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!

Christmas · Staff

Coles Review of the Year 2021

Oh what a year! A year we may all want to forget but one we probably won’t for so many reasons.

We started the year in lockdown, so once again our doors were shut. All the staff were again at home and Neil and I were busy keeping the ship rolling, answering the phones, picking, packing and dispatching orders. Towards the end of January Ellie started working from home, updating and improving the website. George, our apprentice engineer, returned to the shop to continue his training and to help with the many machines that started to come in for servicing. Due to a high demand the service department was once again fully operational by February, with both Lee and George back at work.

Lee and George at work in the workshop

Along with all the other retailers across the country we reopened our doors on 12th April, and weren’t we glad to do so! Initially we were only working a 4 day week – people were nervous about coming back into town and who wanted to use public transport?! Gradually more customers came to see us and we were able to gradually bring our staff back into the workplace.

We were in a conundrum, did we reopen our classroom? Would people want to come to classes? A decision was made: the classroom would stay closed for the summer with a plan to restart classes in September. We purchased screens and rearranged the tables so that people attending classes would be socially distanced and would feel safe. Finally in September we restarted our classes and we were delighted to welcome people back!

For the foreseeable future the screens and our covid classroom guidelines will remain in place. We will be adding new workshops in 2022, so do keep your eye on the website.

Another challenge we have had to overcome was stock, or more to the point the lack of it. Early on in the year it became apparent that sewing machines were in short supply due to a shortage of parts, but also a shortage of containers to move them around the world. Although this remains an issue, it has much improved.

A few staff changes have occurred during the year…

  • We have taken on a customer service apprentice. Interviewed initially on zoom due to Covid isolation, Carys joined our team in August.  
  • Anna and Debbie have started supervisor apprenticeships, a steep learning curve!
  • Jackie has become a grandma (congratulations Jackie!) so has reduced her hours and now works two days a week.
  • Catherine is covering maternity leave at our alterations shop but will continue to teach overlocker classes in the New Year.

As the year draws to an end we would like to say a big THANK YOU to you all for your support (without it I might not be here writing this), and we very much look forward to seeing you next year!

Christmas Opening Hours

To give our staff a well-deserved break we will close at 2pm on Christmas Eve and reopen on Tuesday 4th January. Although the shop will be closed the webshop will remain open, any orders place will be processed as soon as we return.

Coles opening hours Christmas 2021

Your Christmas Makes

We know you will all have been busy stitching your Christmas gifts – we’d love to see what you have been making, do send us your pics and we’ll share them in a future Blog!

Merry Christmas from everyone at Coles!

So from everyone at Coles we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year! We look forward to seeing you all again in 2022.

Accessories and feet · Husqvarna Viking · Patchwork · quilting · Sewing

Feet to make quilting a piece of cake!

A couple of weeks ago I gave you a tour of some of the accessory feet from my sewing box that are useful for garment making. This week I’m opening my accessory box again, this time to look at three feet that will help you get perfectly accurate results when you’re piecing and quilting. Whether you are an experienced quilter or a beginner on a steep learning curve and needing all the help you can get, anything that helps you stich precisely cannot be ignored!

Firstly I’m going to tell you about the Clear Adjustable ¼” Foot with Guide, which helps you to stitch a precise ¼” seam when you’re piecing. Let’s also add into the mix stitching in the ditch (no it’s not sitting in a ditch sewing!) as this is another useful foot with a guide to give you accuracy when quilting. While it’s not specifically a quilting foot, I’m adding the Clear Open Toe Foot as it’s one I find most useful in lots of projects, including quilting. So let’s take a closer look at these three very useful feet.

A note on Stitch Width Safety

Before we begin, it’s important to note that the Clear Adjustable ¼” Foot with Guide and the Clear Stitch in the Ditch Foot are both designed to be used for straight stitching only. Many of the current range of Husqvarna Viking machines have an option in the tools menu called ‘Stitch Width Safety’ and I would recommend you select this when using straight stitching feet or a straight stitching needle plate. This means that the stitch width will be limited to zero for all stitches to prevent damage to the needle, presser foot and needle plate. This setting is saved when the machine is turned off. A pop-up message reminds you of the setting when you turn on the machine, so if you want to do a zig zag stitch you must remember to unselect it otherwise you’ll be straight stitching forever!

If you don’t have the Stitch Width Safety option on your machine then you will need to remember to change the foot before going on to select zig zag or decorative stitches, otherwise you could end up breaking a needle or damaging your foot.

