Meet Sally Wilson, owner of Caterpillar Cross Stitch, and find out how she got into cross stitch, the growth of her business and how the team unites stitch lovers all over the world!
Sally Wilson is an award-winning designer who set up Caterpillar Cross Stitch in 2015.
We’re lucky enough to have caught up with Sally to learn more about her, the business, what inspires her and why stitching is the perfect antidote to calm the mind. Plus, Sally shares some brilliant top tips and you get to see where the cross stitch magic happens! Enjoy…
How did you get into cross stitching?
I’ve always loved any type of art or crafts. I started sewing, decoupage, dressmaking and painting from a young age so holding a paintbrush, sketch pad or needle and thread came naturally to me. Luckily, I had older sisters, a mother and grandmother who all encouraged me and taught me to express myself through art.
I stitched on and off as a child and when it came to choosing a cross stitch birth sampler for my first child in 2013, I couldn’t find anything that was modern, simple and gender neutral to go in the nursery. I had some graphic design knowledge so chose to create my own designs using software and before you know it, I had a range of five alphabet designs I turned into kits. They were available in three different colour ways to suit all tastes.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I qualified as a solicitor and practiced law for a number of years after university in my 20s before going on maternity leave with my first child in 2013. Having that break allowed me to experiment with creative outlets and I decided after six months or so that I wanted to create a company of my own that would fulfil me creatively, make a difference and do some good in the world. I loved the idea of sharing designs with everyone wherever they lived, helping new stitchers discover the craft and package up supplies in an easy to use kit ready for anyone to get going with!
I love hosting stitch-a-long projects (three every year) in which we can bring together thousands of stitchers from all over the world. We host Stitching Social events to bring people together in person and have created all sorts of accessories – from needle minders to project bags! We’ve grown into a team of five and recently moved into our new studio/offices in Coventry.
"I chose the name Caterpillar Cross Stitch because completing a project isn’t always quick – you can’t always see initially how it’s going to turn out but the piece emerges slowly into a beautiful creation!"
Where do you get your design inspiration/what inspires you?
I love colour, graphic design, fashion and nature. I could spend all day experimenting with typography, print and the composition of various elements coming together to form a cross stitch pattern. I try to avoid backstitch, speciality stitches or beading, etc. I want my kits to be accessible to all but with enough detail and variation to keep more experienced stitchers engaged.
What’s your favourite cross stitch creation to-date? Can we see?!
Happiness is Homemade will always be a memorable design. First of all, I’m obsessed with cake, but it’s also our first ever stitch-a-long from January 2017. One cross stitch kit I have loved and has been stitched thousands of times over is Seas the Day – the beach/seaside themed pattern. It features a mermaid, fish and chips, seagull, treasure chest and cute seahorse! I adore these DMC pink, gold and turquoise shades!
'Seas the Day'.
Whether you’re new to cross stitch or more experienced, CrossStitcher magazine is for you, bringing you a wide variety of fresh designs in every issue!
Crafts are known to be excellent for wellbeing – how vital do you find crafting for your own mindfulness and wellbeing?
Absolutely essential! I actually used to have a lot more time for stitching before it actually became my job! But I really try to fit in as much as I can. I’m always thinking up new ways to incorporate stitching e.g. for teacher gifts or on clothing. Even though the light isn’t great and I’m tired, there’s nothing better than winding down late at night with a spot of stitching. We’re all trying to multi-task and a stitching break does wonders to calm the mind after a busy day.
What are your top tips for beginners/those who’d like to start cross stitch? Please share your top tips…
- Have all of your supplies ready before you start.
- Make sure your chair is comfy and back supported so you’re not crouching over your project.
- Have good lighting (natural if possible from behind you).
- Every now and then allow your threads to unwind so they don’t get tangled.
- Join our Facebook group (Caterpillar Cross Stitch SAL) because stitching with others is so much more fun than alone! You can ask any questions and make new friends from all over the world who share your passion for cross stitch.
- Take it easy – don’t compare your stitching to others (it doesn’t matter what your backside is like!) and enjoy the process.
Are you into any other crafts and if so, what are they?
Yes, I love painting, watercolours or acrylic, sketching with pencil, photography, junk modelling with the kids, I’d love to have a go at pottery one day, I love baking and doing aqua beads with my little girl!
Tell us about your craft room/work space – we’d love to see pictures, too!
I started Caterpillar Cross Stitch from my kitchen table, then slowly took over the whole house and later our home office. On Valentine’s Day 2020 we moved into brand new 900 square foot offices/studio space in Coventry which has been amazing in allowing us to expand the team and giving us room to grow.
We have over 300 shades of DMC cones displayed proudly on the walls, all sorts of Zweigart fabrics and our packaging and supplies organised on made to measure shelves. I created ‘YouTube corner’ where we can easily create weekly content for our channel, a dedicated cutting table that moves up and down depending on the height required, packing area and desks for our customer support and design team to work from. One of my favourite areas is the magazine display wall, hand painted stitched peg board hallway and of course our huge Carlos the Caterpillar wall art!
Where can people find out more about you?
You can find out more via: