Mt. Airy will have you in stitches

by Stacia Friedman
Posted 8/4/22

A pandemic-inspired surge in entrepreneurship bubbling on Germantown Avenue has led to the opening of, not one, but two quilting shops on Mt. Airy’s main commercial strip. 

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Mt. Airy will have you in stitches


A pandemic-inspired surge in entrepreneurship bubbling on Germantown Avenue has led to the opening of, not one, but two quilting shops on Mt. Airy’s main commercial strip. 

Cut & Sew, at Germantown and Mt. Pleasant Avenues,  and Needles & Bolts, at 6819 Germantown Ave., are two independent, women-owned businesses within walking distance of each other. With each shop specializing in its own area of expertise, the result is not competition but community engagement, and residents have more sources for their quilting, embroidery and sewing projects.

Needles & Bolts 

“It’s really nice to have two quilting shops so close together,” said Stella Singleton, owner of Needles & Bolts, which is located in the same storefront as the former Handcraft Workshop. 

The new shop,  a veritable candyland for crafters, is filled from floor to ceiling with colorful quilts Singleton has created, along with shelves of solid and print fabrics, and racks of embroidery and stitching projects for all levels of experience. For those who have done it all, Needles & Bolts carries Sashiko kits which offer a unique style of traditional Japanese embroidery.

Singleton offers instruction in quilting, sewing, garment construction and  embroidery. She hosts a free Open Sew two evenings a month when participants can work on projects and “be inspired by others,” Singleton said. “In my Capsule Wardrobe series, in addition to making a basic T-shirt, wrap skirt and wrap dress and trousers, next year, I’ll offer a class in making a man’s type Oxford, button-down shirt and custom fit jeans.” 

Singleton first developed an interest in quilting when she took classes at the former Fabrics on the Hill in Chestnut Hill. “I was living in Germantown at the time when I was bitten by the quilting bug,” Singleton said.

Her career took Singleton to Arizona where she worked as a trainer for a marketing company. She traveled extensively for the job, eventually settling in North Jersey. While living there during the pandemic, Singleton decided to try entrepreneurship. She left her job, sold her house and returned to Mt. Airy in October 2021. 

“My career gave me a lot of insight into consumers. I decided I wanted to be my own boss and be surrounded by beautiful fabrics every day,” Singleton said. “I just love this area. It’s community-oriented and people really care,” she said. 

The response has been enthusiastic, Singleton said. “People are excited to have a fabric shop within walking distance of their homes. Classes are filling up. Our clientele is very diverse from all backgrounds, ages and skill levels. We also have great instructors and everyone is excited about the Little Free Fiber Library outside the shop in a decommissioned newspaper box,” she said. 

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Cut & Sew

The day Melissa Clouser signed a lease for Cut & Sew, she learned that Singleton was opening a shop a few blocks away. Rather than panic, Clouser reached out. 

“We are coordinating so we can offer different options. For instance, I do not sew garments and she does, but we are both thinking about the environment.  I partner with FabScraps, a fabric recycling organization,” said Clouser, who is developing a niche that specializes in selling donated fabrics in what she calls the “previously loved” section of the store. 

Growing up in central Pennsylvania, Clouser, 32, began quilting in high school and has a degree in art education. She moved to Mt. Airy during the pandemic when her husband joined the medical staff at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. With twin toddlers at home, Clouser started selling her hand-crafted items at the High Point Cafe Sunday Market. 

“I was invited to teach birthday party sewing classes for kids at Buddha Babe [children’s merchandise store] and I ran an after-school sewing club. It made me think that Mt. Airy is the right place to open a business like this,” she said. 

Cut & Sew’s most popular class is a one-hour introduction to the sewing machine, “a good way to start for beginners who don’t own a machine yet, are thinking of buying one or have just inherited one,” Clouser said. The shop also offers free use of sewing machines one Friday evening per month. Discounted prices for workshops are based on an honor code. “We don’t ask for proof of need,” she said.

For customers who don’t have a sewing machine at home, Clouser rents out studio space at her shop and the use of six Brother machines. “There is also a long-arm quilting machine which makes the quilting process easier by allowing you to move the machine instead of moving the fabric,” she said.

Classes for children are also offered including  a Spool School for children, ages 8-17, as well as instruction in making tote bags, zipper punches and draw-string bags. Future offerings include classes for toddlers and a Little Free Fabric Library on the sidewalk.

 For more information visit:

We welcome these ambitious entrepreneurs to our community and encourage you to stop by, say hello, and see what it’s all about. 

Correction: The print version and an earlier online version of this article incorrectly stated that the "spool school" was  for boys. It is  open to all children. It also gave an incorrect website address.  The Local regrets the error.