Friday, February 11, 2011

Stitching Review: Floral Bouquet Variation, Free Pattern

I am excited to share this lovely pattern, which is a free design offered by Free Patterns Online. FPO is a wonderful resource for high-quality counted cross-stitch designs that have been previously published in magazines and books. The only requirement for access is that you complete a free registration process. Normally, I am wary of such sites, as they inevitably wind up inundating my inbox with junk mail. But I was pleased to discover that this is not the case with FPO. The registration process is quick and easy, and only requires a valid e-mail address, which you then use as your login ID for the site. FPO does not send out any notification, unless you choose to sign up to one of the many optional newsletters and free offers during registration. I signed up for the Simply Beading newsletter only, and it sends out an interesting flyer every second week or so. FPO also carries patterns for other crafts, including beading, knitting, crochet, quilting and quick crafts. I have only downloaded the cross-stitch patterns, so I can’t speak for what the other craft areas are like.
Once you complete the registration process, and confirm your subscriptions via an e-mail delivered to your inbox, you can begin downloading the patterns that catch your interest. All designs are downloaded as .PDF files. The first and last pages of the downloaded pattern are advertisement pages for FPO, and are graphics heavy, so when printing your pattern it is a good idea to select the pattern pages only (it will save a lot of ink!).
This pattern, officially titled Floral Beauty, was designed by Kathleen Hurley and originally appeared in Crazy for Cross Stitch! Magazine, Number 64, May 2001 (pages 7-9). This magazine is no longer in publication, and I could not find any information about the designer, save for links to other patterns which were mostly country-inspired. To download, visit the Cross-Stitch section of FPO, select Home Decor and then Stitched Art and Floral Beauty is on the second line of images, towards the right-hand side.
This is the project photo of Floral Beauty. I call my finished project, Floral Bouquet, since it is a substantial colour variation on the original pattern. As you can see, the original colours are much more muted, although when I pulled the original colours from my stash some of them – particularly the orange used for the center of the daffodils and the tulip – were a great deal more vivid than the photograph suggested. I really liked the composition, but I felt that the colours for all of the flowers should be a bit more vibrant and that the leaves – which were mostly pastels (the daffodil leaves were seafoam green!) – needed to be more realistic looking.

I frequently make colour variations for smaller designs, particularly for Christmas ornaments. But while I have made colour substitutions before in large designs, due to lack of certain floss or dislike of a particular colour, this is the first large pattern in which I have made enough substitutions to consider it a pattern variation. This is an excellent design to substitute because it is composed entirely of whole cross stitches (no fractionals!), has no blended colours or specialty flosses (although you could certainly add them if you wish), and all of the flowers follow the same format. Each flower has a dark, medium and light colour along with a backstitch.

You could make your own substitutions easily, but if you would like to use mine, here are the details:

I have made this new colour chart using the symbols from the original. If you should have any trouble saving or reading this variation chart, please send me an e-mail and let me know.

NOTE: All leaves were supposed to be backstitched in 890 (U D Pistachio Green). I have added different back stitch colours for each leaf type. I have also added a distinct backstitch colour for each flower, as some had them and some did not (for example, the tulip and the daffodils were to be backstitched in the same 947, Burnt Orange).

My variation was stitched on 16 count Aida, white (Charles Craft Gold Standard) with 3 strands of floss for the cross-stitches and 1 strand for back stitch. I used a size 24 needle.
I omitted the border. There were two reasons for that: a circular border would make the piece harder to frame, and the pretty scallops – when I inspected them closely – all have uneven points that look more like sloppy waves than picots. I briefly considered designing a border that was circular in the middle and extended at the corners into a square, perhaps out of blackwork (rendered in one of the colours, like the pink) before deciding that I liked the work as it was. This is one of the reasons that I work from the middle of a pattern outwards, rather than starting on an outside corner the way some stitchers do; I find it very helpful to place the center elements before deciding on the framing elements.

For floral designs like this, I always stitch the flower blooms first, followed by the leaves. I learned to do this through trial and error. To my mind, the flowers are the centerpieces of the design, and the leaves are subordinate to their completion. This also accommodates adding stitches to the flowers, as I did with the left daffodil on its bottom leaf. First, I stitched it as designed, but being unhappy with the way it looked so much skinnier compared to its fellows, I added some stitches to make it fuller. I would not have been able to do this if I had stitched the leaves first. I did much the same with the bottom-most daffodil leaf on the left, the one that extends from the rosebud and the bunch of violets, for the same reason. Also on the left, I added two small leaves around the forget-me-not, as it looked very bare stitched as it was originally designed. The FMNs have no distinct leaves of their own, so I used the violet leaf design and colours. On the bottom right-most leaf of the second violet bunch on the right, I also added a few stitches to make that skinny leaf fuller.

The stitching on this project went fast and was very enjoyable. The colour chart with the unique symbols was very clear and easy to understand. The different backstitches were also done in different colours. I did not need to enlarge it. The pattern is split over two pages, with the majority of the pattern on the first page and about an inch or so on the next, along with the stitching key. I found it very helpful to cut the excess from the second page and then tape it - using clear tape - to the first page, making effectively one large chart.

The whole cross-stitches made the stitching easy and speedy; I started this design in the 3rd week of January and finished in the 1st week of February, which is very fast for me when working on a design this size. There is a size chart for different fabric options included in the pattern. My 16 count worked up to approximately 8½ by 8½ inches, which is a nice medium. I am hoping to find a gold scrolled frame for it, or a lovely dark wood.

I was very pleased with how my colour choices worked out. While I mostly used one or more of the existing colours as bases for the flower substitutions - with the exception of the tulip, which was wholly substituted - my choices for the leaves of the tulips and the violets were significantly darker than the originals. I found that this really made the bright colours of the flowers stand out when it was finished. Although the finished photo in this post may not look a great deal different than the photo in the last post - in which the leaves were not backstitched yet - the leaf backstitch adds quite a bit of depth which unfortunately did not show up well in the photos.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful pattern to use to experiment with colour substitutions, and although Floral Beauty/Floral Bouquet is composed entirely of whole cross-stitches, there is enough shading in the various flowers and leaves to make this floral very realistic looking. I highly recommend this pattern, and if you do decide to stitch it in either version, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!


Mel said...

Thank you for your comment and info on beading!

Aurelia Eglantine said...

Thanks very much! And you're very welcome :) I hope your bracelet turns out well for you!

CrazyStitcher said...

I really do like Floral Beauty/Floral Bouquet. Absolutely stunning! x

Aurelia Eglantine said...

Thank you very much! I appreciate your wonderful compliment a great deal. :)