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!

Embroidery

Choosing embroidery stabilisers

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

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

Why do you need to use an embroidery stabiliser?

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

Choosing a stabiliser

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

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

Hooping up

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

Types of stabiliser

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

Tear away stabilisers

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

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

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

Cut away stabilisers

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

Adhesive-backed stabilisers

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

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

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

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

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

Other machine embroidery products

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

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

Solvy used to prevent the stitches from sinking into towelling

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

A final tip

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

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

Embroidery stabilisers at a glance
Embroidery · Offers · software

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

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

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

mySewnet™ Embroidery 2021 boxed software

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comparison of the Silver, Gold and Platinum versions of mySewnet™ Embroidery 2021
Sewing · Staff

Coles staff sewing night

We are all stitchers at Coles Sewing Centre so we like to get together every so often for a sew and a chat, although Covid restrictions sadly put a stop to that for a while. So we were all very excited to get together on Saturday to have a staff sewing night for the first time in nearly two years! As you can imagine, we did a lot more chatting than sewing because we haven’t all been together for so long, but here’s a little look at the projects we all currently have on the go.

Jackie has a brand new granddaughter and has been making all sorts of sweet outfits for her lately. I just had to take a picture of the completed dinosaur print dress that she brought with her, although apparently she’s unlikely to make one in my size, which is very disappointing. Jackie is a whizz with pinning and cutting out and she had the pieces for another dress cut before the end of the evening, even with all the talking and distractions!

Deborah has just bought some of our Tilly and the Buttons jersey and is going to use it to make the Tabitha dress from Make It Simple by Tilly and the Buttons. She’s chosen to make the drawstring variation in a long length with a three quarter sleeve so that she can wear it in the winter with a cardigan, tights and boots, or in the summer with a pair of trainers. She spent the evening tracing out her pattern pieces and I’m sure you’ll see her wearing the dress in the shop before very long. Both Jackie and Deborah have made a lot of the projects from Make It Simple – it’s a fantastic resource for quick makes so if you’re interested in getting a copy then you can find it on our website here, along with other useful books on dressmaking. We still have some of the Tilly and the Buttons jersey in stock too, which you can find on our website here.

Catherine, as you might expect, spent the evening on the overlocker – she was the only one of us to actually get some sewing done! She is currently making several cushion covers, some for herself with the fabric and matching Seralene thread pictured below, as well as some for her son. She is cleverly making use of off-cuts from some curtains that she took up and as the pieces were only half the width she needed, she has combined two different fabrics so that one half of the cushion is plain and the other half is patterned. You would never know that they are made from fabric that might otherwise have been thrown away.

A quick note on Seralene. Catherine always uses Mettler Seralene thread for overlocking as it is lovely and smooth, causing less breakage and creating less fluff than cheaper threads, which means your seams are stronger and neater. We don't currently have Seralene thread on the website as I am still working on getting our whole catalogue of products online, but you can purchase it in store. If you aren't local to Nottingham, don't worry - we take telephone orders too!

Anna had a pencil in her hand all evening as she was planning out a new quilt. She likes to take inspiration from patterns she sees on her travels and she has found some beautiful tiles outside a shop on Chapel Bar in the city centre. As you can see in the photo, she is currently translating the tiling into quilting blocks, which takes quite a bit of planning but the outcome is worth it. She has already made a gorgeous quilt based on some tiling outside Primark on Long Row, so I’m sure her Chapel Bar quilt will be equally beautiful! It’s lovely to see how Nottingham influences her quilting – each quilt has its own story and history, as all good quilts do.

As always, I was the slowest and least productive member of the group. I have been working on some crewel embroidery kits from The Coleshill Collection that my sister asked me to make for her 40th birthday. Unfortunately, she turned 40 in 2018 so I’m a little behind schedule! I stitched out just one leaf, using satin stitch over a backstitch outline for the main part, blanket stitch for the top, while the bottom was composed of a stem stitch outline and filled with seed stitch. Given that it took me the whole evening to complete that, I think my sister will be lucky to receive her embroideries by her 50th birthday!

