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!

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

Thinking of buying a domestic sewing machine?

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

A few questions to ask yourself before you begin looking:

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

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

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

Traditional Mechanical Sewing Machines

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

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

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

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

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

Why have a demonstration?

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

Computer sewing machines

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

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

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

Sewing and embroidery machine combinations

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

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

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

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

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

Happy sewing from all at Coles!

Accessories and feet · Husqvarna Viking · Sewing

Your feet are made for stitching… but which one should you use?

You will have a range of basic accessory feet that came with your sewing machine, like your buttonhole foot, zipper foot, etc. But what happens when you want to do something more specialised, like inserting an invisible zip, topstitching a collar or sewing a garment with a specific seam allowance? Which accessory do you use then?

The clever people at Husqvarna Viking have created over 50 specialised accessory feet to make your sewing applications easier (and they are always creating more!). Here are three feet from my accessory box that I use regularly when I am garment making. 

1. Invisible zip foot

First out of the box is my Clear Invisible Zip Foot (there is a metal version if you prefer to use metal feet). An invisible zip, sometimes known as a concealed zip, is stitched into a seam and as the name implies it’s almost invisible – once it’s inserted all you should be able to see is the zip pull.

An invisible zip

Zip application is often thought of as very difficult to do but it`s really one of the easiest, especially when sewn with the Clear Invisible Zip Foot. An invisible zip is always inserted before stitching the garment’s seam. It has two grooves underneath the foot to accommodate the zip coils and hold them in place as you stitch. You need to buy a zip that is at least 1 1/4″ (3 cm) longer than the zip opening.

If you haven’t inserted an invisible zip before then don’t worry, I go through the process step by step in the video below!

Have a look at my video to see how to insert an invisible zip

2. Seam guide foot

Next out of my box is the Clear Seam Guide Foot. As it says in the name, it’s a clear foot so has lots of visibility when joining fabric and stitching seams. The Clear Seam Guide Foot has a metal guide, which is set at 5/8” (1.5cm) from the centre needle position; this is the standard seam allowance on most patterns. So when you are constructing a garment all you need to do is place the edge of the fabric on the guide and you’ll get an accurate seam allowance every time. To allow for varying seam allowances there are also markings on the foot set at 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2”.

If you are an Epic 2 owner there is an IDF version of the Clear Seam Guide Foot so that you can use it with the Integrated Dual Feed.

3. Edge joining foot

Last out of my accessory box is the Clear B Edge Joining Foot, which is one of my favourites as it can be used for so many applications. It also comes as a metal foot but I personally prefer the clear one as it gives lots of visibility.  As it’s a joining foot then you can use it for tasks such as joining fabric and lace, or for embellishing ribbon with decorative stitches. However, I generally use it for topstitching as you can put the guide on the edge of the fabric and move the needle across to get a really close topstitch – great for garments but also useful for things like bag handles. It’s also good for top stitching around T-shirt necklines – the guide sits in the seam line and then you can position the needle for top stitching.

If you are an Epic 2 owner there is an IDF version of the Edge Joining Foot so that you can use it with the Integrated Dual Feed.

So those are my top three additional feet for garment making. 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!

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of my sewing accessory box, I do have lots of other feet so be sure to pop back to our Blog and I’ll tell you about some more of my accessory feet!

Overlockers

Overlockers – a dark art or a most useful addition to a stitcher’s equipment?

The humble overlocker, (or serger as it is known in the USA) was invented around 1838 by J. Makens Merrow and his son Joseph Merrow in Connecticut, USA. It was originally designed to produce a crochet stitch but as time went on it developed in the clothing manufacturing hubs of Connecticut and New York, giving the 2, 3, 4 and 5 thread versions we see today.

So how does it work? Well it is a kind of crochet or knit stitch, with a needle thread (or 2) to hold it together. Not only does it stop the edge of fabric fraying, it also cuts the fabric as it stitches so a pattern can be followed to create a garment panel.

A 3-thread overlock stitch

How is an overlock stitch formed?

