Nicole Bertram’s business, The Spool Sewing Studio, is moving to a larger space, at 420 Fitzgerald, next to Broken Spokes. Photo by Ali Roddam.

Courtenay sewing studio expanding, moving to larger space

The Spool is on the move

The Spool is on the move.

Nicole Bertram’s business is growing, and, much like the clothes some of her clients make, she’s grown out of her current digs.

The Spool Sewing Studio is in the process of moving to #4, 420 Fitzgerald – to accommodate the growth she has experienced in her first four years of business.

The Spool started as an in-home business, with three machines. Three years ago, Bertram upgraded to a small second-floor space on the 300 block of Sixth Street, and doubled the machines. When the doors open at 420 Fitzgerald, she will have 10 machines.

“It’s great,” said Bertram. “I worked really, really hard in this space for about three years, and I got to the point where it’s just too small for how many people I have now. The next step of growth has come very organically.

“In the new space, I will actually be able to run two classes at the same time, because there are two separate rooms.”

The “next step” officially happens March 30, with the grand opening of her new studio, which sits right between Broken Spokes and Podlings.

“The big opening will be March 30 at noon… it may go well into the evening, I don’t know… and then classes start the following Monday, April 1,” said Bertram.

The Spool Sewing Studio offers classes for those interested in learning the craft, as well as space for those looking to make their own clothes.

“People come for courses, but they also come for drop-in. You can just come and rent time on a machine,” said Bertram. “It’s just a really nice community space for making things.”

There is a retail aspect to the studio as well, where Bertram sells high-end fabrics and independently designed patterns.

Bertram likens the popularity of clothing creation to the “slow food movement” that is gaining popularity.

“There’s now this ‘slow fashion’ movement, where people are thinking more about where clothes are made, what are the textiles made out of… people are not only looking for ‘made in Canada’ garments, but they are also looking to learn the skill.”

The flagship course at The Spool is called “Foundations” which runs monthly. Foundations is a basic starter’s course for people to learn the basics in a small-class setting.

“We really go over the trouble-shooting of the machine, the nitty-gritty of how the machine works, so you can take that information home and feel more confident on your own machine,” said Bertram. “In that class, you also finish a different project every week. So every week you have this finished object you can feel really proud of.”

The Spool runs children’s/student classes after school, and evening/weekend adult classes.

“We will also be opening up more daytime classes, for parents whose kids are in school and have a little time during the day, or for retirees,” said Bertram.

There is also a class designed specifically for men, called “Bros who sew”.

“We know it can be intimidating to go into a space that’s perceived to be a female space, so creating a space specifically for men is great. But we are open to anybody. All genders, and we have kids as young as six and adults as old as 80. There are no barriers. We have no target demographic.

In addition to sewing, there are also knitting, quilting and needle-felting workshops available.

“The new space will even have room for dye workshops, and we are talking about bringing in a shoemaker to do shoemaking workshops,” said Bertram. “So the new space is really going to allow me to expand.”

Bertram said this next step is all part of her original strategic planning for her business.

“I had this sort of hypothesis when I began, of creating a place where people could use their hands, and sew, and drink tea, and be together with a common interest … to form its own community. And I’ve seen that happen over the last three years. I’ve seen friendships for, I’ve seen businesses start from classes they’ve taken, and have just felt this warm embrace from people of the Comox Valley. It’s pretty amazing.”

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