As you can see, we all love to sew but also have very different areas of interest and expertise. That’s why we love our staff sewing nights so much, it’s inspiring to actually see what everyone else is creating. It’s also the reason why we can usually find someone with the knowledge and experience to help when customers come to us with questions. I don’t know when we’ll next be able to meet up like this, but hopefully it won’t be another two years before we can have another stitch and chat!

Accessories and feet · Embroidery machines · Offers · Sewing Machines

Designer Ruby 90 special offer – FREE Ribbon Attachment and Multi Function Foot Control worth over £500

The Ruby 90 sewing and embroidery machine is on offer from 1st October to 31st December 2021!

We have a great special offer on the Designer Ruby 90 starting today (1st October) for the rest of 2021 – when you purchase a new Ruby 90 you get the Ribbon Embroidery Attachment (worth £299) and the Multi Function Foot Control (worth £249) absolutely free. That’s £548 worth of savings! Read on to learn more about the Ruby 90 and these brilliant accessories.

Designer Ruby™ 90

The Designer Ruby 90 is the latest model of sewing and embroidery machine from Husqvarna Viking. It has a generous sewing and embroidery area, allowing you to handle even the largest projects with ease, while its large touch screen lets you easily navigate on-screen using touch gestures like swipe, pinch, and spread. It is Wi-Fi enabled, allowing you to wirelessly download updates, connect to the mySewnet Cloud to download designs as well as view the mySewnet blog for free designs, projects and inspiration – all of this from the tablet-like touch screen of the Ruby 90. With 800 built-in stitches and techniques and more than 650 built-in embroidery designs, the possibilities are endless!

The Exclusive Sensor System gives even feeding as you sew with continuous sensing and automatic adjusting for any fabric thickness, while the deLuxe™ Stitch System gives the perfect thread feed no matter the thread or the fabric used. The Designer Ruby 90 has so many great features that it would take a whole post of its own to cover them all but you can read all about it on our website here and, as always at Coles, we are happy to answer any questions you may have.

Why trade up to the Designer Ruby™ 90?

The great thing about the Ruby 90 is that it is compatible with all of the Epic accessories and attachments, so you can trade up from the Original Epic without having to replace any additional accessories you have purchased. The touch screen on the Ruby 90 is also brighter and easier to read, while the LED lights are adjustable. This lets you reduce the brightness to reduce glare when sewing white-on-white, or increase the brightness to better see your stitching when sewing dark-on dark. And don’t forget that the Ruby 90 comes with a full 5 year, no quibble warranty that gives you peace of mind.

Take a tour of the Designer Ruby 90 with Louise from Husqvarna Viking UK
Ribbon Embroidery Attachment

Adding ribbon to your embroidery has never been easier with the innovative Ribbon Embroidery Attachment. This amazing accessory accurately and easily places ribbon in any direction to create beautiful embroideries. It holds up to 25ft (8m) of ribbon and works with ribbon from 1/4” (6mm) to 5/8” (16mm), but it can work with ribbon as narrow as 1/8” (3mm). Plus, if you have the mySewnet software, you can stitch out one of the provided Ribbon SuperDesigns or even design your own ribbon embroideries.

See the Ribbon Embroidery Attachment in action with this video from Husqvarna Viking
Multi Function Foot Control

The Multi Function Foot Control frees up your hands by allowing you to select a function without taking your hands off your sewing project. It has three fully customisable function switches (two side levers and one heel touch button) that you can assign to your desired function, including presser foot lift, scissors, reverse, tie off and pattern begin/restart. With these functions taken care of hands-free, you have full control of your stitching with both hands from beginning to end.

