Classes · Embroidery · Sewing · Staff

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!

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!

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!

Embroidery · Husqvarna Viking · software

10 Reasons why I love mySewnet Embroidery 2021

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

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

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

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

The new film strip in mySewnet embroidery

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

New SuperDesigns – Coffee Time and Tea Time

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

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

Spiro Wizard

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

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

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

The Multiply feature in the Draw & Paint module

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

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

Embroidery · Embroidery machines · Husqvarna Viking · Sewing · Sewing Machines

Thinking of buying a domestic sewing machine?

Well, congratulations, a sewing machine is a wonderful tool and accessory to have, a gateway to many creative ideas, and a great therapy and relaxation. So how do you decide which machine to buy? Having been an exhibitor at many sewing shows, I have seen so many people overwhelmed by the choice available, often ending up going home with nothing. So let’s see if we can help filter it a bit.

A few questions to ask yourself before you begin looking:

  • Why do I want a sewing machine?
  • What sewing do I do now?
  • If I have a sewing machine, why am I looking to replace it?
  • Is there a new area of sewing I would like to try, but the machine I have does not have the capability to do it?

Don’t be too worried about trying to find a machine with everything you might ever want to do on it all at once. Yes, a sewing machine tends to be a long term investment, but they do have a value as they get older so you can always sell the one you have on, or part exchange it against an upgrade. Many people begin with a simpler machine and as they grow in skill and experience they upgrade to machines with more features.

Ok that has hopefully got the cogs whirring, so let’s have a look at some of the types of machines that are available, by genre (if you have a particular genre in mind, simply click to jump to the genre):
Traditional mechanical machines
Computer sewing machines
Sewing and embroidery machine combinations

Traditional Mechanical Sewing Machines

The technology used in traditional mechanical sewing machines has been around for many a year and they are a great place to start the sewing journey. Modern ones are easy to thread and use, require minimal maintenance and will give years of trouble free service if given some TLC and a service occasionally.

Stitches and size of stitches will be selected by dials and it will be necessary to set the stitch length and width manually to suit. There could be some electronics involved to help control the speed of the machine and for needle piercing power for heavy fabrics.

A mechanical machine will offer, at minimum, straight stitch for joining seams, zigzag for overcasting seams, 3 step zigzag for inserting elastic and repairs, blind hem for easy curtain and trouser hemming (once the technique is mastered) and a buttonhole. It may also have some stretch and overlock stitches, some decorative stitches or a free motion facility for free motion embroidery or stipple quilting.

I’m afraid you get what you pay for so if you’re looking at a sub-£100 machine from a supermarket, don’t expect it to be up to much! The engineering in a sewing machine needs to be excellent, as do the materials used to build it, so if it’s very cheap then this will be reflected in the quality of materials or build. You may end up spending more on a cheap machine in the long term when problems arise from its poor quality.

Ideally you want to look at spending, as a minimum, £150. Go with a reputable brand, ideally bought from a sewing machine specialist, and if you can pop in (or have a virtual demonstration), so much the better. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, so only watching YouTube videos before you buy might not necessarily help you make the right purchase.

Why have a demonstration?

When you are choosing a machine, a specialist sewing machine shop like Coles will offer you a free demonstration. Not only do you get to see (and hear) the machine in action and have a go for yourself, you also can ask any questions you might have. The demonstrator will try to ensure that the machine is within your budget and meets your needs and as they are experts, they can offer suggestions that you wouldn’t get otherwise. You would test drive a car, why not a sewing machine?!
Some examples of mechanical sewing machines from Husqvarna Viking:
  • H|CLASS™ E10 – currently £189.00 with 2 years’ warranty
    • A great place to start the sewing journey
    • Easy to use and so reliable, with a good range of sewing and utility stitches plus 3 step buttonholes and a built in needle threader
    • For beginners to intermediate users
  • H|CLASS™ E20 – currently £239.00 with 2 years’ warranty
    • Similar to the E10 but with an additional drop feed mechanism for easy free motion sewing, a few more stitches, a one-step easy buttonhole, and independent stitch width control
    • For intermediate users, or great as a backup machine for taking to class
  • EMERALD™ 116 – currently £339 with 5 years’ warranty
    • A very reliable machine and simple to use, great with heavy and light fabrics alike
    • Includes 1-step easy buttonholes, stitch width control, decorative and utility stitches – it’s just lovely to use!
    • For beginners to intermediate/advanced users
  • EMERALD™ 118 – currently £369.00 with 5 years’ warranty
    • Similar to the Emerald 116, but with a slide speed control and needle up down function to make sewing even more controllable, plus a few more decorative stitches
    • For beginners to intermediate/advanced users

Computer sewing machines

Computer sewing machines started appearing with the advent of the microchip, as long ago as the late 1970’s. They are so much easier to set up than mechanical machines as simply selecting the stitch sets the machine up ready to go. They often have computer controlled upper tensions, with the tension matched automatically to the chosen stitch/fabric combination.  They usually have needle/up down functions to save you having to turn the handwheel. They will probably have a stitch count in the hundreds, with specialist stitches for utility, quilting, decorative and lettering.

