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45 Years of Family History at Barnyarns Sew Centre

Callum MacPherson / April 21, 2023

History of Barnyarns Sew Centre

Back in 1979, Ian Macpherson, the sales director of MacPhersons, based in Nottingham, made history by introducing the world's first automatic colour-change industrial embroidery machines. This groundbreaking innovation revolutionised the embroidery industry, replacing the slower single-head machines and enabling leading brands such as M&S, Littlewoods, Hugo Boss, NIKE, and Ralph Lauren to have multi-coloured logos produced at over five times the speed of the older machines.

As the technology evolved, multiple embroidery heads were introduced, enabling a much larger colour choice and higher speed. However, this rapid progress also shone a spotlight on the quality of embroidery thread required to run the machines at maximum speed. At the time, the only available thread was primarily thicker cotton, lacking any sheen and with a limited colour range. Moreover, the cotton thread was prone to breakage, causing costly production stoppages. It was crucial to find a more reliable and high-quality thread to keep pace with the ever-evolving embroidery industry.

While attending a major textile exhibition in Hanover, Germany, Ian Macpherson was approached by two young German men who introduced themselves as embroidery thread manufacturers. They expressed an interest in testing their thread, known today as Madeira Classic Rayon 40, on the new high-speed embroidery machines. Ian agreed, and the thread performed remarkably, running without any breakages for the entire duration of the show. The Madeira thread offered a high sheen and beautiful lustre, perfectly suited for the new modern embroidery machines.

This successful collaboration marked the beginning of a great friendship and business relationship between the Schmidt Brothers of Madeira Threads and the Macpherson family.

In 1983, Ian and Sara embarked on a new venture and established Madeira UK from the comfort of their own home in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. As a true family affair, boxes of stock formed corridors within the house, and their children, Alastair, Jonathan, and Karen, eagerly helped unload wagons, pack orders, and carry bags of mail to the post office.

As the business grew, Madeira UK relocated to larger premises in Boroughbridge before finally settling into a purpose-built warehouse in Thirsk. There, Ian and Sara continued to run and operate Madeira Threads UK LTD until their retirement in 2002.

In 1992, Barnyarns joined forces with Madeira Threads when the embroidery market began to incorporate many more single head multi-colour industrial machines. The acquisition allowed for even greater innovation and expansion in the industry.

The company's growth wasn't limited to industrial embroidery; it also made strides in the retail market by offering a diverse range of threads for both hand and machine use, sourced from various countries worldwide. With time, Barnyarns emerged as the leading retailer of Madeira Threads, and it still maintains a strong partnership with the brand and other top thread manufacturers. Moreover, the store's range has expanded to include all major specialist thread brands and haberdashery items, boasting a vast inventory of over 34,000 products. In essence, Barnyarns offers the largest range of market-leading thread brands, supported by an extensive selection of haberdashery and more!


Callum Macpherson founded Sew Centre in July 2022, with the aim of further developing Barnyarns Sew Centre as a specialised hub for sewing machines, repair services, and tuition. His focus on expanding the business has led to the introduction of Pfaff & Bernina Sewing machines, the establishment of a nationwide service centre, and the creation of the innovative sewing hub. Through these efforts, Sew Centre has become a targeted portal for sewing enthusiasts seeking top-quality products, reliable repair services, and expert tuition.

Whether you visit Sew Centre in person at our premises in Yorkshire or shop online, our commitment to excellent customer service and invaluable support remains unwavering. Stay up to date with the latest news, dates, and exciting updates by signing up for our newsletter.

Thank you for choosing Sew Centre.