Friday, April 21, 2017

Linda's Review of Country Welcome Beaded Counted Cross Stitch Kit Mill Hill Buttons & Beads Autumn Series MH14-7206




When I look at different cross-stitch or needlework kits I might like to do I'm always drawn to pictures or ornaments that have the word "joy" in them or have "doggies" in them.  The ones with "joy" always remind me of my beloved mother as that was her name and the "doggies" remind me of my beloved cairn terrier.

So, when I saw the Country Welcome - Button & Beads Mill Hill Cross-stitch Kit with the little "doggie" in it I knew I wanted to make it.  The dog button doesn't look anything like a cairn terrier but it's a "doggie" nonetheless.

The Country Welcome Beaded Counted Cross Stitch Kit Mill Hill Buttons & Beads Autumn Series MH14-7206 pattern uses full counted cross-stitch and straight stitch highlighting as well as beads of various sizes for emphasis and depth. The pattern also calls for certain areas of the perforated paper to be left untouched as the background. In this case they were leaving sections of the brown perforated paper background untouched.

A lot of the cross-stitch 5" by 5" pictures I have made were finished in small 6 1/2" by 6 1/2" shadowbox frames with 5" by 5" openings that I had gotten at Michaels when they went on sale on year.  I used up all the shadowbox frames I had gotten that year and have been looking for them ever since and haven't found them again.

So, when I saw that Michaels had small 6' by 6" shadowbox frames on sale again I bought a few figuring they'd work okay.  I thought they would be like the previous frames I had bought by they actually were bigger.  They were 7 1/2" by 7 1/2" shadowbox frames with a 5 1/2" opening. I didn't realize when I had bought these that a lot more of the cross-stitch picture would be showing.

I also decided to once again utilize the rectangular wood frame jig that my darling husband built for me that I could tape the edges of my perforated paper to. The wood frame jig is a rectangular embroidery hoop of sorts, but without bending the perforated  paper. He had made it out of 1/2" x 1" pine wood strips with an adjustable center strip that I used for this 5 x 5 square design.

I had learned from previous mistakes that I needed to draw diagonal lines to locate the exact center of the perforated paper as in the last perforated paper cross-stitch picture I had done was slightly off center by a few holes which caused a problem with inserting the needles in the holes along one of the edges of my frame. So, I lightly drew a diagonal line across each corner with a pencil to get the center point of the perforated paper.

The pattern called for a white/gold wooden frame and certain areas of the perforated paper to be left untouched as the background like the picture shown below:


However, I don't like seeing the different perforated sections in the background and since a lot more of it would be exposed with this frame I opted instead to finish the ground with a medium gray DMC embroidery floss and the rest of the background with a light brown DMC embroidery floss color sewn as a half cross-stitch using two strands of the floss.

I had decided to square the edges of my picture and also decided to add as many rows of the light brown and medium gray floss around all the edges to make sure the perforated paper would not be visible once my cross stitch picture was inserted into the wooden frame.

However, this time, when I measured the picture and frame I realized that I would need to add a lot more of the brown floss and medium gray around the edges as a lot more of the picture would be showing.  Instead of using the brown floss and medium gray floss I decided to use ecru colored .25m floss sewn as one half cross-stitch that would make the picture look like it was matted..



While the end results of this design were wonderful some things in the kit and in the instructions could be improved upon so I'd like to offer the following constructive suggestions:

The cross-stitch chart was in black and white as was the floss color code and symbol key. Both were easy to read and very clear. While I had no problem with the chart and keys I did have a problem with the way the DMC floss was presented. All of the floss was tied together in one big knot so you had to separate the floss pieces yourself, sort them, and try to interpret which color belonged to which floss # and symbol key on the color chart.

If you only have a few colors to deal with this isn't a problem. However, if you have several different colors to choose from that are close in color then interpreting the chart can be tricky. You may assign the wrong color to the wrong symbol if the colors are too closely aligned like ecru and light beige. The key code chart should have contained the number of strands that were included in the kit so I would know how many strands I had for the different floss colors.