  1. When the needle enters the fabric, a loop is formed in the thread at the back of the needle.
  2. As the needle continues its downward motion into the fabric, the lower looper begins its movement from left to right. The tip of the lower looper passes behind the needle and through the loop of thread that has formed behind the needle.
  3. The lower looper continues along its path moving toward the right of the overlocker. As it moves, the lower thread is carried through the needle thread.
  4. While the lower looper is moving from left to right, the upper looper advances from right to left. The tip of the upper looper passes behind the lower looper and picks up the lower looper thread and needle thread.
  5. The lower looper now begins its move back into the far left position. As the upper looper continues to the left, it holds the lower looper thread and needle thread in place.
  6. The needle again begins its downward path, passing behind the upper looper and securing the upper looper thread (the needle goes between the metal and the thread). This completes the overlock stitch formation and begins the stitch cycle all over again.
The anatomy of a 3-thread overlock stitch

It’s worth remembering that this is happening 5,000 times a minute on industrial machines and 1,200 times a minute on domestic versions, so marvel at the engineering that allows that to happen with hardly a thread break! Indeed, they are very reliable pieces of equipment that, if basic maintenance and cleanliness are carried out, will give years of trouble free service.

Types of overlock stitch

Overlock stitches are classified in a number of ways. The most basic classification is by the number of threads used in the stitch. Industrial overlock machines are generally made in 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 thread formations. Each of these formations has unique uses and benefits:

  • 1-thread: End-to-end seaming or “butt-seaming” of piece goods for textile finishing.
  • 2-thread: Edging and seaming, especially on knits and wovens, finishing seam edges, stitching flatlock seams, stitching elastic and lace to lingerie, and hemming. This is the most common type of overlock stitch.
  • 3-thread: Sewing pintucks, creating narrow rolled hems, finishing fabric edges, decorative edging, and seaming knit or woven fabrics.
  • 4-thread: Decorative edging and finishing, seaming high-stress areas, mock safety stitches which create extra strength while retaining flexibility.
  • 5-thread: In apparel manufacturing, safety stitches utilizing two needles create a very strong seam.

Additional variables in the types of overlock stitches are the stitch length and the stitch width. The stitch length indicates how many stitches per inch there are, which is adjustable and can vary widely within one machine. Different stitch lengths create more or less dense and solid-looking edges. The stitch width indicates how wide the stitch is from the edge of the fabric. Lightweight fabrics often require a wider stitch to prevent pulling.

Adding extra variation in stitch types is the differential feed feature, which allows feed to be adjusted: extra-fast feed creates a ruffled or “lettuce-leaf” effect. Finally, some machines contain parts to roll the fabric edge into the stitch for added durability.

So, overlockers are reliable and capable of a host of different types of stiches for many applications in garment construction. It can be said that to get a professional garment construction finish, you need both a sewing machine and overlocker.

The fear factor – threading

Yep the dreaded threading! I always look at it this way: if someone has managed to design such a brilliant piece of equipment and all I have to do is thread it to get such professional results, it is worth the learning journey!

Those of us who have threaded early industrial overlockers, such as the Merrow, Wilcox & Gibbs T series or the Singer 246K series, where the threads ran through tunnels and you need a threader wire and the patience of Job to thread them wonder what all the fuss is about.

So how can we make the threading less arduous? It’s about the correct threading order. If you thread the needles before the lower looper, then the lower looper thread will always break, as the needle thread(s) will be on the wrong side of the lower looper thread and break it.

 Lower looper with upper looper just above it

So this is the best threading order if threading from scratch:

  1. Upper looper (the smaller of the 2 loopers)
  2. Lower looper ( looks like an upside down ‘L’  or no ‘7’)
  3. Needle right
  4. Needle left (if applicable to the machine or stitch technique)

Ensure you thread through every thread guide and that the thread does not double wrap around anything. Also ensure the threads are firmly between the tension discs on each tension unit. It is also important to make sure that the thread does not twist around the needle when threading.

Tension discs

Once threaded, put all the threads under the presser foot (lower it) and turn the hand wheel in the sewing direction for the machine (usually shown by an  arrow around the handwheel and most domestic machines turn the handwheel towards you) to establish a few stitches on a chain. Once done, slowly run the machine to increase the chain, then (having closed all the covers first) put under some fabric under the foot and have a go! Remember the stich is a continuous chain so you can run off the fabric. Also, the knives will be cutting so remember to leave a seam allowance for the knives to cut.

Knife types

One knife moves and the other knife is fixed. If you have a thread running low, or need to change colour, then you can tie the existing thread to the new thread, and pull it through gently, remember to leave a long end to tie the new thread to. If it is a needle thread, the knot won’t go through the needle eye, but hopefully you will just have to thread that.

Thread Colours

The looper threads are not seen on the good side of the fabric so you can go for a neutral thread here such as black, cream, grey, white. The needle thread is seen, so you could colour match here. The looper threads use approximately 4 times as much thread as the needle, which uses about the same as a sewing machine.  So if you prefer, you can use a budget thread on the looper and a premium thread on the needle(s) for best results.

