Jody over at Unconventional X Stitch asked me to do a product review for her and I gladly accepted. How could I not when she provided pattern, fabric, floss and needleminder? The USPS and Australian mail carriers cooperated extremely well, and before you know it I had everything I needed to begin the stitching. (Seriously, when she ships you will receive very quickly)
During this time Jody was stitching the same pattern and I was very excited to have a speed stitch competition. I honestly thought I would win since Jody was in the process of relocating, has two kids and her business to run….when could she possibly have time to finish even if the pattern is a mini?
Sadly (or happily), she did beat me to it, but that’s alright. It gave me time to slow down and pay attention to the job at hand….carefully inspecting the products provided for this fun mini stitch.
By now you are curious about RAWR? Head on over to the RAWR Mini Pattern to see what I was stitching and if you are interested in a more detailed version of RAWR, the larger pattern might be perfect for you. The original art is by Sugar Fueled (Michael Banks).. It is quite unique, adorable and fun (yes, I’m a fan).
The pattern was a PDF from the UXS Etsy Store and, as always, Jody’s pattern was clean. By clean I mean she isn’t grouping similar symbols together hindering your ability to tell which is what. If you are blind like I am she will make you a colored chart. I like taking my highlighters and inking the more complicated sections, but the color charts are ALWAYS an option for those who prefer that over black and white. Just let her know your preference.
Now that we have everything we need to stitch this little cutie, my first concern was the fabric. I’m going to tell you now that I have been stitching for almost 30 years and AIDA is not high on my list of fabrics to stitch on. I do agree that there are times it is a good idea, but my preference is almost anything but AIDA.
I pull out this AIDA fabric, 18 ct white, and with all the strength I can muster, I unfold this weapon’s grade material. It is super stiff (from what I understand, AIDA is made to be stiff, but there is a limit isn’t there?). I tried to iron it flat with the steam iron and ended up with what could only be considered a very dangerous and sharp tool for cutting vegetables or logs. I like to sew around the edges of my fabric but was afraid...very afraid….what if my sewing machine exploded?
Strangely my machine did very well (it’s a Singer and I read once where Singers will sew through steel if given a chance) so was able to move to the next part: putting the fabric in the hoop. Back hoop is on the table, I place the plywood slab of AIDA on top and proceed to struggle with getting the outer rim down over it all. Well, this isn’t working…………. TO THE KITCHEN!
I decide to give the fabric a nice sudsy wash in the kitchen sink with warm water and Lime Method. (Just FYI, technically one should not do this, and I will tell you why later on) Normally this works to soften the fabric. Normally. This time all I did was moisten the incredible amount of starch (or some fantastically tight weaving) that has been applied to the fabric, but it does yield enough to get on the hoop.
You may be thinking, my keen readers, that this fabric is dangerous and you may be right. There are, however, MANY great qualities about this particular fabric you should be made aware of:
It is very stiff. I believe we covered that one, but just in case you are thinking this is bad, it is actually good. Stiff AIDA (once secured in the hoops) has a natural tautness to it which really helps to keep the stitching even and not allow warping (or you can make a ninja throwing star and forget about the stitching...it really is up to you). I appreciate this very much. If you stitch free hand this fabric could be for you simply because of that stiffness (Serious forever fabric! Perfect for heirlooms and siding on your house with a 10,000 year warranty).
Fun fact: AIDA was originally pronounced Ay-EE-Duh, but the name was “adjusted” to AY-duh after a popular opera “AIDA” by Giuseppe Verdi. When you don’t have television, internet, radio or any other way to get the word out about your textile, why not use this as your advertisement?
Having now worked up a sweat to get the fabric and the hoops to do the thing, my excitement to begin stitching rekindled. I was now able to grab the floss packs that had been included. Beautiful flosses, DMC as it happens, which I looked at lovingly. I would say most stitchers are familiar with or at least know and have experienced DMC floss. DMC has been doing this since the Romans landed on the British Isles, wait that was 55 B.C…..that’s not right...hang on a sec and I’ll check my factoids…..
Fine, it wasn’t that far back, it was 1746, and in case you all didn’t know DMC stands for D.M.C which is alphabet soup for Dollfus-Mieg & Compagnie. Next thing you know, John Mercer came up with mercerising (you really don’t want to know what that is….if you know anything about Victorian Era stuff, it’s blech, but strangely still used today...still blech so please stop putting that floss in your mouth to straighten before stitching).
Fun Fact: Caustic Soda (I can’t help it, you need to know) which is also known as sodium hydroxide (Lye), is used to make fun things like plastic wrap (we wrap our foods in this….so gross), soap...I feel cleaner knowing this, paper (I love paper and now I don’t know how to feel about paper)....but the best part about this special soda which is caustic is this: it is one of the fabulous ingredients in OVEN CLEANER. Yes, you read correctly. Mercerising uses this to strengthen and shine up that floss.
Thank you John Mercer for making our floss stronger and shiny……….and potentially dangerous in large quantities. I mean, isn’t that what the “experts” say? Not harmful unless you have it in large quantities? Good thing this project is a MINI.
Wow, that went sideways in a bad way. My finest of readers, never fear! I have been sticking that floss in my mouth for 30 years and the CAT scan and blood tests came back clean…..we will be fine...good to go….ready for the next project! If I can ever finish this one! So onward!