As I have done with other cross-stitch kits I've completed I had to design my own thread color sorter and symbol key. I took a piece of thin cardboard and cut a 1" x 9" long rectangular piece out to use as a thread sorter. I then punched holes in my cardboard strip in which to tie each of the different colors. Just above the hole I wrote the DMC floss # and just below the hole I added the respective cross-stitch symbol. I then inserted the floss threads that went with that # and symbol through the hole and tied them in a loose knot. This kit could be much improved if a thread sorter with respective #'s and symbols was provided.

The beads were contained within three small ziploc bags which was fine. The chart had footnote symbols to help distinguish which beads were within which bag.

The kit included a dog button that was to be sewn at the bottom of the picture.  The button was okay except it was glued to a small piece of cardboard which did not easily come off and the glue used had hardened and extended over the sides of the button.  I cut it with scissors and managed to make it presentable enough to use in my picture. I have found over time that the buttons used in the Mill Hill cross-stitch kits are usually of poor quality and the worst parts of the kits. Sometimes I use them sometimes I don't.

The wooden frame came with a 6" x 6" cardboard mounting board for the picture but had no back so I decided to cut a 6" x 6" white foam adhesive board to use to glue my picture to.

My results with the totally finished background, square edges, and frame is shown below:


Despite the relatively small issues I had encountered with the kit I was happy with the way my Country Welcome turned out.

It took me 26 hours to complete this picture including the framing. As always, my comments are meant to be constructive to enable future purchasers to benefit from my experience and to enhance their ability to create a wonderful little cross-stitch design.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Linda's Review of "A Season For Everything" Dimensions Cross-stitch Picture and Kit


On the wall in my kitchen I've been displaying different holiday and seasonal wreaths that hubby and I have made over the years.  They're a combination grapevine wreath, silk floral, and painted woodcrafts that I've made from other designers patterns that I've bought over the years.

While I was perusing the web I saw an intriguing cross-stitch picture that was a seasonal wreath.  I fell in love with it and decided I should buy this cross-stitch kit as it would make a beautiful picture for my kitchen wall.  Best of all, I wouldn't have to change it out with the seasonals or holidays.

All of the cross-stitch pictures I've bought and made were counted cross-stitch kits. Truth be told there are a lot of them, which I've posted about here and reviewed on my The Book and Crafts Review Corner blog.  This time I would be working on a stamped cross-stitch picture.

Like the other Dimensions kits I had bought the kit included the pattern, pre-sorted cotton thread, printed white cotton fabric, needle and instructions.

The "A Season For Everything" pattern uses full stamped cross-stitch, satin stitching, french knots and backstitch outline stitching for emphasis and depth and this detailing really makes the picture stand out. The design of this cross-stitch gives the finished picture a 3 dimensional aspect with the satin stitching, french knots and outlining being used for artistic effect.

The pattern came with starting and working order instructions as well as samples of the various stitches required, color coded keys (with code #'s, lengths, color names, and cross-stitch symbols) and a chart with color coded symbols.  However, the kit did not come with instructions for finishing the back of the picture.

While I was very pleased with the end results of this design I had a lot of problems with the kit, stamped fabric, embroidery floss, and the instructions that can be improved upon to make this a better kit.

There were 27 flosses listed on the color chart.  However, there were actually 29 different floss colors in the kit.  The brown #15476 and blue #17150 blue were not on the chart.

The key included instructions for which color floss to use for the satin stitching and cross-stitching. Each season had a large color chart that was large enough and easy to follow.  Each chart included additional instructions for the highlighting stitches.  However, the colors on these instructions were sometimes shown as simple colors which left it up to you to decide which brown, red, or green, etc. floss to use.  They should have included the embroidery floss# with these instructions.

