Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Linda's Review of Autumn Basket - Mill Hill Cross-Stitch Kit #MH14-3203

It's getting to be one of my favorite seasons of the year, the Fall, and I'm happily cross-stitching more shadowbox pictures to decorate one of my fireplace mantles.  If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog you know I'm drawn to the beautiful bright colors of the Fall.  When I saw the Mill Fill "Autumn Basket" cross-stitch kit I knew I would buy it.

The Autumn Basket #MH14-3203 pattern uses full cross-stitch 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 or border for emphasis and depth as well.

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 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.

If you look at the suggested picture below and my finished picture above you'll notice that I have one extra line under the basket in my finished picture.  I decided to stitch around the border before stitching the basket and flowers.  As I was stitching the rust colored section of the square border and was coming around to meet the left hand side I discovered  I had accidentally added an extra stitch to the right hand side of the border.  My sides weren't matching.  I had an extra stitch - YIKES!  There was no way I was going to rip out all the stitching I had done so I opted instead to add a line at the bottom of the basket.  As it turns out the extra line actually makes the basket stand out a little better.  At least I think so.  Phew!

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.

The pattern called for a rust colored wooden frame. I opted to use a beige colored wooden Mill Hill frame as I though it brought the bright colors out much better than the rust colored 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 beige wood frame 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 also called for the border of the perforated paper to be left untouched like the picture shown above. However, I don't like seeing the perforated sections of the paper for the border as I think it makes the cross-stitch picture look unfinished and opted instead to finish the border with light brown colored  DMC embroidery floss sewn as a half cross-stitch using two strands of the floss.

The pattern didn't call for any outlining.  I thought the pumpkin could use some outlining to distinguish it from the flowers in the basket so I added outlining using two strands of orange floss, as shown in the picture below:

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 and was the case with this kit. However, if you have several different colors to choose from that are close in color then interpreting the chart can be tricky and I have run into this before with other cross-stitch kits I have bought. As a result, you may assign the wrong color to the wrong symbol if the colors are too closely aligned. The key code chart should have contained the number of strands that were included in the kit so you would know how many strands you 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 leaf button which was to be sewn to the left side of the basket.  Generally, the Mill Hill buttons are of poor quality and are glued to a small piece of cardboard which do not easily come off.  The glue used is usually hardened and extends over the sides of the button.  Such was the case with this button.  So, I cut it with scissors and managed to make it presentable enough to use in my picture. At least the quality of this button and design were better than some of the other buttons I have seen in the Mill Hill kits.

My results with the totally finished background, border and frame is shown below:

Despite the relatively small issues I had encountered with the kit and my own stitching error I was happy with the way my "Autumn Basket" turned out.   I can hardly wait to use it this Fall.

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