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Creating the wintery tree and wreath sample hoop for the December 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 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!).

Hope holds up a hoop featuring a snowy tree and wintery vines and leaves stitched onto green fabric.
The final sample for the December 2022 box!

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.

Hoop with green cotton fabric sits on top of a larger cut of the fabric, folded and cut at the edges.
Green, for winter? Absolutely!

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.

Hoop with green fabric sits on top of an opened notebook with sections for writing notes about colors, stitches, and other notes that come to mind as I stitch. There's a yellow mechanical pencil on the book, and scattered floss in various shades, some of which are on bobbins but others still on their skeins, and a black and white pattern featuring a tree surrounded by a wreath.
Notebook, hoop, floss, pattern, and hoop - I'm ready to start!

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.

Hoop with green fabric has the tree and wreath pattern drawn onto it with a barely-visible blue pen, and sits on top of a white surface surrounded by pin cushions, a blue notebook, and Hope's hand.
The pattern is transferred, and I'm ready to start stitching!

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!