January and February afforded me plenty of time for cross-stitching due to some health issues I was experiencing. So, I decided to complete some Spring and Summer seasonal cross-stitch picture kits that I had previously purchased. Most of the cross-stitch pictures I have completed have been for the Fall, Halloween, Christmas and Winter seasons so I decided to buy some flower and beach themed kits.
The cross-stitch kit I just finished was a counted cross-stitch kit from Dimensions Gold Collection Petites entitled Cliffside Beacon.
Like the other Dimensions Gold Collection Petites kits I had bought the kit included the pattern, pre-sorted cotton thread, 18 count ivory cotton Aida, needle and instructions.
The Cliffside Beacon 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 kit came with instructions for finishing the back of the picture.
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.
This is the first time I've encountered a color coded chart that was extremely difficult to read. It was just way too small. It was not easy to distinguish between the symbols at times and made following the chart difficult. I had to stop and undo some of the cross stitches I had just done as I had lost my place on the chart.
As was the case with previous Dimensions kits the thread sorter was poorly designed. The embroidery threads were glued to 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.
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 the 18 count ivory cotton Aida to. The wood frame jig is a rectangular embroidery hoop of sorts and can accommodate a 5" by 5" cross-stitch picture kit or 5" by 7" cross-stitch picture kit. He had made it out of 1/2" x 1" pine wood strips with an adjustable center strip that I use for the 5 x 5 square designs.
The pattern called for leaving several sections of the ivory aida cloth showing in the beach, cliffs and lighthouse. I don't like doing this as I think it makes the picture look unfinished. Instead I used 2 strands of ivory embroidered floss that matched the Aida cloth and finished them in a cross-stitch pattern to fill in where the ivory areas of the aida cloth were to be,
The instructions called for using 3-strands of the white embroidery floss to be cross-stitched in various sections which created a thick aspect to those sections and added to the 3-dimensional aspects of the picture. However, they didn't include enough of the white thread as I ran out of it.
The kit came with instructions for finishing the back of the picture. I had chosen an off white glass-less Mill Hill 7" by 9" frame with a 5" by 7" opening instead of a standard glass frame which utilizes a mat to finish it which I think really brought out the beautiful colors of the cottage scene. Plus without the glass you could really see the 3-dimensional aspects of the picture.
When using the glass-less frames I tend to favor 1/4" foam backed adhesive mounting boards for the cross-stitch pictures I'm inserting into the picture frame as they perfectly fill the space between the front ridge and back of the frame. So, I stretched and mounted my picture on a 5" by 7" foam backed adhesive 1/4" mounting board, taped the four corners so I could sew them with nylon thread in a "V" to make the corners taut with the adhesive board and then taped the remaining vertical and horizontal sides with masking tape.
I added the back that was included with the frame and taped it to the back of the frame to hold my picture within the frame. Then using paper glue I cut a piece of thick decorative paper to fit the 7" by 9" back of the frame and glued it on to totally finish the back of the frame.
It took me 86 hours to complete this picture including the framing. Despite the problems I encountered I love the way my Dimensions Cliffside Beacon picture turned out. It's absolutely beautiful and the 3-dimensional aspects of the beach scene are amazing.