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Creating the snake plant hoop for the January 2022 Hopebroidery Box

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 been writing 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 sample hoops themselves.

Today, I'll share the process of creating sample hoop for the January 2022 box, a green snake plant in a woven basket, surrounded by vines in brown, green, and blue, stitched on a deep orange linen fabric.

Photo of an embroidery hoop with a green snake plant in a woven basket stitched onto dark orange fabric and surrounded by vines.
The final sample for the January 2022 box!

My inspiration for this project was a giant snake plant I received as a gift from my partner, which sits in a woven basket in the room where I do most of my work.

Photo of a white woman in glasses staring admiringly at her snake plant.
Casual selfie with a (plant) friend.

I'd decided to stitch this plant for a box project months before touching the sample; but first, I'd have to sketch a few options for the hoop itself.

I've been sketching daily for a few years, and think I might have figured out a way to "standardize" my sketching method for embroidery projects. I'll have to write about that in a future blog post, as I'm still working out how to "teach" the method itself - in the meantime, you can see a photo of my sketches, using the method I'm working on, in the picture below. This method, at its core, involves giving myself a very limited time (say, 15 minutes) to sketch out a large number of potential designs. I'll then give myself a bit of time to sketch out one of my favorite ideas into a bigger space, although I've found that I often go back to one of the "smaller" sketches for the actual projects themselves.

Photo of 15 small circles, and one large circle, with rudimentary sketches of snake plants.
A few of my snake plant sketches.

Next, I took a photo of these sketches and worked on a more polished pattern using the Procreate app for the iPad. You can see a timelapse of that process in the brief video below.

I printed this out and transferred it to my fabric using a blue, water-erasable transfer pen. In the photo below, you can see the box I used to keep my supplies together, the notebook I use to take detailed pattern notes as I stitch (this makes it much easier for me to make a more accurate pattern for subscribers, later on in the box making process), and the hoop itself.

Photo of a box with embroidery supplies, orange hoop with a drawing of a snake plant, and a blue notebook.
Ready to stitch!

I started by stitching the leaves. You can see the final result below, but I'll let you know that it took me about five attempts before getting these just right! As I unpicked and re-stitched the leaves, again and again, I had to remind myself that this is just a normal part of the process!

Photo of a partially stitched snake plant on an orange fabric.
Choosing a color of Sublime Stitching floss for the basket.

My first attempt at the basket did not go well; again, this is all a normal part of the process!

Photo of a partially stitched snake plant on an orange fabric, with the stitches forming its basket cut out.
Oops! This first attempt did not work out for me!

Was I considering scrapping this project at this point? Absolutely. That said, I eventually figured out what I was doing. One thing that helps the process of designing difficult-to-me hoops is taking a lot of photos throughout the process; I find that it helps me to "see" the project in a different way, which helps me to determine if it's working for me or not. You can read more about this thought process in my blog post, "Why does your hand embroidery look bad?"

Photo of a snake plant with a partially stitched basket stitched on dark orange fabric.
At this point, I had much more hope for this hoop!