A computer sewing machine may also have auto thread trim, and auto presser foot lift (with an extra height setting for thicker projects) plus a pivot function for patchwork, and a bigger distance between the right side of the machine and the needle, to allow for bigger projects such as quilts. They are simple to use once the basics of threading are mastered, so any user level can use them – beginners to advanced.

A few Husqvarna Viking computer sewing machines to chew over:
  • OPAL™ 690Q – currently £899 with 5 years’ warranty
    • This is just such an amazing machine – it has so many features, but is still intuitive and so easy to use
    • It has growth room, so you could buy it as a beginner/intermediate, and grow with it, or buy it as an advanced sewer, and still be amazed at what it offers!
    • If you really think you will be into sewing long term then this is the machine for you
  • SAPPHIRE™ 930 – currently £1499 with 5 years’ warranty
    • The big sister of the OPAL™ 690Q, the Sapphire 930 has a longer arm to accommodate bigger projects such as quilts, as well as additional stitch functions
    • If you’re a quilter then it’s a great machine to go for as it is big, but light enough to carry to classes
  • BRILLIANCE™ 75Q – currently £1929.00 with 5 years’ warranty
    • This is a top of the line computer machine, but still easy to use
    • It has a colour touch screen like the SAPPHIRE™ 930, as well as extra wide decorative and quilt stitches
    • For intermediate to advanced users

Sewing and embroidery machine combinations

This innovation in domestic sewing started to appear in the early 1990’s and allowed for small embroideries to be added to garments. It was simple stuff at first, and quite complicated to set up through using electronic memory cards that went into a specialist port on the computer. Designs and customising designs were quite tricky too. But not now!

We really are spoilt by the choice, ease of use and familiarity of operation these days. Designs are plentiful and easy to customise, or you can create your own design with software – the only limits are your imagination! They come with USB connectivity and the most recent machines have built in Wi-Fi, letting you download your design straight onto your machine, no matter where you are. There is even a phone app, with which you can take a photo of an item and send it to your machine for stitching out direct from your phone! The combination machines are top of the line sewing machines as well, so you get the best of both worlds.

I would recommend buying one from somewhere that can support you, as you need to learn the techniques of hooping, positioning, the right backings and thread and so forth. The investment in one of these is high, but the rewards are amazing – imagine seeing an embroidery you have created on a garment, cushion, or quilt! It can even turn into a cottage industry as there are always clubs, businesses and societies wanting embroidered logos stitching on garments, as well as the massive opportunity in the small craft business. They can be used from beginner to advanced, as the modern interfaces with large colour touch screens make the stitching side easy. You just need to master the art of setting the fabric to embroider up correctly, and to find inspiration.

A few Husqvarna Viking embroidery machines to look at, all with 5 year warranty and free tuition with Coles:
  • DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 40 – normally £2299.00, we have some demonstration models available at £1299.00 while stocks last
    • An easy to use sewing and embroidery combo
    • Great as a sewing machine and simple to set up for embroidery
    • Maximum hoop area 240mm x 150mm
  • DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 50 – currently £3059.00
    • A longer arm than the Topaz 40, with more built in stitches
    • Simple to use on sewing and embroidery
    • Maximum hoop size of 360mm x 200mm, so you can do pretty big designs!
  • DESIGNER SAPPHIRE™ 85 – currently £5299
    • Longer arm and larger colour touch screen than earlier machines
    • Has the deLuxe™ Stitch System: the machine works out the thickness of the thread, fabric, and works with the project being stitched to alter the tensions in real time as necessary to give perfect results
    • Technology for sewing at its best!
  • DESIGNER RUBY™ 90 – currently £7499
    • We love the Ruby 90, it has so many features as a sewing and embroidery machine!
    • Big, so can take big projects
    • Massive touch screen, like an iPad
    • Built in JoyOS™ system giving you access to training on board the machine
    • Hundreds of stiches as a sewing machine
    • Will embroider up to 360mm x 360mm (with a turnable hoop)
    • It’s just awesome!
  • DESIGNER EPIC™ 2 – currently £8999.00
    • Awesome plus plus!
    • In addition to the features of the Ruby, the EPIC™ 2 has an integrated dual feed system
    • Long and high sewing area, making it the perfect quilting machine as well as being one of the most advanced sewing and embroidery machines in the world!

