Sprig of Holly by Susan O’Connor

22nd September 2023

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then the designer of a holly sprig inspired bronze gold brooch from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is going to be well pleased with themselves, thanks to our next featured project.

It all started with a visit to New York and the search for a Christmas present. Susan O’Connor was in the Met and came across a stunning brooch. It was perfect and she knew her mother would love it, which she most certainly did as she gleefully unwrapped it on Christmas day.

Several years later, Susan was mulling over what project she would create for The Design Collective 2 | Christmas when she remembered the holly brooch. Next thing you know… viola! We had a stunning silk embroidered piece called Sprig of Holly in the office ready for photography.

This beautifully elegant brooch with holly berries and serrated leaves is a three-dimensional embroidery worked in Au Ver à Soie, soie d’Alger stranded silks.

Diminutive in size and with only a handful of elements on the requirements list, this project is not only ideal for anyone trying three- dimensional embroidery for the first time, but also a wholly manageable project to stitch as a gift for someone.

First tip for newbies at making wearable embroidery, make sure you use wire thick enough to hold the shape of each element firmly. Decorative embroidery is one thing, but when you are making something wearable it has to be both robust in its construction and durable in its use. 

The order of work is relatively straight forward in that you create the leaves first, then each berry, bind the three berries together, attach the small leaf followed by the large, and finally add in the medium leaf. The twig is added at the end with the project finished off by affixing a long narrow clasp, ensuing it is positioned in such a way as to remain hidden when worn.

Sprig of Holly is one of those perennial favourite projects that, thanks to its subtle olive hues and classic design, is not confined purely to Christmas festivities. 

It is in fact a magnificent wearable artwork that you can add to any outfit any time of year, and when everyone asks where you found such an exquisite brooch, you’ll have the perfect invitation to tell all about your extraordinary world of needlework.

Make Your Own Sprig of Holly

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Sprig of Holly by Susan O’Connor is an elegant brooch with holly berries and leaves worked with silk threads.

Printed Books

The Design Collective – Christmas

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Sprig of Holly includes everything* you need to re-create this elegant brooch: Fabric (unprinted), wires, locking brooch pin, embroidery threads, beads and needle.


A Sprig of Holly – TDCC Kit

*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the book.

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