Sewing is a great way to learn new skills whether you enjoy making garments for yourself or creating a beautiful quilt or if you’re like me and like to dabble in lots of different stitch projects.
Increasingly, research shows that craft activities like sewing release the feel-good hormone dopamine, provide a distraction from worries, give people a creative outlet and sense of accomplishment and help people feel happier.
People enjoy sewing and socialising with like minded people and our face-to-face classes provide somewhere to do just that, over the years we have seen many new sewing friendships formed!
There are many ways to learn with us, as well as our face-to-face classes, we have recently added zoom classes and now have an online learning centre.
We also have a YouTube channel where we post short instructional videos and if you subscribe to our channel (it’s free) you will get notifications when we upload new videos and add items to our community page.
Coles Learning Centre – Online learning – an extension of our classroom online!
Our classes are designed to take you from complete beginner to confident sewer and even the most experienced stitchers will find something new to learn. As well as our internationally renowned classes for Husqvarna Viking machine owners, there are project classes for both sewing and embroidery, overlocker owners and some free classes for you to try before you buy!
Our classes are recorded so that you can watch them over and over again, pause, stop and rewind!
These classes are live zoom sessions, designed for you to watch, take notes, and ask the tutor questions – a great opportunity to attend a class from the comfort of your own home, wherever you are in the world, and we won’t know if you’ve got your slippers on!
You will be sent a recording of the class within 48 hours so you can watch it again at a time that suits you.
Classroom Learning – face to face in Nottingham
We also run a huge variety of classes in our classrooms. These cover all aspects of sewing, including dressmaking, quilting, patchwork, embroidery, overlocking and computer embroidery software, our classes are all led by expert tutors.
Helping us with our learning centre and YouTube channel
Ishrat Chowdhury is a current second year Law student at Nottingham Trent University. As a part of her course this year, she was required to take on a twelve-week placement to complete her module and learn about working in a professional environment. Ishrat has been working with us and helping with the social media side of the business by filming and editing for YouTube and updating the online learning centre.
On completing her placement Ishrat said, ‘Although there have been challenges along the way, I have been able to overcome them with the help of the Coles staff, I can confidently say that I have gained skills that I did not apprehend, such as IT ones. But I have also learnt what it is like to work in a professional setting and adopted skills from the staff around me, such as effective communication. It has been an amazing opportunity for me to conduct my placement at Coles Sewing Centre and gain experiences that I will be able to apply to my degree and onwards.’
Pop over to our website for information on our face to face and zoom classes, you’ll also find class pictures and requirement lists. You can book a zoom class or face to face class on our website or by giving us a call, however we do recommend early booking otherwise you may be disappointed!
Sewing is a great way to relax, to be able to switch off from everyday life and to let your creativity flow! Our aim is to encourage you to develop your sewing skills, whether you are a beginner or more advanced stitcher, and we hope that your will meet new friends and have loads of fun along the way.
Our classes are taught by tutors who are experts in their subjects and have a passion for sewing and sharing their skills with others. There’s no need to bring your own sewing machine: our classrooms are fully equipped with sewing machines, overlockers, and large cutting tables for use during the classes. Importantly, the kettle is always on and tea and coffee are provided!
Let’s take a look at our tutors and what they have to offer – grab a coffee and read on!
Catherine has been valuable part of the Coles shop team for over 10 years, so if you’ve been into the shop you may have met her. Along with being part of our shop floor staff, Catherine teaches overlocker courses for new owners, as well as more advanced techniques for people who have be using their overlockers for longer. Catherine has studied City & Guilds Tailoring Level 2 and Pattern Cutting Level 2 and gained distinctions in both; she has also completed a teaching course for adults at Nottingham Trent University.
Catherine teaches a regular dressmaking class on Wednesday mornings and afternoons and new for this year she is teaching a dressmaking and tailoring class that runs once a month on a Saturday. Our dressmaking classes are designed for you to work on your own project at your own pace, whether you want to make something from scratch or upcycle (or alter) an existing garment.
We extend a warm welcome to Emma, who joined us at the end of last year and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the team. Emma is an avid dressmaker and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others discover the joy of sewing and develop their own skills and experiences. She has a degree in fashion and textiles and has spent many years in the UK manufacturing industry.
