Embroidery machines · Machine care · Sewing Machines

Tension caused by tension!

One of the biggest issues people have with their sewing machines seems to be tension. The tension is the amount of pressure placed on the upper and lower threads to form the stitch. There is an upper tension and a lower tension: one controlling the top thread and one controlling the bottom thread.

A basic view of a sewing machine tension unit: the discs for the thread, spring and adjust dial (clockwise tighter, anti-clockwise looser)

Before you adjust your tension

The first and simplest thing to do to correct a tension issue is to check the needle is okay – check it’s the correct thickness for the fabric (heavier fabrics require a thicker needle) and not bent or blunt. 

Secondly, check and re-check the threading!  Ensure the presser foot in its raised position when you thread the upper threading, as this opens up the upper tension discs that control the thread flow. The thread needs to go in between the discs, and through all the relevant thread guides. When threading the bobbin case, follow the direction of threading as per your manual, and ensure the thread goes under the tensioning spring (please check your manual for precise guidance on how to thread your machine).

No matter how experienced a sewer you are, it is surprisingly easy to mis-thread your machine so if you find a big bird’s nest of thread underneath your stitching then the chances are you have missed a critical part of the threading, so check, and check again!

Looping like this is a common sign of a mis-threaded machine

If the tension is still not good, there may be fluff or a lump of thread under the bobbin case tension spring, or in between the thread tension discs. Work a used needle in between the upper discs and under the bobbin case spring, you may be amazed at what comes out!

Adjusting your tension

If the knot is showing below the fabric, then the upper tension needs increasing, (clockwise) e.g., from number 4 to number 5.

If the knot is showing on the top of the fabric, then decrease the upper tension (counter-clockwise) e.g., from number 4 to number 3.

Only adjust the upper tension, the lower (bobbin case tension) is factory set and should not be adjusted! Always keep a note of the original number setting to refer back to – it can be helpful to take a quick photo of your current settings before you make any changes.

Increasing and decreasing the upper tension on your sewing machine

If the fabric is puckering, change the needle for a finer (new needle) and use a good quality thread. If there is still a slight pucker, then decrease the upper tension (anti-clockwise) by half a number at a time until it looks okay.

So if you find yourself with tension issues, don’t panic – the majority of problems can be solved by following these steps!

Husqvarna Viking · New in · Offers · Sewing Machines

Back in stock: the H|Class E10 and E20

After an 18 month wait, the H-Class E10 and E20 are finally back in stock! These mechanical sewing machines from Husqvarna Viking are the perfect machines for beginners and are also very portable, making them ideal to transport to classes or sewing groups. To celebrate having these popular machines back in the shop we have some great offers on, so read on to learn why one of these fantastic machines could be the sewing machine for you!

The H-Class E10 is a perfect starter machine. It is a simple, easy to use machine with straightforward threading and a built in needle threader, and weighing in at only 5.7kg it is the lightest sewing machine we have on offer. It comes with all the basic accessories and stitches you need to get started with garment making and crafts, plus right now when you buy an E10 from us, you will receive a pair of Fiskars dressmakers’ shears worth £25.99 for free.

The H-Class E20 has a few more features than the E10 but at 6.5kg it is still a lightweight machine. The stitch width is adjustable with a simple dial and it includes more stitches, incuding a simple one-step buttonhole. The feed dog can be lowered with the flick of a lever for free motion stitching, darning and sewing on buttons. It comes with a few more accessories than the E10 as well, including a blind hem foot, a darning foot and a quilting foot. Along with all those extras, when you buy from us the E20 also comes with a free Prym Starter Set worth £41.50, which includes all the basic equipment any sewer needs in their kit. That’s an awful lot more features and accessories for only £50 more!

Both the E10 and the E20 are simple and reliable machines, and with the deals we currently have on offer, either machine would make the perfect present. And if that wasn’t enough, until 31st October 2021, Husqvarna Viking are offering a free, limited edition Selkie Patterns paper pattern with new machine purchases (250 available, see our blog post for more details).

