Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Latest Cross-Stitch Project - Winter Chill Cross-Stitch Shadow Box Picture - Mill Hill Buttons & Beads Cross-Stitch Kit - MHCB245

Of all the cross-stitch shadow boxes I have made I realized I didn't have anything specifically for the winter season so I decided to make a shadowbox to add to my collection. I don't know why I would want anything depicting the beauty of the winter as I hate the winter - especially this winter. TOO MUCH SNOW. I can hardly wait for the spring.

However, I wanted my collection of shadowbox cross-stitch pictures to be representative of all the seasons and holidays and realized I was lacking a winter scene. So, I decided to make one.

Like the other Mill Hill - Buttons & Beads Series patterns I had bought the Mill Hill Winter Chill Winter Buttons and Beads Counted Cross Stitch Kit which included the pattern, embroidery thread, brown perforated paper, beads, button, 2 needles and instructions.

The Winter Chill pattern uses full counted cross-stitch and straight stitching as well as beads and buttons for emphasis and depth. The pattern also calls for certain areas of the perforated paper to be left untouched as the background. In this case they were leaving sections of the brown perforated paper background untouched.

I, once again, decided to frame my finished cross-stitch picture in a 5" by 5" white shadow box frame that is 1 1/2" deep and can stand on it's own or with its back picture stand (like the picture above) as I've been really happy with the way all my other cross-stitch shadowbox pictures have come out.

I also 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 x 5 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 the last perforated paper cross-stitch picture I had done 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 drew a diagonal line across each corner to get the center point of the perforated paper.

I had also run into a slight problem with one of the perforated paper cross-stitch pictures I had previously created with the beads along the edge causing a problem when framing so this time I also drew squares on the perforated paper to show me where the 5" x 5" square was. Plus, I knew I wanted to square my picture so I needed to know where to end my stitching.

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.

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 13 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 two small ziploc bags which was fine. However, when several different beads of similar color or size are included within the bags it can be very difficult to distinguish between the colors or between the petite and regular size beads. Labeling the ziploc bags as to which bead number they contained would enhance this kit and allow you to tie the bead # to the symbol number on the charts.

The pattern called for certain areas of the perforated paper to be left untouched as the background like the picture shown below:

However, I don't like seeing the different perforated sections in the background and opted instead to finish all of the background with a light blue DMC embroidery floss color sewn as a half-cross stitch using two strands of the floss. I didn't want to use a brown floss as I thought the light blue was more appropriate for a winter theme. I had decided to square the edges of my picture and also decided to add two rows of the dark blue floss, that framed the top and bottom rectangles in the picture, around all the edges to make sure the perforated paper would not be visible once my cross stitch picture was framed in its' shadowbox.

I had a slight problem with the upper left hand corner and the perforated paper. It ripped part way through so I added tape to the back left corner of the perforated to secure the paper and threads.

In looking at the picture I decided to deviate from the pattern and change two things. ;I decided that I wanted the snowflakes to be white instead of the light blue that was called for in the kit. I also decided to use 3 strands of the floss for the snowflakes versus the 2 strands that were called for in the pattern as I wanted the snowflakes to stand out a little more. Plus, I didn't think the trees stood out enough so I decided to outline the trees for more emphasis. You can see them in the close-up picture above.

I was also thinking about changing the color of the words "Brrr...." as I wasn't sure they were going to stand out enough but decided to follow the pattern. I wish I hadn't as when the picture was done the "Brrr......" really didn't stand out. I should have used dark blue.

Instead of mounting my picture on foam as I had done with my previous cross-stitch pictures I opted instead to mount my Winter Chill on hard chipboard.

My results with the totally finished background, square edges, and hard chipboard is shown below:

The kit had included a red button for the scarf but I decided not to use it.

Despite the relatively small issues I had encountered with the kit I was thrilled with the way my Mill Hill Winter Chill Winter Buttons and Beads Counted Cross Stitch Kit shadowbox picture turned out - even if it was a winter scene. There is a lot going on in a very small cross-stitch picture and it is amazing to see all the details.

It took me 27 1/2 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.

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