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.