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 mountain landscape sample hoop for the April 2022 box, a project featuring bright white clouds, rolling blue mountains, green fields, and a pink meadow, all stitched onto a dark green cotton fabric.
As I wrote in a previous process post, I've been stitching landscape hoops for several years; most of the landscape box projects have featured water-like features, satin stitch, and gentle blending to create sunrises and sunsets in various shades of blues, yellows, golds, and pinks. For this new project, however, I wanted to revisit the mountain-themed landscape designs I was stitching in 2017. In the photo below, you can see one of those projects - and my main inspiration for April's hoop.
I knew I wanted to revisit this theme for a box project, so I started sketching as many ideas as I could for potential designs. To do this, I used the more "standardized" sketching sheets I've created for myself (and mentioned in previous process posts); this simple sheet includes 15 small circles at the top for very quick sketches, and a larger circle at the bottom where I spend a bit more time fleshing out my favorite ideas from that particular session.
In the photo below, you can see one of the sheets I've filled with mountain-inspired designs. The notes at the bottom indicate ideas I had for filling in the different sections of the project, as I was hoping to use "more textured" filling techniques than what I had utilized in previous iterations of this theme.
Next, I imported a photo of my sketches into the Procreate app for the iPad, which I used to help me create a more ready-to-transfer design from one of my rougher sketches. In the short video below, you can watch a timelapse of what that looked like in the app itself.
When transferring my design to fabric, I chose to only transfer the general lines of the clouds, mountains, hills, and meadow. This way, I'd feel a bit freer to fill in each section with whatever felt best in the moment. I did, however, keep that Procreate sketch nearby for reference!
Next, I grabbed a handful of potential colors from my supply of Sublime Stitching embroidery floss. These didn't all make it into the final project, but I like to have a lot of options nearby when working through a sample like this!
I started by filling in a section using simple seed stitches and variegated floss, which came together quite nicely!
Next, I filled in the meadow at the bottom of the project using various floral embellishments and isolated stitches. This technique is usually referred to as a "floral fill," and can be accomplished in so many different ways by including whatever stitches you like in one unified space. I liked this portion of the design so much that I would eventually use it to fill in several areas of the final sample - but first, I'd have to get to a point where I needed to start the entire project over!
My original idea was to fill in each section of this hoop with a different type of fill. In the photo below, you can see I used seed stitch, fly stitch, satin stitch, and of course a floral fill. I had already worked so hard on this hoop, and after last month's project I was really hoping to finish it with just one attempt - but something just didn't look quite right.
Using a bit of the advice I wrote in Why Does Your Hand Embroidery Look Bad?, I gave myself some time away from the hoop so I could approach it from a fresher perspective later. After giving myself some time away and picking it back up, I decided to unpick the satin stitched section entirely. The satin stitching didn't look quite right to me, and I hoped that removing it might help me to "see" what "should" go in that section instead. Once I removed that section, however, I realized that I also wasn't a huge fan of how the three remaining sections "met," and decided to start the project over entirely.
After re-transferring my design to a fresh cut of fabric, I decided it might be easier for me to fill in the project's various components section-by-section (versus from the bottom to the top, as I had been trying to do in my first attempt). By "section-by-section," I mean I decided to fill in several sections with the floral fill technique before moving onto the other sections and other techniques. Working in this order helped me to better "see" the design as a whole, and to achieve the balance I couldn't quite reach with my first attempt.
Once all of the floral filled sections were complete, it was much easier for me to figure out how to fill in the remaining spaces - I could "see" what I should do next much more easily than in my first attempt.
In the photo below, you can see I started by filling in a section using seed stitch. This section helped me to determine that I was on the right track in terms of using alternating closed- and open-fill techniques to complete the project.
If you've visited the learn hand embroidery page on my site, you've seen that I break down "stitches to fill in a space" into two overall categories: closed filling techniques, and open filling techniques. In general, closed filling techniques leave you with sections that are almost entirely filled with embroidery floss, so that none of your fabric shows through; in contrast, open filling techniques allow much of your fabric to be seen through your stitching. When filling in large spaces made up of several different sections, stitchers can use a strategic combination of these two general methods to help add dimension, texture, and interest to our pieces.
With that in mind, I continued to fill in the remaining sections using open fill techniques. In the photo below, you can see a bit of that process taking place.
I would love to say that the rest of this project came together fairly quickly - but it honestly took me days to finish. Why would that be? In all honesty, this project tested my ability to trust my own aesthetic instincts; when I would sit down to stitch the simpler remaining sections, I found myself thinking that nobody was going to like the final result. I'm including that here so that if you happen to be in a similar boat emotionally, you leave this post feeling affirmed that self doubt - and the act of pushing through that doubt - is often a normal part of the process.
As I'm working on the sample hoop, I'm also doing other things for the box, including ordering the scissors (you can see the pink hexi scissors I chose for April's box in the photo below, and find extra box scissors in my shop!), cutting fabric, purchasing and bundling floss, 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 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 April 2022 Hopebroidery Box will be open throughout the month of March, and boxes will be in the mail the first week of April! 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!