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.
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.
The Quiet Night kit creates a 5" by 7" woodland winter house scene using the 18 count navy blue cotton Aida cloth which was included in the kit. The cotton Aida was large enough to fit into my cross-stitch rectangle frame which was great but the navy blue fabric proved to be difficult to follow. While I understand why the navy blue color was chosen and agree with using that color trying to see the holes in the fabric was difficult at best without extra halogen lighting.
As with any counted cross stitch picture you can lose your place in the chart and mix up the colors of the thread. For this picture I mistakenly used a light blue thread on the left side of the barn where it should have been the light bluish white thread (as shown in the picture above). Instead of trying to rip the wrong threads out I decided instead to cross-stitch over some of the area with the light bluish white thread. It ended up creating a little more dimension and depth for the picture which was fine with me.
I also decided not to follow the black highlight stitching for the large tree branches (as shown in the Dimensions picture below) as the diagram was just too big to follow for this. Instead I created my own black highlighting design for the branches (as shown in the picture above) while trying to visually adhere to the diagram design. This worked out just fine.
The pattern called for using french knots to create the effect of snow falling. Once again, I decided not to follow the french knot snowflakes design in the diagram (as shown in the Dimensions picture below) as the diagram was just too big to follow for this, too. Instead I created my own snowflake pattern (as shown in the picture above) while trying to visually create the snowfall effect. This worked out fine, too.
The pattern did not include instructions for finishing the piece which should have been included for a beginner cross-stitch user. This was not a problem for me as I knew what type of picture frame I was going to use, the double mat I was going to use and the way in which I wanted to finish the picture.
I tend to favor 1/4" foam backed adhesive mounting boards for the cross-stitch pictures I'm inserting into a finished picture frame. I originally was going to use a 1/4" foam backed 8" by 10" adhesive mounting board but discovered that this would be too thick for the picture frame backing I was using and wouldn't allow the backing piece to be inserted into the slot on the back of the frame and allow for securing it to the frame. So, instead, I opted to mount by my picture on a 5" by 7" foam backed adhesive 1/4" mounting board which would provide enough room for to insert the picture backing into the slots and allow for securing it to the frame.
I had chosen a black frame with blue and cream double matting to finish it which I think really brought out the beautiful colors of the woodland scene. Plus the double matting allowed for enough room for the 5" by 7" press and seal adhesive foam board to create a padded look for my finished cross-stitch picture.
I centered my cross-stitch picture on the 5" by 7" adhesive foam board and trimmed the excess navy blue Aida cloth by 1/4" to 1/2" around. The trimming allowed for me to tape the sides of the Aida cloth with masking tape to the back of the double mat boards I was using.
It took me 73 hours to complete this picture including the framing. Despite the problems I encountered I was very happy with the way my Dimensions Quiet Night picture turned out.