Events · Patchwork · quilting

Join us on 17th February for Project Linus 2022

This week we will once again be hosting a quilting session in aid of Project Linus UK and we would love it if you could come along and sew with us.

Project Linus UK is a volunteer organisation that provides new homemade patchwork quilts and knitted blankets to local hospitals, children’s hospices, women’s refuges, foster carers, special schools, bereavement services and many other places where support is given to children ‘in need of a hug’. These beautiful and unique quilts and blankets help to provide a sense of security and comfort to sick and traumatised babies, children and teenagers across the UK. It is also a fantastic opportunity for volunteers to contribute to their local community while doing something they love.

You can see some of the gorgeous quilts that our volunteers made last year here, along with a little bit more information from Project Linus Co-ordinator Caroline Spalding about how these quilts help children across Nottinghamshire.

Some of the beautiful Project Linus quilts from previous years

At Coles Sewing Centre we are proud to be supporting Project Linus again this year. On Thursday 17th February 2022 we will host a session between 10am and 1pm for you to stitch a quilt. As we have to allow for social distancing again this year then numbers are limited and booking is required, but the £2.00 booking fee will enter you into a prize draw and all money will be donated to Project Linus. We would love for you to join us for our Project Linus quilt making session – we’ll provide the fabrics, threads and sewing machines, all we need you to do is come along and sew! You can book your place online here.

If you are unable to come to the sessions but would like to make a quilt at home, we suggest you make one of the following sizes:

  • Neonatal: 20” x 16” (51cm x 40.5cm)
  • Incubator quilts: 40” x 32” (101.5cm x 81cm)
  • Baby quilts: approx. 24” – 30” square (61cm-79cm square) or 24” x 30” (61cm x 79cm)
  • Children’s quilts: approx. 36” – 42” square (91.5cm-106.5cm square) or 36” x 42” (91.5cm x 106.5cm)
  • Teenagers’ quilts: approx. 42” square (106.5cm square) or 42” x 48” (106.5cm x 122cm)
  • Knitted blankets: approx. 24” square (61cm square) or larger

All quilts must be machine washable and please do not add embellishments such as ribbons and buttons, which could come off and be swallowed. You can drop any completed quilts and blankets off with us at any time and we will pass them on to our local area co-ordinator.

You can learn more about Project Linus UK on their website, it’s a wonderful charity that makes a big difference in children’s lives when they need it the most. Any contribution, large or small, is gratefully received – from donations of fabric, wadding and thread to making a quilt or a blanket, it’s up to you how you take part. So please join us on Thursday 17th February to help provide security and comfort to children in need of a hug.

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!

Machine care · Offers

Keeping machines in tip top condition

The sewing machine is an invention of advanced engineering developed over several centuries and incorporating mechanisms of horizontal and vertical rotation to produce an accurate and regular stitch. From lockstitch, to buttonhole, decorative, embroidery and stretch stitches, the humble sewing machine is quite amazing. We pick up our sewing machines, thread them up and expect them to work… and mostly they do! But when they don’t it’s easy to assume that there is a fault when really all they need is a little TLC.

The mechanics of the sewing machine

It’s worth taking a moment to think about what’s going on under the fabric because it’s deceptively simple. There is an electric motor driving an upper shaft, which then drives the lower shaft and other mechanisms involved in forming a stitch. The ranges of motions are horizontal for the shafts but this is then translated into vertical motion for the stitch forming mechanism. In addition, gears will be driving the hook that links the top thread to the lower thread, plus shafts and cams (or sometimes belts or gears) making the feeder (moves the fabric along) synchronise with the stitch forming mechanism and hook. There may be additional parts driving the needle from side to side. There could also be a thread cutter mechanism. There is a lot of complex machinery involved in creating a simple stitch!

This animation from Threads Magazine gives a really clear idea of what’s going on when a stitch is formed:

An average domestic sewing machine creates stitches between 800 and 1200 times a minute (and industrial machines can be 5000 stitches per minute!) so there is quite a margin for things to go wrong. We all love our sewing machines, so let’s see how we can help them with a bit of TLC to keep them happy!

Back to basics

First of all, let’s quickly go over a couple of basics that you all probably know, but are easy to forget when your machine isn’t behaving as you would like.

