While I was perusing the web I saw an intriguing cross-stitch picture that was a seasonal wreath. I fell in love with it and decided I should buy this cross-stitch kit as it would make a beautiful picture for my kitchen wall. Best of all, I wouldn't have to change it out with the seasonals or holidays.
All of the cross-stitch pictures I've bought and made were counted cross-stitch kits. Truth be told there are a lot of them, which I've posted about here and reviewed on my The Book and Crafts Review Corner blog. This time I would be working on a stamped cross-stitch picture.
Like the other Dimensions kits I had bought the kit included the pattern, pre-sorted cotton thread, printed white cotton fabric, needle and instructions.
The "A Season For Everything" pattern uses full stamped cross-stitch, satin stitching, french knots and backstitch 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 satin stitching, 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. However, the kit did not come with instructions for finishing the back of the picture.
While I was very pleased with the end results of this design I had a lot of problems with the kit, stamped fabric, embroidery floss, and the instructions that can be improved upon to make this a better kit.
There were 27 flosses listed on the color chart. However, there were actually 29 different floss colors in the kit. The brown #15476 and blue #17150 blue were not on the chart.
The key included instructions for which color floss to use for the satin stitching and cross-stitching. Each season had a large color chart that was large enough and easy to follow. Each chart included additional instructions for the highlighting stitches. However, the colors on these instructions were sometimes shown as simple colors which left it up to you to decide which brown, red, or green, etc. floss to use. They should have included the embroidery floss# with these instructions.
As was the case with previous Dimensions kits the thread sorter was poorly designed. The embroidery threads were glued to foam backed 7" 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 ironed the cotton fabric and then attached it to a 17" by 17" Q-Snap Frame and started my needlework. Everything was going smoothly until I ran into a few discrepancies between the printed color chart and the stamped fabric. There were printed sections of the stamped fabric that were not on the color chart. The instructions said, "On the chart, symbols for partial cross-stitches are not shown. Determine the color to use from the surrounding stitches or package label." So, I was expecting that. However there were more discrepancies than that where I had to determine what to do.
I don't think enough embroidery floss was included for some of the colors of this kit. Before the highlighting I ran out of the white and gold floss and came close to running out of 3 other floss colors.
After stretching the fabric on the frame I noticed that the double lines for the pre-printed black border with the stretching did not always come out straight. I thought this would be a problem for the final stretching of a 14" by 14" picture and opted instead to backstitch an appropriate color for each season using 6 strands of embroidery floss.
Here's what I altered per season:
For the Fall season the instructions only called for satin stitching on the red apples, mailbox flag, church steeple and yellow flowers. Everything else was to be cross-stitched. I decided to add grey satin stitching to the bridge and church roofs to make them stand out more. I also doubled the highlighting back stitch on the leaves, bridge, roofs, fence and mailbox. I added an additional outline for the road on the right side and added french knots for several different colors along the left side of the fence and around the apple barrel. I changed the pre-printed black border to a rust brown colored 6 strand floss back stitched border.
For the Winter season the instructions only called for satin stitching on the parts of the snowflakes. Everything else was to be cross-stitched. I decided to add white satin stitching to the cabin roof to make it stand out more. I also doubled the highlighting white back stitch on the leaves, black backstitching on the fence, dark brown on the branches and white stitching along the road. The tree was to be outlined with one dark brown thread. I opted to double the brown thread for the branches and use a combination of black and brown threads in several sections of the trunk to highlight the tree more. I changed the pre-printed black border to a light snow blue/white colored 6 strand floss back stitched border.
For the Summer season the instructions only called for satin stitching in the boat, sail boat masts, windows,blue flowers, purple flowers, doors and chimney. Everything else was to be cross-stitched. I decided to add red satin stitching to the house roof and combination black/gray lighthouse steeple roof to make them stand out more. I also doubled the highlighting red back stitch on the red flowers, black and gray backstitching on the boat and oars. I changed the pre-printed black border to a white colored 6 strand floss back stitched border.
For the Spring season the instructions only called for satin stitching on the doors, windows, and yellow flowers. Everything else was to be cross-stitched. I decided to add black and gray satin stitching to the barn roof to make it stand out more. I also doubled the highlighting black back stitch on the branches, red outline stitches on the tree flowers and brown highlighting stitching along the road. To make the distance between the barn and back fields I added a smaller brown fence in the back fields that was back stitched using two strands of a dark brown floss. I added more white french knots surrounding the yellow daisies and more lazy daisy loops to the tulip flower cluster, In order to break up the double border on the right side I added white french knots for the flowers to extend past the border. I changed the pre-printed black border to a green colored 6 strand floss back stitched border.
The kit did not come with instructions for finishing the back of the picture. I decided to mount my picture on a self-stick mounting board and use a natural oak wood frame with a non-glare acrylic cover and foamcore backing. I also decided not to surround my picture with a single or double mat as it would make the frame way too big for the wall space where I would be hanging my picture. So I kept the unmatted picture 14" by 14" which was 16" by 16" with the natural oak frame.
It took me 110 hours to complete this beautiful picture including the framing. Despite the problems I encountered with the kit I love the way my "A Season For Everything" Dimensions cross-stitch picture turned out. It's absolutely beautiful and the looks wonderful on my kitchen wall. Plus, I never have to change this out with the holidays and season again. Now where should I put my holiday and seasonal wreaths? Hmmmmmm......