As was the case with previous Dimensions kits the thread sorter was poorly designed. The embroidery threads were glued to foam backed 7" by 1 1/4" strips of cardboard that had a picture of the color of the thread and it's number. In order to get to the threads you had to separate the foam back from the cardboard strip. Very quickly the threads separated from their section and then you no longer knew what the thread number was to tie to your symbols & legends.

As I have done with other cross-stitch kits I've completed I had to alter the thread sorter to suit my needs. I pulled the thread sorter apart to get rid of the foam and then punched holes in the cardboard strip just above each color and color #. I inserted the floss threads that went with that color and color # through the hole and tied them in a loose knot. I then added color coded symbols with colored pens beneath each color so I would know what symbols went with what color.

Short of changing the thread sorter all together to make things even easier for the user the color symbol should at the very least have been shown on the thread sorter strip of cardboard as well. That way you would only need to use the thread sorter strip of cardboard to follow your chart.

I ironed the cotton fabric and then attached it to a 17" by 17" Q-Snap Frame and started my needlework.  Everything was going smoothly until I ran into a few discrepancies between the printed color chart and the stamped fabric.  There were printed sections of the stamped fabric that were not on the color chart.  The instructions said, "On the chart, symbols for partial cross-stitches are not shown.  Determine the color to use from the surrounding stitches or package label."  So, I was expecting that.  However there were more discrepancies than that where I had to determine what to do.

I don't think enough embroidery floss was included for some of the colors of this kit.  Before the highlighting I ran out of the white and gold floss and came close to running out of 3 other floss colors.
As with every cross-stitch kit I've finished I varied from the instructions to either highlight more of the picture or add stitching that was not in the instructions.

After stretching the fabric on the frame I noticed that the double lines for the pre-printed black border with the stretching did not always come out straight.  I thought this would be a problem for the final stretching of a 14" by 14" picture and opted instead to backstitch an appropriate color for each season using 6 strands of embroidery floss.

Here's what I altered per season:


For the Fall season the instructions only called for satin stitching on the red apples, mailbox flag, church steeple and yellow flowers.  Everything else was to be cross-stitched.  I decided to add grey satin stitching to the bridge and church roofs to make them stand out more.  I also doubled the highlighting back stitch on the leaves, bridge, roofs, fence and mailbox.  I added an additional outline for the road on the right side and added french knots for several different colors along the left side of the fence and around the apple barrel. I changed the pre-printed black border to a rust brown colored 6 strand floss back stitched border.


For the Winter season the instructions only called for satin stitching on the parts of the snowflakes. Everything else was to be cross-stitched.  I decided to add white satin stitching to the cabin roof to make it stand out more.  I also doubled the highlighting white back stitch on the leaves, black backstitching on the fence, dark brown on the branches and white stitching along the road.  The tree was to be outlined with one dark brown thread.  I opted to double the brown thread for the branches and use a combination of black and brown threads in several sections of the trunk to highlight the tree more.  I changed the pre-printed black border to a light snow blue/white colored 6 strand floss back stitched border.


For the Summer season the instructions only called for satin stitching in the boat, sail boat masts, windows,blue flowers, purple flowers, doors and chimney. Everything else was to be cross-stitched.  I decided to add red satin stitching to the house roof and combination black/gray lighthouse steeple roof to make them stand out more.  I also doubled the highlighting red back stitch on the red flowers, black and gray backstitching on the boat and oars.  I changed the pre-printed black border to a white colored 6 strand floss back stitched border.


For the Spring season the instructions only called for satin stitching on the doors, windows, and yellow flowers. Everything else was to be cross-stitched.  I decided to add black and gray satin stitching to the barn roof to make it stand out more.  I also doubled the highlighting black back stitch on the branches, red outline stitches on the tree flowers and brown highlighting stitching along the road.  To make the distance between the barn and back fields I added a smaller brown fence in the back fields that was back stitched using two strands of a dark brown floss.  I added more white french knots surrounding the yellow daisies and more lazy daisy loops to the tulip flower cluster,  In order to break up the double border on the right side I added white french knots for the flowers to extend past the border.  I changed the pre-printed black border to a green colored 6 strand floss back stitched border.

