Stitching a Business from a Hobby

MAR 21, 2015 updated May 20, 2021

Caitlin Topham, Spoonflower team member and the creative brains behind Salty Oat, visits the blog today to share how she started quilting and what it's like to embark on a creative venture!

Caitlin Topham, author of Salty Oat, started blogging about quilting in 2009 as a creative outlet, never expecting it may become a real source of income one day. Just a few years later she's selling her quilts in local shops and sourcing fabrics from around the world to sell in her online fabric shop! Read on for Caitlin's take on what it's like being a creative entrepreneur. 

How long have you been doing quilting? How did you get involved in it?

I started quilting in 2009 in my spare time, while I was working at a not-so-creative job. I've known how to sew since I was a child, and I was able to teach myself quilting through lots of helpful blog posts and video tutorials.

Is it your full time job?

It's not. I work at Spoonflower full-time, so quilting happens in the evenings and on weekends.

Where do you want to take it?

I currently sell my quilts, along with a selection of fabric, in my online shop. I would love to continue to grow the shop and release collections of quilts each season.

What has been your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge I have is finding the time to photograph and blog about everything I make. I'm not typically home during daylight hours during the week, so I'm usually hoping for clear skies on the weekends to photograph my work.

What’s your creative sound track?

I actually listen to a number of podcasts about small business and design while I sew, so I'm able to continuously learn and grow my small company.

Can you share a bit about the collaborative process of creating your do.Good stitches quilt?

do. Good Stitches is an online charity quilting bee. I'm a quilter for the Wish Circle, so every few months, it's my turn to design a quilt for our group to work on. For this particular quilt, I shared the block pattern with my fellow circle members, and asked that they use colors within a particular palette, which I shared inspirational images of. We all work from our personal stash, so a specific color palette helps keep the quilt looking cohesive. Once I received all of the blocks, I pieced them together and created a coordinating back from fabrics in my personal stash.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone pursuing a creative career?

Community is important, so connect with as many creative kindred spirits as you can. Your peers are an invaluable resource, and will support you through the highs and lows of running your business.

What resources have you found really useful?

Business-wise, I really enjoy Abby Glassenberg's podcast and newsletter, While She Naps. I've picked up so many helpful tips from her. Quilting-wise, I've learned a number of techniques from Amanda Jean Nyberg's blog, and have made a number of quilts from her book.

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