Well I hope that helps a little. I have concentrated on examples of Husqvarna Viking machines as we know them well here at Coles – it’s worth clicking to have a look at any machine you’re interested in as we have some fantastic offers on our website right now. If nothing here takes your fancy then there are many other makes out there which you can find on the web, but hopefully you now have a bit of a filter onto the genre of the machine for you. Whatever you choose to look at, I would certainly recommend a test drive if possible to make sure you feel happy using it; also make sure there is some support, other than a couple of online videos!

Happy sewing from all at Coles!

Embroidery

Choosing embroidery stabilisers

This week Rose will explain embroidery stabilisers, so if you’ve ever found yourself looking at all the options available but not sure which is the right one for your project then Rose is here to help!

If you own an embroidery machine then you know that you need to use stabiliser underneath your fabric, but the question is which do you choose? There are several different stabilisers to choose from and each one has a different purpose, so in this blog I’ll aim to demystify embroidery stabilisers for you!

Why do you need to use an embroidery stabiliser?

The fabric that you’re working on is the foundation of your design. Using a stabiliser will prevent the fabric from puckering and slipping, allowing a well-formed stitch to be created. The less stable the fabric is and the more stitches your design has, the more stabiliser you will need.

Choosing a stabiliser

To decide which backing to use, you need to consider the following:

  • The type of fabric
  • The density of the stitches in the design
  • The weight of the fabric
  • The embroidery design itself
  • The colour of the fabric (most stabilisers are white but some do come in black as well. Generally I would choose white but if there’s a choice then choose white for light coloured fabrics and black for dark)

Hooping up

As well as choosing the correct embroidery stabiliser, you also need to take care when hooping the fabric. Always hoop up on a firm surface such as a table, trying to do it on your knee really won’t work! If the fabric is too loose in the hoop then the needle will deflect your material and design registration will be adversely affected. That means that your outlines may not line up with other portions of the design.

Types of stabiliser

There are several types of stabiliser to choose from and I will I explain how each is used. I have included a table at the end so you can see the applications of each type at a glance.

Tear away stabilisers

Tear away stabilisers are the cheapest and the most used stabilisers, I keep a big roll in my cupboard! Stitch and Tear is recommended for use with medium to heavyweight fabrics. After completing the design, it can be torn away in either the horizontal or vertical direction. It should be removed carefully in order to not disturb the stitches in your design. I wouldn’t recommend using it for delicate fabrics or knits.

Stitch and Tear (before it has been torn away around the embroidery)

Tear and Wash is similar to Stitch and Tear but is easy to remove and leaves no stabiliser remnants under the stitching. Simply damp around the edges of the embroidery to release the extra stabiliser and the remainder of the stabiliser will disappear during washing. Please note: although this stabiliser is water soluble it is NOT suitable for freestanding lace projects.

Cut away stabilisers

Cut away stabilisers such as Polymesh are woven stabilisers ideal for stretch fabrics as they remain on the back of the fabric supporting the embroidery during washing and wearing, preventing the design from distorting. Polymesh is semi-transparent and known as a no show mesh, meaning it won’t show through on the right side of the garment. It is especially designed for extra stability on lightweight fabrics and knits. We stock two types in both black and white: Polymesh Fusible and Polymesh Non-Fusible. They both do the same thing but the fusible stays where you put it – it’s my favourite to use when embroidering onto T-shirts.

Adhesive-backed stabilisers

Adhesive-backed stabilisers can be both tear away (Filmoplast, which comes in black as well as white) and wash away (Wash Away Adhesive) and both are very similar in the way they are used. They are perfect for difficult-to-hoop projects – just hoop the stabiliser, score and remove the release sheet (it’s a bit like sticky back plastic, if you can remember that!), then stick the item to the stabiliser and embroider.

Adhesive-backed stabilisers are great for small areas that are too small to fit the hoop area, such as collars or pockets. They are also ideal for thick fabrics that are difficult to hoop, or for velvets and napped fabrics like towelling that really don’t want to be hooped conventionally as they will mark. They are great if you own a metal hoop with magnets too, as the stabiliser will stick underneath the hoop.

Filmoplast, the adhesive-backed tear away, is removed by tearing the stabiliser from around the design and the Wash Away Adhesive is removed by washing once you have removed the excess. Which you use is down to preference and whether you want the stabiliser to remain under the design or to wash away.

Filmoplast used to stitch onto a pocket in a magnetic hoop
Water soluble stabilisers

We have already covered two water soluble stabilisers, Tear and Wash and Wash Away Adhesive. A third option is Soluble Fabric, a water soluble stabiliser that is a whopping 153cm wide, which is why it’s known as Extra Wide! It is soft, sheer and stronger than dissolvable films; it has no fibre residue and is fully dissolvable in warm water – simply cut away the excess and wash. It is ideal for when you want to embroider standalone embroidery designs and other projects that require 100% complete backing removal.

