Sewing

The lighter weight cotton thread where less really is more

Anyone who follows us on Facebook will know that we have recently received a brand new cabinet full of Mettler Silk Finish Cotton 60. But what you might not know is what a fantastic all-rounder this thread is. So why is it worth trying Silk Finish Cotton 60 (SFC 60)?

It is called Silk Finish Cotton because of its silky feel, while the 60 refers to the weight of the thread: the higher the number, the finer the thread so a 60wt thread is a medium-fine thread. This means that SFC 60 is finer than other cotton threads like Gutermann Natural Cotton (50wt), Cotton 30 and Cotton 12. It is also finer than other embroidery threads, like Gutermann Sulky Rayon 40 and Rayon 30. However, if you’re looking for an ultra fine thread for something like English paper piecing, then you’ll want 100wt, which is far finer than SFC60.

Mettler provide a handy graphic so you can see how to use their threads, which as you can see below shows that SFC 60 is at its best when used for quilting and embroidery. It can also be used for sewing but it isn’t recommended for use in an overlocker.

Uses for Mettler Silk Finish Cotton 60

Quilting

SFC 60 is great for quilting. When you piece with it then you lose less of your seam allowance when you press your seams because it lies flatter than seams stitched with a heavier weight thread. This difference is minimal on individual seams, but really builds up across the quilt as a whole and can throw out the measurements for your final quilt. Also, if your quilting is particularly dense then a finer weight thread will give you a lighter, less stiff result. Over the quilt as a whole then a slightly finer thread can really make a big difference!

Embroidery

A lot of people use 40wt rayon embroidery threads, which give a lovely sheen. However, sometimes a matt finish is preferable and you get this with a cotton thread like SFC 60 – you can see in the image below that the Gutermann Rayon 40 on the bottom row has much more shine than the SFC 60 on the top row. Also, if your stitching is particularly dense then you will also find that your embroidery has less bulk with a finer thread.

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

When embroidering, SFC 60 looks lovely as your top thread but it’s also great in your bobbin. Pre-wound bobbins and bobbin thread have more stretch to them than cotton, so can lead to puckering on some embroidery stitches (particularly running stitches). Using cotton in your bobbin can help with this issue, and because it is a finer weight then you can wind more on, meaning you have to change bobbins less often.

Sewing

You can also sew with SFC 60, although this is not its primary use. It’s best to use it with lightweight fabrics as it is finer than other sewing threads.

Less fluff

Where SFC 60 really shines is the beautiful lustre created by the mercerisation process. This, in tandem with the long staple Egyptian cotton fibres that it is spun from, creates a beautifully smooth thread that sheds less, creates less fluff in your machine and is less likely to shred. What this adds up to is less thread breakage and less debris clogging up your machine, which can cause all sorts of issues of its own (if you want to know more about the importance of cleaning our your machine, then read Neil’s post on keeping your machine in tip top condition).

Great colour range

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

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

Available online

We have our whole range of SFC 60 thread available on our website. Simply select the colour you would like and then choose the length from the drop down menu. Not all colours come in all lengths but you can refine your search by length if you want a particular amount, or by colour group if you know you want a blue (for example), but want to browse the shades on offer. As always, we are available on email at info@colessewingcentre.co.uk and telephone on (0115) 9881550 if you would like any advice about your thread choice. I hope you’ll give Silk Finish Cotton 60 a try – let us know what you think in the comments!

Fabric · Patchwork · quilting · Sewing

Time is running out to enter our fantastic Liberty competition!

You only have until midnight on Saturday 1st October to enter our Liberty competition and be in with a chance of winning one of our three Liberty prizes!

How do I enter?

Simply purchase any Liberty fabric from us, either in store or online, and your name will automatically be entered into the competition. Each full metre purchased counts as one entry, so you can mix and match half metres and fat quarters – as long as it adds up to one full metre within the same transaction then it counts! The more you buy, the more entries you have and the more chances you have of winning!

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

Fabric · Patchwork · quilting · Sewing

Win Liberty prizes in our Liberty competition!