The kit did not come with instructions for finishing the back of the picture.  I  decided to mount my picture on a self-stick mounting board and use a natural oak wood frame with a non-glare acrylic cover and foamcore backing.  I also decided not to surround my picture with a single or double mat as it would make the frame way too big for the wall space where I would be hanging my picture.  So I kept the unmatted picture 14" by 14" which was 16" by 16" with the natural oak frame.


I tend to favor 1/4" foam backed adhesive mounting boards for the cross-stitch pictures I'm inserting into my picture frames. So, initially I stretched and mounted my picture on a 14" by 14" foam backed adhesive 1/4" mounting board, taped the four corners to square them and then taped the remaining vertical and horizontal sides with masking tape.  However, when I added this to the frame the foam was too thick to add the finished foamcore back and the foam made the words "To Everything There Is A Season" puffy and not flat. I didn't like the way this looked so I used a thin self-stick mounting board instead which flattened the wording and allowed me to use the foamcore backing that came with the frame.


It took me 110 hours to complete this beautiful picture including the framing. Despite the problems I encountered with the kit I love the way my "A Season For Everything" Dimensions cross-stitch picture turned out. It's absolutely beautiful and the looks wonderful on my kitchen wall. Plus, I never have to change this out with the holidays and season again.  Now where should I put my holiday and seasonal wreaths? Hmmmmmm......

Friday, April 7, 2017

Linda's Review of "Beacon At Rocky Point" Dimensions Gold Collection Cross-stitch Picture and Kit



I like to showcase my little (i.e. 5" by 5" or 5" by 7") cross-stitch pictures in shadow boxes or frames on my family room fireplace mantel.  I arrange them by season or holiday.  For the most part I have plenty of Christmas cross-stitch pictures.  I have several Halloween and Fall pictures.  Only a few for the Winter season and until finishing my 2 recent beach scenes I only had one for the Spring and Summer seasons. So, I decided to complete another Summer seasonal cross-stitch picture kit that I had previously purchased.

The cross-stitch kit I just finished was a counted cross-stitch kit from Dimensions Gold Collection Petites entitled "Beacon At Rocky Point."

Like the other Dimensions Gold Collection Petites kits I had bought the kit included the pattern, pre-sorted cotton thread, 18 count white cotton Aida, needle and instructions.

The "Beacon At Rocky Point" pattern uses full counted cross-stitch, half cross-stitch, french knots and outline stitching for emphasis and depth and this detailing really makes the picture stand out. It also varies the number of threads used with the various stitches to add to the depth emphasis. The design of this cross-stitch gives the finished picture a 3 dimensional aspect with the half cross stitch, french knots and outlining being used for artistic effect.

The pattern came with starting and working order instructions as well as samples of the various stitches required, color coded keys (with code #'s, lengths, color names, and cross-stitch symbols) and a chart with color coded symbols.  The kit came with instructions for finishing the back of the picture.

While I was very pleased with the end results of this design there are some things in the kit and in the instructions that can be improved upon.

Unlike the problem I had with the "Cliffside Beacon" cross-stitch color chart that was way too small and difficult to read this color chart was large enough and easy to follow.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Linda's Review of Dimensions Cliffside Beacon Counted Cross Stitch Picture Kit



January and February afforded me plenty of time for cross-stitching due to some health issues I was experiencing.  So, I decided to complete some Spring and Summer seasonal cross-stitch picture kits that I had previously purchased.  Most of the cross-stitch pictures I have completed have been for the Fall, Halloween, Christmas and Winter seasons so I decided to buy some flower and beach themed kits.

The cross-stitch kit I just finished was a counted cross-stitch kit from Dimensions Gold Collection Petites entitled Cliffside Beacon.

Like the other Dimensions Gold Collection Petites kits I had bought the kit included the pattern, pre-sorted cotton thread, 18 count ivory cotton Aida, needle and instructions.

