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.

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