Each month, I send subscribers to the Hopebroidery Box a pattern and full-length, step-by-step video tutorial for that month's project; subscribers to the big box also get all the supplies you'll need for your project, including full skeins of Sublime Stitching embroidery floss, a large cut of that month's fabric, embroidery scissors from Kelmscott Designs, and more. You can take a look at past boxes by visiting the "kits" section of my shop - I keep up the sold out kits so that you can see what sorts of supplies and designs have come in past boxes, even if they're no longer available.
I've been writing about how I design each month's project because I think it might be interesting and helpful to see the different ways I go about designing the sample hoops; specifically, I hope it's helpful to you (if you're a newer designer looking for examples of how the process might work), and also find that it's been helpful for me (taking the time to process how each project comes to life is informative to my future work!).
In this post, I share the process of creating the butterfly sample hoop for the May 2022 box, a project featuring a bold butterfly surrounded by florals and vines on a mustard linen blend fabric.
I've had butterflies on the brain for a few months, having recently posted a full tutorial on how to create simple hand embroidered butterflies using detached chain and straight stitches, a technique I used to help accent the floral sampler project subscribers stitched for the February 2022 box earlier this year (if you missed that box, you'll find extra kits and patterns for that project in the shop!). We also stitched a small butterfly on a portion of the floral sampler and animals box last September, but I haven't designed a butterfly-centric box project since last March. The sample for that project was designed a few months before I started writing these posts, but you can still see the design here, if you'd like!
For this month's project, I wanted to focus on creating a larger single butterfly toward the center of the design, versus the smaller butterflies I've included in past projects. I also wanted to use relatively simpler techniques to create the centerpiece of this project, in part to give subscribers a break after last month's mountain landscape project (the tutorial for which ended up being nearly five hours long!). Finally, I wanted to create a project that would be super easily modifiable in terms of which colors are used to create that central butterfly shape; this way, if you'd like to re-use the pattern for other projects, you'll be able to choose any color you like to create something that best fits your own preferences and aesthetic needs.
As always, I started by sketching out a few ideas. The photo collage below includes pages from a few different sketchbooks where I worked on how to draw a butterfly in the first place - it definitely takes a bit of practice! I've been incorporating a daily sketching habit for a few years now; the sketches below range in time from 2020 to 2022.
Next, I imported two of my favorite sketches into the Procreate app for the iPad, where I was able to combine them and sketch a more polished, ready-to-transfer potential design. You can see a brief timelapse of that process in the video below.
Next, I gathered the fabric I wanted to use and a handful of colors from my collection of Sublime Stitching embroidery floss.
I had a bit of trouble choosing the exact colors I would use, really! In the photo below, you can see that I've imported a photo of my hoop and the pile of floss from the last photo into Procreate, which I used to start playing around with different potential color combinations.
I transferred the design onto my fabric using a white water-erasable transfer pen, and proceeded to stare at my blank hoop and pile of floss for... days. In fact, I think the longest and most painful portion of this month's design process was the time in between sketching the design and starting to stitch.
After a few indecisive days, I chose a deep blue color and started to stitch the butterfly; once I finally started getting floss onto my hoop, it all came together fairly quickly! In the photo below, you'll see those first few stitches on my hoop, along with the jar where I keep my leftover bits of floss from box samples, the blue notebook where I keep detailed notes to help me write a more accurate pattern for subscribers once I've finished stitching, and my pile of floss.
This project came together fairly quickly; in fact, the bright white lines you see in the photo below were among the only stitches I had to unpick! In contrast, you may remember that I had to re-stitch multiple samples when creating last month's box, and the one before that!
In the photo below, you'll see I've nearly completed the butterfly (I did add a bit of shading later on in the process - I couldn't help myself!).
Next, I gave myself a bit of time to think about which colors I might use for the surrounding vines and florals. I took the photo below to help me get a bit of "distance" from the project and to help me imagine what the colors might look like when used to create the rest of the design. You can read a bit about why I think taking lots of progress pictures and giving yourself time away from a project is helpful in my post, Why does your hand embroidery look bad?, which I find myself revisiting quite often!
The surrounding florals and vines came together fairly quickly, as you can see in the photo below. The light pink floss in that photo that didn't end up in this sample, but will end up in subscribers' boxes - I wanted to include an alternative to that deep blue color so subscribers can choose to stitch their butterfly using whichever color they like!
After adding in a few final embellishments and backing my hoop, I was finished with the sample!
As I'm working on the sample hoop, I'm also doing other things for the box, including choosing and ordering that month's scissors (you can find extra scissors from past boxes in the shop!), cutting fabric, purchasing and bundling floss, and so many other steps! The process for putting together your box projects each month is like a super fun puzzle, but the best part is creating something that you might want to recreate with me! I absolutely love seeing what subscribers' make each month, either on social media or sent directly to me via email - it's such a treat!
Subscriptions for the May 2022 Hopebroidery Box will be open throughout the month of April, and boxes will be in the mail the first week of May! If you're here late, you can always check to see if I have extra boxes available on the kits section of my shop! I know subscriptions can be super confusing, so I am always more than happy to answer any questions you might have before subscribing - feel free to send me an email directly!
Happy stitching, and see you next month!