Creating the fish hoop for the June 2021 Hopebroidery Box

Each month, I send Hopebroidery Box subscribers 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 they'll need for their project, including full skeins of embroidery floss, fabric, embroidery scissors curated specifically for that project, and more. You can take a look at past boxes that have been sent out 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).


This month, I thought it would be fun to write a bit about the process for creating the June 2021 Box Project, a delightful little goldfish surrounded by plants, bubbles, and aquarium rocks!


Picture of an embroidery hoop with a goldfish stitched onto blue fabric and surrounded by bubbles, plants, and aquarium rocks.
The finished sample hoop for the June 2021 Hopebroidery Box!

This project started with a simple sketch that I took a second look at, and decided might make a fun embroidery project.


Photo of a sketchbook with rough drawings of a goldfish and notes.
The initial sketch for this project.

I'm sharing this sketch along with the unedited notes because so much changed between the time I drew this and the finishing of the actual project. For example, I ended up not using satin stitch or variegated floss at all - I also didn't choose the "mermaid scissors," though I did use this hoop as an excuse to order fish-shaped scissors!


Many of my box and other embroidery projects start very similarly to this - I try to sketch every single day, and often I'm not thinking of embroidery when I'm doing it; later, I might look at a sketch and realize, "oh, if I did xyz, this could turn into a pretty interesting embroidery pattern!" If you're here because you're looking for advice on how to create your own designs, that's definitely something I hope you take away from my writing: sketching every day will help you, even if you're not actively trying to come up with "embroidery ideas," per se.


I sketched this in the winter and decided to save the project idea for a summer month. I did take some time to stitch just the goldfish portion of this idea, because I wasn't sure I could do it! I wanted to take some non-pressured time to figure out how I could best execute this portion of the pattern.


A photo of a goldfish stitched onto mustard fabric and surrounded by blue accents.
Just the goldfish!

When it was time to design the actual pattern for the June box, I used my original sketch to help me draw out something usable in Procreate (the app I use on my iPad for pattern-making), and to make sure my ideas for the colors I was hoping to use would work with each other.



This turned into my "initial pattern," but I made several changes as I stitched. I don't finalize the patterns for the box pattern until I'm finished with my sample hoop, so I can make the most accurate pattern possible.


Next, I started to stitch!


A photo of an embroidery hoop with a goldfish and bubbles stitched onto blue fabric, surrounded by white line drawings.
A not-so-great photo of this hoop, mid-stitch!

Even if the lighting isn't so great during this process, I try my best to take a few photos as I go. I often mention this as a tip to box subscribers - "take photos as you go, you might be able to 'see' what you're doing more clearly when you are able to take a step back from your work." Sometimes I'll take a quick photo mid-stitch and realize a project is turning out a bit better than I thought! Other times, it helps me realize I'm moving in the wrong direction.


I also do this because it gives me a chance to get feedback from trusted friends or family - "am I going in the right direction here, or is this ugly?" Gaining feedback from others is one of my favorite tips to give to stitchers who are feeling weird about their work, which you can read more about in my blog post, "Why does my hand embroidery look bad?"


As I'm stitching the sample hoop, I'm also taking detailed pattern notes as I go.


Photo of a sketchbook page with a rough drawing of a fish hoop and notes, many of which have been whited out.
A (partially redacted) photo of my stitching notes.

This page looks like a total mess, I know! But keeping detailed pattern notes as I stitch is super helpful to me when it comes time to write the actual pattern, later in the box-building process. I keep notes on the colors I've used, the number of strands I use for each stitch, as well as the stitch steps in the order that I've stitched them. (Note: I've marked out many of the specific notes to myself in the page above because this will turn into the actual pattern, and sharing that here wouldn't be fair to customers who purchase the June pattern from me!)


As I'm working on the sample hoop, I'm also doing other things for the box, including ordering the scissors (you can find extra box scissors in my shop!), deciding which transfer method will work best, cutting fabric, purchasing floss (which I buy from Sublime Stitching, another small business!), and... so many other steps!


The process for putting together your box projects each month involves so many steps, but the best part is creating something that you will want to recreate with me! What a great feeling that is, knowing this little fish won't just live in my home - but in yours, too!


Subscriptions for the June 2021 Hopebroidery Box are open through the end of May 2021, and boxes will be in the mail the first week of June! If you're here late, you can always check to see if I have extra boxes available on the "kits" section of my shop! Happy stitching!


Photo of an embroidery hoop with a goldfish, bubbles, plants, and aquarium rocks stitched onto blue fabric.
The finished sample hoop for the June 2021 Hopebroidery Box!