  • You need a good needle – sharp, not bent, inserted correctly and of the correct type for the fabric and thread. A lot of problems can be caused by old or incorrect needles, so make sure you replace them regularly.
  • You also need a decent quality thread. Cheap or poor quality threads will shred more readily, causing breakages and lint to build up inside your machine.
  • The upper and lower threads need to be threaded correctly. Have a look at the threading guide in your machine’s user guide, you might be surprised to find a few useful tips in there. Make sure you floss your top thread through your tension disks and that your bobbin is positioned with the thread in the right direction.

Lint

Owing to the nature of fabric and thread, sewing machines get full of lint and fluff. Over time this compacts down and can almost form another layer over the metal parts. We have seen feed dogs so full of lint they cannot lift the feed teeth above the stitch plate and so much fluff inside the machine that a hamster could be living in there!

An example of lint build-up in a sewing machine

Different fabrics create different amounts of lint. As you might expect, anything with a nap will create more lint and fabrics like velvet and towelling can create a great deal very quickly. You can see just how much fluff can build up with regular use over time in the image above. The grey part you can see to the right with the coloured wires coming out of it is the motor, which can heat up as the machine is being used. With a big enough build-up of lint, the heat from the motor can actually ignite the lint.

Both upper and lower threads are controlled by tension devices. Thread or lint can stick between the two tension disks or under the bobbin case tension spring. The tension device on more modern machines can be concealed into the front of the machine, but just follow the threading path to find them – they are normally near the adjusting dial.

To clean between the tension disks, raise the presser foot to open the disks and drag a non-linty piece of fabric (e.g. calico or quilter’s cotton) or a blunt needle end between the disks.

To clean under the bobbin case spring, gently run a needle between the spring and the body of the bobbin case.

If you want to learn more about tension and how to adjust it, take a look at my post from September 2021, Tension caused by tension.

Please do not remove any covers around the tension device that are not mentioned in the instruction manual as being removable. Leave that to trained service technicians!

Wear and tear

All the surfaces that the threads pass over need to be smooth and undamaged by needles or wear and tear.  Any of the stitch forming parts (thread paths, presser foot, needle plate, and shuttle hook or bobbin case) can become worn or damaged by usage, but they can be cleaned up to a point with a bit of fine emery.

Damage to a needleplate which would cause stitching issues

So, a bit of cleaning (and on some machines a drop of oil – but please check your manual before oiling your machine as some, especially computerised machines, do not require oiling), can go a long way! Have a look at our YouTube Channel for some help with this, your instruction manual will have some information too.

It’s worth cleaning your machine out regularly to prevent build-up and compaction of lint. You can use the pipe attachment on your vacuum cleaner, after removing any loose items of the machine that might disappear up it first of course! It is advisable to wear a dust mask as well as glasses or safety glasses to protect your eyes.

Safety warning: Please turn off the power to the machine and remove the needle before doing anything. A dust mask and safety glasses are also strongly recommended.

Getting a service

Even with a regular cleanout at home, every 1-2 years (dependent on usage) it’s a good idea to have your machine professionally serviced and set back to the manufacturer’s specifications. This will ensure that all the stitch forming parts are polished to allow the thread to flow over them freely, that all the mechanisms and timings are correctly set up so they work together correctly, and that the tensions and reverse stitches/buttonholes are correctly balanced. It will also include a check of the electrics for safety and condition, as well as a PAT test. You should get a service report with the machine, giving a list of checks performed, and pointing out any advisories.

Special service offer

If your sewing machine or overlocker is in need of a service, why not take advantage of our current special offer and get at least 10% off the regular price? If you have more than one machine serviced at the same time then the discount is even bigger, so why not get together with friends and save?! All you need to do is quote voucher code Sew22 when you book your service. If you can’t get your machine to us then don’t worry, we can help with collection and delivery too. Please see our service page for more information.

The more machines you get serviced, the more you save! Simply quote voucher code Sew22 when you book.

Hopefully this will help you to keep your machine in tip top condition, ready to serve you on projects old and new! Happy stitching!

Books · Embroidery designs · Fabric · Offers · Website

Clearance bargains

We have had a little New Year spring clean on the Coles website and now you can find all of our bargains in one place! Go straight to our new Clearance section by clicking here, or read on to see a few of the special offers and clearance items we currently have available.

