If I told you that I had spent over 250 hours on a cross-stitch picture you'd probably think I was nuts. However, if you're a follower of my The Book Review Corner blog you already know that I love needlecraft's. So, spending 250+ hours on a cross-stitch might not be hard to imagine.
I did spend that much time on one cross-stitch during the last few months and I'd do it again as the cross-stitch picture (shown in the picture above and shown framed in the picture below) is absolutely stunning. If you click on both images you can view an enlarged version of the picture.
To give you a little background on why I would do this, back in July I wrote a Linda's Blog post about my pressed flower pictures entitled "My Pressed Flower Pictures - Now That's A Great Idea!" In that post I told you about a large pressed flower picture I had made that was hanging in our master bedroom and, sadly, was fading which meant it needed to be replaced.
Well, my husband thought a needlepoint picture like the one I had done in the dining room but much bigger would be nice. I wrote about this needlepoint picture awhile ago in a Linda's Blog post entitled "Needlecraft Picture From A Decade Ago - Or So!"
So, since our house is filled with dolls and pictures of buildings & houses I thought a cross-stitch Victorian scene might be just the thing. So, I set out to find some large cross-stitch kits that would be suitable.
Well, I found several that I liked, but couldn't decide which one would be best suited so, as usual, I bought a couple of kits. I also wrote about this adventure in a The Book Review Corner blog post entitled "Just How Many Cross-Stitch Kits Did You Buy!"
While I liked all of them I decided to go with the Dimensions Counted Cross Stitch M'Lady's Chateau which was a Dimensions Gold Collection cross-stitch kit.
I have been a fan of the Dimensions cross-stitch and punch-needle kits for quite some time and have written about them several times on my The Book Review Corner blog before.
The Dimensions Counted Cross Stitch M'Lady's Chateau kit included the pattern, embroidery thread, and 14 count ivory cotton Aida and thread sorter. It also called for all the white sky sections to just be the 14 count ivory cotton Aida but I opted to use white DMC floss and half cross-stitch these areas as well.
The Dimensions Counted Cross Stitch M'Lady's Chateau pattern uses full cross-stitch, half cross-stitch, and 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 half cross stitch and outlining being used for artistic effect.
While the end results of this design were absolutely stunning the instructions could certainly be improved upon and I'd like to offer the following constructive criticism:
First of all the the chart was so big that it actually fit on four pages which meant that you had to tape one section to the other to get the full chart picture. This would have been okay had the chart sheets been printed one-sided. Unfortunately, the instructions and English symbol list was printed on the back sides so when you taped the chart together you lost some of the information. You could photocopy the instructions and symbol list ahead of time but you'd have to do that on a color photocopy machine or you'd lose the colored symbols with a black and white photocopy.
Secondly, the colors of the symbols and their placement could have been better thought out. Several of the colors and symbols ( like the blue heart and green heart, or blue "e" and green "e") used in the chart were too close in color and when they were placed next to each other in the chart you could not distinguish one from the other - even with a magnifying glass.
Third, the English symbol list and French symbol list were different. Both the English and French symbol list & legend should have contained the embroidery thread color numbers so you could easily align the thread sorter with the symbols & legends. I had to write the embroidery thread color number on the French version and use that as a guide as the English symbols & legend were on the backside of the chart that I had taped together. I would have been constantly flipping the chart to follow the symbols & legends, which would have been very time consuming. Plus, I couldn't read several of the colored symbols now as they were underneath the tape of the chart I had to tape together.
Plus, the French list contained the symbols and colors for the outlining while the English version contained text instructions as to what should be placed where. The stitching order or outlining instructions was very confusing. The chart had 3 thin red lines, 3 thick red lines, 3 thick blue lines, 2 thin blue lines, and 2 thick green lines - each with different instructions. Separate symbols and colors should have been used on the chart and legend to make the outlining less time consuming and easier to understand.
Fourth, the thread sorter was poorly designed. This was a large cross-stitch kit which meant it contained a lot of threads. The embroidery threads were glued to a foam backed 11 3/4" by 1 1/4" strip 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. I had to punch a hole in the thread sorter cardboard strip just below the color of the thread & it's number and then insert the threads through the hole and tie them in a loose knot so my threads, colors, and numbers would stay together. To make things even easier to understand the color symbol should 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 taped together chart.
As mentioned, it took me over 250 hours to create this stunning design. I started this in the beginning of August 2010 and finished it in the end of November of 2010. My husband was keeping track of the hours and I clocked approximately 253 hours on this. Every afternoon I would spend a few hours working on it.
When my cross-stitch was finished it was stunning all by itself so we decided that it would need a nice mat and frame to really finish the piece. After all the hard labor put into creating the cross-stitch picture we decided it needed to be finished properly.
So, we took it to a little local shop called Art & Frame Emporium.
When they called to tell us that our picture was ready they said it was "gorgeous!" My husband could tell that they were really proud of their work - and they should be. When we saw it - it was stunning. Just beautiful. I put a lot of labor into my cross-stitch and they all put a lot of labor into finishing it properly for me.
Both my husband and I were thrilled with the way it turned out and have it hanging in our master bedroom as we had planned. It compliments the furniture in the room and is just breathtaking to view. The pictures in this post don't really do it justice.
Despite the problems I encountered after all is said and done the design of Dimensions Counted Cross Stitch M'Lady's Chateau is absolutely breathtaking. Would I invest 250+ hours again to get this type of result? Absolutely.
However, as mentioned, the instructions, chart, symbols, and thread sorter could all be improved upon. My comments are meant to be constructive to enable future purchasers to benefit from my experience and to enhance their ability to create an astonishing piece of work from an incredible design.