See the Multi Function Foot Control in action with this video from Husqvarna Viking
Take advantage of this special offer

If you’re interested in the Designer Ruby 90 and would like to take advantage of this special offer then you can buy online here. If you would like a demonstration, you can arrange one at a time to suit you by calling the shop on (0115) 9881550. We offer interest free finance with just a 10% deposit (subject to approval by our finance partner Hitachi Capital) or better yet, trade in your old machine and use it as a deposit! Just give as a call to find out how much your old machine could be worth when you trade it in.

Embroidery machines · Machine care · Sewing Machines

Tension caused by tension!

One of the biggest issues people have with their sewing machines seems to be tension. The tension is the amount of pressure placed on the upper and lower threads to form the stitch. There is an upper tension and a lower tension: one controlling the top thread and one controlling the bottom thread.

A basic view of a sewing machine tension unit: the discs for the thread, spring and adjust dial (clockwise tighter, anti-clockwise looser)

Before you adjust your tension

The first and simplest thing to do to correct a tension issue is to check the needle is okay – check it’s the correct thickness for the fabric (heavier fabrics require a thicker needle) and not bent or blunt. 

Secondly, check and re-check the threading!  Ensure the presser foot in its raised position when you thread the upper threading, as this opens up the upper tension discs that control the thread flow. The thread needs to go in between the discs, and through all the relevant thread guides. When threading the bobbin case, follow the direction of threading as per your manual, and ensure the thread goes under the tensioning spring (please check your manual for precise guidance on how to thread your machine).

No matter how experienced a sewer you are, it is surprisingly easy to mis-thread your machine so if you find a big bird’s nest of thread underneath your stitching then the chances are you have missed a critical part of the threading, so check, and check again!

Looping like this is a common sign of a mis-threaded machine

If the tension is still not good, there may be fluff or a lump of thread under the bobbin case tension spring, or in between the thread tension discs. Work a used needle in between the upper discs and under the bobbin case spring, you may be amazed at what comes out!

Adjusting your tension

If the knot is showing below the fabric, then the upper tension needs increasing, (clockwise) e.g., from number 4 to number 5.

If the knot is showing on the top of the fabric, then decrease the upper tension (counter-clockwise) e.g., from number 4 to number 3.

Only adjust the upper tension, the lower (bobbin case tension) is factory set and should not be adjusted! Always keep a note of the original number setting to refer back to – it can be helpful to take a quick photo of your current settings before you make any changes.

Increasing and decreasing the upper tension on your sewing machine

If the fabric is puckering, change the needle for a finer (new needle) and use a good quality thread. If there is still a slight pucker, then decrease the upper tension (anti-clockwise) by half a number at a time until it looks okay.

So if you find yourself with tension issues, don’t panic – the majority of problems can be solved by following these steps!

Embroidery · Sewing · software

Grads4Nottm 2021 Student Challenge

We recently participated in Grads4Nottm 2021, a student challenge from Nottingham Trent University where NTU students work with local businesses to develop their PR, marketing and social media presences (read more about it on the NTU website here). It’s a great scheme to be part of because it allows local businesses, both large and small, to show Nottingham graduates what we do and lets them use the knowledge they have gained from their courses with a real business. This year we had the benefit of three students from Marketing and Psychology courses helping us with our marketing and as a thank you Anna produced an embroidery of this year’s logo, which contains the names of all the participating businesses.

Anna’s framed embroidery of the Grads4Nottm 2021 logo

Anna used the latest Husqvarna Viking software, mySewnet, to design and embroider the logo – all with features that you can use no matter which version you have. First she used the Film Strip function to organise the words into the order she wanted them to appear in, and then she used Split Project to split the design into two halves. This function is perfect for large projects like this, and allowed Anna to stich out her design using an Imperial hoop, joining the two halves seamlessly.

You can learn more about the mySewnet software on our website and Anna, who is our software expert, will be posting here herself soon. Expect to learn some great tips and tricks and find out more about the fabulous features available in mySewnet!