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.

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