This project was inspired by a project I saw back in 1993 in The Cross Stitcher Magazine. I had just gotten into cross stitching and was ordering different magazines when I came across this project and dreamed of making it. I knew it would take a long time, but it was always on my mind to complete, but I didn’t want to do it as an afghan because I didn’t want people to see the way the back of my work looks. I have no idea how people keep the back looking so pretty. I have never mastered that.
Anyway, I kept my magazines that I collected over the years hoping that one day I would get around to making these beautiful replications of Victorian days gone by. I really should have been born back then. I did eventually start this project and it would take me over 10 years to complete. In all that time, I kept all of my magazines and never lost any of my completed shops. This project is what opened the way for me to buy all my DMC floss as back when this pattern was released there were only 180 DMC colors and this project would use everyone of them. Below is a picture of the page from the magazine. I will admit back in 2014 when we were going to live full-time in an RV I let go of all my patterns. Something I really regret right now. Regardless I was able to find these treasures on eBay so that I could have a hard copy to keep in my collection.
The different shops would appear two at a time over the next six months until the entire series was completed. I honestly don’t remember which order I worked on these as I originally started this project around 1999/2000 and it would not be until August 2008 when I would finish it and frame them. The first time I framed them I split them into groups of 4 and framed in three different frames, 16×20 in size. I had a mat cut that went around each shop which are 5 inches square.
The first magazine they appeared in was the December 1993 issue which featured the Flower Shop and Ice Cream Parlor. In February 1994 the Cross Stitch Shop and Barber Shop were featured. The Mercantile and Antiques were in the April 1994 issue and the Quilt Shop and Apothecary were in the June 1994. The excitement of each issue grew each month I got my magazine. The August 1994 issue featured the Dress Shop and Book Shop and finally in the October 1994 issue I would get the Sweet Shop and Millinery.
Each shop was stitched on 14 count aida cloth with 2 strands of DMC and the backstitching was done with 1 strand. Each shop would take hours to complete, but in the end it was worth all the time it took.
When I moved in the first RV I carried these things around in the storage and/or basement area determined that one day I would display them again. That day finally came when I decided how I wanted to change things up. I had several pieces of 1″ x 8″ boards that had been cut for another project I planned on doing but never got around to that I decided to recut to 6 1/2 inches square. Once they were all cut and sanded, I painted them black as that would serve as my background and then I would use Mod Podge to attach each piece to the board. To add a little boarder around each shop I decided to frill out the aida cloth, but one of the shops didn’t have much left over so its a little wonky, but the others turned out pretty good.
To add the mod podge I applied to the backside (no pic) then centered on the black board. I then applied mod podge around the edges so the board would have that shiny look. I did not put mod podge on top of the cross stitch piece only on the back. The below gallery shows the before, during and after pics of the process attaching them to the board.
This is a proud moment seeing these on the wall after all these years. I wish I had framed them like this when I first made them as it would have been easier to display them even living in small quarters.
Because it has been so long since I originally framed this project and even longer ago that I started it, I’m not sure what date I actually started or completed the project; however, at the bottom of each original frame and mat board was a section for the following, but each frame had a different month and year. I want to believe that it was to represent the approximate time that I had finished another 4 shops. The last date I had was August 2008.
I am certain I will never tackle another project of this magnitude as my hands cannot hold out to stitch like I used to. Some days I find sewing hard, so being able to stitch something like this would be impossible, which is why this holds so much meaning for me.