Monday, January 20, 2014

Linda's Review of Joy To The World Mill Hill Buttons & Beads MH14-8301 Cross Stitch Kit

It's no secret I love to cross-stitch. I also tend to be a very sentimental and love crafts and handmade goods that have the word "JOY" in them because my Mom's name was Joy. So, it should be no surprise that I was drawn to the Joy To The World Beaded Cross Stitch Kit.

Like the other Mill Hill - Buttons & Beads Series patterns I had bought the Joy To The World kit included the pattern, embroidery thread, blue perforated paper, beads, house button, 2 needles and instructions.

The Joy To The World pattern uses full counted cross-stitch and straight stitching as well as beads and buttons for emphasis and depth. The pattern also calls for certain areas of the blue perforated paper to be left untouched as the background.

As this was a very dark design I decided to frame my finished cross-stitch picture in a picture frame with a white mat and chose an 8" x 8" tabletop picture frame that had a double mat in it. As this particular design had beads on the edges and was 5" by 5" finished I knew the mat opening had to be exactly 5" by 5". The inner mat only allowed for an 4 3/4" by 4 3/4" opening which wasn't going to work with the beads along the edge. The outer mat had a 5" by 5" opening so I removed the inner mat.

I thought that adding some colorful seasonal stencils to the bright white mat would be festive and colorful and wouldn't distract from the design. I had several EK Success Brand Jolees stickers to choose from and decided to go with the festive pine-cones.

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. Plus, this design had beads along the top and bottom of the design so getting the exact center was important to being able to add the beads along the edges. I drew a diagonal line across each corner to get the center point of the perforated paper.

While I was really pleased with the end results 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 chart.

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 21 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 pattern called for 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 as I think it makes the picture seem unfinished and opted instead to finish all of the background with dark blue DMC embroidery floss #3750 that closely matched the color of the dark blue perforated paper and would be sewn as a half-cross stitch using two strands of the floss. I had also decided to square the edges of my picture and decided to add two rows of the dark blue floss around all the edges to make sure the perforated paper would not be visible once my cross stitch picture was framed.

The kit included a house button that was to be sewn to the center bottom of the house section but I didn't like the quality of button and thought it would detract from the wonderful design. Instead I opted to use some of the green and brown floss colors to continue with the ground design around some of the houses in the section that had been left open for the button.

I have done a lot of cross-stitch pictures and tend to favor outline stitching to enhance the depth of the cross-stitch pictures. While this design did not call for this I thought the design could be enhanced by using outline stitching and decided to use one strand of the brown DMC embroidery floss to outline the houses and doors. When you look at the finished picture the outlining draws you into the house area.

Instead of mounting my picture on foam as I had done with my previous cross-stitch I opted instead to mount my Joy To The World on hard adhesive chipboard.

My results with the totally finished background, square edges, outlining, not using the button, hard chipboard, white mat, and stencils is shown below:

I was thrilled with the way my Joy To The World Beaded Cross Stitch Kit  turned out and hope you like it, too.

It took me 33 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.

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