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.

I decided to frame my finished cross-stitch picture using a white Mill Hill wooden frame versus the green Mill Hill 6" x 6" wooden frame shown in the pattern picture below.

The kit came with the floss thread all bundled together and not identified as to color or color #.  The problem with this approach is sometimes it is difficult to distinguish one color thread from another, In this case it was the greens. This could have been helped if the pattern specified the number of floss pieces that were included for each color. It didn't.

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 11" long rectangular piece out to use as a thread sorter. I then punched 17 holes in my cardboard strip in which to tie each of the different colors. Just below the hole I wrote the DMC floss # and just above the hole I added the respective black & white 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.

The pattern also calls for certain areas of the perforated paper to be left untouched as the background. 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 kit and frame I opted instead to finish all of the background. I thought a background of ecru embroidery floss on the bottom for the ground and light blue embroidery floss on the top to signify the sky would really enhance this picture.

After I had completed everything but the backgrounds I finished the bottom with three strands of DMC ecru embroidery floss sewn as a half cross-stitch and the top with two strands of DMC light blue embroidery floss sewn as a half cross-stitch.

Since there would still be brown perforated paper exposed around the picture and frame I decided to fill two rows around the area surrounding the square with one strand of DMC green 9.14m embroidery floss sewn as a half cross-stitch.

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 and also draw diagonal lines across each corner of the pattern to get the center point as well.

This kit came with three envelopes of beads. The pattern had a + and a * to identify two of the bead bags but didn't put those symbols on the two bags. When the colors of the beads are similar in nature it can make it difficult to distinguish which bead is which. Putting a bead symbol label on the bead bags would make this easier. Also, usually there are plenty of beads left over. This time I thought for sure I was going to run out of the emerald beads. I ended up with only two to spare. Good thing I didn't lose any.  They should have supplied a few extra emerald beads.

The kit included a small gold button star. 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. It was very difficult to cut with scissors it was so hard. I 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 pattern only called for outlining around the three church windows for emphasis. I thought the picture needed more emphasis not just on the church, but elsewhere.  So, I decided to add more.

I decided to also add outlining around the church door with one strand of the burgundy thread.

I wanted the steps and front path to have depth so I outlined around the light gray steps with one strand of the light gray floss and outlined the dark gray row with one strand of the dark gray floss. To create a 3-dimensional effect I outlined along the sides of the dark gary path with one strand of the dark gray floss.

I thought the branches of the evergreen tree could use outline emphasis so I outlined several of the branches just below the emerald beads with one strand of the emerald green floss creating a flow from the center of the evergreen tree outward.

I also thought the brown tree needed a little more emphasis so I added smaller outlying brown branches with one strand of the brown floss.

The wooden frame came with a 6" x 6" cardboard mounting board for the picture but had no back so I I  cut a 6" x 6" white foam board as filler for the back and then cut a piece of heavy decorative paper and taped it to the back of the picture with double sided tape to finish the back of the frame. The frame could be hung as a picture or stand with an enclosed dowel peg used as an easel and I opted for the latter.

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

Despite the relatively small issues I had encountered with the kit I was happy with the way my Country Church turned out. Every time I look at it I think of my mother and I know she would like that.

It took me 38 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.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Linda's Review of Hally Levesque's Wee Winter Whimsies Online Class at Artful Gathering 2016

I've had a delightful time the past few days making the dolls for Hally Levesque's "Wee Winter Whimsies" class in Session 2 of Artful Gathering.

2016 - Hally Levesque - Wee Winter Whimsies - Primitive Folk Art Dolls for the Holidays

Once again, Hally's video's and instructions for painting the faces and characters didn't disappoint. She is an amazing instructor and provided lots of information on the painting of the shelf sitter angel dolls & angel ornaments which I appreciated as the drawing and painting of faces and characters is not my forte.

The class called for making 1 shelf sitter angel doll and 5 angel ornaments. I decided instead to make three shelf sitters and three ornaments as I'm a sucker for shelf sitter dolls. I love them.   Plus, I'm a beginner when it comes to painting faces and characters and knew that painting tiny faces and characters on tiny ornaments was going to be a challenge for me. Well, challenge it was.

When it comes to holding the brush steady - I can't. No matter how much I try my hand starts to shake so painting small is a real challenge. Also, I'm a beginner when it comes to shading and knew that shading the different areas would also be a challenge.

Hally's dolls are primitive folk art dolls for the holiday season and supposed to be folksy in design. I LOVE painting with "snow" and tend to overdo it. Well, overdo I did and ended up with a lot of three dimensional snow effects. Plus, no matter what I do mine always seem to end up a little more Victorian and shabby chic looking.  I wonder why........

