Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Disney Family Haunted Mansion Cross Stitch Wall Hangings

Copyright 2017 Needlework Kits

Over the past few months, I have been making two cross stitch wall hangings. These wall hangings are designs from Disney Family. Disney Family published two counted cross stitch designs inspired by the attraction the Haunted Mansion. The first pattern is a sign saying "Tomb Sweet Tomb" while the second pattern recreates the wallpaper from inside the ride.

I started working on these cross stitch designs in July. I managed to finish the first pattern in August and quickly began work on the second design. The second cross stitch pattern took a lot longer to complete, but I finished the design a couple of weeks ago. You can see the progress I made on both cross stitch designs on my Instagram.

===> Click here to see the Disney Family post for the Haunted Mansion Cross Stitch

First Impressions

I have never been to Disney World or been on the Haunted Mansion ride, but I was interested in making this cross stitch for one of my fiancee's good friends. The Haunted Mansion is her favorite ride at Disney and she has collected lots of Haunted Mansion inspired merchandise over her several trips to the park. She recently bought a house with her new husband and these cross stitch wall hangings were planned to be something she could hang in her home.

The "Tomb Sweet Tomb" pattern didn't seem intimidating to me. The design is very simple with just the words. The picture does include a few extra elements, but the PDF doesn't include these extra details. If you want the extra details, feel free to use the image on the page as your reference once the letters are sewn on.
Copyright 2017 Needlework Kits

Now the wallpaper pattern is a different story. This one can be challenging for those venturing into cross stitch for the first time so this pattern might take you longer to make. There are more details on this design. The biggest challenge of this design was actually the blue background and making sure the blue would fill up the entire front of the wall hanging. I found myself double checking the wall hanging to see if there were no gaps or spaces showing on the front.

Important Facts About These Designs

One of the nicest things about cross stitch is that you don't need a whole lot of supplies. The materials list in the Disney Family's post doesn't get too specific on what you need. The patterns' designers probably left these materials vague to allow people room to chose their own colors and embroidery hoop sizes.

When I made these wall hangings, I used the following materials to make the kit. My list is a little more specific than Disney Family's list, but feel free to make adjustments to fit your preferences.
  • Aida Cloth. You can find this at any craft store or online. Like Disney Family, I used 14 count. You can buy the white cloth, but you can use yellow if you have it. Cut out squares to be at least 8" x 8". 
  • 2 felt pieces. You can pick any color for your felt backgrounds. You can find felt pieces at your local craft store.
  • Masking tape. I use masking tape to tape the ends of the Aida cloth so it doesn't fray as I work with it.
  • Needle. Disney Family uses a tapestry needle, but I didn't have any in my sewing kit. I used an old needle I got from one of the Bucilla craft kits.
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • 2 Embroidery hoops. I had to play around with the sizes, but I ended up using 6 inch hoops. You can find embroidery hoops of all different sizes at craft stores or online.
  • Variety of embroidery threads. I used black, white, light blue, and a light purple. Regardless of what colors you end up using, I recommend using light shades of color for the wallpaper background. Any darker shades of color thread will make it harder to see the black elements.

Let's Put Everything Together

Disney Family says this cross stitch will take you at least 5 hours to make. It took months to make both cross stitch designs. This project might take you more time depending on how many wall hangings you plan on making and how fast you sew. If you are making the wall paper cross stitch, this could even take more than 5 hours since there is lots of details.

Copyright 2017 Needlwork Kits
The directions for these wall hangings is mostly there to teach readers how cross stitch works. If you have never cross stitch before, read over the directions. I recommend watching a couple of YouTube videos before you begin making any of these designs. This will make you can see how cross stitch works visually and become familiar with some tips other crafters use.

Once you finish reading the directions, print and take a look at the PDF guide. I folded my guide into fourths and put a small dot in the middle of the creases. This helped me figure out where I would be starting sewing.

As I sew through cross stitch, I use my pencil to cross off what stitches I've done so far. This helps me figure out where I am on the cross stitch just in case I need to stop and take a break. I often make small dots on the guide to double check my counting before I start sewing anything. If you are new to cross stitching, feel free to mark up your design pattern as you sew. Marking up your pattern is a great way of helping you avoid mistakes as you sew.

Tomb Sweet Tomb

The Tomb Sweet Tomb pattern is the first design on the PDF guide. This pattern is also the easiest out of the two patterns. While the image on the Disney Family post includes curls and a skull as part of the design, the pattern in the PDF does not have these elements. Instead the pattern is mostly about the words and keeping things simple by having the words stay in one color.

Tomb Sweet Tomb was an easy pattern to make and I was able to work quickly through the design with minor problems. The design might seem boring, but I think Disney Family did this on purpose to allow crafters a little more creativity. Just search "haunted mansion cross stitch" on Google and there are plenty of images showing how other crafters tackled this pattern.

Some of the ideas you can do with this cross stitch are adding other accents and elements to match the Haunted Mansion theme. This might be adding faces of some of the characters from the ride or just adding a skull. If you decide to add any other elements, make sure you keep them small so they don't overshadow the text. You can also change up the colors so it isn't just black text.

Wallpaper Design

The next design in the Haunted Mansion cross stitch guide is the wall paper. This pattern is meant to replicate a portion of the wall paper found inside the ride. The design is much more challenging than Tomb Sweet Tomb because there are a lot more details and a background that fills in the entire design. When I saw this design, I knew I was going to spend most of my time on this pattern and did a little bit of strategy before I began sewing this design.

The game plan for this design was sewing the pattern in order of color. I would try sewing a little bit of the middle of the cross stitch to help me figure out my spacing. Then I would sew all the black elements first. Once the black elements were all the cross stitch, I would add the white thread into the smaller areas. Finally, I would finish by sewing the entire background in blue thread.


Copyright 2017 Needlework Kits
Overall this approach worked very well until the blue background. I ended up using a much larger hoop than the design was expecting so I had to use more blue thread than I was anticipating to fill in the top of the cross stitch. This ended up with me using all my blue thread before I could finish the bottom. I decided to use light purple thread to fill in the rest of the bottom and sides.

The background was the most challenging part of the cross stitch since blue background is meant to fill in the entire cross stitch. I was often double checking to see if blue thread was covering all the areas inside the hoop. If I were to make this pattern again, I would just lightly trace inside of my outer hoop onto the Aida cloth before I begin sewing. This way I know how far to exactly sew out in the background without having to stop and check to see how far out I need to sew.

Framing the Cross Stitch Designs

The wallpaper design might have been tough, but it wasn't as nearly as frustrating as framing both of the cross stitches. I had to do a little bit of research when I got to this part of the process and it turns out there are two ways to do it. The first is using glue to keep your Aida cloth down and putting on the felt back. The other is using embroidery stitches to sew down the edges and use a blanket stitch to sew on the back.

I decided to try sewing on the back to the cross stitch and found two methods on YouTube to try. I used both methods on these wall hangings. The Tomb Sweet Tomb design uses the standard running stitch method. I used a running stitch on the edge of the cross stitch then pulled it closed. The wallpaper design uses a spider web approach where I string thread across the back of the cross stitch to hold down the edges.