Fabric

If you have browsed our selection of fabric online, you might have noticed that we often have special reductions on offer. In our Fabric Clearance department you will find Ends of Bolts, which are the very last pieces from a bolt of fabric. These are reduced by up to 50% and the price is for the whole piece, so you know exactly what you are paying. Fabrics in the Special Offer department are also reduced by up to 50% and both craft and dressmaking fabrics are on offer, depending on what we currently have available. We add more to the selection throughout the year, so it’s worth checking back every so often to see what’s available. Special Offer fabrics are sold by the metre, but with a minimum purchase of 10cm for dressmaking fabrics and 25cm for craft fabrics you can buy precisely the amount you want. You can even order a 10cm sample of dressmaking fabrics or a fat quarter of craft fabrics!

There are some real bargains available at the moment – we have several Liberty fabrics Ends of Bolts, or if you’re more interested in dressmaking fabrics then there are more than twenty to choose from, including several Tilly and the Buttons jerseys.

It’s also worth watching out for our Fabric of the Week. Periodically we put a few special fabrics on a 25% discount for just a week. We don’t always have something in fabric of the week but when we do you know it’s going to be great. This week it’s a checked jacquard in black, yellow and coral on a mid-grey background. It’s a viscose and polyester blend with a touch of elastane, so its beautifully soft with a slight stretch, but still very washable. It would be perfect for a skirt or dress, and as you can see from the pictures below it has a beautiful reverse as well so would make a lovely cardigan. It’s £10.49 per metre but it will only be at this price for a week so make sure you get it while you can!

Books

The clearance books section is brand new to the website. You’ll find a real variety in there, from ex-display books that may be a little faded on the front to out of print editions that you can’t buy elsewhere! You can save up to 50% so there are some fantastic bargains to be found! We have loads to choose from but here are just a few personal favourites…

We have Girl With A Sewing Machine by Jenniffer Taylor from the Great British Sewing Bee for £6.50, which gives you a fantastic guide to making and customising clothes to your your body and style.

If you have toddlers to sew for then why not try the Happiness Halter Playsuit by Lisa Lam at just £4.99 – it has three full dress patterns for a playsuit, halter top and dress with fully illustrated step-by-step instructions.

For quilters, we have Fast Flying Geese Quilts by Karin Hellaby for £8.99. This book tells you all you need to know about creating fast flying geese quilts and is packed with inspiration, instructions and templates.

Finally, if you’re a crafter then we have Fa la la la Felt for £6.50. This book has the patterns and templates to create 45 Christmas decorations out of felt, so is great for beginners and children as well as more experienced crafters. I bought this book at full price because I absolutely love making handmade Christmas decorations and there are so many gorgeous ideas to choose from that it was hard to know where to begin!

Embroidery designs

Finally, we have a new section for clearance embroidery designs. These disks are no longer in production so this is your last chance to get them, and many are down to just £20 – a saving of £49.99 on the full price! Disk 242 Most Popular Thread Velvet has 40 of the most popular thread velvet embroideries from existing Husqvarna Viking collections. Handlook Needlework II has 50 handlook designs to stitch out in 30wt cotton thread, including three designed to be embroidered with the Yarn Couching Feet set.

Theres so much to choose from! Whether you are a quilter, embroiderer or dressmaker, there’s something for everyone. Please remember that everything in the Clearance section is the last of our stock and we are unlikely to get it again so make sure you snap things up while you can!

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!

Offers · Website

Take a tour of the Coles Sewing Centre website

From 24th December to 3rd January we have a 10% discount store-wide with the discount code SALE10* – read on to learn how to use it!

Those of our regular customers who have shopped with Coles for a while will know that we upgraded our website just over two years ago to a sleeker design that is easier for customers to use. We intend for you to be able to order online anything that you can buy in the shop itself, which is no mean feat as we sell over 7,000 products! This is what you’ll find me doing from day to day – I add new products, update what’s already there and generally do my best to keep things ticking over. So take a tour of the Coles Sewing Centre website with me and you can see everything we have to offer!

Before we begin, I should note that I am using a web browser on a PC, so the layout will be a little different on mobiles and tablets. If you are using these devices and have any questions, please comment below and I’ll do my best to help!

The homepage

The website homepage has a lot of useful information but you do have to scroll down to see some of it. Right at the top you can see a red bar with several links: click on these for more information. Contact/Find Us will give you our opening hours and how to find the shop or where to park when you get here. Service & Repairs tells you more about what happens when you bring your macine in to us, while FAQ gives a list of frequently asked questions on issues with machines. This page will be updated in 2022 to be more comprehensive and user friendly, and will be a useful first port of call when you have a problem with your machine.

Below this bar and to the right of the logo you will see a search bar with a little magnifying glass icon in it – if you’re not sure where to find what you’re looking for then simply type in here and hit enter!