The Clear Adjustable ¼” Foot with Guide

Piecing together a quilt is as much an art as a science, but the real key to accurate piecing is a precise ¼” seam. The Clear Adjustable ¼” Foot with Guide allows you to do just that. Simply position the metal guide on the foot on the edge of your fabric and follow it as you stitch – if your pieces are cut accurately then that’s all it takes to achieve accurate seams! The red horizontal markings on the foot make it easy to turn on the corners when piecing or topstitching.

What about if you want to stitch a scant ¼” seam allowance? If you’re not sure what it is, a scant ¼” seam allowance is slightly narrower than a standard ¼” seam allowance – this takes into account the fabric thickness so that when you open out your seams your blocks will be the exact width you are expecting. With just one seam then this difference is negligible, but when you have pieced together dozens of blocks then it adds up and can lead to your quilt being measurably smaller than you are expecting!

The Clear Adjustable ¼” Foot with Guide has an oval hole that allows you to adjust your needle position (your sewing machine instruction book will tell you how). This lets you move the needle slightly from left to right, allowing you to stitch with that perfectly precise scant ¼” seam allowance while using the guide along the edge of your fabric to stitch with ease!

Clear Stitch in the Ditch Foot

Stitching in the ditch means to stitch in in the finished seam of a quilt… or garment because this foot isn’t just for quilters! Line up the metal guide in the centre of the Clear Stitch in the Ditch Foot with the seam and you will be able to stitch effortlessly down the seam, plus you have great visibility because the foot is clear. There are markings on the foot to make turning on a corner easy – you can choose either 1/4” (6mm) or 1/8” (3mm).

Stitching in the ditch on a quilt will help to stabilise the fabric and prevent it from moving. In garment making it’s great for top stitching, but remember you can only straight stitch. If you are wanting to decorative stitch take a look at the Clear B Edge Joining Foot This is a similar foot with the guide in the middle, but has an opening to allow you to swing the needle.

Clear Open Toe Foot

Lastly, let’s look at the Clear Open Toe Foot. This foot has been available for many years so if you already have one then it’s worth digging it out of your accessory tray! As it’s a clear foot then it will give you great visibility for appliqué projects where you need to see the edge of the fabric or for decorative stitching. If you turn the foot over and look at the back of it you will see it has a tunnel that allows the foot to feed smoothly over the stitches, particularly the denser type stitches. The B foot (decorative stitch foot) that comes with all Husqvarna Viking machines also has the tunnel underneath but I often swap to the Clear Open Toe foot for better visibility.

We have a special offer on these feet at the moment – you can buy them as a bundle and save 10%! This offer is only available online so make sure you get it while you can!

For Epic 2 Owners

If you own an Epic 2 then don’t worry, there are versions of all of these feet that are compatible with the Integrated Dual Feed (IDF) on the Epic 2, just click to see them on our website:

These are just three of the many feet available from Husqvarna Viking so look out for information about more feet in our future blog posts. We’ll also be running a foot class in the New Year, where you’ll have an opportunity to find out what’s available and have a go!

Happy stitching!

Accessories and feet · Husqvarna Viking · Sewing

Your feet are made for stitching… but which one should you use?

You will have a range of basic accessory feet that came with your sewing machine, like your buttonhole foot, zipper foot, etc. But what happens when you want to do something more specialised, like inserting an invisible zip, topstitching a collar or sewing a garment with a specific seam allowance? Which accessory do you use then?

The clever people at Husqvarna Viking have created over 50 specialised accessory feet to make your sewing applications easier (and they are always creating more!). Here are three feet from my accessory box that I use regularly when I am garment making. 

1. Invisible zip foot

First out of the box is my Clear Invisible Zip Foot (there is a metal version if you prefer to use metal feet). An invisible zip, sometimes known as a concealed zip, is stitched into a seam and as the name implies it’s almost invisible – once it’s inserted all you should be able to see is the zip pull.

An invisible zip

Zip application is often thought of as very difficult to do but it`s really one of the easiest, especially when sewn with the Clear Invisible Zip Foot. An invisible zip is always inserted before stitching the garment’s seam. It has two grooves underneath the foot to accommodate the zip coils and hold them in place as you stitch. You need to buy a zip that is at least 1 1/4″ (3 cm) longer than the zip opening.

If you haven’t inserted an invisible zip before then don’t worry, I go through the process step by step in the video below!