Both techniques were tricky for me since I had the same problem with both when I was using the cross stitch. My thread kept breaking as I was sewing the edges together, ending up with me redoing several stitches to finish one stitch. I felt the running stitch method was a little easier to do than the spider web technique, but you are welcome to try both to see which one works best for you. If you have any tips for this step, share them in the comments.

While sewing the edges was difficult, actually sewing the felt background to the back was the worst part of these wall hangings. As I was using the blanket stitch to sew down the cross stitch, my needle kept getting caught in the hoop. This resulted in me either getting stabbed by the needle or trying to push the needle through as hard as I can through the cross stitch just to get through both the felt and Aida cloth.

Conclusion

Disney Family's Haunted Mansion cross stitches designs are great for crafters at any level. I like that Disney provided two patterns that fit different experience levels that fit within the Haunted Mansion theme. Although the designs do take much longer than Disney Family recommends, Disney Family does offer room for crafters to be creative.

Would you like to see more Disney-inspired cross stitches? Let me know what crafts you would like to see in the comments.

Notes

Images belong to Needlework Kits.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bucilla Gingerbread House Advent Calendar Felt Applique Sewing Kit

Copyright 2017 Needlework Kits
I made a gingerbread house advent calendar in summer 2015. I bought this kit in July and worked on the kit the entire month. I made some work on the kit in August, but I took a break to work on the Haunted House wall hanging sewing kit. I returned to finish this kit in November where I added the trees and put the final touches. This sewing kit was the first advent calendar I made. Today it is still my favorite holiday kit I've ever made.You can see the progress I made working on this kit on the BritishPandaChick Pinterest and Instagram accounts.

First Impressions

Gingerbread is one of my favorite things about the holidays. When I was growing up, my family would make gingerbread houses using graham crackers, store bought frosting, and an variety of holiday candy. We would take a day making a gingerbread village complete with ice cream cone trees covered with green icing and sprinkles to a marshmallow snowman. When Bucilla released this kit in 2015, this kit brought many of those childhood memories that I knew I just had to make the house.
Copyright 2017 BritishPandChick

The only dilemma I had with this kit is making a an advent calendar. I have never done an advent calendar before. At the time, most of the craft kits I've done were ornaments and wreaths. I had a bad experience making a holiday wreath before which made me feel like my sewing skills weren't strong to tackle this kit. Initially the gingerbread house brought back these fears. I started learning how to sew only recently and I wondered if I'd be able to an advent calendar which is much bigger project. However my love of gingerbread won over my fears and I decided to try making this kit.

The gingerbread design isn't the only reason I love this kit. The ornaments were just as festive as the house. All of the ornaments fit with the design of the house from the candies to the gingerbread people. I didn't think much about the cording for this kit. Cording might not be my favorite part of making these kits, but that didn't bother me as much as it has been with previous kits.

Important Facts about this Craft Kits

The gingerbread house kit is made up of three parts. There is the house, trees, and the ornaments. There are 24 ornaments for this craft kit. One of the ornaments didn't have a back piece so I had to use leftover brown felt from the house to make this ornament. Once you get this kit, you will find:
  • all the felt for the project. All the pieces are stamped on the felt with numbers for how you attach the felt and marks for the sequins.
  • sequins
  • beads
  • thread
  • two needles
  • diagram and directions
You won't just need everything in this kit. This is a craft kit that needs polyster fiber fill. You can get this at your local craft store. You will also need poster board for the house. Finally, you will need scissors, pen/pencil for cording, and straight pins if you want to hold pieces in place.

When I work on craft kits, I often use a plastic grocery bag, make up bag, paper plates, and leftover supplies from previous craft kits. Plastic grocery bags are a great way to putting all your trash in one place as you work. I drape one of the handles over a chair next to me as I work and put all my scraps there. If you have leftover make up bags, use one to keep all your ornaments in one place. Paper plates are a great way to keep your sequins and beads organized as you work. Finally, you can always use leftover craft supplies from other kits if you are running low on any materials.

I ran out of supplies. What should I do?

If you run out of any supplies even if you have leftover materials from previous kits, there are ways to get more. Normally Bucilla does a good job having lots of materials for their craft kits. However there are times that you'll run out of beads and sequins. Thankfully many craft retailers will have your back in these cases. Places such as Bucilla or Merry Stockings will send you extra supplies if you get the kits from them.

Just send an e-mail to one of the customer service reps at Plaid Online or Merry Stockings asking them about their policy on extra supplies. A customer service rep will respond right away requesting your kit number, where you bought your kit, and your address. After you give them your info, just wait a few days. I usually get any extra supplies by the end of the week.

Where can I get this kit?

There are plenty of ways you can find this kit. When I am looking for new sewing kits to make, I always look in three places. First, there is Amazon. This is where I got the kit for this review.

===> Want to buy this kit? Click here to get it now!

Next, there is Merry Stockings. Merry Stockings is an online retailer which specializes in selling holiday sewing kits. They work very closely with Bucilla so they get the latest kits. Merry Stockings often gets the latest kits before some of the best craft retailers including Amazon.

===> Click here to buy the kit from Merry Stockings!

Finally, there is Plaid Online. Plaid Online makes all the Bucilla kits and sells  most of them on their online shop. You can still buy the gingerbread calendar on their online shop. If you are still struggling to find the kit, you can find plenty of other retailers selling this kit online. Just google the kit and you'll find millions of results.

===> Click here to buy the kit from Plaid Online!

Let's put everything together!

Before you begin this sewing kit, make sure you a few minutes to read over the directions and look at the diagram included in the kit to see what the project will be like. Most importantly you want to check out the key for understanding the diagram. The key identifies all the symbols on the diagram so you know what color sequins go where and what stitches you need to use.

You can also take a look at the image on the packaging to get a sense of what everything should look like. I recommend making all the cording before you start sewing. It is much easier to do all cording right now than trying to do cording as you put together all the elements.

The Gingerbread House

The gingerbread house is the biggest piece in the entire sewing kit and is the place you'll start first. When it comes to biggest pieces of sewing kits, the first thing to be done is add sequins and embroidery to the main piece of the kit. Adding sequins and embroidery might not sound like lots of fun, but this is the most important part for this portion of the kit. The red sequins are where the ornaments will hang on the calendar. Since the ornaments will be stuffed with fiberfill, the sequins need to be securely attached in order to hold the extra weight.

Although the red sequins need to be securely in place, all the sequins need just as much attention.
Copyright 2017 BritishPandaChick
Over time, many of the sewing kits I've made had some of the sequins starting to come lose. As you add sequins, make sure triple knots after the sequins. This will keep the sequins in place and will prevent them from becoming lose over time.

Once the sequins are on the house, it is time to tackle the embroidery. The embroidery is mostly the details near the roof and windows. There are lots of curls to sew and can be intimidating. However the best thing you can do at this point is moving very slowly around the curls. Moving too quickly will make big spaces between the stitches. Once you are finished with the entire curl, you can go back and fill in the gaps as much as you can.