The Cliffside Beacon pattern uses full counted cross-stitch, half cross-stitch, french knots and outline stitching for emphasis and depth and this detailing really makes the picture stand out. It also varies the number of threads used with the various stitches to add to the depth emphasis. The design of this cross-stitch gives the finished picture a 3 dimensional aspect with the half cross stitch, french knots and outlining being used for artistic effect.

The pattern came with starting and working order instructions as well as samples of the various stitches required, color coded keys (with code #'s, lengths, color names, and cross-stitch symbols) and a chart with color coded symbols.  The kit came with instructions for finishing the back of the picture.

While I was very pleased with the end results of this design there are some things in the kit and in the instructions that can be improved upon.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Linda's Review of Dimensions Bayside Cottage Counted Cross Stitch Picture Kit



January and February afforded me plenty of time for cross-stitching due to some health issues I was experiencing.  So, I decided to complete some Spring and Summer seasonal cross-stitch picture kits that I had previously purchased.  Most of the cross-stitch pictures I have completed have been for the Fall, Halloween, Christmas and Winter seasons so I decided to buy some flower and beach themed kits.

The cross-stitch kit I just finished was a counted cross-stitch kit from Dimensions Gold Collection Petites entitled Cottage Bayside.

Like the other Dimensions Gold Collection Petites kits I had bought the kit included the pattern, pre-sorted cotton thread, 18 count ivory cotton Aida, needle and instructions.

The Cottage Bayside pattern uses full counted cross-stitch, half cross-stitch, french knots and outline stitching for emphasis and depth and this detailing really makes the picture stand out. It also varies the number of threads used with the various stitches to add to the depth emphasis. The design of this cross-stitch gives the finished picture a 3 dimensional aspect with the half cross stitch, french knots and outlining being used for artistic effect.

The pattern came with starting and working order instructions as well as samples of the various stitches required, color coded keys (with code #'s, lengths, color names, and cross-stitch symbols) and a chart with color coded symbols. The colors and symbols on the keys and chart were easy to read and follow. The kit came with instructions for finishing the back of the picture.

While I was very pleased with the end results of this design there are some things in the kit and in the instructions that can be improved upon.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Linda's Review of Joy Snow Globe Ornament Cross-Stitch Kit From Dimensions



I just love to cross-stitch small ornaments because they don't take a lot of time to complete.  I also love Christmas decorations that have the word "Joy" in them because every time I look at them I think of my  mother whose name was "Joy."  So, when I saw the  "Joy Snow Globe Ornament Cross-Stitch Kit" from Dimensions I knew I was going to make it.

The "Joy" globe Santa ornament kit contained the presorted thread, 14 count plastic canvas, needle, and instructions.  The  pattern uses full counted cross-stitch and outline stitching for emphasis and depth.

The pattern came with starting, stitching, finishing and even cleaning instructions as well as samples of the various stitches required, and color coded keys (with code #'s, color names, and cross-stitch symbols) and a chart with color coded symbols. The colors and symbols on the keys and chart were easy to read and follow. 

I had no problem cross-stitching the globe ornament and then cutting the plastic canvas close to the sides of the globe. I was pleased with the way the globe ornament came out but was disappointed that the finishing instructions only contained instructions for making the cord and nothing for finishing the back of the ornament. It's was such a cute ornament to leave the back unfinished with the cross-stitch threads showing didn't seem to me to be the right way to finish this ornament.


So, I decided to finish the back of my ornament with blue felt. First I cut a piece of .25m DMC embroidery floss for the hanger and taped this to the back top of the ornament using double sided tape. Then I cut a square of blue felt to fit the back of the ornament and taped it to the back of the ornament using double sided tape. Once I was satisfied that everything was holding I cut the blue felt along the globe ornament edges.




It took me 15 hours to complete this ornament.  I was very happy with the way my Dimensions Counted Cross Stitch, Tree Ornament turned out and hope you like it too.