We have some fantastic prizes on offer in our Liberty competition! All you need to do to enter is purchase Liberty fabrics – every metre purchased counts as one entry so the more you buy, the more chances you have of winning!

The name of Liberty conjures an image of gorgeous florals and subtle designs that are inspired by nature and history, and with good reason. Liberty London is one of the world’s most iconic fabric manufacturers and has been at the cutting edge of design for over 145 years, producing exquisite fabrics with timeless appeal. The Liberty name is synonymous with quality and elegance – with beautiful prints on high quality cotton, Liberty fabrics make the perfect addition to any quilter’s stash!

Liberty collections at Coles

We currently have three Liberty collections available both in store and online: Flower Show Sunrise, Wiltshire Shadow and A Woodland Christmas.

Flower Show Sunrise brings together botanical designs from across Liberty’s iconic print archive. Drawing inspiration from the glory and tradition of classic British flower shows, the collection features diverse flower forms united in a cacophony of colour, illustrating Liberty’s rich heritage of floral design.

Wiltshire Shadow is the the perfect fabric blender and its muted leaf and berry print is designed to coordinate against other layouts from Liberty’s vast archive of prints for a seamless mix-and-match effect.

A Woodland Christmas transports us to a magical winter wonderland of prancing reindeers and glittering stars. Charming scenes unfold within an enchanted forest where snowflakes fall around a Christmas cottage, and brightly coloured baubles hidden among the evergreen firs complement traditional designs of holly and berries.

How do I enter the competition?

Simply purchase any Liberty fabric from us, either in store or online, and your name will automatically be entered into the competition. Each full metre purchased counts as one entry, so you can mix and match half metres and fat quarters – as long as it adds up to one full metre within the same transaction then it counts! The more you buy, the more entries you have and the more chances you have of winning!

First prize

The first prize winner will receive eight assorted Liberty fat quarters, a Gutermann Sew-All 30 spool thread set, two packs of machine quilting needles and a copy of Quilting with Liberty Fabrics by Jenni Smith. This beautiful hardback book comes in a slipcase to protect it and contains 15 quilting projects as well as a complete fabric design history of Liberty and a full colour reference index for every fabric used. It features beautiful details of the classic fabric designs produced over the years and each quilt will inspire readers to finally cut into those precious bits of fabric and begin enjoying them in pieced projects of their very own. 

Second prize

The second prize winner will receive 10 asorted Liberty fat quarters, an 18 spool Mettler Seralon thread set and two packs of machine quilting needles.

Third Prize

The third prize winner will receive six assorted Liberty fat quarters, an 8 spool Mettler Silk Finish Cotton thread set and two pack of machine quilting needles.

The competition will run from Monday 1st August 2022 to Saturday 1st October 2022 and all qualifying purchases within this time will be entered. The winner will be drawn at random, live on our Facebook page – join us at 2pm on Tuesday 4th October 2022 to see if you are one of the lucky winners! Please note, international customers can enter but prizes will only be shipped to a UK address.

You can shop our collection of Liberty fabrics online here – why not get a head start on your Christmas makes with the brand new A Woodland Christmas collection? This offer is only available while stocks last so make sure you don’t leave it too late!

Sewing · Staff · Embroidery · Classes

Goodbye to Lorna and welcome to our new tutors!

We’re all a little sad at Coles this week, as we have had to say goodbye to our Garment Making tutor Lorna Keeling. Lorna is retiring after 20 years, and we had a little goodbye party last Friday to wave her off. In her two decades with Coles Lorna has taught countless students, many of whom came to her as complete beginners and have gone on to work in the fashion industry all over the world. Lorna’s classes were always in high demand because of her expert knowledge of garment making, as well as the clear and practical way she communicated it. Her passion for sharing her knowledge ignited a love of garment making in everyone she taught, and we are all very sorry to see her go. We hope she enjoys her retirement, but we’ll all miss her!

As we say goodbye to Lorna, we have some new tutors to introduce who have their own expert knowledge to share. Our own Catherine Crew, who you may already know from the shop floor or her excellent overlocker classes, will be taking a weekly Garment Making class on Wednesday mornings. We have Lorna to thank for having Catherine here, as she first came to Coles to attend one of Lorna’s dressmaking classes! Since then, Catherine joined the Coles team and has become an expert in overlocking as well as garment making.

