Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Linda's Review of Christmas Collage Cross-Stitch Picture - Mill Hill Buttons & Beads Cross-Stitch Kit - MH14-9306

I enjoyed stitching my Autumn Wreath so much I decided to create another cross-stitch picture with wood frame to add to my collection. This time it had a Christmas theme and this time it would be inserted into a wooden frame that I had bought versus the shadowbox picture frames that I have previously used.

The Christmas Collage - Cross Stitch Kit pattern uses full counted cross-stitch and half stitch 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 green perforated paper background untouched.

I decided to frame my finished cross-stitch picture in a  Matte Green with Red Bow 6 x 6 Solid Color Mill Hill GBFRFA8 Wooden Frame, which is shown in the picture above.  It's a 6" x 6" handpainted green wooden frame with a bow and without glass.  Unlike the shadowbox frames more of the perforated paper would be seen surrounding the cross-stitch picture.

The pattern called for a red 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 all of the background with a light green 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 green 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.  Plus, I had decided I liked the green frame with the bow instead of a red one as I wanted the really bright colors of the cross-stitch to stand out more.

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 drew diagonal lines across each corner of the pattern to get the center point as well.

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.

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 12 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. However, when several different beads of similar color or size are included within the bags it can be very difficult to distinguish between the colors or between the petite and regular size beads.  The chart had symbols and footnotes to try to help distinguish which beads were within which bag.  However, labeling the ziploc bags as to which bead number they contained would have made this a lot simpler and would enhance this kit and allow you to easily tie the bead # to the symbol number on the charts.

Also, I dump all the beads from one bag in a tray and insert my needle into the center of the bead I need in the tray as I go along.  In this case the petite periwinkle bead and petite green velvet bead were contained within the same bag and it was very difficult to distinquish between them as you went along. The solution was to separate all the beads within the bag but this would have taken way too much time.  It would have been better if these two beads were not included in the same bag.

The kit included a star button that was supposed to be sewn inside the large gold star.  However, the button 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 couldn't even cut it with scissors it was so hard. The button was cheap and I didn't like it so I oped not to use it.

The wooden frame came with a 6" x 6" cardboard mounting board for the picture but had no back so I I decided to cut a 6" x 6" white foam board as filler for the back. I also 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, and green frame is shown below:

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

It took me 34 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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