Halloween is one of my favorite holidays for crafting and decorating. I love decorating my home with all sorts of Halloween creatures and pictures. I don't have a lot of Halloween cross-stitch pictures so when I saw the Haunted Mansion Mill Hill #MH14-1204 cross-stitch kit I wasn't surprised that I was drawn to. Haunted mansion, ghosts, Frankenstein, cross-stitch - what's not to love!
The Haunted Mansion Mill Hill #MH14-1204 pattern uses full 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 or border. In this case they were leaving sections of the light blue 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 previously and have been looking for them ever since and hadn't been able to find that size again.
I did, however, find some 7" x 7" by 1 1/2" shadow box frames with a 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" opening at Michaels last year and bought a few white ones and black ones when they were on sale. I was hoping to use one of the black ones with this project.
The directions did not include any instruction for finishing the back. I decided to finish mine with thin adhesive press-board paper. I used an 8" by 10" Pres-On sheet that I cut 6" by 6"with kitchen scissors to fit my picture. The shadow box came with a padded velvet sheet glued to the rigid back of the shadow box frame which was about 1/4" thick. My cross-stitch picture glued to the thin adhesive press-board paper was about 1/8" thick so I knew this would be a good fit once I removed the black velvet padding fabric that had been glued to the rigid back of the shadowbox.
After adhering my cross-stitch picture to the 6" by 6" thin adhesive press-board paper I inserted it into the back of the frame and then inserted the 6" by 6" rigid back that came with the frame over it. The shadow box frame came with 8 metal clips to hold the rigid back inside the frame which I secured. The press-board fit perfectly and was the right depth for the shadow box frame.
The pattern called for a blue colored wooden frame and for the border of the perforated paper to be left untouched like the picture shown below:
Personally, I don't like the dark blue perforated paper as I find it hard to count the holes and follow along as to where you are on your cross-stitch. Since I always finish the background of all my cross-stitch pictures I decided to stitch my picture on the lighter brown colored side of the perforated paper.
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 blue colored #3750 DMC embroidery floss sewn as a half cross-stitch using four strands of the floss. For the areas left blank within the picture I opted instead to finish them with blue colored #3750 DMC embroidery floss sewn as a half cross-stitch using two strands of the floss
The pattern called for some outlining. Give I was putting this in a shadowbox I thought certain sections of the collage would benefit from some additional outlining so I decided to add more definition as follows:
1) The pattern called for certain sides of some of the windows to be outlined. I opted to outline all sides of all the windows instead.
2) The pattern did not call for any outlining around the house. I opted to back-stitch outline around all sides of the house using two strands of the dark gray floss.
3) The pattern did not call for any outlining on the tree. I opted to use two strands of the brown floss and back-stitch outlined along all sides of the tree and branches.
4) The pattern did not call for any outlining definition around the roof of the house. I opted to use two strands of the medium blue gray floss and back-stitch outlined the sides of all the roofs.
The pattern also called for a certain amount of beading within the grass, leaves, and trees. I opted to use more beads in both the grass and leaves, as well as up within the tree.
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. 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.
My results with the totally finished background, border and frame is shown below:
Despite the relatively small issues I had encountered with the kit I was happy with the way my Haunted Mansion turned out.
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.