Emma has reintroduced Pattern Cutting into our programme. Buying a commercial pattern and getting it to fit can be tricky and, as we all know, one size really doesn’t fit all! Creating your own pattern block allows you to be able to make clothes that really do fit, and you will also be able to use the skills learnt to alter commercial patterns. Emma will also be part of the teaching team for our weekend sewing retreat in February, along with Catherine.
Tracy joined our team two years ago, having been a freelance tutor for the past six years and teaching at venues across the East Midlands. She enjoys helping learners of all abilities refine their skills to produce high quality bespoke items. She specialises in teaching dressmaking, homewares and bag making, often creating her own patterns.
Tracy teaches a regular dressmaking class on a Tuesday morning and afternoon and new for this year she is teaching a beginner’s class on a Saturday morning and a junior class for 11- to 16-year-olds on a Saturday afternoon. Learning something new can be daunting, but both these classes have been designed to give you the confidence and skills needed to take your sewing journey to the next level!
With recycling and reusing in all our minds these days, Tracy is running the first of our Don’t Ditch it Repair It classes this February. You can come along and learn the basic skills needed to repair your favourite garments, from replacing a missing button to repairing a hole in your jumper or rescuing your favourite pair of jeans.
Gilli has been part of our team for many years, she is an experienced quilter and teacher and has won awards for her contemporary quilts. She is an active member of the Quilters Guild and is keen to encourage new quilters with her lively and engaging classes. Gilli teaches around the country and exhibits her work at national and international quilt shows.
Gilli teaches a regular Thursday morning Patchwork and Quilting class, which is aimed at all abilities. Whether you are a complete beginner or already an avid quilter, 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 also teaches a monthly Quilt Saturday class, ideal for those new to quilting or those who would like to build on existing skills. If you want to have a go at a sampler quilt, Gilli has plenty to choose from, pop over to our website and take a look!
Jill first came to classes as a soft furnishing student herself and has now been teaching for us for over 10 years. She enjoys making all kinds of items for the home and enjoys sharing her passion and enthusiasm whether you are learning to make your first cushion or measuring up for a curtain.
Jill teaches a soft furnishing and craft class on a Wednesday morning; the class is suitable for all skill levels. Jill will teach you how to make a variety of beautiful soft furnishings and crafts for your home from blinds and curtains to cushions and bags, the choice is yours!
Anna has been a member of the shop staff for over 10 years and on our teaching team for the past 6 years. She is a keen quilter and embroiderer and is a beta tester for the Husqvarna Viking software. Anna has a degree in fine arts and loves to share her ideas and creativity with her students.
Last year Anna launched a range of software Zoom classes and will be launching more of these later this year, as well as more face-to-face software and embroidery classes in our classrooms. New classes and dates will be launched in our newsletter.
Anna is also one of the tutors for our Epic Retreat in September, a weekend of workshops, product demonstrations and Q&As with Husqvarna Viking that is designed specifically for owners of Epic and Ruby 90 machines. This weekend always books up quickly, so please don’t delay in booking if you are interested.
Last year I filmed the owner’s courses for our online learning centre and this year I have more filming planned so that we can build our learning centre syllabus and add some project-based classes. Like Anna I’m also planning some Zoom classes, as well as face to face classes in our classroom. New classes and dates will be launched in our newsletter very soon!
Last year we launched our online learning centre, where you can find online classes for owners of Husqvarna machines as well as some free tutorials on accessories. We have plans to add more classes this year, which we’ll let you know about by newsletter so please make sure you’ve signed up to receive it! We also have plans for more Zoom classes, so again please keep an eye on our newsletters.
From time to time we have guest tutors visiting us. Kathleen Laurel Sage will be returning to our classrooms later this year, so please watch this space! Jamie Warren from Husqvarna Viking will also be back in our classrooms in September for our Epic and Ruby 90 retreat.
Sit & Sew Classes
Sometimes it’s nice to spend time with like-minded people and by that, I mean people that sew and share your passion! We’ve introduced Sit & Sew sessions, where you can come along to our classroom with your latest project, take advantage of the large cutting tables and sew and natter to your heart’s content. Sewing machines are provided and the kettle will be on, but please note there’s no tutor for these sessions!
You can book all our classes online. Did you know that if you are spending over £30 then you can pay with your PayPal account and spread the cost over 3 months? We do recommend early booking – our classes fill up quite quickly and class numbers are limited as we like you to have plenty of room to sew. We wouldn’t want you to miss out and be disappointed! We recommend you read our conditions of booking before booking a class.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
A new embroidery or sewing machine can be quite an investment so it’s important to take good care of it. There are a number of simple steps you can take to make sure that your machine stays in good working order, so read on to find out what we recommend for stress-free machine ownership.
