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 wintery tree and wreath sample hoop for the December 2022 box, a project featuring a snowy tree surrounded by wintery flowers and vines on a green cotton fabric. If you know you're interested in stitching this project with me in December, feel free to skip to the end of this post where you'll find information on when and how to get this box at the subscriber rate!
Choosing colors, sketching, and transferring the wintery tree and wreath hand embroidery project
December is always a harder project for me to design, primarily because I find it so much harder to be creative in the colder months!
This month, I had a rough idea of what to stitch, but wanted to start with choosing a fabric color - something that would fit with a potentially winter-themed project, but bright enough to remind me of the spring ahead.
Next, I revisited a winter-themed sketch from several months ago (I really was trying so hard to get ahead this year!); you can see a timelapse of that process in the short video below.
(If you’d like to see a more detailed tutorial for how I turn final projects into easy-to-transfer hand embroidery patterns, make sure to check out my YouTube tutorial, originally published in 2020! Even if you’re using a more updated version of the software or hardware, I think you’ll find it translates well all these years later - and it’s much easier to do than you might think!)
After printing my pattern for transfer, I grabbed a handful of floss in various colors from Sublime Stitching (whose floss I’ve used in all my previous box projects). I also prepared my pattern notebook for the meticulous notes I take as I stitch, including information on the colors of floss and stitches I use, notes about fabric and transfer methods, and step-by-step notes as I stitch the project itself. I’ve found that having all my pattern notes in one place - and making it a habit to take those notes each time I stitch, even if loads of my projects don’t work out - has been an excellent way to help me create accurate and helpful digital patterns later on in the process.
When choosing a transfer tool for the monthly projects, I try to pick the best fit for that particular project and fabric combination; I also try my best to scatter in different methods throughout the year so subscribers will get a chance to try out more than one method (especially if they’re only subscribing for a few months). For December, I had hoped to use a pencil, as we haven’t used a pencil to transfer our designs in several months. However, it turned out to be so incredibly hard to see those pencil marks on this fabric! A blue water-erasable fabric pen ended up being the best match, and you can see my final transferred design in the photo below.
Stitching the wintery tree and wreath hand embroidery project
I’ve found myself unpicking loads of projects over the past year or so, which is absolutely fine (and a totally normal part of the process!). Some months, this happens after hours of working and across several attempts (see, for example, the process of creating the October floral fill acorn project!). And so it’s no surprise the same happened this month; luckily, I was able to get this out of the way pretty early on in the process, and had a clear idea for how to fix it on my second attempt!
The next day, I put on a new audiobook and began again with the wintery tree at the center of my design.
I didn’t grow up in a snowy area, so I don’t have a lot of reference for what snow looks like on trees - I do have some, but not quite enough to have not worried that I had placed the snow on the wrong part of the tree for it to make sense. Plus, I’m of course creating this sample in fall, well before any snow will reach me here in east Tennessee. Once I looked up “evergreen trees in the snow,” I realized I hadn’t made a mistake at all - phew!
After adding in a few hints of pine needle brown to the tree and its trunk, I considered myself done with the central portion of the sample!
Now it was time for me to start working on the “wreath” portion of the project, starting with these deep maroon-pink woven wheel roses.
The great thing about sharing your progress with friends to see if you’re headed in the right direction is that you’re able to receive feedback and encouragement; the not so great thing is that if they really love what you’ve done so far, you risk feeling like there’s no possible way to finish because you’re only going to mess up! At least, that was the case for me after sharing my progress to Instagram - go figure!
I decided to cut out those maroon flowers - I worried the deep maroon-pink color would potentially distract from the tree at the center of the design; I also wasn’t sure if that particular shade of floss was a great fit for the tone of this green fabric. I replaced it with an off-white, almost-pink shade of floss. Next, I added in that pine needle shade of brown I used for the tree.
I used that same shade to create the branches of my vines. The shape of these vines feels pretty reminiscent of the vines surrounding two blue butterflies in a project from my book! This is also the point at which I realized it was all coming together!
Next, I used the off-white paleish-pink shade of floss from the flowers at the top and bottom to create these detached chain stitch leaves. This is a technique we’ve used for leaves in previous boxes, including October’s floral fill acorn project and May’s butterfly project!
I had only used four colors at this point, but for box projects I prefer to use at least five colors of Sublime Stitching floss (though I often use up to six or seven!). This is one of the many ways in which the box projects help me creatively: not only does it give me a great excuse to focus on creating at least one new project each month, but it also forces me to think of different ways I might incorporate colors I might have left out of more personal projects. This process absolutely improves my work; had I not felt like I needed to add just one more color, I might not have used this beautiful shade of mauve-ish pink (which really ties the whole thing together, don’t you think?).
After backing the project, I was done - and so happy with the final result! In fact, this might be my favorite winter-themed hoop yet! I can't wait to stitch this with subscribers!
What am I doing, other than stitching the sample hoop?
As I'm working through the sample project, I'm also doing other things for the box, including choosing and ordering that month's scissors (you'll find scissors from past boxes available for purchase on their own in my shop); purchasing, cutting, and folding that month's fabric; bundling full skeins of Sublime Stitching embroidery floss; and loads of other steps that eventually come together into neatly packaged embroidery kits.
The process of 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 to me directly via email -- it's such a treat!
Interested in stitching the wintery tree and wreath hand embroidery project with me?
Subscriptions for the December 2022 Hopebroidery Box will be open throughout the month of November, and subscribers' boxes are set to be shipped (and patterns sent to your emails) the first week of December. 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 aren't sure 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 fall, and I'll see you next month for another box design process post!