The curls aren't the only bit of embroidery you need to worry about. The satin stitch is used in the droplets at the end of  the bottom window details. The satin stitch was one of the trickiest stitches I learned when I started to sew. However I got better using the satin stitches once I learned the right tricks. The best way to do the satin stitch is the same approach working with the sequins. Just keep your stitches very close together and soon you will have white drops that are completely filled in. If you do have some open spaces, don't be afraid to go back and fill in the gaps.

==> Learn more about the satin stitch from the Merry Stockings blog here!

Roof, Snow, Trees, and Beyond!

Once the sequins and embroidery are on the house, it is time to focus on the details. While you'll be still adding sequins and embroidery, you will begin attaching pieces to the house. This be the windows, door, and even the snow. These details will completely transform the house from a piece of brown felt into a festive home. First you will add the trimmings near the top of the house. Next is the snow covered roof and the snow hanging from the chimney. After that, you will attach all the windows and shutters. You'll add some of the details for the door, but rest has to wait until you attach the ground for the house. Once the ground is safely on the house, you can add the rest of the door elements.

Most of the extra elements were easy to put on the house. The only difficult part was attaching the green scallop border to the top of the house. The green border didn't quite fit in the stamped outline on the house. I tried to play around with the position before I picked the best position I could find. Once the border was attached, I went back and filled in any areas with the satin stitch. You can add stuffing to your house at this time, but I recommend waiting to add your stuffing once you do each of the elements for the house.

Once the front of the house is completed, you should move onto to the grounds and trees. You can put fiber fill in the trees, but be patient! Before we can do any polyster fiber fill, make sure you've added everything to the house and grounds. Once you double check your work, it is time to sew all the pieces to the front. This means attaching the ground and the front parts of the trees. Now that the front pieces are attached, start attaching the back pieces. Make sure you play around with the back pieces to make sure everything fits before you start sewing. When you start sewing, attach the back pieces for the trees first then attach the brown back piece.

This isn't how the directions want you to tackle this step, but I encourage you do this instead because it will be much easier to add stuffing and achieve the look on the packaging. I followed the directions for this kit by attaching the house first and putting in the polyster fiber fill. This was ok, but it made it much harder to the trees at the end. I was getting very frustrated trying to attach tree pieces to an already stuffed gingerbread house. If you follow the steps I mention earlier, you will have a much easier time without the headaches like I did.

24 Ornaments of the Gingerbread House

Once the gingerbread house is finished, it is time to make 24 ornaments. Unlike the Nordic Tree, I didn't make an extra ornament. If you have leftover scraps, you are welcome to try making one more ornament for your tree.

First thing you'll be doing for all the ornaments is getting the cording done. Remember cording for all 24 ornaments is easier to do now rather than later when you are trying to make each ornament. Cording is my least favorite thing about making these kits because it is something I still struggle with and practice every time I do craft kits. If you need extra help with cording, check out Merry
Stockings blog post to see their tutorial on making cording or find some videos to watch on YouTube.

==> Read Merry Stocking post on Cording here!

The ornaments itself are much easier than putting together the house. All the ornaments have pieces numbered so all you need to do is just follow the numbered order to make the ornaments. The only problem I had with the ornaments was with one gingerbread heart cookie. The kit didn't include a back piece for one of the ornaments in the kit. I uses the front piece to trace the same shape on the left over felt from the gingerbread house to make a back piece for the ornament.

Copyright 2017 BritishPandaChick
I made one mistake while making these ornaments. The kit has two lollipop ornaments which have the one sequin on the handle. When you applique the lollipop to the stick, the side with the sequin should be the front. I wasn't paying attention and managed to applique the stick with the sequin on the back. If you want to stick closely to the original design, make sure you get your sequined fronts are sewn on correctly.

After making this kit, I found I prefer the plain side for the lollipop handle over the sequin handle. If you make this kit, feel free to modify the directions on this step and just sew the sequin sides to the back.

Conclusion

There are plenty of ways to find this kit. I found this kit online through Amazon. You can find a link to purchasing the kit on Amazon in the links section. You can also find this kit at online stores such as Joann Fabrics website and Etsy. Just type "Bucilla Nordic Gingerbread House" into Google and you'll find plenty of sites that have this kit.

Would you like to see more posts about any particular crafts? Tell me what you think in the comments section.

Notes

All pictures belong to BritishPandaChick.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bucilla Haunted House Wall Hanging Sewing Craft Kit

Copyright 2017 Needlework Kits
In October 2015, I made a haunted house wall hanging from a Bucilla felt craft kit. This was my first Halloween craft kit and wall hanging I made. Most of the craft kits I did up to that point were holiday kits. When I was looking for new kits to do this year, I found this kit and decided to try this kit for a change.

At the time, Bucilla puts most of their attention on holiday kits and only offered a few Halloween theme sewing kits. Although I didn't find too many new holiday kits to try, I decided to venture to another holiday and try this kit. It was one of the newer kits they were offering that year. I started working on this kit at the end of August and worked non-stop on this kit in order to get it done by Halloween.

First Impressions

When I reviewed the Witch's Brew Wreath, I talked about how rushed I have been with Halloween kits. This is the very kit I was talking about. I bought this kit in July, but I wasn't able to start it until the end of August since I was working through another craft kit at the time. It was important for me to finish the haunted house by Halloween that year. I wanted people to enjoy the wall hanging while it was still October. It didn't make sense to finish a Halloween decoration by the end of October when the holiday was over.
Copyright 2015-2017 Needlework Kits

This is my favorite Halloween craft kit design I've seen so far. The person who designed this craft kit deserves a raise since this person clearly understood what a Halloween kit should look like. Great craft kits are able to create individual scenes once all the elements are finished that capture a specific theme or mood. That is the greatest strength when I look at this kit. It doesn't matter if it is the house or the ornaments. Every element comes together to create a spooky scene fit for Halloween.

The factor which made me decide to buy the kit were the ornaments. The ornaments are so adorable! My favorite ornaments were the pumpkins. The pumpkins reminded me of my own Halloween memories as a kid and got me in the festive mood. Bucilla markets this sewing kit as a wall hanging, but they should have marketed this kit as a Halloween advent calendar. If you have kids, it is a great way of counting down to Halloween.

Important Facts about Haunted House Sewing Kit

Once you finish the haunted house, it will be about 18 x 18 inches. You will be making this sewing craft kit in two parts. First you'll be making the haunted house itself. Next, you'll be tackling the ornaments. There are 31 ornaments total. Inside the kit, you will find:
  • all the felt needed for the project. Bucilla is nice by stamping all the pieces on the felt with numbers and marks for the sequins.
  • sequins
  • thread
  • two needles
  • directions and diagram
You will still need to buy extra supplies to make this kit. Extra materials include poster board, polyster fiber fill, scissors, pen/pencil, and pins if you like to hold specific pieces of felt in place.

I also recommend using paper plates, an old make up bag, and a plastic grocery bag. The plastic bag is a great way to keep your trash as you work while the paper plates keep your sequins and beads organized. When I work with ornaments, I like to use an extra make up bag to keep my ornaments in a safe space so I don't lose them.

