Saturday, November 28, 2015

My Review of Sleigh Ride Beaded and Buttoned Cross-Stitch Kit From Mill Hill

This time of the year you can usually find me cross-stitching.  So far I've made 4 cross-stitch pictures which I tweaked just a bit.  This time I decided to do Sleigh Ride Beaded Kit from Mill Hill and decided to change quite a few things.

The Sleigh Ride Beaded Kit pattern uses full counted cross-stitch and beaded half stitch as well as beads of various sizes 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 decided to frame my finished cross-stitch picture using the same decorated frame as was pictured in the pattern.  It's a 6" x 6" handpainted blue wooden frame without glass.  Unlike the shadowbox frames I had been using more of the perforated paper would be seen surrounding the cross-stitch picture.

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 since a lot more of it would be exposed with this kit and frame I opted instead to finish all of the background.  I didn't really like the brown perforated paper background for this picture.  I thought a blue background would really enhance this picture so I finished the inside square background with three strands of DMC light blue embroidery floss #162 sewn as a half cross-stitch.

After I had finished the light blue background I decided to add a second layer of white floss cross-stitch to the white stars in the sky to really make them pop and to add a a few more white stars to fill up the sky.

I had left one line of the brown perforated paper open between the dark blue border at the top and my light blue sky as I wanted to create a blended line for the transition between the top border and the blue sky.  I chose to finish this in a cross-stitch pattern with a combination of three strands of the light blue DMC embroidery floss #162 and the three strands of the dark blue DMC embroidery floss #336 that was included in the kit as I thought it would be a good blend with the dark blue top and my light blue sky.

The brown perforated paper was left showing between the two blue columns on the right and left sides of the picture in the pattern. I also chose to finish this in a cross-stitch pattern with a combination of three strands of the light blue DMC embroidery floss #162 and the three strands of the dark blue DMC embroidery floss #336 that was included in the kit.

In looking at the church I decided it needed a white cross at the top of the steeple so I added a cross to the top using three strands of white DMC embroidery floss and sewed this in a cross-stitch "t" pattern.  I also chose to outline the edges of the cross with two strands of a light gray DMX embroidery floss.

I knew that when I added the blue sky background the church would need a little emphasis to stand out so I added two starnds of black DMC embroidery floss outline stitching around the edges of the church, the steeple, the door, and the roof.

I also decided to add outline stitching to the trees for emphasis so I added three starnds of dark green DMC embroidery floss and stitched them in several areas down the tree branches.

The pattern also called for the brown perforated paper to be shown around the edges of the picture to fill the frame.  I  decided to square the edges of my picture and decided to create a contrast in the mat area next to the frame with three stands of DMC embroidery floss #699 sewn in a half cross-stitch pattern. I stitched five rows of the green floss around all the edges to make sure the perforated paper would not be visible once my cross stitch picture was inserted into the wooden frame.

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 and also drew diagonal lines across each corner of the pattern to get the center point as well.

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 11 holes in my cardboard strip in which to tie each of the different colors. Just above the hole I wrote the DMC floss # and  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 kit included a small star.  The button was okay except it was glued to a small piece of cardboard which did not easily come off and the glue used had hardened and extended over the sides of the button.  It was very difficult to cut with scissors it was so hard. I managed to make it presentable enough to use in my picture. I have found over time that the buttons used in the Mill Hill cross-stitch kits are usually of poor quality and the worst parts of the kits. Sometimes I use them sometimes I don't.

The wooden frame came with a 6" x 6" cardboard mounting board for the picture but had no back so I I decided to cut a 6" x 6" white foam board as filler for the back. I also cut a piece of heavy decorative paper and taped it to the back of the picture with double sided tape to finish the back of the frame. The frame could be hung as a picture or stand with an enclosed dowel peg used as an easel and I opted for the latter.

My results with the totally finished background, square edges, and decorative frame is shown below:

Despite the relatively small issues I had encountered with the kit I was happy with the way my Sleigh Ride turned out.

It took me 28 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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