I don't think I've ever found a cross-stitch kit that I haven't loved - especially those regarding the Christmas holiday season. I was drawn to the colorful fireplace stocking display picture in the Dimensions Gold Collection "The Stockings Were Hung...." the minute I saw it. So, I decided to buy the kit and add it to my other Christmas cross-stitch decorations on my fireplace mantle.
Like the other Dimensions Gold Collection Petites kits I had bought the kit included the pattern, pre-sorted cotton thread, 18 count white cotton Aida, needle and instructions.
The "The Stockings Were Hung..." pattern uses full counted 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 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 and instructions for creating them, color coded keys (with code #'s, lengths, color names, and cross-stitch symbols) and a chart with color coded symbols. The colors and symbols on the keys and chart were easy to read and follow.
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.
Unlike the problem I had with the size and readability of some of the other cross-stitch charts in the kits I had bought this color chart was large enough and easy to follow.
As was the case with previous Dimensions kits the thread sorter was poorly designed. The embroidery threads were glued to two 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 design my own thread color sorter and symbol key. I took a piece of thin cardboard and cut a 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 below the hole I wrote the DMC floss # and just above the hole I added the respective color coded 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 different thread sorter with respective #'s and color coded symbols was provided.
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 decided to use an 9" round embroidery frame to stitch this embroidery. The white Aida wasn't big enough to fit into the frame so I sewed 4 muslin strips to the four sides of the Aida to keep the Aida tight and stretched so I could easily cross-stitch this design.
The key split the strands of several of the colors into 1 strand for the highlighting. I opted for using two strands of the highlighting colors for the pine needles, outside of the stockings, and fireplace sides as I thought they would make the picture stand out even more in the frame I was using.
The pattern included instructions for finishing the piece. I didn't need these as I knew what type of picture frame I was going to use, the mat I was going to use and the way in which I wanted to finish the picture.
I tend to favor 1/4" foam backed adhesive mounting boards for the cross-stitch pictures I'm inserting into a finished picture frame. I had decided to use a 8" by 10" frame I had bought that had a white double depth mat with a 5" by 7" opening. I had already decided to remove the double depth mat and adhere the cross-stitch to a 1/4" foam backed 5" by 7" adhesive mounting board. If I tried to use the double depth mat I wouldn't have been able to close the back of the frame as it wouldn't allow the cross-stitch picture on the 1/4" foam backed adhesive mounting board to be inserted into the slot on the back of the frame. So, instead, I opted to utilize a single 8" by 10" mat with a 5" by 7" opening which would provide enough room to insert the picture backing into the slots and allow for securing it to the frame.
I had chosen a white frame with green matting to finish it which I think really brought out the beautiful colors of the fireplace stockings scene.
I centered my cross-stitch picture on the 5" by 7" adhesive foam board and trimmed the excess white Aida cloth by 1/4" to 1/2" around. The trimming allowed for me to tape the sides of the Aida cloth with masking tape to the back of the mat board I was using while providing enough room for the double folded corners to fit within the depth of the frame.
You can also finish the back of the cross-stitch by taping the center of each side with masking tape to the cardboard and then sewing four mitered corners into the Aida cloth so the picture is taunt to the cardboard.
Last year I had bought some decorative adhesive ribbons and hadn't had a chance to use them as of yet. When looking at the white frame and the colorful stockings picture I thought one of the tapes I had bought would be perfect to decorate the four sides of this frame and really add to the holiday cheeriness of this picture. So I cut four strips of the tape and adhered them to the frame.
I had also bought some mixed media miniature Christmas wreath ornaments last year and decided to utilize them at the four corners of the tape. They came with adhesive backing so they were easy to adhere to the corners.
This picture took longer than usual to stitch as there were a lot of color changes within the stockings themselves and a lot of highlighting stitches, but was well worth the extra time it took to create it.
When the picture was finished I was very happy with the way it turned out. It would be perfect for the Christmas holiday season. I hope you like it too.