Sewing

The lighter weight cotton thread where less really is more

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.

Uses for Mettler Silk Finish Cotton 60

Quilting

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!

Embroidery

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.

Top: Mettler Silk Finish Cotton 60. Bottom: Gutermann Rayon 40

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.

Sewing

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.

Less fluff

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).

Great colour range

There is a beautiful selection of colours of SFC 60 (take a look at the shade chart on the Mettler website here) that are very colourfast. It comes in 200m and 800m reels, or if you want a 2743m cone so you can stitch uninterrupted for longer then there are 53 colours to choose from.

Our new Silk Finish Cotton 60 stand – just look at those gorgeous colours!

Available online

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 info@colessewingcentre.co.uk 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!

Fabric · Patchwork · quilting · Sewing

Time is running out to enter our fantastic Liberty competition!

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!

You can read more in our original blog post here and you can browse our selection of Liberty fabrics on our website here. Good luck!

Overlockers

Every sewing room needs an overlocker!

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.

There is so much that your overlocker can do that I can’t possibly fit it all in here, which is why I teach a variety of overlocker classes at Coles Sewing Centre. These range from classes that help you to get to grips with what your overlocker has to offer, to workshops that lead you through specific projects or advanced features, all with me on hand to answer questions and provide tips and tricks.

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!

Fabric · Patchwork · quilting · Sewing

Win Liberty prizes in our Liberty competition!

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!

First prize

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. 

Second prize

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.

Third Prize

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!

Sewing · Staff · Embroidery · Classes

Goodbye to Lorna and welcome to our new tutors!

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.

Catherine Crew

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.

Jayne Childs

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.

Emma Smith

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!

Sewing · Staff

26 Years In The Can!

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.

The shop front back in the days that we were Studio Husqvarna
Our original Studio agreement with Husqvarna from 1996

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.

Me, back when I had black hair!

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.

Rose planning one of our first classes

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.

Exhibiting at the NEC

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.

The Coles Sewing Centre van ready for a collection, delivery or home service in the Nottingham area

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.

George and Lee working on a machine

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.

Neil, Rose, and the team.

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!