If you’re looking for a basic mechanical machine then you can’t get much better than the H-Class range. Being from Husqvarna Viking you know they are a quality you can trust, but if you do have any issues then they also come with a no quibble 2 year warranty that includes both parts and labour. Don’t forget, Coles Sewing Centre is a national service and warranty repair centre for Husqvarna Viking machines, so we can look after you for the whole life of your machine.

We often see machines in our workshop that people bought because they wanted something cheap and simple but when they break down it’s clear that they’re a false economy. Remember, if you don’t recognise the brand then it’s likely to be difficult or even impossible to find replacement parts.

The E10 and E20 are very reliable machines – despite their popularity we hardly see them in the workshop for anything other than their annual service. Even so, it’s good to know how to take good care of your sewing machine, so if you’re interested in these machines or if you have one already, keep an eye out for our upcoming post on maintaining a basic sewing machine – it’ll be full of tips on how to keep your machine running smoothly.

You can see more about the E10 on our website here, or if you’re looking for a few more features then you can find more about the E20 here. If you have any questions, just comment below or give us a call on 0115 9881550 and our team will be happy to help!

Husqvarna Viking · Patterns · Sewing

Selkie Patterns collaboration with Husqvarna Viking

Husqvarna Viking have been working with pattern company Selkie Patterns to produce a brand new printed pattern! This limited edition pattern is available from September 20th – October 31st 2021 to customers who purchase any Husqvarna Viking machine. There are only 250 copies available and the printed pattern is not available anywhere else, so it’s sure to be snapped up fast!

About the pattern
Selkie Patterns create stylish and sustainable sewing patterns and textiles designed and produced in the UK. The Celeste dress and blouse was inspired by the glittering revival of the art deco movement in the 1970s. With its clean, wearable yet dramatic silhouettes this movement was at the forefront when creating this wearable pattern. The Celeste is there for you when you want to have an elevated look but with the ease and comfort of a smock dress. The glamour of the 20s with the ease of the 70s, what’s not to love!

Sizing: the printed pattern will be available in sizes UK 6-32, with the following measurements:
Bust: 79-150cm (31-59 inch)
Waist: 58-129cm (22.75-51 inch)
Hip: 86-157 cm cm (33.75-62 inch)
Sizes 6-16 have been drafted with a B-cup; 18-32 with a D-cup.

All you need to do to be in with a chance of receiving this gorgeous paper pattern is purchase any new Husqvarna Viking machine between Monday 20th September and Sunday 31st October 2021 – you can see the range on our website. Patterns will be sent to lucky customers directly from Husqvarna Viking UK.

PLUS share your make on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #SELKIECELESTE by November 30th 2021 to be in with a chance of winning a Designer Sapphire 85 Sewing and Embroidery machine worth over £5000!

T’s & C’s: UK machine purchases only via a registered Husqvarna Viking dealer. Printed copy available in UK size range 6-32 with the size range measuring from 79/58/86 cm (31/22.75/33.75 inches) to 150/129/157 cm (59/51/62 inches) for bust-waist-hip body measurements. Share your make, #SELKIECELESTE, only open to UK residents.

Christmas · Fabric · New in

New in this week – Christmas jerseys for festive outfits

We’ve had an exciting delivery this week – four bolts of jersey with fabulous festive prints. First we have two cotton jerseys (95% cotton, 5% elastane) with a cute reindeer print, with a red and Christmas green colourway and a navy and Christmas red colourway. These would be great for children’s pyjamas – if you put together a Christmas Eve box for your children then some pyjamas made from this jersey would be the perfect addition!

The second pair of cotton jerseys (92% cotton, 8% elastane) are extremely cosy – their reverse is brushed, giving them a soft, snug feel. The prints of reindeer and Christmas trees and presents in a red, green and white colour scheme is extremely festive, especially as they have the appearance of intarsia knitting. They are a slightly heavier weight than the reindeer jerseys, so they could be worn as a Christmas day dress or as extremely cosy pyjamas for Christmas morning, although you might find you don’t want to change out of them!