1. Keep your packaging
Keep the original packaging, including the polystyrene inserts. This is designed to fit your machine perfectly and will protect it from knocks and bumps while it is being transported, whether that is for its yearly service, if you have to move house or even just to take it to a class.
2. Regular service
It’s advisable to get your machine serviced yearly to make sure that it stays in tip top condition. During a service, the engineer will strip down your machine, clean and lubricate it as necessary, perform a safety check of the electrical parts and reset it to the manufacturer’s specifications. They will then conduct a full sew test, balancing the feed mechanism, thread cutters and tensions. If you’re a heavy user but it isn’t time for a full service yet, then an interim service may also be beneficial – we strip off the covers, clean and lubricate where necessary, balance the tensions and feed and then conduct a sew test. What about if you haven’t used your machine for a long time? This can cause its own problems, from not having the latest updates on a computerised machine, to seizing up through inactivity.
Make sure that you keep a note of your purchase date so you know when to book it in for its first service – I have a reminder set on my phone so that I don’t forget! If you are interested in a service then you can request a call from us to make arrangements and don’t forget to quote offer code Sew22 to get a discount – the more machines you have serviced, the more you save!
3. We register your warranty
There’s no need to worry about registering your warranty, we take care of that for you when you buy with us. Do keep a note of your warranty length though, as once your warranty is up, you can purchase an extended warranty from us. This can include a service in the price, depending on which version you select, so can end up paying for itself!
4. Replace your needle
It’s easy to overlook, but your needle is the part of the machine that does all the heavy lifting. It will become dull over time so make sure to replace it regularly with a new, good quality needle that is appropriate for the fabric and thread you are using – universal needles are not always best! We recommend Schmetz needles.
5. Use good quality threads
It can end up a false economy to use cheap threads. We recommend Gutermann, Madeira and Mettler threads as these produce less fluff and are less likely to shred or snap. Like needles, make sure you use the right thread for the project you are working on. Don’t forget to match your needle to your thread – if you aren’t sure which needle is best for your thread then have a look at the description of the thread on our website, as this gives the recommended needle type and size.
6. Use approved accessories
If you have a Husqvarna Viking machine then it’s best to use Husqvarna Viking accessories. Not all accessories are compatible with all machine models so make sure the accessory you have chosen is suitable for your make and model. If you’re not sure whether a Husqvarna Viking accessory is suitable for your machine then just drop us an email and we will be able to help. There are so many accessories that can make sewing a breeze so check out the Accessories Catalogue to see what’s available – this also has handy information about compatibility.
7. Clean out debris
Debris can build up inside your machine over time so it’s a good idea to regularly remove broken threads and lint from around bobbin area. Some fabrics (e.g. velvet, towelling) create more lint than others so keep an eye on fluff buildup if you are sewing or embroidering on these. Just look at the picture below to see how lint can build up inside a machine – this shows how important a regular service is because it was necessary to take off the covers to remove it (which should only be done by a trained service technician). Neil gives you more information about cleaning out your machine in his January 2022 post, which is well worth a read.
8. Check your threading technique
Even the most experienced stitcher can make a mistake in threading their machine, from wrapping it in the wrong direction to missing the tension disks. A mis-threaded machine can create all manner of problems, so checking your threading is always a good first step if your machine isn’t working as it should – you can refer to the guide in your user manual. Overlockers can be complicated to thread (except the amazing air-threading Amber Air S|400 and S|600) but Husqvarna Viking have added comprehensive threading guides to their YouTube channel for the S15, S21 and S25.
9. Maintain your machine
As I mentioned earlier, Neil has already written about how to maintain your sewing machine, and you can also refer to your user guide to find out how to clean out dust and lint as well as oil your machine (if necessary) to keep it running smoothly.
Having problems? Refer to the troubleshooting guide in the back of your manual – this is an excellent first port of call and can help to resolve a number of issues. If you’re still having trouble then drop us an email or give us a call!
It’s so exciting to get a new machine but you can want to tear your hair out when you don’t get the results you’re excpecting! Following these steps will help to keep your machine working beautifully and make your stitching the best it can be.
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.
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!
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 coversaround 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.
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.
Hopefully this will help you to keep your machine in tip top condition, ready to serve you on projects old and new! Happy stitching!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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!