Where can I buy this kit?

When I look for kits, there are three places that I look. My favorite and often go to place to get craft kits is Amazon. Amazon has a good selection of sewing craft kits like this one available. This is where I bought this kit when it was released in 2015.

===>Want this needlecraft kit for your home? Click here to buy off Amazon now!

There are two great places you can also check to find this kit. If I didn't buy this kit from Amazon, I would definitely check Merry Stockings next. Merry Stockings is an online retailer which specializes just in sewing craft kits like this one. They often work closely with Bucilla so they often get the newest kits before everyone else.

===> Click here to buy the Haunted House sewing craft kit from Merry Stockings!

Finally, there is Plaid Online. Plaid Online produces all the Bucilla kits and sell them on their online shop for any holiday. If all else fails, you can google to see other retailers that sell this kit online.

===> Click here to buy the Haunted House Wall Hanging from Plaid Online!

I just ran out of supplies. What is the next step? 

If you buy this kit, you are able to get refills on any of the supplies you need. You just need to send an e-mail to Plaid Online letting them know what supplies you ran out of and need more of. All you need to do is let them know your kit number from the front of the package, where you bought the kit, and what your mailing address is. A customer service rep will often reach out to you in a day or two to let you know they got your request. By the end of the week, you should get an envelope with your extra supplies.

Before you reach out to Plaid Online, I recommend trying to use any leftover supplies you have from other craft kits if possible. When I am running low on supplies, I will try to dip into my leftover sequins and beads I've gotten from other craft kits. Once you are finished with any of the sewing craft kits, always save your materials! You never know when you'll need extra beads for other projects you do.

Put Everything Together

Before you tackle this kit, you should stop and check out the directions just to get yourself familiar with the steps and especially the key for the diagram. The directions don't just include a key for the stitches and sequins. There is even a guide which shows crafters how to do each of the stitches needed for this kit. They aren't the best pictures since they can be unclear about the directions, but you can look them over to see what they suggest. I recommend watching tutorials on YouTube or visiting the Merry Stockings blog if you need help with any of the stitches.

Once you looked at the directions, spend a little extra time looking over the diagram. The diagram for this sewing craft kit is a little harder to understand because the symbols are too similar to each other and harder to see. As look at the diagram, consult the packaging image as you go since it will help clarify what you are suppose to do. As you look at the diagram and identify stitches, I suggest writing down that stitch and color for different symbols. Writing down what these symbols mean will make it easier for you as work on this kit.

Haunted House

The haunted house base might sound easy to make at first. This is a wall hanging so I thought was mostly adding elements to the purple house felt base and adding stuffing to the trees, but this is where I had the most problems during the kit. The biggest challenge was working with the poster board as stuffing for the fence posts. Once you trace one of the pieces on the poster board, it has to be sewn between the front and back pieces of the fence.

It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. The pieces I traced on the poster board did not fit at all between the pieces. I had to spend time adjusting the size of the poster board middle just so it would fit inside the two pieces. Finding the right size wasn't just the only problem. Sewing the pieces together with poster board in the middle was a lot more difficult than I realized it would be. At first it isn't too bad using the applique stitch around the pieces. However it gets harder to close the two pieces as you get closer to being finished. The position of the poster board changes or gets bent the more you work on it.

I don't recommend scraping the poster board at all. It does help keep the fence posts from falling over once it is lying flat. This is very important since some of the ornaments do have sequins hanging off the fence pieces since the extra weight of a stuffed ornament would cause it to fall over. My advice is to play with the poster board middle in between the front and back pieces of each part of the fence then cut the poster board to be smaller. You will want to find a balance of being able to fit inside the fence pieces but not too near the edge so you can sew the pieces closed.

Copyright 2015-2017 Needlework Kits

The fence posts weren't the only problem. The designers of this craft kit didn't do a good job figuring out the right position of every element on the house. The house is made up of several pieces which are sewn onto the wreath. Normally most of the pieces will fit right places as each element is added. That wasn't the case with this kit.

Certain parts of the house didn't want to fit properly no matter what I did. This is can been seen with the bottom of the roof not fitting between the two purple sections of the house. I ultimately folded the white felt piece underneath a bit so everything fit. If I didn't do this, a large amount of white felt from the back would show. My attempt to fix the problem did give some puckering to the bottom of the roof, but a huge white gap isn't what was shown on the diagram.

When you get to any section that doesn't fit like the roof and the walls of the house not fitting, don't be afraid to leave white gaps. The white gaps might not be on the original packaging, but it would have been easier than trying to fold felt and sew these sections together. Besides the white gaps might add to the spooky feel of the house and show it is a lot older haunted house than it appears.

31 Ornaments of Halloween

I didn't quite the follow the directions for this kit and actually started with the ornaments before the actual house. Since I was rushed for time and didn't have poster board, I decided to skip ahead and start working on the ornaments. Within a couple of days, I was able to get almost half of the ornaments done when I finally got my poster board for the kit and made the switch back to the haunted house.

Before you start sewing any of the ornaments, make all your cording first! Doing this ahead of time will save you time later down the road. The directions want crafters to use 3 inches of thread to make one cord for each of the ornaments, but I recommend newbies go up half an inch or an inch. This will make it a lot easier making the loops for the cording. My loops are never perfect when I make ornaments and they are all over place with different sizes. However I'm happy with the loops I made because all my cords stay in place which is more important than the size of my loops.

The one thing you don't want to do with the ornaments is add way too much stuffing. Remember your ornaments will be hanging off the purple sequins of the haunted house. This extra weight will pull on those sequins and beads even if you made sure your sequins are secured extra tight. When I hang the ornaments on my house, some of them will fall off the sequins. If you aren't interested in hanging individual ornaments on the house, you can skip all the cording completely and just sew everything onto the house.

Conclusion 

Bucilla Haunted House wall hanging needlecraft kit is a great kit for the Halloween season. There were the minor hiccups with the haunted house and working with the poster board for the fence posts, but overall it was good kit to make. I was so pressed for time that I wasn't able to enjoy this kit as much as I wanted, but I would have enjoyed making this kit if I went at a slower pace. The finished wall hanging is a perfect Halloween decoration for your home. If you wish there was an advent calendar for Halloween, you should make this kit. Kids will definitely enjoy putting ornaments on the house and tree just like the ones they see during the holidays.

Are there any needlecraft kits you would like to see me try? Let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to make them.

Notes

All images belong to Needlework Kits.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bucilla Witch's Brew Wreath Craft Kit

Copyright 2016-2017 Needlework Kits
Last spring, I made the Bucilla Witch's Brew craft kit. In April, I ordered my brother's Nordic Tree Advent Calendar and this kit off Amazon. Initially I asked on Instagram which one I should do first out of the two kits. A few days later, I decided to make the wreath first. I wasn't quite ready to tackle the advent calendar quite yet. Most importantly, I wasn't in a festive mood quite yet to make the advent calendar. So I decided to make the Halloween craft kit first. I started working on the wreath in April and managed to work every weekend to get this kit finished in June.

