Spool, the newest store to open in Allentown, is more like dropping by a friend than shopping. The independent fabric store feels like home – precisely the intention of owners Michelle Lancet and Jennifer Swartzwelder.
“We want them to feel like they’re coming to us to sew or choose their projects,” says Lancet. Shoppers can find artisanal inspiration in the in-house created pillowcases, and upholstered chairs and sofas in the space.
Spool rents sewing machines by the hour, organizes private parties and offers sewing and quilting lessons for children and adults. Spool will also host designer nights where the needle arts community can gather in the space and work on their crafts.
The two lifelong artisans met years ago at a knitting group for mothers of young children. Quickly becoming friends, Swartzwelder asked The Lancet if she sewed in addition to knitting.
“I was a seamstress long before I was a knitter. I ask a lot,” jokes Swartzwelder.
Lancet and Swartzwelder first opened Spool as an online store in 2014. When the site became a destination to shop for independently designed fabrics and patterns, the team realized they were on something.
“Our fabric collection is curated by Jenn and myself. We take the balance of fabrics that we love that will appeal to clothing and quilting,” says Lancet. “You can’t find these fabrics in a chain. The patterns we offer are all from independent fabric designers.
When their youngest children were heading to preschool this year, Lancet and Swartzwelder started thinking about opening a space for their business.
It took the duo a year to find a location in the city, eventually settling in Allentown. Lancet grew up in the area, and when they met the local small business community, they knew that the location of East Warrington Ave. was a good choice.
“Once we found the space, we felt really welcome,” says Lancet.
Lancet and Swartzwelder restored the store and incorporated various DIY projects into the space. “We’re do-it-yourselfers at heart,” says Lancet.
Spool serves as a meeting place, work space and store for all needle art makers. In the craft community, says Swartzwelder, “Traditional quilters usually have their space to congregate, and knitters tend to have their space to congregate. We want it to be a gathering space for the entire maker community. »
Additionally, they believe that creating a welcoming space is key to attracting new designers. “It can be a daunting project when you’re starting a new job,” says Lancet. “We want to demystify that it’s difficult, because [sewing] is a very important skill, but fun too.
Spool marks the second independent store opening this season in Allentown. Black Forge Coffee opened on the street in August.