You may not know that Catherine passed her Level 3 in both Pattern Cutting and Tailoring with distinction, and she is now working towards her Level 4 in Tailoring. She brings this expertise to her new classes, as well as her in-depth knowledge of all the latest sewing products from working in the shop. She is so excited to teach Garment Making in addition to her popular overlocker classes! She is looking forward to spending more time with other creative people and helping them to see their projects through to fruition. Catherine will be taking a four-week summer class on Thursday mornings beginning on 28th July, before moving to a regular weekly Wednesday slot in September.

Catherine Crew

Our next new tutor is also a familiar face – we are welcoming back Jayne Childs, who will be teaching some fantastic embroidery workshops in the coming months. Some of you may remember Jayne, as she worked for us (when we were Husqvarna Studio) for several years before moving on to be sales manager at Husqvarna Viking UK. Jayne makes embroidered lace, designed by hand and created using Husqvarna Viking computer software and embroidery machines. She uses text within her lace to weave stories and tell tales inspired by her research into lace and social history.

For the past twelve years Jayne has been making and selling a range of lace fashion and home accessories, under her brand name of JC Middlebrook. She recently became a UK brand ambassador for Husqvarna Viking mySewnet software, and she also works part time at Nottingham Trent University as a Research Assistant for the Lace Archive, as well as teaching on the Fashion BA course.

Jayne is looking forward to sharing her software and embroidery knowledge with you in her workshops. All three of her upcoming workshops are based around designs that Jayne has created especially for the classes, which are inspired by Nottingham’s lacemaking history. In her Paper Embroidery Workshop she provides vintage papers for you to embroider on and create some unique art. Her Embroidered Lantern Workshop and Embroidered Lampshade Workshop will lead you through the creation of some beautiful homewares, once again inspired by vintage Nottingham lace designs.

Jayne Childs

Our final new addition is completely new to Coles. Emma Smith has been a freelance tutor for various venues across Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire since 2019. She is a prolific dressmaker for her own personal projects and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others discover the joy of sewing and develop their own skills and experiences. Emma originally completed a fashion and textiles degree and, having spent many years in the UK manufacturing industry, she brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the team.

Emma has some amazing things planned for her classes with Coles. Coming up, she has an Introduction to Patchwork and Quilting class for people completely new to the hobby, as well as two-day and three-day workshops helping you through trouser-making and jeans-making. These are two of the more challenging garments to sew, and her workshops promise to be extremely informative.

Emma Smith

You can find all of our upcoming classes online here and you can book online or by calling the shop on 0115 9881550. As you may already know, our classes are very popular so we do recommend early booking to avoid being disappointed. We hope to see you in one of our classes soon!

Sewing · Staff

26 Years In The Can!

So, we opened our doors on 1st June 1996, a staggering 26 years ago! It’s fair to say a lot has happened since then!

Our very young children are now grown up and have families and careers of their own. Staff have come and gone and come back again! We welcome back Jayne Childs, who opened with us in 1996, and is coming back to teach classes in the autumn. Sewing machines, fashions, techniques, fabrics, and inspiration have all changed, the advance of technology in sewing machines has frankly been breathtaking.

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

But some things remain the same. We opened with a mission to get people sewing again! Against the backdrop of a cyclical recession, we mortgaged ourselves to the hilt to open a new kind of sewing store.  One designed to inspire you to sew, with great products, inspiration, knowhow, and classes to make the experience of sewing a joy, therapeutic, and to create a community of stitchers who would want to come back for more and more.

Me, back when I had black hair!

Of course, the whole thing nearly crashed and burned. It was two months before we got any sort of revenue stream, but with plenty of money going out! I remember one day being here all day to take £2.50. The window cleaner came, and I had to pay him £3. I thought then, what have I done?! Rose was working nights to pay the bills at home and looking after our 2 boys during the day. I am not sure quite how she did it.

Rose planning one of our first classes

Anyway, we hung on and as summer turned to autumn, things started to improve. Our footfall increased and a lot of orders started to come in by phone (pre websites!). People started attending our classes, and sewing machines started arriving for service.