First Impressions

Purple isn't a Halloween color, but I really liked the design of the wreath. This wreath had lots of really good 3D elements working for it that gave it a spooky feel. Since this wreath is named Witch's Brew, the wreath has lots of elements often associated with witches around Halloween. There is the black witch's hat, the cat, and even the little potion bottles. Many of these elements were another reason why I bought this kit since I made some of these elements before in other craft kits. When I worked on previous Halloween felt applique kits, they had the cats, pumpkins, and even the frogs. Since I had made these shapes before, I had an idea what I was already getting into.

The only thing I dislike about the wreath's design is the felt color. There is a large amount of purple felt being used for wreath itself. This is a color I don't often associate with Halloween so I was a little annoyed the color didn't quite match the fall tone. I wish Bucilla went with a different color for the wreath base, but I can understand why they might have chosen the color since some of the elements were already some of the fall colors.
Copyright 2016-2017 Needlework Kits

The design wasn't the only thing I was nervous about for this kit. The wreath itself was the only thing I was worried about. Before this project, I only made one other felt applique wreath. The first wreath I made was a complete disaster! I made lots of mistakes since I wasn't very good at sewing at the time. I thought I would be able to tackle a wreath after some of the other projects I made. I was wrong. My first wreath made me so frustrated that I almost quit making it! I was able to finish the wreath, but the entire experience left me with a bad taste for making felt applique wreaths and I avoided it as much as I could since then.

I made the first wreath when I was a newbie to embroidery and I made a lot of progress since then. Although I was worried I'd make the same mistakes as I did with my first wreath, I felt I was ready to try making this wreath again. Before I tackled this wreath kit, I thought about ways I could improve this wreath-making experience. Taking this time to think about on the mistakes I made and the problems I faced helped a lot with this experience. By the end of making this kit, I had a brand new perspective on making felt applique wreaths and felt I had a better time with this kit.

Here's some important need to know facts about this kit!

The Witch's Brew Wreath will be 17 x 17 inches when it is finished. The kit allows you to make the wreath base and all the decorations that go on the wreath. The wreath decorations include the following:
  • moon
  • bats
  • witch's cauldron
  • broom
  • witch's boot
  • cat
  • frog
  • spider web
  • pumpkin
  • spiders
This might sound like a lot of things to make, but the nice thing about Bucilla craft kits is that they come with everything you need to make the wreath. The felt pieces come stamped with all the outlines of each element with marks for the sequins. The craft kits even include most of the supplies you need such as thread, sequins, beads, and even the needles. Finally, there is the directions and the wreath diagram which includes a key to help you identify symbols that are used on the diagram.

Although this craft kit includes a lot of the stuff you'll need for the project, there are couple of other things you need. Besides the scissors and a pencil/pen, you should also get some polyester fiberfill to put stuffing inside the wreath. You will also need some poster board to between the front and back pieces of the wreath. I recommend getting a plastic grocery bag to hold your trash as you work on your kit. I also suggest using paper plates to keep your beads and sequins organized as you make your wreath.

Where can I buy this kit?

First, there is Amazon. Amazon is where I bought this kit and is often my go to places for finding felt applique kits. I recommend checking Amazon around June-July to see when some of the latest craft kits are in stock.

===> Want this wreath? Click here to buy off Amazon now!

Next, there is Merry Stockings. Merry Stockings is a crafting retailer specializing in craft kits. They often partner with Bucilla and sell a lot of their kits. If you want to see the latest kits, check with Merry Stockings first. They often get the latest kits before any other retailers including Amazon.

===> Click here to buy this wreath from Merry Stockings!

Finally, you can find this kit on Plaid Online. Plaid Online sells all Bucilla products. If you can't find kits on Merry Stockings or Amazon, this is another great option for finding this kit. If you are still not having much luck finding this kit, search Google and you'll find plenty of other great places selling this craft kit.

===> Click here to buy Witch's Brew Wreath craft kit from Plaid Online!


I just ran out of materials! What should I do?

If you have done previous Bucilla craft kits, see if you have any leftover supplies on hand and trying using those first. When all else fails, send an e-mail to craft kit provider. Plaid Online and Bucilla will send you refills. I ran out of black beads when I made this kit and sent a message to Plaid Online asking for more beads. Plaid Online sent me a response the next day asking me where I got the kit, the kit number (it is on the package), and my address. By the end of the week, I got an envelope with more black beads.

Time For Some Tips!

It might be tempting to start sewing right now. However I strongly recommend taking a few minutes to read the directions and look at the wreath diagram before you begin. This way you be familiar with what you are working with and what you'll be doing. I suggest taking time to look at the key included in the directions to see where specific stitches are on the diagram and where you'll be putting the sequins.

I also encourage you to look at the stitch guide that included in the directions. Bucilla includes a tutorial for each of the stitches used in their kits. These diagrams can be hit or miss depending on the diagrams, but you can supplement these guides with YouTube videos or articles on Google. Merry Stockings has a great blog which has shown great tutorials of some of the stitches seen in the Bucilla kits. If you struggle with any of the stitches, you should check out the Merry Stockings blog first to look at their models and demonstrations before you tackle any of the stitches on your project.

One of the previous problems I have with these kits is that I would try to start these kits too close to the actually holiday. When I made my last Halloween kit, I underestimated how much work would be going into the project and had to work non-stop just to make sure everything was finished by the time of the holiday. The lesson I learned from that experience is plan ahead and avoid rushing through a craft kit as much as I could. For this kit, I decided to use the weekends as my chance to work on craft projects so I could relax and concentrate on the craft project I was working on. This was perfect since it didn't make feel rushed and let me concentrate with no distractions.

The Best Time to Add Spiders to the Wreath

There are three spiders on the front of the wreath. One is a hanging spider while the other two are sewn onto the front of the wreath under the witch's hat and the cauldron. In the directions, Bucilla wants you to sew the two spiders on the wreath last. However I recommend sewing the two spiders on the wreath base first. It will be much easier sewing these elements on first than at the end of the kit once all the other elements are added on later. Since the first part of the wreath is adding the sequins, it is better to add these two smaller elements on at this point when nothing is blocking the area you need to put these spiders.

Once you finished adding sequins and some embroidery to the front of the wreath, it is time to start working on the wreath elements. This where most of your time will be spent on this craft kit since there are a lot of elements for this wreath. While these elements may have a simple design, most of these elements have lots of sequins and embroidery. There might be a lot of details to add to these elements, but those details are what really enhance the wreath. The sequins and the embroidery on the cauldron make it seem like the brew is actually bubbling up or making waves from the cauldron.

Spider Web and the Hanging Spider

The spider web was my biggest challenge on the wreath. The spider web is meant to have a hanging spider from it using a piece of black cording. The hanging spider also uses cording for the legs. Cording is my least favorite thing to do in these craft kits because I'm not quite good at cording. However I did the best I could with the cording. Some of the legs didn't want to stay put so I had to be a bit creative fixing some of the issues the legs presented as it was putting it together. This resulted in my spider looking like a circle hanging from the cording once I was finished.
Copyright 2016-2017 Needlework Kits

If you are having issues with the hanging spider, just skip the hanging spider altogether. The wreath will still be fine without the hanging spider. I found once the wreath was finished that I couldn't quite see the hanging spider with all the other elements on the front of the wreath. If you don't use the hanging spider, another way to include it on the wreath is just applique the spider onto the upper left corner of the pumpkin and embroider legs.

