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!

Events · Patchwork · quilting

Project Linus 2021 – an update from co-ordinator Caroline Spalding

This week Caroline Spalding, co-ordinator for Project Linus Nottinghamshire, gives us an update on the quilting sessions we held for Project Linus at the beginning of November!

Recently, Rose highlighted the work of Project Linus and our first workshop to be held post lockdown. Well, what a treat it was to be back in the workroom! Inevitably, there were organisational changes – instead of turn up on the day, we had to ask you to book as places were limited to 12 per session – but it was just great to be back with some lovely ladies. We welcomed both regular volunteers and severals new ones, who came together to stitch for children in Nottinghamshire.

As we had been very fortunate to receive a donation of fabrics including “Batman”, “Star Wars”, “Dr Who” and “Harry Potter”, it seemed a good idea to cut kits from these to make up on the day. I am not, of course, suggesting that these wouldn’t appeal to all youngsters. However, I do receive a higher proportion of quilts which appeal to girls rather than boys, especially teenagers, so some marvellous “Marvel” fabric seemed a way to address the balance of choice.

There are clear rules about how Project Linus UK operates overall but each area may find differing, appropriate destinations. You may be interested to know that our quilts are given regularly to babies, children and teenagers in all ten wards of the Children’s Hospital at QMC and the two Neonatal Intensive Care Units at QMC and City Hospitals. I always have some quilts available for children moving into fostering as there is no telling when the need will arise and the fostering manager will contact me. In addition, the Children and Young People’s Safeguarding Suite based at QMC (a sexual abuse referral clinic), receives a substantial number of quilts and blankets regularly. Occasionally, I receive an individual request for a child in need at home. Our quilts and blankets are found to be of tremendous benefit to the youngsters – it isn’t just the physical snuggliness or the bright colours, it’s the knowledge that someone cares enough to create something just for them.

Thank you to everyone, you worked hard! It was good fun and some great quilts were created. Rose provided two lovely raffle prizes and thanks, as always, to her for her continuing and generous support. We plan to hold our next workshop in February and look forward to that. Maybe you would like to join us… details will be on the website.

Caroline, Coordinator Project Linus Notts

Thanks for that update Caroline, it’s great to see the beautiful quilts that you all made and learn how everyone’s hard work helps vulnerable children. We look forward to seeing you again at our next Project Linus quilting session!

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!

Events · Patchwork · quilting

Join us on 25th October for Project Linus 2021

We have a really special event coming up next week at Coles Sewing Centre. We will be hosting two quilting sessions in aid of Project Linus UK and we would love it if you could come along and sew with us.

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

Some of the beautiful Project Linus quilts from previous years

At Coles Sewing Centre we are proud to be supporting Project Linus again this year. On Monday 25th October 2021 we will host two sessions for you to stitch a quilt, one in the morning (10am to 1pm) and one in the afternoon (1:30pm to 4:30pm). As we have to allow for social distancing this year then numbers are limited and booking is required, but the £2.00 booking fee will enter you into a prize draw and all money will be donated to Project Linus. We would love for you to join us for one of our Project Linus quilt making sessions – we’ll provide the fabrics, threads and sewing machines, all we need you to do is come along and sew! You can book your place online here.

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

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

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

You can learn more about Project Linus UK on their website, it’s a wonderful charity that makes a big difference in children’s lives when they need it the most. Any contribution, large or small, is gratefully received – from donations of fabric, wadding and thread to making a quilt or a blanket, it’s up to you how you take part. So please join us on Monday 25th October to help provide security and comfort to children in need of a hug.

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!

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!