I made lots of mistakes with my drawing, painting, and shading of my angel dolls. Sewing I don't usually make a mistake on, but did on a few of the shelf sitters arms. Instead of the manual stitching being on the back of the arms I ended up with the manual stitching on the front and didn't notice this until I went to paint the arms.

Personally I love learning something new - especially when it comes to dolls and loved taking this class. After all, who wouldn't love creating adorable angel shelf sitters and angel ornaments - novice or not.

I hoping to have a chance to make more of the angel shelf sitters and angel ornaments as they are just too adorable to resist. Plus, I need the practice.  Maybe this time I won't use as much snow and my hands won't shake.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Online Classes Taken

I love taking online arts & crafts classes. I could spend 24/7 just doing this. Unfortunately there are only so many hours in the day. Here's some of the online classes I've bought and taken and my finished pieces:

Craft Kits Bought & Reviewed

Craft Patterns & Kits Bought Reviewed and Made By Linda

I just love crafts, love books about crafts, and LOVE craft patterns and kits. 

Whether it's cross-stitch, punch needle, needle felting, holiday crafts, seasonal crafts, doll making, embellishing, beadwork, applique, mixed media crafts, needlepoint, quilting, sewing, painting, woodcrafts, or wool felt craft patterns and kits - I love them all.

And, if I find a craft pattern or kit that I love - well, I'll buy it and make it.  And, once I have then I'll review it for you and let you know what I think.

Sounds like a bargain to me!

Shown below are the crafts patterns and craft kits I have bought and created so far:

Craft Patterns & Kits Bought, Reviewed and Made By Linda

Books Bought and Reviewed

Books Bought & Reviewed By Linda and "The Book Review Corner"

I'm a "grown-up girl" who has never outgrown her love of dolls and crafting. I just love crafts and I just love books about crafts. So, it is only natural that I would love collecting books about crafts, craft making, craft history, various types of crafts, and craft collecting.

Whether it's Americana crafts, holiday crafts, seasonal crafts, computerized crafts, paper crafts, doll making, embellishing, fabric crafts, beadwork, applique, fragrance crafts, making gift baskets, jewelry, mixed media, needlepoint, knitting, origami, pottery, quilting, sewing, painting glass, making toys, wedding crafts, woodcrafts, or wool felt I love them all.

I especially love craft encyclopedia's and the history of various crafts.

Shown below are the books I have reviewed so far:

Craft Mags Reviewed

I just love crafts and I just love magazines and e-zines about crafts.

Shown below are the magazines I have bought & reviewed so far:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Linda's Review Of Hally Levesque's "Romantic Rosabella" Class At Artful Gathering - 2016

I finally finished the art dolls that I was making based upon the Romantic Rosabella online class that I've been taking during the first session of Artful Gathering 2016.

2016 - Hally Levesque - Romantic Rosabella - A Ribbons & Roses Doll Project 

The online class was taught by Hally Levesque who is an exceptional art doll artist, photographer and a bit of a history buff. This was my 2nd class with Hally. Last year I took her Bonnets and Beaus: A Regency Doll Project Online Class and loved it. My review of that class is here.

Hally Levesque, is an amazing art doll artist that I greatly admire. She makes the most beautiful historical cloth, primitive folk art, and character original art dolls. If you would like to learn more about Hally her Creative Doll Works website is here and her blog is here.

For this class I was only going to make 2 dolls but could not decide which color I wanted the base to be so I ended up choosing seven different colors from solid color fabric my sister had given me.

I figured at least one or two of the dolls would come out nicely and was pleasantly surprised when they all did. Even though the dolls are all similar looking they all ended up having their own little personalities. To no surprise most are "Diva's" or at least they think they are.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Linda's Review Of Quiet Night Cross-Stitch Kit - Dimensions Gold Collection Petites

For some reason I decided last week that I needed to complete a 5" by 7" cross-stitch kit I had started several months ago. Ten to one I probably delayed working on it as I knew it would take me longer to finish it than the 5" by 5" kits I had been completing.

The cross-stitch kit I just finished was a counted cross-stitch kit from Dimensions Gold Collection Petites entitled Quiet Night. Like the other Dimensions Gold Collection Petites kits I had bought the kit included the pattern, pre-sorted cotton thread, 18 count navy blue cotton Aida, needle and instructions.

The Quiet Night 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. 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 did not include 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.

As was the case with previous Dimensions kits the thread sorter was poorly designed. The embroidery threads were glued to two foam backed 6" 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 design my own thread color sorter and symbol key. I took a piece of thin cardboard and cut a 1" x 11" long rectangular piece out to use as a thread sorter. I then punched 23 holes in my cardboard strip in which to tie each of the different colors. Just below the hole I wrote the DMC floss # and just above the hole I added the respective color coded 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 different thread sorter with respective #'s and color coded symbols was provided.