Thursday, December 8, 2011

A year in the making...

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about how I had stupidly decided to try out a new craft right before Christmas, and make it as a gift for someone. Now that it is finally finished, I'm going to explain what happened, and sort of review the kit I purchased.

In 2009, Gabe and I each received a needlepoint stocking as a Christmas gift from a relative up north. Of course, I briefly looked them over, then packed them into the Christmas decorations when we got home from our trip. It wasn't until I got them out last year and hung them up next to my husband's decade old needlepoint stocking that I realized only one person in the family didn't have one, my step-daughter. And it looked wrong!

So I went to L.L. Bean where the stockings had been purchased for my son and myself. Of course, a lot of the designs are the same year after year, and when you took out what Gabe had, and what I had, what was left was nothing that my step-daughter would like. So I checked Land's End (where my husband's came from years ago), and there were a couple cute ones, but what I was really looking for was one with a penguin on it, to match the fleece stocking she picked out years ago. I finally resorted to Google, and I found this Dimensions needlepoint stocking kit.

I thought it was like a Christmas miracle that I found a needlepoint stocking with a penguin on it, and being an experienced crafter, I thought it would be no big deal to finish the thing.

Then it showed up...and it faced the wrong way. Now, that is something that the photo on the front of the kit clearly shows, but not something that looks out of place when you're looking over a million and one stocking kits on a craft site like JoAnn. Because ALL of Dimension's kits face the wrong way. Is this a marketing ploy? If you have one handmade stocking you must have a handmade stocking for everyone because ALL commercially produced stockings face the opposite way? If so, it's a crappy one. I was pissed, but I was determined I could make it work.

So, if you wanted to make a stocking that faced the wrong way, this is how the canvas looked. Nicely pre-printed with a close approximation of the color you were supposed to be stitching in the correct area.
And if you wanted to make a stocking that faced the right way, as I did, this is what the canvas looked like on the opposite side.

I would do a couple stitches, flip it over, count how many I had left and do a couple more stitches before I forgot what I counted and had to do it all over again. It was tedious. It was annoying. It took me until January to finish just the basics.

Then came the embroidery. The name was easy, because it was just a little chart in the instructions, but the fine hairs on the penguins were nearly impossible until I had the bright idea to go to Kinko's and have a mirror image made of the pattern. Once that was done, the stitching went much quicker and I was ready to finish.

Surprisingly, the finish is the biggest problem I have with the kit. Even if I had decided to face this the way the kit faced, the stocking still would have taken hours and hours of my time, and do you know the instructions Dimensions provides for finishing? Cut a piece of cheap acrylic felt and sew it on. No lining to protect your delicate stitching, no sturdy velvet backing like you would get on anything you purchased, you just get a piece of craft felt. Now, thankfully, I know what I'm doing and was able to both fully line this in cotton and back it in the only blue velvet I could find locally, because there is no way this stocking would have lasted more than a year without a lining and a sturdier fabric for the back.

It still stands out, but will stand out less when I order Caroline's this year. Which, I guess is the ultimate conclusion to my review. I won't be doing this again, ever. With the $20 the kit cost, the hours of time I put into it, and the extra money I spent purchasing lining and backing fabric to make it last a decent amount of time, it is not at all worth it. There isn't any savings over purchasing a commercially made stocking. I know savings isn't the point. The penguins were the point...but I think she would have settled for a polar bear.

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