You can find the new Christmas jerseys on our website here, along with our other patterned jerseys. We have patterns for pyjamas for all of the family here, or why not make a dress with a the Coco pattern from Tilly and the Buttons? I can’t think of a comfier or cosier outfit for Christmas day! Whatever you choose to make, send me your pictures to ellie@colessewingcentre.co.uk so we can show off your amazing creations!

Haberdashery · Prym · Sewing · Staff recommendations

Why we love Prym Wonder Tape

A few years ago my friend was planning a naming day for her daughter Jessica and I offered to make a special dress for the day. As I was gathering everything I needed together I was chatting with Deborah about how I was a little anxious about putting in the zip as they always seem to shift no matter how carefully I tack them in. That’s when she recommended Prym Wonder Tape to me. It’s a transparent double sided tape that you can use instead of pins to hold your sewing in place, then when you wash your finished garment it simply washes away without a trace. Magic!

Zips are one of those tasks that I always spend far longer than I should on, pinning and re-pinning, then tacking, then still somehow it doesn’t sit quite right. You can see in the video above how easy Wonder Tape makes it – just place your tape on the zip, position and stick one side at a time, then you’re ready to go. And it isn’t just useful for holding zips in place – why spend ages pinning a hem before you stitch it when you can just stick and sew? I also used it to hold the bodice facing in place for Jessica’s dress, saving me from pinning through all the gathers and potentially disturbing them.

Since that first time four years ago, I’ve used Wonder Tape in almost everything that I have sewn and that first roll is still going strong. It’s so simple and really does take the stress out of pinning awkward or thick pieces. Wonder Tape is one those products that it’s always worth having to hand, so grab yourself a roll next time you’re in the shop or buy it online here.

Accessories and feet · New in · quilting · Sewing

New and improved – the Adjustable Clear Quarter Inch Piecing Foot

The Husqvarna Viking Clear Adjustable Quarter Inch Piecing Foot

The Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot and the Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot With Guide have had a makeover! Husqvarna Viking have made these essential feet adjustable – meaning that the needle hole in the foot is now oval shaped, allowing you to adjust the needle position. This is great news for those of you who want a bit more flexibility and accuracy with your Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot. If you’re not sure what these feet are and what they do, then read on!

The Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot is used for piecing during quilting, as well as appliqué and topstitching. As it is clear, you can easily see your fabric through the foot, while the red lines help you to line up your fabric at the start of your sewing, at corners, and at the end of your sewing. For extra accuracy you can use the Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot with Guide, which has a metal guide that runs along the edge of your fabric, helping you to keep your distance perfectly exact.

The Husqvarna Viking Clear Adjustable Quarter Inch Piecing Foot with Guide

These new and improved feet will be arriving in store soon but you can place an order now and we will send one out to you as soon as it arrives in stock. You can see more about the Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot here, and more about the Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot With Guide here. If you have any questions about this hugely handy foot, then please comment below and one of our team will help!

Embroidery · Sewing · software

Grads4Nottm 2021 Student Challenge

We recently participated in Grads4Nottm 2021, a student challenge from Nottingham Trent University where NTU students work with local businesses to develop their PR, marketing and social media presences (read more about it on the NTU website here). It’s a great scheme to be part of because it allows local businesses, both large and small, to show Nottingham graduates what we do and lets them use the knowledge they have gained from their courses with a real business. This year we had the benefit of three students from Marketing and Psychology courses helping us with our marketing and as a thank you Anna produced an embroidery of this year’s logo, which contains the names of all the participating businesses.