When Jody supplies floss for a project, she always adds 30% more than required by the program that created the pattern. This is a wise decision. Now that I have laid out my thread cards I grab the first color...310. I’m a one color at a time gal if I can get away with it and there are two main colors that have 2,268 and 3,450 stitches respectively and that’s an awful lot of both colors. According to the “Thread lengths for Rawr Mini”, there needs to be 8.9 meters of 310 and 13.6 meters of 939. From all appearances, the thread cards have enough floss to do this.
Back to that 18 ct AIDA; when selecting the right needle for your project I have to recommend something with a larger eye. You will be hard pressed to stitch through one hole four times with a smaller eye. My standard needle is John James size 26 Tapestry. The eye is insufficient for this fabric. Find a wider eye. Seriously, your fingers will thank you.
After the first 100 stitches, I realized it was going to be a wee bit hard going. This was before I figured out the eye of the needle situation because I was so gung ho to get at it! I love a challenge so much I don’t always stop to consider issues that pop up….like the eye of the needle…
Sia sings it best in one part of her song “Eye of the Needle”:
Smile through pain
Feel the acid rain
I ain't ready
I’ll hold steady
All of this crying about the eye of the needle started about a third of the way through when the eye of the needle was puncturing my right middle finger (or rather, it was sliding easily into the meat of the pad)...there was blood! Now don’t become alarmed. Somewhere in the Ol’ NCC there were stick on thimbles. For the life of me I couldn’t find them, so I taped up the injured finger and soldiered on.
Before long I finished all of those thousands of stitches. Thankfully, I mean….unfortunately life interfered like it does and my middle finger was allowed to heal up. When I returned to the project it was with total glee as the rest of the colors are so pretty! Like a prize, I couldn’t wait to dive into the greens and teals and turquoise….SNAKE GREEN if you can believe that!
Sometime during all of the stitching, Jody and I were having a conversation about the floss lengths provided on the floss cards. If they are supposed to be 30% more than what the pattern calls for, then wine plus ruler plus wine plus centimeters plus seque over 1/3rd divided by oh dear god I spilled wine on the RAWR, must certainly equal a trip to the bathroom sink for a rinse off.
A wonderful tip: If you insist on drinking wine while stitching, having a conversation about stitching and floss, always, ALWAYS drink a white wine or a nice Pinot. They rinse out fabulously and anyone who didn’t know would never guess anything was amiss.
In the end we figured out that the ratio equaled the tri-fecta which was determined by underlining some fancy words in the dictionary and came up with a result of minus zerio.
One very important point I would like to make when doing business with Jody: If you are unhappy or confused or need assistance (or a good cry) over any of her products, she really is there 24/7. She wants a quality product. It’s HER brand that could be bad mouthed and that is unacceptable. It’s one of the reasons I love her products so very much and why I do this product review for YOU.
Once recovered from the situation with the math, and having stitched so much more, I found that the supplier of the thread pack apparently cannot measure. If I had done this properly in the beginning I would have measured each color and written down the lengths for each one. In the end there were 3 colors that I used all of and only one color I had to dig in my stash to finish. Not too bad considering a third party was trying to follow the strictest directions.
My recommendation for this floss pack issue is to just provide the third party with the measurements of each color and go from there...or….and Jody this is something we have discussed….do it yourself. The only way to be confident in the product is usually to do it yourself. I am hopeful that if the third party continues to do or wants to do business with Jody there will be a way to figure out the measurements. But then I wonder if their math was done the same way Jody and I did ours? Which could explain quite a bit. If that is the case, well all I have to say is if you order up one of the thread packs just know that the process was complicated and required a ruler, tape measure, pinot, a rumpled white tablecloth, and one eye closed. Don’t be angry if you are two stitches shy of finishing one color, just spill some wine on it, it will be fine.
Once RAWR was finished, I snapped a quick shot for Jody with it still in the hoop. She liked it so much she asked to use it for her product feature.
I said earlier I would share why you shouldn’t wash your AIDA before you begin and the reason why is that when you moisten AIDA, and then it drys...like leather, it shrinks. The moisture evaporates leaving behind a dry, hard, chunk of AIDA. (That sounds horrible, but I was thinking about beef jerky when I wrote that….the end result is about the same) So why do we stitchers wash our AIDA after the stitching is completed? It’s because of the shrinking, which tightens up the fabric and make the colored thread come together more cleanly to cover the cloth so all you see is pretty stitches. It is also the reason it was so hard for me to use my beloved size 26 Tapestry Needle...I had already shrunk the fabric right away to make it pliant, and followed up with a healthy splashing of Pinot….so the bloody finger was really punishment for not thinking prior to stitching. Lesson learned (until next time).
Overall, I really enjoyed stitching up the Mini Rawr. For me it is especially wonderful to stitch something where the content is your “thing”, the person you are purchasing from is there for you from start to finish and isn’t afraid of critique. I cannot say enough about the quality of customer service and professionalism you get at Unconventional X Stitch. The best part of doing business with Jody is how I ended up with a friend. How’s that for getting more for what you paid for? A freebie extra perk!
Now that you have spent all day with me reading this product review, get yourself over to the Unconventional X Stitch shop and take a look at everything. Make the shop a favorite! You won’t regret it, I swear. If you have a sec and really feel a strong desire to share your feelings, PLEASE do so in the comments below.