We managed to acquire a tie up with People’s College who used our space and machines to host classes in our premises. Lorna Keeling, who is just set to retire, started teaching with us from those days – I know that staff and customers alike are going to miss her when she goes.

Our embroidery software club took off with people coming to us from all over the country. In 1999, we managed to get onto the NEC Exhibition circuit, and gained a lot of new customers from those shows. We started getting contracts for servicing sewing machines in schools and supplying new machines too.

Exhibiting at the NEC

As things started growing, we needed more staff and our massive premises started seeming to be shrinking. Launches of new products, especially sewing machines, were well supported, and everything was going well. Of course everything changed in March 2020, thanks to Covid 19. I remember locking the door on 23rd March and wondered if we would ever open it again. We diverted the phone lines to home, tied down every cost and hoped.

What we didn’t expect was that everyone would start sewing masks, gowns, and take sewing up as a hobby while stuck at home. Not only were our wonderful customers supporting us where they could, but we also had interest from new stitchers and before we knew it, Rose and I were in every day shipping out orders.

We had so many online and phone orders that soon Catherine was able to come back to keep our mail order department running. Then came the demand for sewing machines to be repaired, so Lee returned to the workshop and in no time we were back to about 40% of where we would expect to be at. All the while, Sam was supporting us as our Finanace Manager, working hard from home until she was able to return to the office.

The lockdowns came and went, the toughest for us being Jan – April 2021, when sales fell away. Once things re-opened for good, we could bring back our other staff and people gradually started to come back in. Starting our classes again and seeing our regular customers and tutors more often, along with having Catherine, Anna, Debbie and Jackie back on the shop floor, has brought the shop back to life. We are still working at getting back to where we were in 2019 but without our loyal customers and supportive staff and tutors then we really wouldn’t still be here.

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

It has been a tough road, but we have pivoted. We have invested in our website, which Ellie has tried to make more user friendly and contains more of our range than ever. Anna and Rose have worked hard to make our Zoom classes just as crammed with useful information as our in-person classes and Anna’s online software classses are selling out just as quickly as ever! We want to make online learning even easier for you to take part in so we are currently setting up a learning website, which is due to launch in July.

I’m glad to say that we not only still have all our staff, but have also taken on a service and retail apprentice, so we are planning a rosy future! Our senior service engineer, Lee, has gone from joining us as an apprentice 13 years ago to sharing his expert knowledge with an apprentice of his own. George has been with us for over a year now and is learning fast. We have also been joined more recently by Oscar and Amelia, who are learning about retail and sewing from Debbie and Anna.

George and Lee working on a machine

Hopefully, we can do an update in 26 years’ time. In the meantime, thank you for all the support over the years, it really means more to us than we can express. We wish everyone safety, health, and a bit of wealth.

Neil, Rose, and the team.

Patterns · Prym · Sewing

Do you cut or trace your patterns?

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

Why is it useful to trace off a pattern?

Making the same pattern in a different size

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

Multiple pattern pieces on the same sheet

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

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

Same piece for multiple views

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

Adjusting pattern pieces

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

Patterns printed on thick paper

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

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

How do you trace off a pattern?

Pattern paper

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

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

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

Pattern weights

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

Tranferring your pattern

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

Tips

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

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

Classes · Embroidery · Patchwork · quilting · Sewing

Sew with Coles

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

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

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

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

Our classrooms

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

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

Classes at Coles

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

Machine Owners courses and workshops

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

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

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

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

Patchwork & Quilting

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

Our weekly Patchwork and Quilting class is held on a Thursday morning and is aimed at all abilities, whether you are a complete beginner or already an avid quilter. If you are a novice then Gilli will take you through the whole process from choosing your fabric to completing your first project. If you are already a keen quilter this is an opportunity to learn new skills and techniques or finish that UFO!

Gilli’s beautiful Starlight Sampler Quilt

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

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

Garment Making

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

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

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

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

Soft Furnishing and Crafts

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

Workshops for Software Owners

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

Machine Embroidery

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

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

Hand Stitching

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

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

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

Happy Sewing!