Have a look at my video to see how to insert an invisible zip

2. Seam guide foot

Next out of my box is the Clear Seam Guide Foot. As it says in the name, it’s a clear foot so has lots of visibility when joining fabric and stitching seams. The Clear Seam Guide Foot has a metal guide, which is set at 5/8” (1.5cm) from the centre needle position; this is the standard seam allowance on most patterns. So when you are constructing a garment all you need to do is place the edge of the fabric on the guide and you’ll get an accurate seam allowance every time. To allow for varying seam allowances there are also markings on the foot set at 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2”.

If you are an Epic 2 owner there is an IDF version of the Clear Seam Guide Foot so that you can use it with the Integrated Dual Feed.

3. Edge joining foot

Last out of my accessory box is the Clear B Edge Joining Foot, which is one of my favourites as it can be used for so many applications. It also comes as a metal foot but I personally prefer the clear one as it gives lots of visibility.  As it’s a joining foot then you can use it for tasks such as joining fabric and lace, or for embellishing ribbon with decorative stitches. However, I generally use it for topstitching as you can put the guide on the edge of the fabric and move the needle across to get a really close topstitch – great for garments but also useful for things like bag handles. It’s also good for top stitching around T-shirt necklines – the guide sits in the seam line and then you can position the needle for top stitching.

If you are an Epic 2 owner there is an IDF version of the Edge Joining Foot so that you can use it with the Integrated Dual Feed.

So those are my top three additional feet for garment making. We have a special offer on these feet at the moment – you can buy them as a bundle and save 10%! This offer is only available online so make sure you get it while you can!

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of my sewing accessory box, I do have lots of other feet so be sure to pop back to our Blog and I’ll tell you about some more of my accessory feet!

Fabric · New in · Inspiration

Our winter fabrics have arrived!

With various lockdowns in place during last year we were unable to have a big delivery of winter fabrics. Well this year we are making up for it and our shelves are full, we hope there’s something for everyone!
Our shelves are full of new fabrics!

The majority of our fabrics are 140cm or 150cm wide and can all be purchased in 10cm increments, so there’s no wastage. Although all our fabrics can be purchased online there’s nothing quite like touching a piece of fabric so we do hope you can pop in to the shop and don’t forget if you are on our mailing list you’ll get 10% off in store – if you are not then you can sign up when you come in! So what have we got on the shelves this winter?

Rayons and viscose ditsy prints are popular this winter for tiered, ruffled or button through dresses in various lengths, mini, midi or maxi! If trousers or skirts are on your list of makes then we have a range of woven or cord fabrics in plain and prints just waiting for you. If you are a Tilly and the Buttons fan then the cords are great for the Cleo dungaree dress.

There’s nothing more comfortable than wearing a jersey dress or top and if you’re nervous about sewing stretch fabrics there’s no need to be, they are easier than you think. We have some great jersey prints and top of my list of makes will be the Tilly and the Buttons’ Coco, so easy to sew and so easy to wear!  

If you’re after something a bit thicker and a bit warmer then look no further than our soft sweatshirting or French terry, which are ideal for jumpers, tunics and even dresses – these bring to mind Tilly and the Buttons’ Stevie pattern! If you are sewing for children we’ve added some French Terry children’s prints to our range, they are very cute and would be great to use with the Poppy & Jazz Strawberry sweatshirt pattern.

What better than a long sleeve T-shirt when layering up in the winter, or short sleeved if you’re chasing some winter sun. Our 95% cotton T-shirting comes in plains and stripes ideal for everyone whether they are 8 or 88. If you have a little one to sew for then take a look at the Poppy & Jazz Elm T-Shirt pattern!

We have a range of Ponte Romas, a fairly new fabric on the market but very popular because it’s a bit heavier than the general stretch fabrics that area vailable and it doesn’t cling in all the wrong places!

You may be asking what is Ponte Roma? It’s sometimes known as Ponte di Roma or Punto di Roma, it is a double knit fabric that was first developed in Italy. A double knit fabric is essentially two layers of fabric knitted together with two sets of needles.

And last but not least are our fleeces, so soft and cuddly, we’ve even got a Christmassy one with reindeer on!  I love backing quilts or cushions with fleece because it makes them so cosy!    

I’m sure by the time you’ve finished reading this you’ve got a list of things you want to make –  there’s nothing quite like sewing on a winter’s evening, and you’ll get a new wardrobe to boot!

Happy Sewing!