Combining the Front and Back

The most challenging part of making a wreath is the fact the elements sewn onto the front portion of the wreath are going to be under lots of strain once you start stuffing the base. This means the potion bottles, moon, and the witch's hat need to be secured extra tightly so they don't fall off as you sew together the front and back of the wreath.

When you are ready to sew together the front and back, you can add less stuffing so it puts less pressure on all the elements you added earlier. I didn't add as much stuffing as my other wreath once I noticed the larger elements on the wreath were trying to move forward on the front of the wreath. This isn't a perfect solution to the problem. I did have to fix a couple of elements once I finished. But none of the elements didn't come loose.

Conclusion

Bucilla Witch's Brew craft kit was a successful experience making a wreath and was the complete opposite of everything that happened during the first time I made a wreath. If you haven't made a wreath before, this craft kit might be difficult to make and can be intimidating. However as long as you take your time and not rush your way through this kit, you'll be fine. Any fans of Halloween will love making this kit since it is a perfect decoration for your door when it is time for trick and treat.

Have you made this craft kit? Share your tips in the comments below. If there are any kits you would like to see me review, send me a message and I'll do my best to make it happen.

Notes

All pictures belong to Needlework Kits.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Bucilla Nordic Christmas Tree Advent Calendar Craft Kit

Copyright 2017 Needlework Kits
In August 2016, I made the Nordic Christmas Tree Advent Calendar craft kit for my younger brother. My younger brother was visiting in the spring that year talking about how he has little holiday decorations for his apartment. My mom suggested I make him an advent calendar just like the one I made the year before. During his visit, he took a look at some of the kits on the Merry Stockings website and decided on the Nordic Tree felt applique kit. I started working on this kit in June and worked every weekend sewing everything for this kit, documenting my progress on Instagram along the way.

First Impressions

I originally saw this kit in 2015 when I was looking at holiday kits during the summer. I found that many craft retailers release holiday craft kits during the summer so I often check websites like Merry Stockings and Amazon to see the latest craft kit designs for the holidays. In 2015, Bucilla released two advent calendars for the holiday season. These calendars were this Nordic Tree craft kit and the other was the gingerbread house. I loved both designs of the kit. I particularly liked the look of the tree with the swirls on the tree giving the illusion of the garland and the design of the ornaments.

The only thing that bothered me about this kit were the ornaments. When I saw the ornaments, I knew that meant more cording. Cording was my least favorite part of making the last advent calendar since I had to make the cording for all the ornaments and the calendar itself. My biggest problem with cording is making sure the loops don't come apart once it is hanging. The cording on some of my past projects came out of the ornament or the loop broke. I had to use these broken ornaments as home decorations instead of wall hanging ornaments.

Despite the large amount of cording this project had, I was excited to make this kit and to this date it is one of my favorite craft kits I've worked on. I started working on this kit in June 2016 and this kit put me in the holiday spirit as I was working on it. When I was testing the cording on the ornaments and calendar, I was in a festive mood and decided to put on some holiday music as I was decorating the tree.

Some Important Facts About the Kit

Copyright 2016-2017 Needlework Kits
This craft kit is divided into four parts: the tree, tree stand, star topper, and the ornaments. There are 24 ornaments total, but I got an extra star ornament stamped on one of my felt pieces so I made one extra. Once the tree is finished, it will be about 17 x 24 inches (43.18 x 60.69 centimeters). Once you get the kit, you will get:
  • all the felt pieces stamped and numbered. There are even marks to let you know where the sequins go.
  • sequins
  • beads
  • thread
  • two needles
  • directions and diagram
Besides the contents in the kit, you will need to buy polyster fiberfill. Although this kit doesn't require poster board, I recommend getting some poster board if you want to ensure your tree lies flat against the wall. You will also need scissors, pen/pencil for cording, and pins.

I like to use a plastic grocery bag, an old make up bag, and paper plates as I work on felt applique kits. The plastic bag is a great trash bag for putting felt scraps, broken beads, and leftover thread. I use the paper plates to keep the beads and sequins separated. Finally I kept all the finished ornaments in an old make up bag to help keep my work space organized. If you do lots of felt applique kits, feel free to use your left over supplies when you need them.

Where can I buy this kit?

When it comes to buying felt applique kits, I look at three places. My favorite place to buy kits is Amazon. I am often looking at craft kits and adding them to my wish list. This is where I bought this kit.

===> Want to buy this kit? Click here to get this kit now!

Another great place to buy this kit is Merry Stockings. Merry Stockings is a crafting retailer who regularly partners with Bucilla. Merry Stockings often gets the newest kits before other retailers including Amazon. This kit is available on their online shop.

===> Click here to get this kit from Merry Stockings!

Finally, there is Plaid Online. Plaid Online sells all the Bucilla craft kits. This craft kit is still available in their online shop. If you are still struggling find this kit, don't be afraid to use Google.

===> Click here to buy the Nordic Tree Kit from Plaid Online

Uh Oh! I ran out of supplies. What should I do?

Bucilla usually does a good job providing you with everything you need for this kit. However there are situations where you will run out of supplies. Luckily a few craft retailers like Plaid Online and Merry Stockings will sent you extra supplies if you need them. Just send them an e-mail letting them know what you need. A customer service rep will often e-mail you back right away asking for your craft kit number (look on the package), where you bought it, and your address. Once you give them that info, they will send your your extra supplies by the end of the week.

Time to Put It Together!

Now it may be tempting to just dive right in and start sewing. However I recommend taking a look at the instructions and the diagram to get a sense what the project will be like. I like to look at the instructions to see what kind of stitches are needed for this kit. The diagram uses symbols so it is important to understand what the symbols mean so you don't make any mistakes. I also suggest taking a look at the packaging image since it will help you know what color sequins are used on ornaments and estimate where specific sequins go on the tree.

The Tree Calendar

The tree is actually made up of three sections. The base, tree, and star are what you'll be working with in this stage. This isn't tough. It is just time consuming because you have to put a lot of green sequins all over your tree. I spent a few days just putting sequins all over the tree and quickly went through one packet of clear beads.

Putting on sequins doesn't sound like lots of fun, but this is the most important part of the tree because of the red sequins. The red sequins are important because all the ornaments we make will be hanging from the sequins. Since the ornaments will be stuffed with fiberfill, you will want to make sure the red sequins are attached securely the tree. This means extra knots after each red sequin so nothing falls off when an ornament is hanging from it.

Once the sequins are on the tree, it is time to start adding fiberfill to your tree. This is was my biggest challenge for this kit. I make the bad decision of adding my fiberfill at the very end of the tree. When I got the end, it wasn't easy adding stuffing to some of the branches. This gave me an uneven look for my tree which you can see in my Instagram photos I took as I made this kit. When you get to this step of the kit, work on adding the stuffing to the tree in thirds. Pretend you cut your tree in thirds and applique the tree together in those sections, stuffing as you go. It will be much easier to get into those tricky corners of the branches.

