful reverse as well so would make a lovely cardigan. It’s £10.49 per metre but it will only be at this price for a week so make sure you get it while you can!

Books

The clearance books section is brand new to the website. You’ll find a real variety in there, from ex-display books that may be a little faded on the front to out of print editions that you can’t buy elsewhere! You can save up to 50% so there are some fantastic bargains to be found! We have loads to choose from but here are just a few personal favourites…

We have Girl With A Sewing Machine by Jenniffer Taylor from the Great British Sewing Bee for £6.50, which gives you a fantastic guide to making and customising clothes to your your body and style.

If you have toddlers to sew for then why not try the Happiness Halter Playsuit by Lisa Lam at just £4.99 – it has three full dress patterns for a playsuit, halter top and dress with fully illustrated step-by-step instructions.

For quilters, we have Fast Flying Geese Quilts by Karin Hellaby for £8.99. This book tells you all you need to know about creating fast flying geese quilts and is packed with inspiration, instructions and templates.

Finally, if you’re a crafter then we have Fa la la la Felt for £6.50. This book has the patterns and templates to create 45 Christmas decorations out of felt, so is great for beginners and children as well as more experienced crafters. I bought this book at full price because I absolutely love making handmade Christmas decorations and there are so many gorgeous ideas to choose from that it was hard to know where to begin!

Embroidery designs

Finally, we have a new section for clearance embroidery designs. These disks are no longer in production so this is your last chance to get them, and many are down to just £20 – a saving of £49.99 on the full price! Disk 242 Most Popular Thread Velvet has 40 of the most popular thread velvet embroideries from existing Husqvarna Viking collections. Handlook Needlework II has 50 handlook designs to stitch out in 30wt cotton thread, including three designed to be embroidered with the Yarn Couching Feet set.

Theres so much to choose from! Whether you are a quilter, embroiderer or dressmaker, there’s something for everyone. Please remember that everything in the Clearance section is the last of our stock and we are unlikely to get it again so make sure you snap things up while you can!

Embroidery · Husqvarna Viking · software

10 Reasons why I love mySewnet Embroidery 2021

Can you believe it’s already been over six months since mySewnet Embroidery 2021 was launched? Whether you haven’t had chance to explore this brilliant new embroidery software from Husqvarna Viking yet, or you’ve taken the plunge but haven’t got to grips with everything it has to offer, take a look at my 10 reasons why I absolutely love it!

1. So quick to install. It has never been quicker to install onto your PC or Mac! It no longer takes hours to install and get creating, I was highly impressed with how quick it was.

2. Change Hoop appears automatically. I always change my hoop before I begin a project and with mySewnet the Change Hoop option appears automatically at start. A great time saver for me.

3. The new film strip in mySewnet Embroidery. Like the Film Strip in the Create / Digitizing Module, you can move elements of your embroidery in the film strip to stitch in the order you prefer. It’s fantastic to be able to see the order of your whole embroidery, which you can change around with ease: just click and hold, then drag and drop into position! No more watching the design player and using the Order Layout tools to move things backwards and forwards!

The new film strip in mySewnet embroidery

4. I LOVE SuperDesigns! I am a SuperDesign geek, I can’t get enough of them.  As always with new software, we get even more SuperDesigns and as always, I love the new collections. My favourites are Tea Time 1 and Coffee Time 1 – these will have to be used for jazzing up my kitchen.

New SuperDesigns – Coffee Time and Tea Time

5. Dog fonts. Yes, plural fonts! We’ve been asking for a dog font for years, (we had cats and birds but not dogs) and we have finally been heard – there are two new dog fonts in both colour and line version, aren’t they just adorable?

6. Spiro Wizard. The new Spiro wizard makes me feel like a kid again. Simply adjust the sliding panels to change the final design; I created this one to have a festive feel to stitch out as a tree decoration. Gold and Platinum only.

Spiro Wizard

7. Ribbon attachment SuperDesigns. If you’re looking for projects to try with your ribbon attachment, mySewnet has Ribbon SuperDesigns ready to apply to the hoop and stitch out. You can even create your own designs if you like. Platinum only.

8. New Project-in-the-Hoop projects. More projects have been added to the Project-in-the-Hoop collection, including pouches and Christmas ornaments. The rainbow zippy pouch and gingerbread decoration are a couple of my favourites. Gold and Platinum only.

9. Draw & Paint Module. Remember the Paint or Draw window in Create? If not then I’m not surprised, they were not the easiest parts of the software to use, although they had their uses. Now we have a brand new module dedicated to creating your own pictures to take into Digitizing. If creating your own pictures isn’t for you, don’t worry – there are plenty of pre-installed images to play with. My favourite part of this new module is the Multiply tab: you can multiply in different styles, including circle, horizonal, vertical and my favourite, tile. Platinum only.

The Multiply feature in the Draw & Paint module

10. The mySewnet UK YouTube channel. The official mySewnet UK YouTube channel is a great place to check out videos on how to use the software. From installing the software, through the basics like how to Copy, Paste Duplicate and Rotate, all the way to more complex features like Photostitch, it’s a fantastic resource and they add new videos every few weeks. It’s also great for inspiration for your next project.

mySewnet Embroidery 2021 is a fantastic step up from Premier+2 – it’s more intuitive and straightforward to use, and with new features like Spiro and Ribbon embroidery as well as even more fonts and SuperDesigns, it’s well worth the upgrade. There are three levels available in the boxed software: Silver, Gold and Platinum – if you’re not sure which level is for you then take a look at our blog post from October, which explains what they have to offer. If you have any questions then please get in touch or comment below!