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 they'll need for their project, including full skeins of embroidery floss, fabric, embroidery scissors I curate 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).
I've started to write about how I design each month's project because I think it might be interesting (even if you're not interested in a kit!), and also because I think it's helpful to see the different ways I go about designing the hoops themselves.
Today, I'll share the process of creating the mushroom hoop for the October 2021 box, a project featuring red mushrooms surrounded by acorns and florals on a mustard linen fabric!
I grew up in southern Alabama, where I didn't experience all that many seasonal changes - unless we're counting hurricane season. It was wet and hot, or wet and cold - and that was about it. I've lived in Tennessee for just over ten years now, and although I've never gotten used to the "real" cold of a "real" fall or winter, I did eventually start to understand why people love the Autumn months so much. The colors! The changes! The aesthetics!
The box projects do not necessarily or typically follow seasonal patterns, but each year I make just one exception: the October boxes have typically featured certain autumnal themes. We've stitched pumpkins and acorns and leaned into fall colors for October boxes in the past, and as much as I insist that I'm "not a fall person," I love making these hoops each year! Again, it's the aesthetics. I like the style, even if I'm not a huge fan of the weather.
This year's project started about a year ago, when I started sketching mushrooms over and over again in my sketchbook. I have pages and pages of mushrooms; here's a very simple sketch from one corner of one page:
I love that this snippet includes a cut-off portion of my sketch for the April 2021 monstera project, and that you can see a sketch from the June 2021 goldfish project bleeding through from the other side of the page.
Next, I used the Procreate app for the iPad to start designing a pattern based on a more detailed sketch. You can watch a very quick timelapse of that process in this video:
Choosing fabric for each month's project is one of my favorite parts of the process. This mustard linen fabric (which subscribers most recently used in the May 2021 cherries kit) is one of my favorites to stitch with because it feels like butter and works so well with my favorite floss colors from Sublime Stitching.
My first step is to determine the best way to transfer my design onto my fabric (in the case, a pencil worked great) and to prepare a page in my pattern notebook for taking detailed notes as I stitch. If you're a pattern writer, I cannot tell you how much time I've saved by having a dedicated notebook for pattern notes - much better than my previous method of having a million pieces of loose paper all over my house.
I grabbed a handful of floss from my collection without knowing exactly which colors might work best - I think it's easier and more effective at this point in the process to allow myself as many options as possible.
When designing a project like this, where there's a clear "center" of the design (in this case, the mushrooms), I find it easier and more effective to start by choosing just the colors for that specific portion of the hoop. The rest can be figured out a bit later. I chose to stitch the mushrooms with a darker shade of red, bright white, off-white, and a deep brown.
Finally, I started to stitch!
Below, you can see my pattern notebook begin to fill up with notes (I've marked out many of the specific notes to myself because this will turn into the actual pattern, and sharing that here wouldn't be fair to customers who purchase the October pattern from me).
In the photo below, I'm trying to figure out what color to use for the final details. I ended up using a different color than what you see here; however, I think this is a good reminder of how helpful it can be to take photos as you stitch and work through these different decisions (you can read more about that in a previous post, "Why does your hand embroidery look bad?").
Several photos with several potential colors later, and I had finally figured out how to best finish off this hoop!
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!), cutting fabric, purchasing 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 will want to recreate with me! What a great feeling that is, knowing this little mushroom hoop won't just live in my home - but in yours, too!
Subscriptions for the October 2021 Hopebroidery Box are open throughout the month of September, and boxes will be in the mail the first week of October! 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!