Anna’s framed embroidery of the Grads4Nottm 2021 logo

Anna used the latest Husqvarna Viking software, mySewnet, to design and embroider the logo – all with features that you can use no matter which version you have. First she used the Film Strip function to organise the words into the order she wanted them to appear in, and then she used Split Project to split the design into two halves. This function is perfect for large projects like this, and allowed Anna to stich out her design using an Imperial hoop, joining the two halves seamlessly.

You can learn more about the mySewnet software on our website and Anna, who is our software expert, will be posting here herself soon. Expect to learn some great tips and tricks and find out more about the fabulous features available in mySewnet!

Fabric · New in · Patchwork · quilting · Staff

What’s new at Coles?

Hi, my name is Ellie and I’m in charge of the Coles Sewing Centre website, although you might know me from the shop as I used to run the Mail Order department. These days I mainly work behind the scenes keeping the website up to date with all the latest products, and that’s a busy job because we have a lot of products! I will be posting with updates about the latest additions to the Coles catalogue, from newly arrived fabrics to the current courses and the latest Husqvarna Viking machines.

This week I will be talking patchwork and quilting fabrics, as we have just had a delivery of some real beauties! We have a new collection called “Hand Stitched” that was designed by Karen Lewis Textiles for Figo Fabrics – this a lovely range that draws inspiration from hand sewing and the natural world. As you can see from the pictures below, “Stitches” brings to mind sashiko embroidery, while “Tossed Leaves” and “Plants” have a simple and elegant foliage-based design.

“Hexies” is my personal favourite from this collection, although I can’t decide how I would like to use it – I’m about to try English Paper Piecing for the first time and it would make gorgeous hexagons, but wouldn’t it make a lovely needle case too? Of course I could always combine the two…

Our other new addition this week is some Christmas fabric – with only three and a half months until Christmas then now is the time to get started on your Christmas makes! We have four new fabrics from the “Traditional” collection by The Craft Cotton Company, which include traditional Christmas plants such as holly, poinsettia and mistletoe, with festive metallic highlights.

We now have all of our fabrics online, so you can buy the Hand Stitched collection on the Coles Sewing Centre Website here, while you can find the Traditional Christmas Collection here. If you prefer to choose your fabrics in person then why not come and visit us at our Nottingham shop? We are once again open 9:15am to 5:00pm, Monday to Saturday. Come and say hello!

Sewing · Staff

Hello from all of us here at Coles Sewing Centre!

How have you all been? What a strange 18 months we have been through!

Well we are delighted to still be here, and all our staff have stayed with us. In fact we have 2 new members of staff, apprentices, George Farmer in the sewing machine service department, https://www.colessewingcentre.co.uk/service-repairs and Carys Brandy in the shop https://www.colessewingcentre.co.uk/. You will probably speak to Carys if you call us by phone on 0115 9881550/1, or come into the store, so say hello and make her feel welcome! The store is now open as normal from Monday to Saturday 9.15 am to 5pm, we do ask you to wear a mask and respect social distancing instore for both staff and customers, thanks.

Our newest member of staff, Carys

George has been with us since November last year and is learning very quickly. He is great with overlockers too, so if you need your sewing machine or overlocker, servicing or repairing, we have a great team here to do it for you . You can or pop in with it, or we can collect it from you, by our van in the local area, or by courier https://www.colessewingcentre.co.uk/shipping-and-returns. There is a loading and unloading bay at the front of the store, or pull into Lennox Street by our side door. You have time to conduct dropping your machine off for repair, but hey why not use the metered parking bays nearby on Lower Parliament Street. It’s £2.40 for an hour, but we will give you 10% off your shop, so spend £24 and park for free! Nottingham Parking: https://www.transportnottingham.com/driving/parking/

Our classes are back too! Lower numbers due to social distancing, but here nonetheless. More details: https://www.colessewingcentre.co.uk/courses.html

During lockdown we have seen a great uptake in sewing. If you need help or inspiration, why not get in touch at info@colessewingcentre.co.uk, we would love to hear from you, or see your lockdown projects!

Well that’s all for now, but we will blog again soon!

George working on an Epic