Other machine embroidery products

When I’m talking about stabilisers there are two other products I like to mention. Although they aren’t stabilisers, they sort of fit in with them as they are used with machine embroidery.

Solvy is a thin water soluble film – it’s not a stabiliser and is not stable enough to use under the fabric. It’s known as a topper and is put on top of the fabric to prevent the embroidery stitches from sinking into the fabric. This is an absolute must when embroidering onto pile fabrics such as velvet, fleece and towelling. It easily dissolves under cold or warm water when the embroidery is finished.

Solvy used to prevent the stitches from sinking into towelling

Over the Back Fusing is well-named – it is for using over the back of the embroidery. Fuse it over the back of your embroidery design when it is finished and it will give a smooth surface next to the skin as it seals in any loose and scratchy threads.   

A final tip

It can be difficult to identify a stabiliser just by looking at it so make sure to label your stabilisers so you know what they are. And be sure to store your water soluble stabilisers in a seal top bag to prevent them from getting damp and deteriorating – the smallest splash of water can make a piece unusable!

You can browse our whole range of stabilisers on our website, or use the table below to help you decide which stabiliser is most suitable for your project. Happy stitching!

Embroidery stabilisers at a glance
Embroidery · Offers · software

mySewnet™ Embroidery 2021 – save up to 25% on boxed software!

We currently have a fantastic offer on Husqvarna Viking’s latest embroidery software. If you purchase a boxed version of mySewnet Embroidery 2021 software before 31st December you can save up to 25%, but only while stocks last!

When you buy the boxed mySewnet Embroidery 2021 software you pay a one-off price and it is yours to keep forever, with no need to pay a monthly subscription. There are three full versions, Silver, Gold and Platinum, plus the Platinum Upgrade version, so if you are interested in purchasing your own copy of mySewnet Embroidery 2021 software but you aren’t sure which version would best suit your needs, then read on to learn more about what the different versions have to offer!

mySewnet™ Embroidery 2021 boxed software

mySewnet™ Embroidery Silver 2021
If you are new to machine embroidery then Silver is the perfect entry level software. It lets you enhance and embellish ready-made designs, add text to your designs as well as frames, borders and flourishes. Your projects can be as large as your imagination as Split Project and Endless Assistant help you to reposition your hoop. As with all versions of mySewnet, you can wirelessly connect to the cloud to save your designs, or download designs to your WiFi enabled embroidery machine – location is never an issue, making it possible to be creative anywhere.

Until 31st December 2021, mySewnet™ Embroidery Silver 2021 is reduced from £525 to £399, saving you £126 on the full price.

mySewnet™ Embroidery Gold 2021
The Gold version has everything that Silver offers, plus it allows you to digitize with minimal effort with step-by-step wizards guiding you through the creative process. Turn photos into embroidery with Photo Stitch, add appliqué to your embroideries or give the new Spiro Wizard a try to create incredible unique designs (you can learn more about Spiro in the video below from mySewnet™ UK).

Until 31st December 2021, mySewnet™ Embroidery Gold 2021 is reduced from £825 to £599, saving you £226 on the full price.

Watch this video from mySewnet™ UK to learn about the new Spiro Wizard

mySewnet™ Embroidery Platinum 2021
The Platinum version gives you the complete collection of tools and step-by-step wizards for full control of the creative process. Draw and paint in the software, digitize your own designs, or add embellishments such as ribbon embroidery – this software is the ideal outlet for your creativity!

Until 31st December 2021, mySewnet™ Embroidery Platinum 2021 is reduced from £1,499 to £1,099, saving you £400 on the full price.

mySewnet™ Embroidery Platinum 2021 Upgrade
If you already own Premier+2 software, then you can upgrade to mySewnet Embroidery 2021 with the Platinum Upgrade. Our software expert Anna will be posting soon to explain how mySewnet is different from Premier+2, but in the meantime you can view the video below from mySewnet™ UK to see some of the changes in layout.

Until 31st December 2021, mySewnet™ Embroidery Platinum Upgrade 2021 is reduced from £925 to £699, saving you £226 on the full price.

Watch this video from mySewnet™ UK to see how mySewnet™ Software has changed compared to previous generations such as Premier+2

mySewnet has so much to offer that it’s impossible to cover it in one post, but the chart below gives you an at-a-glance comparison between the three versions. You can buy online on our website here and as always, if you have any questions then you can comment below, give us a call on (0115) 9881550 or pop into the shop for a chat.

Comparison of the Silver, Gold and Platinum versions of mySewnet™ Embroidery 2021
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!