Fabric · Haberdashery · New in · Sewing

New in at Coles this February

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

Patchwork and quilting fabrics

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

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

Dressmaking patterns

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scissors and snips

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

Gutermann Maraflex

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

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

Haberdashery · New in · Sewing

Gutermann Maraflex – a game changer for stretch sewing

Gutermann have recently released Maraflex, an elastic thread with high stretch that gives amazing results. So what’s special about Maraflex and why should you use it?

Ordinarily, when you sew a garment with a stretchy fabric then you need to either use an overlocker or an overlock stitch on your sewing machine. Either way, you will use some form of zigzag stitch to allow your fabric to stretch. If you were to use a straight stitch with a sew-all thread on a stretch fabric then your thread would most likely snap when the fabric was stretched. Maraflex lets you sew with a straight stitch on a stretch fabric and will stretch right along with it, up to 80% on top of its original length!

The amount of stretch you can get from a straight stitch sewn with Maraflex is incredible!

Maraflex can be used for any number of applications, but is particularly useful for sewing with jersey, activewear, swimwear and underwear. With 80 colours to choose from, there is a shade for every project!

Our new thread stand with the whole Maraflex colour range

Benefits to sewing with Maraflex

  • You don’t need to use an overlocker. Not all of us are lucky enough to have an overlocker as well as a sewing machine! And even if you do have one, it can be a hassle to have to keep swapping machines depending on the type of sewing you are doing. With Maraflex then you can stitch your stretch fabric on an ordinary sewing machine with a straightforward straight stitch.
  • You use less thread. Maraflex lets you optimise your thread consmption – sewing with a straight stitch instead of a zigzag stitch uses far less thread.
  • Stretches along with necklines and cuffs. Small openings such as necks and cuffs have more give when sewn with Maraflex.
  • Helps make your seams pucker-free. The elasticity of Maraflex gives beautifully smooth seams, preventing unsightly puckering.
  • Easy to care for. You can wash at 60°C, use a hot iron, tumble dry, dry clean (any solvent except trichloroethylene) and use chorine/oxygen bleach – Maraflex can take it all.

Tips for sewing with Maraflex

  • Use a jersey/ballpoint or stretch needle in size 70-80. The correct needle is always important, whatever you are sewing. A jersey/ballpoint needle has a rounded end to prevent fibre breakage, while a stretch needle also has a special eye that helps to prevent skipped stitches, and is especially useful for very high stretch fabrics.
  • Works best with knits and stretch fabrics. Gutermann recommend that you use Maraflex with light to medium-weight knit fabrics such as jersey, or light to medium-weight elastic woven fabrics, such as fabrics that contain elastane.
  • Use as both needle and bobbin thread. For best results you should sew with as little thread tension as possible and use the Maraflex as both your top and bottom threads. You will get optimal seam elasticity with 4 stitches per centimetre.
Optimal seam elasticity is achieved with 4 stitches per centimetre

Where can you get Maraflex?

We have a brand new thread stand in the shop with every available shade of Maraflex – you will find it above the Gutermann Sew-All threads. Of course, you can also order the whole range online by clicking here. A reel is 150m long and costs £3.40, although of course Red Thread customers will get 10% off when shopping in store!

What is Red Thread? Customers who join our Red Thread Club receive a 10% discount on a huge number of items when shopping in store, including threads! It costs nothing to join - simply provide your contact details and your discount will automatically be applied to eligible items when you shop in store (does not apply online). Eligible items include threads, fabric, haberdashery, quilting and embroidery accessories, stabilisers and sewing notions, as well as the majority of Husqvarna Viking feet and accessories (exclusions apply). The savings can be huge!

Rose has already given Maraflex a try and she says that it is ever so easy to use and sews beautifully. She used it to shorten a stretch skirt and the stitches stretched perfectly along with the fabric, without snapping. I have recently bought some of our leaf print ponte roma that I plan to make a Tilly & the Buttons Coco dress from and I will definitely be getting some Maraflex to stitch it with. You can expect an update from me in 2022 letting you know how I get on!

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!