Next we have a bar with the various categories of products we have on offer at Coles Sewing Centre. There’s a lot to say about this, so I’ll come back to it in a moment. Underneath this bar you can see a banner – this is where we update you about upcoming events, special offers and news. In the previous picture you can see we have a banner about the upoming Coles Live online event in January and if you click on the banner on the website it will take you to the page to book. We always have several banners going round the carousel and we change them regularly, so it’s always worth having a quick look at these!

Keep going down and you’ll see the New Products carousel – the ten most recenly added products appear here so you can aways find the newest additions to the website. As you can see from the image below, I have added a pre-owned S25 overlocker, a brand new ovelocker accessory and a new range of fabric this week.

Scroll right down to the bottom of the homepage and you’ll find a number of quick links, including the Advanced Search and information about Shipping and Returns. This information is at the bottom of every page, so you can always find it.

Categories menu

As I mentioned earlier, you can browse everything we sell online through the red categories menu:

  • Machines & Overlockers – all of our new, pre-owned and ex-demonstration machines and overlockers, as well as embroidery software
  • Machine Products & Accessories – all products related to your sewing/embroidery machine or overlocker are here, from needles to feet, hoops and spare parts, through to Horn furniture and machine storage.
  • Fabric – whether you’re a dressmaker, quilter or crafter, we have something for everyone!
  • Courses – you can book all of our courses online here. You can find them grouped by month or by type, as well as one day workshops, weekly classes, monthly classes and owners’ classes
  • Sewing Notions – threads, interfacing, bag accessories, haberdashery – you’ll find all of your sewing notions here. I am still updating the haberdashery section so you will see a few more items here in the new year.
  • Sewing Tools – general sewing tools e.g., pins, scissors, pattern paper, glue
  • Patchwork & Quilting – tools specifically for patchwork and quilting, such as templates rulers and rotary cutters
  • Books & Patterns – books by subject and patterns by company or pattern type
  • Subscriptions & Gifts – extended warranties, Gold Thread membership, gift cards and gift ideas

Fabrics

All of the fabrics that are in the shop are available to order online. Quilting and craft fabrics can be ordered in increments of 25cm and if you order just 25cm then we will send you a fat quarter. Dressmaking fabrics can be ordered in increments of 10cm and with a minimum order of 10cm then you can order the exact amount you need, or even just a sample. The minimum order and the increments the fabric can be ordered in are explained on every page.

Patterns

We now have the whole Simplicity range, as well as selected Poppy & Jazz, Tilly & the Buttons and The Avid Seamstress patterns available to order online. We have our patterns organised by type, so you can narrow down your search easily, just select from the menu to find (for example) Dresses, Craft and Home Decor, or Vintage patterns. We also have a section devoted to Beginners and Easy-To-Sew patterns so that even inexperienced stitchers can be confident that they can tackle any of the patterns in that section.

When you have found a pattern that you like the look of and clicked on it, make sure to look through all of the pictures. In there you will always find images of the front and back of the pattern envelope and if you click on the picture you can zoom in so you can clearly read all of the information, even the tiniest text. All you need to do to order is select the size you want from the drop-down list and click the red Add to Basket button!

Placing an order

I’m going to take you through the steps of placing an order for 260cm of Christmas jersey – just click through the screenshots below. I will also add the discount code for the holiday sale, SALE10, to get 10% off!

The holiday sale is on from 24th December to 3rd January – just enter the discount code SALE10 at checkout to get 10% off storewide (*excluding items already on offer, the Epic 2, special offer machines, courses, Horn Cabinets, software, extended warranties, Gold Thread membership & patterns).

As Rose mentioned in her post last week, the shop will be shut from 2pm on Christmas Eve until 4th January. We’re looking forward to welcoming you all back in store next year, but in the meantime then have a browse through the website and grab yourself a bargain with that SALE10 discount code!

Christmas · Staff

Coles Review of the Year 2021

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

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

Lee and George at work in the workshop

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

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

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

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

A few staff changes have occurred during the year…

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

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

Christmas Opening Hours

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

Coles opening hours Christmas 2021

Your Christmas Makes

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

Merry Christmas from everyone at Coles!

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

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!

Christmas · Inspiration · Staff recommendations

Gift ideas this Christmas

Are you looking for some Christmas inspiration? We can help! We have a wide variety of gifts to suit all budgets, so read on for our gift suggestions to make this Christmas a sewing wonderland!

