Saturday, September 10, 2011

Linda's Review of Spirit of Quilting Angel Counted Cross Stitch Pattern Design by Brooke Nolan of Brooke's Books Publishing

In pondering what kind of cross-stitch kits I wanted to try this year I decided to focus on smaller projects of a less mammoth nature. If you've been following my Linda's Blog and Book & Crafts Review Corner blog you know that I completed two massive counted cross-stitch pictures in the past year.

The first I posted about last December in a post on my Linda's Blog entitled "You Spent How Many Hours On That Cross-Stitch?" and reviewed in an article on my Book & Crafts Review Corner blog in a post entitled "Linda's Review of M'Lady's Chateau - Dimensions Gold Collection Cross-Stitch Kit."

The 2nd one I wrote about last June in a Linda's Blog post entitled "315 Hours On Another Cross-Stitch Picture - WOW!" and reviewed in a Book & Crafts Review Corner article entitled "Linda's Review of In Her Garden - Dimensions Gold Collection Cross-Stitch Kit."

Both of the above took hundreds of hours to complete and I didn't want to spend as much time on my cross-stitch kits this year. So, I looked for projects that were smaller in nature and which could fit in a small shadow box or picture frame. I didn't really want anything bigger than an 8 x 10 size picture.

As usual, I found several kits I liked. So, I bought a few.  Actually, given my nature I bought quite a few. You know me - I can never do anything in moderation.

This time I bought a few counted cross-stitch kits and patterns that utilized perforated paper. I had never used perforated paper before and was curious as to how well it would stand up with detailed cross-stitching. I soon found out.

The 1st counted cross-stitch pattern that I tried was a Spirit of Quilting Angel Ornament from Brooke's Books Publishing. It was an angel counted cross-stitch ornament design by Brooke Nolan. She had many to choose from and I picked 3 that I liked: Spirit of Quilting Angel Ornament, Spirit Of Christmas Stitching Ornament, and Spirit Of Holiday Baking Ornament.

The pattern called for DMC floss, brown and gold 9x12 14 count perforated paper, and beads. I utilized some of the DMC floss I already had and substituted for some of the colors in the pattern and utilized some of the beads I already had. Since I was buying 9x12 perforated paper sheets I decided to just buy Perforated paper - Antique Brown and use that for the wings instead of buying the gold.

The pattern also suggested that if desired you could finish the back of the ornament pieces with acid free decorative paper. I opted not to go with that as well as I was going to put my angel in a shadow box.

The pattern came with two cross-stitch charts. The chart for the brown perforated paper contained the angel, sewing basket, and scissors. The chart for the gold perforated paper contained the wings, pincushion, and kitten. In this pattern the kitten was supposed to sit at the lower left hand corner of the angel and the sewing basket, scissors, and pincushion would be suspended from DMC floss hanging between the angels two hands.

In purchasing the perforated paper I hadn't really given any thought as to how I was going to actually work on this project. I quickly realized it wasn't something you could put into an embroidery hoop or square frame. The paper was stiff but, in my opinion, not stiff enough to be working on and holding at the same time.

Well, my darling husband, came up with a wonderful solution and built me a rectangular wood frame jig that I could tape the edges of my perforated paper to. It was a rectangular embroidery hoop of sorts, but without bending the paper.   He made it out of 1/2" x 1" pine wood strips. It also has an adjustable center strip that I could use for the smaller counted cross-strip projects I would be doing using perforated paper.

The charts in the pattern were printed in black and white on shiny gloss paper. I had no problem reading and following the different black and white symbols but found the glossy paper a bit annoying as my needlework lamp would reflect off the paper.

At first the perforated paper seemed like it could handle the cross-stitch but I quickly learned that it can tear so you have to be careful with it. Especially when threading the ends of the thread or in the size of the needle you are using. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way as a section of my angel ripped. I repaired it with masking tape on the back side and decided to cover the ripped area with the kitten cross-stitch when it was complete.

The original pattern looked like the following:

My completed angel came out as follows:

It took me 37 hours (excluding the framing) to complete the angel, sewing basket, kitten, scissors, and pincushion.  That was a far cry from 250+ hours and 315+ hours of my previous two massive cross-stitch projects.

While this project was easier and took less time dealing with the perforated paper was a little tricky. After my section ripped I decided to add wide masking tape to the entire back of the angel and other items to secure the threads and strengthen the perforated paper. In fact, for my future perforated paper counted cross-stitch projects I decided to add wide masking tape to the back of the perforated paper before starting the projects. For my future projects this would prove to be a lesson well learned.

I had decided early on that I wanted to mount my angel inside a wood stained glass covered and hinged shadowbox so she looked like she was suspended and flying. As a result there was no need to finish the back with decorative paper. After adding the masking tape to the back of the angel and other pieces I cut the angel and other pieces out and then glued the back of the angel to a foam board. I then glued the back of the foam board to the fabric back of the shadowbox so my angel was suspended about 3/4" from the back of the shadowbox. My finished piece came out as follows and she is leaning against the fireplace mantle in my dining room as pictured below and in the picture at the beginning of this article.

I was pleased with the way my angel came out and pleased with having learned a few things along the way with regards to dealing with perforated paper.  It seems like it's very versatile for so many different types of projects but needs to be handled delicately if utilized for some very detailed counted cross-stitch works.

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