Monday, October 31, 2016

I've Been Playing Again! This Time With Labeley.com - An Online Label Maker


If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog and have been following me and all my blogs (yes, I do have a few! LOL LOL) you are well aware that I love to play and experiment. Especially when it comes to interactive websites.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I received an email from Ana Brady at Labeley.com (http://www.labeley.com) asking me if I'd like to try their "free online custom label creator developed by the team behind the well-known free online tool for designing and customizing labels, Labeley."

Hmmm... Free online tool for designing..... What's not to love about that?

So, given my love of playing I thought I'd try it out. Plus, she volunteered to write a "How to Create Holiday Decorations For Free With Labeley" article for me. Another plus....

While I had planned to do other things today I decided to read her how-to article and try out Labeley.

Here's what her article said:

How to Create Holiday Decorations For Free With Labeley

You must’ve noticed over the past few weeks how the nature around us has been changing its colors. Leaves on trees turned pale yellow, coral, and even bright red. The whole nature is gradually taking on warm golden, amber and scarlet hues. These changes of colors indicate that the green summer is long gone and fall rolls around. The temperature is dropping, but the holiday excitement is rising. Halloween is just around the corner, while Thanksgiving and Christmas are on their way. It’s that time of the year when you seem to be spending most of your your spare time on decorating your home for the next holiday.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Linda's Review Of Dimensions Christmas On The Beach Cross-Stitch Picture Kit



I don't know about all of you, but I tend to finish my cross-stitch kit projects in spurts. For me it's like reading. I'll read a whole bunch of books and then not read any for awhile. For my cross-stitch kits my bursts usually come in  the Fall and Winter months. Then I won't do any for a few months.

The cross-stitch kit I just finished was a counted cross-stitch kit from Dimensions Gold Collection Petites entitled Christmas At The Beach. I had bought this kit for sentimental reasons which you'll read about in a subsequent Linda's Blog post.

Like the other Dimensions Gold Collection Petites kits I had bought the kit included the pattern, pre-sorted cotton thread, 18 count navy white cotton Aida, needle and instructions.

The Christmas At The Beach pattern uses full counted cross-stitch, half cross-stitch, french knots and outline stitching for emphasis and depth and this detailing really makes the picture stand out. It also varies the number of threads used with the various stitches to add to the depth emphasis. The design of this cross-stitch gives the finished picture a 3 dimensional aspect with the half cross stitch, french knots and outlining being used for artistic effect.

The pattern came with starting and working order instructions as well as samples of the various stitches required, color coded keys (with code #'s, lengths, color names, and cross-stitch symbols) and a chart with color coded symbols. The colors and symbols on the keys and chart were easy to read and follow. The pattern included instructions for finishing the piece.

While I was very pleased with the end results of this design there are some things in the kit and in the instructions that can be improved upon.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Linda's Review Of MH14-6302 Country Church Mill Hill Buttons and Beads Cross-Stitch Kit



New England is filled with traditional old, white, steeple churches.  It's part of New England's charm and I've been wanting to do a church cross-stitch picture for quite some time. The problem was I just couldn't find the exact church scene I wanted to do as I wanted it to be similar to the church my mother attended, which was a traditional New England church.  Then I saw the "MH14-6302 Country Church Mill Hill Buttons and Beads Cross-Stitch Kit" and knew I'd found exactly what I was looking for. So I bought the kit and decided to complete it this month.

"Country Church" is a counted cross-stitch kit from Mill Hill Buttons and Beads Christmas Village Series. The kit included the pattern with a black & white symbol chart, color code, brown perforated paper, needles and instructions.

The kit creates a 6 by 6-inch cross-stitch picture using full counted cross-stitch and beaded half stitch as well as beads of various sizes for emphasis and depth. It also uses straight outlines for highlighting and emphasis. The pattern also calls for certain areas of the perforated paper to be left untouched as the background. In this case they were leaving sections of the brown perforated paper background untouched.