I’m a huge fan of using a stand for needlework – whether it’s a lap stand or a floor stand, for needlework projects larger than 10 inches in any direction, I think the stand is a necessary tool for the embroiderer. So I’ve been on a quest, searching for a good one.
My current embroidery stand is a wooden one from Lacis. You can see it on their main catalog page. It’s the floor stand on the right in the photo below.
When I first got it, I liked it well enough. It was nice to have a floor stand that adjusted in height. I soon found one noteable drawback: it doesn’t adjust in position, so when I use it while sitting in the living room on the couch or in a comfortable chair, I have to pull it towards me and balance it on two of its legs. That’s not so convenient. After a few years of use, of having to tighten and loosen the wooden ends every time I wanted to turn my work over, it has lost its appeal. The accessory for holding a hoop or a stretcher bar frame is actually a pain in the neck.
So the search was on for a good needlework stand, and to that end, I went to Kansas City, where there are a couple needlework shops that carry different lines of stands and frames. K’s Creations is probably the most common line in most needlework shops. I checked out their stainless steel stand, which is featured on their website:
There are things I like about it and things I don’t. The base, for example, while heavy, is not proportioned for larger needlework projects. If you accessorized with everything they offer, including the optional light attachment, the stand would be top heavy. Add a larger project to it, and it seems to me the whole set-up would be prone to toppling if someone brushed against it in passing. You can hold your foot on the base to stabilize it, but I often leave a project up when I’m not sitting at it, and I wouldn’t want to risk the whole thing falling over.
Then I checked out the Lowry stand, which is a stainless steel stand much like K’s Creations. The base seemed heavier, but really, they were very similar, and I figured the same thing would happen with the Lowry stand if it were loaded with a larger project. What I did like on both of these is that the clamp for stretcher bar frames is also stainless steel, as opposed to plastic or wood.
I tried the Mark 2 Needlework Stand (here’s a picture of the Mark 2 Needlework Stand, if you scroll down the page), and, while I like the sturdiness of having the project mounted on both sides, I don’t like the largeness of the thing in general. My workspace simply isn’t big enough! On this one, though, you can rotate your work without adjusting the wooden knobs, which is a plus. However, if you want to adjust the stand to a new position, you have to adjust knobs on both legs of the stand. And then if the position isn’t quite right, you have to do it again…! And all this makes for eventual wear on the wood.
I saw other stands and frames as well – American Dream products, which were wood and, while sturdy at first, prone to that same loosening and wear that I’ve experienced on my Lacis stand. I wasn’t really impressed with these products – at least, not if I am going to make an investment in a piece of equipment that I want to last!
And then… I found it. It’s the Rolls Royce of Needlework Stands. Oh golly, I want one. I tested and tried it and liked it, and I tested and tried it and liked it again. It’s called the Needlework System 4.
It’s somewhat strange looking, but it works! It slants down towards you if you’re sitting in a lounge-type chair or on a couch, or you can position it straight up and down. You can clamp your work on the top, or on the side. The clamp (disadvantage) seems to be made of plastic, but it’s very sturdy and seems really durable. (It has a lifetime warranty, which is great!) I mounted a large project on it to see how it would hold, and it does! I’m don’t usually like the idea of top-mounting my needlework, because I don’t like “straddling” the stand, but it was comfortable, and I even had a skirt on and it didn’t bother me.
The front leg is long, but it is not very high, so it slides underneath furniture well. The long leg compensates for a larger or heavier needlework project, or any accessories such as lights that you might add to the stand. No wobbly feeling on this stand! And although the work is mounted only on one side, the frame I tested it with didn’t feel wobbly or insecure, either.
And the whole construction of the stand part is steel – no wood rubbing down, etc.
Oh, yes. I like it. But the price! Holy Cow! To get the stand and the clamp attachment, you’re looking right away at anywhere from $250 – $300. On the bright side, you’d never have to replace it! But the front-end investment is a bit steep.
If you want to use scross frames, by the way, you can. But you have to buy at least one of theirs, so that the sides will mount on the frame. You can use other dowels, as long as you have the side mounts.
I was pretty impressed with the System 4 Rug Floor Stand for Really Big Needlework Projects!! But that one doubles the price, since you need two of the floor stands to set it up!
Anyway, there it is. I didn’t buy one. But perhaps someday….!