Needles

The needle matters too. Just as with your sewing machine, make sure you have a good sharp needle, of the right class for your machine (check the manual!) and of the right thickness for the fabric being stitched. We recommend a good quality needle such as Schmetz or Inspira for best results.

Cover Seam

Some domestic overlockers are capable of being switched to a cover seam, (the seam you see on the bottom of a t-shirt) and a chain stitch. You can even use an overlocker to overlock and blind hem in one go with a bit of patience!

What can go wrong?

  • The biggest single issue is a mis-thread. So if the stitch is not right, or a thread continually breaks then check the threading. Check the needle is good, of the correct type, inserted the correct way round and is pushed all the way up the clamp.
  • Over time the machine will build up with fluff and lint, which will impair use, so look at the maintenance section in the manual and clean it regularly. When cleaning it out you can also give it a tiny drop of oil at the appropriate points.
  • The sharpness of the knives will dull over time and may need replacing. If you have a needle breakage it may damage a looper surface, causing frequent thread shredding.
  • Consider having your overlocker professionally serviced once in a while to keep it in tip top condition.

Buying an overlocker

Once you have read this blog, think about what stitches you might want to use. Ideally go for a demonstration and don’t be frightened to ask to see it on different fabrics. Ask how easy it is to thread, though don’t expect to be shown how until you buy it! Talk about the applications you might want, e.g. rolled hem, cover seam etc., and take some fabric to try.

I would be very careful about buying a sub £300 overlocker, you get what you pay for (and “buy cheap pay twice” certainly applies here). Think about the construction and design that had to go into producing the product. The components need to be of quality metals to give longevity and trouble-free service, and it needs to be easy to thread!

Here are some ideas, all of which come complete with free tuition and 2 year warranty.

HUSKYLOCK™ S15

The HUSKYLOCK™ S15 is a great 2, 3, 4 thread overlocker, with built in rolled hem. Flatlock is possible as it has a moveable upper knife and it has colour-coded threading and open thread guides, so it is easy to thread. It has a free arm, so you can put sleeves or trouser legs straight onto it.

HUSKYLOCK™ S15
HUSKYLOCK™ s21

The HUSKYLOCK™ s21 has 2, 3, 4 thread overlock, plus 2 or 3 thread cover seam (narrow or wide). In addition, it has flatlock and rolled hem.

HUSKYLOCK™ s21
AMBER™ Air S|400

The AMBER™ Air S|400 has 2, 3, 4 thread, plus flatlock and rolled hem. It is very easy to use and thread with its easy jet air threading for the loopers and needle threaders for the needles.

AMBER™ Air S|400
AMBER™ Air S|600

The elite of the elite, the AMBER™ Air S|600 has jet air threading, 2, 3,4 thread overlock and rolled hem. It also has a colour touch screen to help you set up error-free cover seam and chain stitch.

AMBER™ Air S|600

We are happy to take you through a demonstration and advise you better. We have some fantastic offers on at the moment and you can view our range of overlockers on our website here. Why not give us a call on (0115) 9881550 to book your free, no obligation demonstration?

Neil Coles, October 2021

Credit:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overlock

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
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.

Husqvarna Viking · New in · Offers · Sewing Machines

Back in stock: the H|Class E10 and E20

After an 18 month wait, the H-Class E10 and E20 are finally back in stock! These mechanical sewing machines from Husqvarna Viking are the perfect machines for beginners and are also very portable, making them ideal to transport to classes or sewing groups. To celebrate having these popular machines back in the shop we have some great offers on, so read on to learn why one of these fantastic machines could be the sewing machine for you!

The H-Class E10 is a perfect starter machine. It is a simple, easy to use machine with straightforward threading and a built in needle threader, and weighing in at only 5.7kg it is the lightest sewing machine we have on offer. It comes with all the basic accessories and stitches you need to get started with garment making and crafts, plus right now when you buy an E10 from us, you will receive a pair of Fiskars dressmakers’ shears worth £25.99 for free.

The H-Class E20 has a few more features than the E10 but at 6.5kg it is still a lightweight machine. The stitch width is adjustable with a simple dial and it includes more stitches, incuding a simple one-step buttonhole. The feed dog can be lowered with the flick of a lever for free motion stitching, darning and sewing on buttons. It comes with a few more accessories than the E10 as well, including a blind hem foot, a darning foot and a quilting foot. Along with all those extras, when you buy from us the E20 also comes with a free Prym Starter Set worth £41.50, which includes all the basic equipment any sewer needs in their kit. That’s an awful lot more features and accessories for only £50 more!

