I don't know about all of you, but I tend to finish my cross-stitch kit projects in spurts. For me it's like reading. I'll read a whole bunch of books and then not read any for awhile. For my cross-stitch kits my bursts usually come in the Fall and Winter months. Then I won't do any for a few months.
The cross-stitch kit I just finished was a counted cross-stitch kit from Dimensions Gold Collection Petites entitled Christmas At The Beach. I had bought this kit for sentimental reasons which you'll read about in a subsequent Linda's Blog post.
Like the other Dimensions Gold Collection Petites kits I had bought the kit included the pattern, pre-sorted cotton thread, 18 count navy white cotton Aida, needle and instructions.
The Christmas At The Beach 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. It also varies the number of threads used with the various stitches to add to the depth emphasis. 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 included 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 alter the thread sorter to suit my needs. I pulled the thread sorter apart to get rid of the foam and then punched holes in the cardboard strip just above each color and color #. I inserted the floss threads that went with that color and color # through the hole and tied them in a loose knot. I then added color coded symbols with colored pens beneath each color so I would know what symbols went with what color.
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 Christmas At The Beach kit creates a 5" by 7" holiday beach scene using the 18 count white cotton Aida cloth which was included in the kit. This time the white cotton aida was large enough for me to use a 12" by 13" wood stretcher frame. I basted the top and bottom of the aida cloth to the top and bottom dense cloth strips attached to the tightening rods of the frame. I inserted the tightening rods into the wooden sides of the frame and then tightened all the screws. Perfectly taut.
When you're using 18 count aida it is easy to lose your place as you're going along and be off 1 hole or 2 from where you should be. This happened to me several times with this design in the tree and presents area. Unfortunately, by the time I discovered the errors it was too late to rip all the threads out to correct for it. I compensated for this as best as I could. The result was I ended up having one additional vertical column and 1 additional horizontal row.
The pattern called for leaving several sections of the white aida cloth showing. I don't like doing this as I think it makes the picture look unfinished. Instead I used 3 strands of white embroidered floss in a half cross-stitch pattern to fill in where the white areas of the aida cloth were to be,
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 my picture on a 5" by 7" foam backed adhesive 1/4" mounting board and finished it according to the instructions included with the pattern.
When this was finished I centered it within the 5" by 7" opening for the double mat I was going to use and taped it to the back of the mat to hold it in place within the frame and mat.
I had chosen a white frame with blue and cream double matting to finish it which I think really brought out the beautiful colors of the beach 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 which added to the 3-dimensional look.
It took me 79 hours to complete this picture including the framing. Despite the problems I encountered I was very happy with the way my Dimensions Christmas At The Beach picture turned out.