This craft kit doesn't require poster board to ensure the calendar likes flat against the wall, but I strongly recommend you put some poster board between the front and back pieces of the tree. I didn't use poster board for this tree and I found the tree would lie crooked from all the stuffing being in the center of the tree. I won't lie. Sewing with poster board isn't easy and it is one of the materials I hate working with. But in all fairness, it does help make wall hangings lie flat as well as balancing all the fiberfill you use.

Trim the Tree with Ornaments!

Copyright 2016-2017 Needlwork Kits
I made 25 ornaments since I had an extra stamped star on my white felt, but you should have 24 ornaments when you finish. The first thing you need to do is all the cording for the ornaments. Cording is one of the things I still struggle with when I make crafts, so I try follow the directions as best as I can. Merry Stockings recently did a great blog post on cording which I've been using to get some extra cording practice. If you need extra cording practice, take a look at this blog post or watch videos on YouTube to see how others tackle cording. You want to do this first so you aren't making cording for each ornament as you go.

===> Read the cording blog post before you start cording!

Now it is time to start making the ornaments. When it comes to embroidering these ornaments, I make a few adjustments from what Bucilla suggests in the directions. You can follow Bucilla's directions if you like or you can try my method when it comes to these kits.

First, I don't use three strands of thread for specific stitches. I only use one stitch because threading a needle is already tough with just one strand. I find it is even harder just threading the needle with three strands since some of the thread would miss the eye completely. I tried using 3 strands of thread to do some of the detail work on one of the stockings. While the colors were much more vibrant, I didn't think it was worth the extra effort threading the needle with two extra strands of thread.

Second, I don't cut off the trimming on my ornaments. Each of the designs are stamped in black outlines so crafters can cut out the designs and sew them together. The directions want the black trimming completely removed, but I leave my trimming on and sew as it is. I like the black trimming since it gives the ornaments an outline. When the ornaments are against the tree, the black trimming gives the ornaments an even better 3D effect.

Finally, there are the curls. There are a lot of rounded curls for this kit, making it a challenge to sew. If you take a closer look at some of the curls, they can be messy. You can see this in the sleigh ornaments where I had to use the lazy daisy stitch to make the rounded sides. When I tackled these portions of the curls, I found the best way to do these kits is to make smaller stitches. It does take more time, but I felt I was better able to match my curls to the one in the image and diagram.


Conclusion

Bucilla Nordic Tree advent calendar kit is one of my favorite holiday kits I've ever made and the one kit I had the best time making. This kit does have some challenges and I did make some mistakes. However this kit wasn't as tough as some of the other holiday kits I've made in the past. The designs in particular are beautiful. Bucilla needs to make more of these kind of kits because every aspect of this kit was good.

Have you made the Nordic Tree advent calendar? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments. If there are any craft kits you would like to see, send me a message and I'll do my best to make it happen.

Notes

Pictures belong to Needlework Kits.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Bucilla Season of Joy Holiday Craft Kit

Copyright 2017 Needlework Kits
In June, I was able to finish my latest craft kit. I have been making a Season of Joy holiday wall hanging banner kit (#86741) from Bucilla, one of the newest holiday kits for 2017. The final steps were sewing the LED lights onto the wreath and attaching it to the banner. Then it was time for the last minute additions in the shape of a pocket for the battery pack to sit while the banner is hanging. Finally I added the wooden dowel and attached some cording to make it an official wall hanging.

First Impressions

Copyright 2017 Needlwork Kits
This craft kit is unique because this kit comes courtesy from Plaid Online. They sent me an e-mail in February asking me to review one of the new kits for them and sent me this kit to review. When I got the kit, my first impression was that this would be an easier kit. A banner looked fairly simple in comparison to some of the previous craft kits I've made over the years. There was no poster board and polyster fiberfill needed since the banner was going to lie flat against the wall. I was happy at the thought of not using a pencil to stuff fiberfill into every single corner, double checking all the sequins to make sure they stay on, and less cording.

The only thing that puzzled me about this kit was the LED lights. I have never worked with LED lights before and I knew right away looking at the package this would be the hardest part of the kit. I wasn't sure how the lights would be properly secured to the wreath and was concerned the lights wouldn't fit all the spots on wreath. When I looked at the wreath, the spaces between the marks were a lot farther apart than I thought they would be. Bucilla does give crafters an option of skipping the lights, but I decided to take the challenge and try sewing them on the wreath. I figured the experience would be a helpful way of seeing how working with LED lights went and how soon I'd be working with LED light kits again in the future.

Time for Some Craft Kit Stats!

Once the banner is completed, it will be 12 x 26.5 inches (30.48 x 67.31 centimeters). This kit includes almost everything you need to make everything for the banner. Inside the packaging, you will find:
  • all the felt with stamped outlines that are numbered and include symbols for where sequins should go
  • sequins
  • beads
  • thread
  • two needles
  • LED light string and battery pack
  • directions and diagram
You will also need scissors, ruler, pen/pencil for cording, batteries, and a wooden dowel. You can also use pins to hold felt pieces together as you work if you like. If you do lots of craft kits, keep your leftover materials close by since you might need them for the sequins and beadwork. You can even use leftover scraps of felt to hold your needles as you work. I recommend getting an empty grocery store plastic bag to keep your trash as well as two paper plates for the beads and sequins.

Where Can You Buy This Kit?

There are three great places I recommend looking for this kit. First, check out Amazon. Amazon is where I have bought lots of my craft kits in the past. Amazon regularly adds the newer Bucilla kits during the summer months and this kit recently became available the past couple of months.

===> Want to make this craft kit? Click here to buy this kit on Amazon!

Another great place to find this kit is Merry Stockings. Merry Stockings is a craft retailer which specializes in holiday decorations and crafts. They sell a variety of Bucilla craft kits and often partner with Plaid Online to get some of the newest kits before other retailers like Amazon.

===> Click here to buy this kit from Merry Stockings!

Finally, there is Plaid Online themselves. Plaid Online offers this kit on their online shop.

I ran out of supplies! What should I do?

A few craft retailers will send you more materials if you run out. Just send an quick e-mail to Plaid Online or Merry Stockings letting them know what materials you need and most will send you more supplies as quickly as possible. I ran out of leftover red beads quickly as I was making the border on the white banner. I sent an e-mail to Plaid Online letting them know what materials I ran out of it. Plaid Online responded back immediately asking me where I got the kit, the kit number, and my address. By the end of the week, Plaid sent me another packet of red beads.

Let's Put It All Together!

I recommend reading the directions thoroughly before your start this kit and looking at the diagram included with the instructions as well as the image included on the package. This is a great way of getting yourself familiar with the project and will give you a good idea where things will be doing on each part of the kit. The image was very helpful when it came time to working on the wreath and showing how far apart the lights should be as well as what it should look like when it is finished. I consulted the packaging image a lot more for this project so make sure don't throw away your packaging for this kit.