Machines and bags

If you really want to push the boat out this year, then we have some great offers on machines that would make wonderful gifts. The Huskylock™ S15 is a great starter overlocker and comes with a free carry bag as well as a free course to teach you the basics. If you want to give a sewing machine then you can’t beat the H|CLASS™ E10, which comes with a free book packed full of patterns as well a free tuition, or the H|CLASS™ E20, which comes with a free Prym Love Starter Set and free tuition. Alternatively, we have a great selection of machine bags and trolleys, which are perfect for storage as well as carrying your machine to classes.

Gift boxes

Have you seen our latest selection of fabric gift boxes and sewing bundles? It’s worth having a browse through them because each one comes with something different. The Windy Days Gift Box, for example, comes with four fat quarters, two matching Sew-All threads and a pack of Magic Clips to make sewing a breeze, and all of this is packed up in a recyclable Kraft box and tied with a ribbon so you don’t even need to wrap it!

Thread boxes

We’ve recently expanded our selection of thread sets and there’s something for every stitcher’s needs. If you’re buying for a dressmaker, Gütermann have a thread set that comes with 12 reels of Sew-All thread in a rainbow of colours as well as a pack of Prym pearl-headed pins and a mixed pack of Schmetz universal machine needles. For an embroiderer then you can’t go wrong with Mettler’s 28 thread set of Silk-Finish Cotton 50 – their colours are exceptional and there is the whole spectrum in the pack. Quilters can make good use of this set of Gütermann cottons, while Gütermann’s Nostalgic range gives you a choice of 8, 30 or 48 reels of Sew-All thread in a presentation tin, perfect for storage and useful even after you’ve used up all of the thread!

Gutermann 12 Thread Set: Sew-All with Pins & Machine Needles

Stocking fillers

Who doesn’t like a stocking full of little gifts? We have a whole section dedicated to items under £5 – a personal favourite is the Prym Love Birdy Needle Threader. This cute little pink bird lets you thread a sewing needle with ease and even has a built in thread cutter, so you don’t even need scissors handy!

Christmas makes and fabric

Speaking of stockings, a home made stocking is always a lovely gift. There’s still time to get 15% off Christmas fabric (just add discount code XMAS15 at checkout) but you’ll have to be quick because the offer ends at midnight on Sunday 5th December! If you need a pattern then Simplicity have a few holiday patterns that you can put together in no time, or why not try your hand at a June Tailor Quilt As You Go Stocking – with the pattern printed on the included wadding then it’s perfect even for beginners, all you need is the fabric and thread!

Gift wrapping

As we all try to make our lives more eco-friendly, then the trend for gift wrapping this year is to use fabric that can be endlessly reused. You can find some ingenious wrapping methods online, but as you can see from the gifts that Carys has wrapped for the shop, just some fabric tied with a ribbon looks amazing!

Gifts wrapped with fabric and ribbon look so festive, and eco-friendly too!

Staff picks

As you can imagine, working at Coles is like being a kid in a sweetie shop and we always have our eye on something! Deborah has added the Rose Gold Milward Scissor Gift Set to her Christmas list as it’s just so pretty and it has everything you need for most dressmaking projects. Anna has asked Santa for a Ruby 90 but in case it won’t fit down the chimney then she also fancies some of our William Morris fabrics to make a sofa throw and some cushions for her living room. Catherine loves Mettler’s variegated threads because of the amazing effects it can give to your sewing, she says they make each stitch stand out, giving it that extra decorative touch, so this Mettler Poly Sheen Neutral Collection would be ideal. Jackie finds her sewing room a little gloomy in the evening, and thinks that this adjustable lamp would be perfect for her – it is poseable and the light level is adjustable so that you can get the light exactly where you need it. Personally, I absolutely love a presentation tin (not only do they look lovely, but they’re so handy for storage) so I would be over the moon with one of the Gutermann Sew-All thread sets in a nostalgic tin that I mentioned earlier.

Gift cards

I don’t think I’m alone in struggling to choose a present sometimes – you can have a great idea but not be sure if someone already has it. Well we’ve got you covered because a Coles gift card can get you anything in the shop! We have them online in amounts of £5, £10, £20, £25, £50 and £100 but if you would like to give a different amount then just give us a call or drop us an email and we can can help you out.

Well I hope we have given you a few ideas for your gifts this Christmas. As always, if you have any questions then please get in touch. Now I’m going to send this post to my family Secret Santa group and hope that someone gets the hint! Merry Christmas!

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!