Both the E10 and the E20 are simple and reliable machines, and with the deals we currently have on offer, either machine would make the perfect present. And if that wasn’t enough, until 31st October 2021, Husqvarna Viking are offering a free, limited edition Selkie Patterns paper pattern with new machine purchases (250 available, see our blog post for more details).

If you’re looking for a basic mechanical machine then you can’t get much better than the H-Class range. Being from Husqvarna Viking you know they are a quality you can trust, but if you do have any issues then they also come with a no quibble 2 year warranty that includes both parts and labour. Don’t forget, Coles Sewing Centre is a national service and warranty repair centre for Husqvarna Viking machines, so we can look after you for the whole life of your machine.

We often see machines in our workshop that people bought because they wanted something cheap and simple but when they break down it’s clear that they’re a false economy. Remember, if you don’t recognise the brand then it’s likely to be difficult or even impossible to find replacement parts.

The E10 and E20 are very reliable machines – despite their popularity we hardly see them in the workshop for anything other than their annual service. Even so, it’s good to know how to take good care of your sewing machine, so if you’re interested in these machines or if you have one already, keep an eye out for our upcoming post on maintaining a basic sewing machine – it’ll be full of tips on how to keep your machine running smoothly.

You can see more about the E10 on our website here, or if you’re looking for a few more features then you can find more about the E20 here. If you have any questions, just comment below or give us a call on 0115 9881550 and our team will be happy to help!

Husqvarna Viking · Patterns · Sewing

Selkie Patterns collaboration with Husqvarna Viking

Husqvarna Viking have been working with pattern company Selkie Patterns to produce a brand new printed pattern! This limited edition pattern is available from September 20th – October 31st 2021 to customers who purchase any Husqvarna Viking machine. There are only 250 copies available and the printed pattern is not available anywhere else, so it’s sure to be snapped up fast!

About the pattern
Selkie Patterns create stylish and sustainable sewing patterns and textiles designed and produced in the UK. The Celeste dress and blouse was inspired by the glittering revival of the art deco movement in the 1970s. With its clean, wearable yet dramatic silhouettes this movement was at the forefront when creating this wearable pattern. The Celeste is there for you when you want to have an elevated look but with the ease and comfort of a smock dress. The glamour of the 20s with the ease of the 70s, what’s not to love!

Sizing: the printed pattern will be available in sizes UK 6-32, with the following measurements:
Bust: 79-150cm (31-59 inch)
Waist: 58-129cm (22.75-51 inch)
Hip: 86-157 cm cm (33.75-62 inch)
Sizes 6-16 have been drafted with a B-cup; 18-32 with a D-cup.

All you need to do to be in with a chance of receiving this gorgeous paper pattern is purchase any new Husqvarna Viking machine between Monday 20th September and Sunday 31st October 2021 – you can see the range on our website. Patterns will be sent to lucky customers directly from Husqvarna Viking UK.

PLUS share your make on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #SELKIECELESTE by November 30th 2021 to be in with a chance of winning a Designer Sapphire 85 Sewing and Embroidery machine worth over £5000!

T’s & C’s: UK machine purchases only via a registered Husqvarna Viking dealer. Printed copy available in UK size range 6-32 with the size range measuring from 79/58/86 cm (31/22.75/33.75 inches) to 150/129/157 cm (59/51/62 inches) for bust-waist-hip body measurements. Share your make, #SELKIECELESTE, only open to UK residents.

Accessories and feet · New in · quilting · Sewing

New and improved – the Adjustable Clear Quarter Inch Piecing Foot

The Husqvarna Viking Clear Adjustable Quarter Inch Piecing Foot

The Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot and the Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot With Guide have had a makeover! Husqvarna Viking have made these essential feet adjustable – meaning that the needle hole in the foot is now oval shaped, allowing you to adjust the needle position. This is great news for those of you who want a bit more flexibility and accuracy with your Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot. If you’re not sure what these feet are and what they do, then read on!

The Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot is used for piecing during quilting, as well as appliqué and topstitching. As it is clear, you can easily see your fabric through the foot, while the red lines help you to line up your fabric at the start of your sewing, at corners, and at the end of your sewing. For extra accuracy you can use the Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot with Guide, which has a metal guide that runs along the edge of your fabric, helping you to keep your distance perfectly exact.

The Husqvarna Viking Clear Adjustable Quarter Inch Piecing Foot with Guide

These new and improved feet will be arriving in store soon but you can place an order now and we will send one out to you as soon as it arrives in stock. You can see more about the Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot here, and more about the Clear 1/4 Inch Piecing Foot With Guide here. If you have any questions about this hugely handy foot, then please comment below and one of our team will help!