Since Fall is one of my favorite seasons for decorating I am naturally drawn to Fall cross-stitch kits. Such is the case with the Country Quilts cross-stitch kit by Mill Hill - MH14-1621.
The Country Quilts Beaded Counted Cross Stitch Kit Mill Hill Buttons & Beads Autumn Series MH14-1621 pattern uses full and half counted cross-stitch and straight stitch highlighting as well as beads of various sizes for emphasis and depth. The Mill Hill patterns usually call for certain areas of the perforated paper to be left untouched like the background the border. In this case they were leaving sections of the brown perforated paper border untouched.
In embroidering the cross-stitch I 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 5.25 x 5.25 square design.
I had learned from previous mistakes that I needed to draw diagonal lines to locate the exact center of the perforated paper as in previous perforated paper cross-stitch picture I have done the picture was slightly off center by a few holes which caused a problem with inserting the needles in the holes along one of the edges of my frame. So, I lightly drew a diagonal line across each corner with a pencil to get the center point of the perforated paper.
A lot of the cross-stitch 5.25" by 5.25" pictures I have made were finished in small 6 1/2" by 6 1/2" shadowbox frames with 5" by 5" openings that I had gotten at Michaels when they went on sale one year. I used up all the shadowbox frames I had gotten that year and have been looking for them ever since and haven't found them again.
So, I decided to buy some 8" by 8" hand painted wood frames that Mill Hill created for their cross-stitch pictures. This frame is bare bones. There's no glass or plastic cover and there's nothing on the back to hold the picture into the frame. They do, however, provide a thin 6" by 6" cardboard back and wood dowel for inserting in the holes in the back to allow for the frame to stand on it's own. Of course, if you're going to hang this on the wall you'd just add a picture hanger to the back.
The directions did not include any instruction for finishing the back. I decided to finish mine with 1/4" thick self sticking art needle-craft mounting foam. I used an 8" by 10" by Pres-On sheet that I cut 6" by 6"with an X-acto knife to fit my picture. Since the depth of the back of the frame for inserting the picture is 1/4" deep the 1/4" foam was a perfect fit for inserting it as well as the cardboard backing that came with the frame.
After adhering my cross-stitch picture to the 6" by 6" adhesive foam board that I bought I inserted it into the back of the frame and then inserted the 6" by 6" cardboard that came with the frame over it. I taped the back of the cardboard with masking tape to hold it.
The green wood frame I chose to use is 8" by 8" so to totally finish the back I cut a piece of thick decorative paper 8" by 8" to entirely cover the back. I rubbed purple color disappearing glue stick all over the back and then pasted my 8" by 8" decorative paper sheet on the back. I signed by name and dated it and was done with finishing the back. I used a pencil to stab the decorative paper I had glued to the back so I could insert the dowel into it so the picture would stand on it's own.
The pattern called for a rust colored wooden frame and for the border of the perforated paper to be left untouched like the picture shown below:
However, I don't like seeing the perforated sections for the border as I think it makes the cross-stitch picture look unfinished and opted instead to finish the border with a medium taupe DMC embroidery floss sewn as a half cross-stitch using three strands of the taupe floss.
The pattern called for outlining some of the clothes line with white and gold floss, the windows with white floss and sides of the porch roof with white floss. I didn't think this was enough outlining emphasis so I decided to add more definition as follows:
1) I back-stitched along the clothes line with 2 strands of white floss.
2) I back-stitch outlined the sides of the tree with 2 strands of black floss.
3) I back-stitch outlined along the porch roof, sides of the house, and top roof and chimney with 2 strands of the dark gray floss.
4) I straight stitched all along the windows and window panes with 1 strand of the white floss.
5) I back-stitch outlined the clothes line post with 2 strands of the dark gray floss.
While the end results of this design were wonderful some things in the kit and in the instructions could be improved upon so I'd like to offer the following constructive suggestions:
The cross-stitch chart was in black and white as was the floss color code and symbol key. Both were easy to read and very clear. While I had no problem with the chart and keys I did have a problem with the way the DMC floss was presented. All of the floss was tied together in one big knot so you had to separate the floss pieces yourself, sort them, and try to interpret which color belonged to which floss # and symbol key on the color chart.
If you only have a few colors to deal with this isn't a problem. However, if you have several different colors to choose from that are close in color then interpreting the chart can be tricky. You may assign the wrong color to the wrong symbol if the colors are too closely aligned like ecru and light beige. The key code chart should have contained the number of strands that were included in the kit so I would know how many strands I had for the different floss colors.
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 9" long rectangular piece out to use as a thread sorter. I then punched holes in my cardboard strip in which to tie each of the different colors. Just above the hole I wrote the DMC floss # and just below the hole I added the respective 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 a thread sorter with respective #'s and symbols was provided.
The beads were contained within three small ziploc bags which was fine. The chart had footnote symbols to help distinguish which beads were within which bag.
The kit included a rooster button that was to be sewn to the bottom right corner of the picture. 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. I cut it with scissors and 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.
My results with the totally finished border and frame is shown below:
Despite the relatively small issues I had encountered with the kit I was happy with the way my Country Welcome turned out.
It took me 32 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.