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 physical box also receive 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 curated specifically for that month’s project, and more. You can take a look at past boxes by visiting the kits and digital patterns sections of my shop (I keep the sold out physical kits viewable in the shop just in case you want to see what sorts of supplies and designs have come in past boxes, even if they’re no longer available).
For the past year or so, I’ve been writing about how I design each month’s project in hopes that it might be helpful to see the different ways I go about designing these sample hoops. Specifically, I hope it’s helpful to you (if you’re a newer designer looking for examples of how this process might work), and also find that it’s been helpful to 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 fruit sampler hoop for the August 2022 box, a project stitched on pink fabric and featuring a pink strawberry, yellow lemon, and green pear, surrounded by orange butterflies and colorful accents.
Creating the fruit sampler project: A behind-the-scenes look into my design process
I do my best to set aside a bit of time each day for sketching, a practice that took me a while to pick up because daily sketching felt like something “artists with a capital A” might do, but not me! But yes, me. And you, too! I’ve found that sketching each day allows for new ideas to come naturally, whether I’m concentrating on potential embroidery compositions, or allowing myself to play around with techniques and styles that might not ever turn into a monetized project. Among my favorite things to sketch are fruits and vegetables, inspired in large part by my partner’s garden and by the realization that – much like flowers and skies – there’s no perfect or “right” way to draw a strawberry, or a lemon, or a potato.
I don’t usually share those sorts of sketches, but you can see a sampling of my “trial and error” slash “I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m having fun” fruit-related sketches in the photo below. I usually find inspiration around my home for these, but the orange, lemon, and grapes on the top left of this collage were based on a still life posted to the Instagram account @stillherestilllife, a new-to-me account that provides artists with a great source for reference images; it’s been an excellent resource for me on those days where I’m not sure what to draw, and you should check them out!
Although I’ve incorporated fruits into my rotation of sketched subjects, I’ve also been wanting to incorporate more fruits into the rotation of themed box designs since having last released a fruit-themed design with May 2021’s cherries kit and pattern.
And in June, I announced the publication of my first book – set to be released in January 2023! – which you may have noticed features a few fruit-themed projects on the cover!
In fact, I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past year sketching out potential ideas for fruit-themed projects, some of which you’ll see in the book, and one of which turned into August’s pattern. In the photo below, you can see a few pages from the pages I use to rapidly sketch out potential embroidery project compositions. This process prevents me from getting stuck in my head, helps me to generate loads of potential ideas in a short amount of time, and has helped me in designing loads of box and book projects over the past year.
For August’s pattern, I thought it might be fun to incorporate a few different fruits that I’ve been enjoying sketching in a non-embroidery context; specifically, pears, lemons, and strawberries. I started by importing one of my favorite sketches into the Procreate app for the iPad, where I was able to create a cleaner and easier-to-transfer potential pattern. You can watch a brief timelapse of that process in the video below.
(If you're interested in how I use the Procreate app to turn my finished embroidery designs into patterns, check out this YouTube tutorial I published in 2020!)
Next, I chose a fabric (named “melon"; although I didn’t choose the fabric for its name, it sure is quite fitting for this month!) and transferred my design using light pencil marks. I thought this might be the best fit for August’s design, though this is a great point for me to note that each box’s transfer method varies depending on what works best. Some months, we use a pencil; others, we might use blue or white water-erasable pens; and at times I’ll include the pattern pre-printed onto washable transfer paper; it truly depends on what works best for that month’s particular project!
As always, I prepared my pattern notebook to take detailed notes as I stitched the sample. You can see the blank spread for this month's project in the photo below. I find this practice of meticulous note taking helps me to create better, more accurate patterns. It also helps me to write more patterns, in general -- even if they're not for the box!
Finally, it was time to stitch!
I haven't designed a box project with a focus on open fills since April's mountain landscape kit, so for this project I wanted to keep the fruits' centers relatively open. I started by stitching the strawberry and a few of the embellishments; I almost never stitch the accents and embellishments until the end of a project, so I'm not quite sure why I thought that would be a good idea. It totally threw me off! You can see those first few stitches in the photo below, but I ultimately decided to remove these stitches and start over.
I started by re-stitching my strawberry, electing to use a different color of floss and a different technique for following curves than what I had used in my first attempt.
I moved onto the pear, which you can see in its (almost) complete form below. My pattern notebook was now up to five total stitches -- not bad for such a "simple" looking design!
After stitching the lemon, I started to add in my colorful accents and embellishments. I'm so glad I cut out those initial stitches -- I was really starting to enjoy the direction this project was going in!
At the same time, that pear and lemon looked a little too open for my tastes, so I hand drew a few more spots to help give them a bit more color and dimension.
Once I had those central shapes completed, and my most prominent accent colors incorporated into the final embellishments, the rest of the project stitched up quite quickly! With a total of ten embroidery techniques incorporated into this simple project, it no doubt qualifies for "sampler" status, don't you think?
I was fairly happy with the final product, but absolutely needed a bit of reassurance! So I reached out to a few friends for their initial reactions and used those as a gauge for whether or not it was ready to be considered "complete." You may have read about this as a strategy for more easily determining if your work is "good" or "bad" in my blog post, Why does your hand embroidery look bad?
In that post, I provide you with various considerations and questions you might ask yourself when trying to figure out whether or not your hand embroidery looks "bad"; I find myself revisiting that post often -- it's a pep talk worth bookmarking, for sure!
After just a bit of reassurance, I was ready to consider this project finished! I hope subscribers love stitching this fruit sampler with me as much as I loved creating the initial sample hoop!
It's not all about designing the sample projects, though!
As I’m working on the sample project, 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 supplies section of my shop!), cutting fabric, purchasing and bundling floss, and loads of other steps that eventually come together into neatly packed embroidery kits.
The process for putting together your box projects, kits, and patterns each month works a bit like a puzzle for me, and I absolutely love it! That said, 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!
Interested in stitching this fruit sampler project with me?
Subscriptions for the August 2022 Hopebroidery Box will be open throughout the month of July, and subscribers’ boxes will be in the mail (and patterns sent to your email) the first week of August. I know subscriptions can be super confusing at times, so please feel free to reach out to me directly via email should you have any questions whatsoever before subscribing!
Thank you for being here, and happy stitching!
Thank you so much for being here! I truly appreciate you, whether you’re here to shop or simply here to learn! If you’re interested in embroidery kits, but don’t think mine are the right fit for you, check out my post all about how to choose an embroidery kit -- I want to help you find the right fit for you, even if it’s not with me!
Happy stitching, happy summer, and I’ll see you next month for another box design process post!