The White Banner

The first part of the kit is work on the larger details of the white banner. During this part, I added the red sequin border to the white felt banner piece. I also made the letters J and Y for the banner. There isn't too many fancy stitches for this portion of the project. It is just very time consuming. Most of your time will be adding red sequins everywhere from the banner to the letters. Then you will applique the J and Y to the white banner.

Despite the large amount of work with red sequins, Bucilla only includes one pack of red beads in the kit's original packaging. This is clearly not enough for this kit. After I quickly used the kit's only packet of red beads, I managed to use all my leftover red beads I saved from previous craft kits on some of the J felt piece. Although I got another packet of beads from Plaid at the end of the week, it was just annoying having to wait for more supplies since I couldn't continue with the rest of my kit.

If you run of red beads at this step, using your waiting time to get started on the middle of the wreath. My advice to Bucilla is put 2 packets of beads in the kit since 2 packets are enough to do all the letters, the border on the white banner, and late the holly berries. Without that extra packet, Plaid Online customer service needs to be prepared for more customers asking for more materials.

As you do the sequins at this part of the kit, it is important to make sure your sequins are secure. I recommend making your knots extra tight so the sequins will not come lose over the years. I have noticed many of the knots I've done on previous craft kits have gotten lose over the years. Some of these knots were on kits that didn't have anything hanging off the sequins. After seeing this happen to so many of my kits, I make my knots extra tight when I do work with sequins and beads so they hold.

The Middle

The middle part of the banner is the O and is where you'll be spending lots of time on during this kit. The O includes a landscape featuring a starry sky, tree, deer, and the wreath border. This part took me longer than I expected since some parts were easier than the others. The sky and the trees were pretty easy. If you run out of red beads, use the time while you wait for refills to do the sky and trees. Once you are done with the sky and trees, you should get the extra red beads and can go back to finishing the red border or the other two letters.
Copyright 2017 Needlework Kits

All my troubles with my kit start with the deer. The second deer is where everything started to change. If you look at any of the images I post on Instagram, you can see exactly where I had a hard time. Normally felt applique kits will have stamped outlines on the felt. When these outlines are cut, the should fit exactly in the outlines so you don't have to play around with the placement too much.

That isn't the case with the deer! The second deer would not reach the bottom part of the felt piece no matter what I tried. After playing with the placement, I decided to just sew it on and cover up the areas as best as I could so people wouldn't notice too much. My solution was using black thread to make an outline of the leg and using leftover white felt to fill in parts of the deer's tummy so it wasn't uneven. If Bucilla is reading this post, they need to double check the stamped outlines they have for the deer on the blue felt piece and the brown felt pieces.

When it came to the wreath, I had to work on it in three stages. The first stage was just embroidering the entire wreath itself ad adding the sequins. Next, you have to embroider and put sequins on every individual holly leaf. Finally, you add the holly berries. As I made the wreath, I noticed the wreath covered up many of the sequins and embroidery I did earlier for the sky. You can try playing with the placement of the leaves and berries for this portion of the middle section, but that didn't bother me as much as I thought it would so I left it the way it was.

My biggest concern with the holly leaves was getting the leaves to fit within the outlines on the wreath and how certain areas could cover up the lights. I had to play around with the way the berries were placed to see how the berries were going to overlap and how I should attach them to the wreath. Remember the diagram from the instructions? You will be needing it for this portion of kit since it will help you know how to sew the berries on the wreath and keep you from covering up areas belonging to the lights.

Let there be light!

Once the middle is done, it is time to add the lights. At first, I wasn't quite sure how to do the lights. I read the directions and looked at the diagram several times before I mustered up the courage to try it. It was a disaster! Putting the lights onto the wreath is easily my least favorite part of the project and is the reason why I won't be adding more LED lights to anymore craft kits in the future. Although the directions make it seem easy, it is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

The problem with the directions is that it is trying to give two sets of directions in one step. The first step is trying to tell people how to add lights to the wreath but then quickly adds that those who don't want the lights can skip this step. That was fine until the directions switched back to how to put the lights onto the wreath. At this point, the directions leave out a lot of of important details from where you should start the lights on the wreath to what stitches you should use to keep the lights in place. I tried several light placements before sewing everything onto the wreath and I ultimately just ended up picking the best placement as possible while using as many stitches as I could to keep everything in place.

That wasn't the only problem with the lights! I even had issue cutting the holes in the back of the felt since the way the directions want you to do it didn't work. I ultimately had to cut every mark through the front and sometimes had to cut the felt twice to make sure the slit was deep enough for the lights. Some of the lights didn't quite fit into the slits marks I cut, but I thought they could be seen which is all that matters. When it came time to sewing them in place, several of the lights fell out of the slit marks I made. I was already frustrated at this time and I was getting mad every time I had to stop to readjust the lights.

My advice is simple. Ditch the lights! The lights may look nice, but they aren't worth the headache that comes with putting them on the wreath. The directions are absolutely no help and I ultimately had to guess on this part of the project to figure out the best way to get the lights on the wreath. The banner will still look good without the lights. I even argue the banner is better without the lights since it will make it simple and puts the focus on all the handmade elements of the wreath. Just scratch off the marks meant for the lights if you like or leave them.

The Finishing Touches

Once the lights are sewn onto the wreath, it is time to make a slit for the battery pack and attach the middle section to the white banner. I folded the middle section of the white banner in half and cut the folded edge I made to get a slit mark. When you attach the battery pack, I recommend being extra careful with the placement before you attach it. Since I was still frustrated with the lights, I did the best I could with the placement of my middle section. However the middle section ended up crooked with one side getting very close to the red sequin border instead of being right in the center of the banner.

Although I did try different placements before attaching the middle, the issue I had was the way the battery pack would lie on the back of the wreath. No matter what I tried, the battery pack would lie crooked at the back of the wreath. I decided a crooked wreath was lesser of two evils at this point and applique the wreath as best as I could without moving the battery pack. There wasn't a mark on the red banner for where the battery pack should go. I did some more guess work by placing the white banner on top of the red banner to find the right place for the slit and marked it with a pencil before making the slit in the red banner.

Last thing you need to do is add to the pocket at the back of the red banner and adding the tabs to the wreath. I used the applique stitch carefully to secure the pocket in place. I used closer stitches on the pocket than I normally do to make sure the pocket wouldn't fall apart from the extra weight of the battery pack. When you add the tabs, make sure you measure how far the tabs need to be from the edge and mark these measurements or pin them down. This will help you see how the tabs will look and let you get a sense of where they can be placed on the banner.

Conclusion

Bucilla's The Season of Joy craft kit was a lot tougher than I anticipated. I was getting frustrated with this kit just as much as I did when I made my first felt applique wreath. I made a lot more mistakes with this craft kit and had to find unique ways to cover them up. Many of these problems came from the badly written directions and incorrect stamped felt pieces. If Bucilla is reading this review, they need to double check these elements ASAP and redo the directions for the last portion of the kit so it isn't just easier to read but clear in what crafters are suppose to do.

What was your experience making this kit? Share your tips in the comments. If there are any craft kits you would like to see me make, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to make it happen.

Notes

All images belong to Needlework Kits.