Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Back to Trestles – Revisiting the Embroiderer’s Workstation


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I really appreciate all the input from the comments on the first post introducing the embroiderer’s workstation / trestles from a couple weeks ago! Brian kept an eye on the comments and took them into consideration, and is working on some tweaking. In the meantime, I wanted to show you some other pictures of trestles after I moved them out to the studio….

One of our bigger concerns about the trestle stand is the manner in which the frame is attached to the trestles. Anything too “permanent” (such as lashing, which was often used on old convent embroidery workstations) impedes the flipping of the frame. So we’ve tried a couple things, and the one that has worked best so far is a ratchet clamp.

Trestles for Slate Frames: Embroiderer's Workstation

Here, I’ve got the trestles set at a pretty good slant, and I’ve used a ratchet clamp to attach a Q-snap frame to it. The point is, you can attach anything this way – hoop, frames, even heavy slate frames. Ratchet clamps are easy to use – they release with the flick of the lever, and they don’t require any heavy squeezing to tighten them. But… still… it’s not “ideal.” If you’re working with a large frame, that reach to the back to undo the clamp if you want to flip things is a bit inconvenient.

This question of securing the frame is the main element of the workstation that has Brian going back to the drawing board, and I think he’s come up with a solution! Haven’t seen it yet, but when I do, I’ll show you what it is!

In the meantime, though, I have to admit, for regular sized project, I like the ratchet clamps. Maybe it’s just because they’re tools, and I feel so universally capable when I use tools with names like “ratchet clamp”! But seriously, I think it’s just because they really hold things on well. I don’t know why I never thought of this kind of clamp for other needlework applications. (Actually, I wasn’t aware of the existence of these until now…)

Trestles for Slate Frames: Embroiderer's Workstation

This is the other little table for the trestles, and in fact, the whole workstation can be populated with these, as they fit in a variety of places.

Brian and I discussed the lip on the table suggestion… I see his reasoning on this: it is easier to pick something up off a table or to brush something off into your hand (and even, if it falls on the floor, to pick it up) than it is to try to work something out of a lipped corner on a piece of furniture (something like a needle or a bead or something small…) He is right about that! But the idea is still there, stewing. So we’ll see where that goes.

Rounded corners on things (like the tables and feet) were suggested… good idea…

Trestles for Slate Frames: Embroiderer's Workstation

This is the whole thing on a slant, from the side. The present adjustments being made would actually eliminate some of the bulk from the slanted supports there, where the dowels fit. In fact, the dowels probably won’t be used for the actual frame support. I like the dowels because they’re universal – if you wanted to add another support, you just run to the hardware store and pick up a 1″ dowel. Besides wanting another way for the frame to stay on the stand without a clamp is the whole question of rolling dowels. Should you clamp something heavy to the dowels (like a light), the dowel tends to roll, unless the item being clamped is perfectly balanced – and a bump can upset the balance pretty easily. So Brian’s frame-holding solution should also solve the rolling dowels. It’ll also streamline the look of the sides there.

Trestles for Slate Frames: Embroiderer's Workstation

This is the workstation, on a slant, with a larger piece being held by one clamp. It works great, and the clamp is within easy reach.

Trestles for Slate Frames: Embroiderer's Workstation

And this is the workstation horizontal. And this is my favorite position! It is so nice to work sitting there, with the piece resting horizontal, perfectly secure, no bouncing, no feeling of unstable support – it’s as if your embroidery work has become your table. You have perfect access underneath, can easily flip the needlework, and it’s actually a very comfortable way to sit and stitch!

I’ve sat at a frame propped between to tables before, lying horizontal. It was “ok” but not very comfortable because the tables were regular-height tables. The frame was just too high to work on comfortably, but I didn’t realize that was the problem until I set this up horizontally. It’s slightly lower – not low enough to have to bend over, but low enough to be easily on top of the work. It’s perfect!

Trestles for Slate Frames: Embroiderer's Workstation

Now I understand the horizontal workroom situations of old! And, when horizontal, another advantage is that a second stitcher can sit on the other side…

So, we’re still open for suggestions or questions or anything. Any thoughts on this set-up? Any points of improvement that may have occurred to you since introducing the workstation? We’re all ears!


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(13) Comments

  1. While I see Brian’s point on the lip/no lip debate, I rarely work with my chart flat like that. For a book/chart/design table, it really needs a lip. Now, there’s no reason this couldn’t be made detachable, for instance with two pins fitted to the back which then slot into two small holes in the table. Since the table is also adjustable, it would also be easy to have a flat surface on one side and a lip on the other, allowing the stitcher to flip to which side is more appropriate for the current use.
    I use tape to pick up dropped beads, and needles which are dropped near my chart usually have thread attached, which makes them easier to find and pick up.
    This really is a lovely workstation.

  2. Hi Mary, what a neat blog you have!

    I just wanted you to know that I replied to you question about frosting- I didn’t know if you’d see it and I couldn’t find an email for ya, so here’s what I said:

    Oh Mary Mary Mary, you have no idea. I just made this a few weeks ago and I added 1t of lemon extract in (along with the vanilla) and it was to DIE for. Seriously I could have eaten it all with a spoon! I put it in between little mini lemon cakes and it everyone was asking me what the heck was in there because it was so yummy. I’m actually concocting a dessert right now to post that uses it. So yes- flavor it up! I’ve wanted to try coconut, and also peppermint (on a chocolate cupcake, can you imagine?)

    (and now if you want to delete this food related comment from your site, you’re more than welcome to- I won’t be offended! lol) Happy Cooking (and crafting!)


  3. Hi, Katy – Thanks for the input! I appreciate it. For a chart holder, we were thinking along a different line – not necessarily this table attachment, which is more for tools… although, come to think of it, the table attachment would make a good chart-holder, with one lip on the side. I’ll let Brian know – thanks!

    Sara – Thanks for visiting! I loved visiting your blog this morning, and I was REALLY excited to find the frosting recipe, which is just what I was looking for! Hopefully, this weekend, I’ll give it a go, and let you know what happens! I may even try the coconut first, so if it works out, I’ll send you the lowdown on it! Thanks!


  4. Nothing useful on the trestle, but I love your phrase “universally capable”.
    I know just what you mean and it’s a great phrase for it.

  5. For the table’s lip/no-lip discussion. An alternative would be to router a groove into the table like the pencil groove in old school desks. This would prevent items from rolling off, while still retaining that ability to sweep them off.

  6. Is there a source from which trestles are available? I’ve just started working with slate frames and can see a need for a trestle floor frame. Although I’ve seen some examples of them, the most recent in the RSN stumpwork book, I can;t seem to find a source from which to purchase one.
    Your blog is a great source of information and an inspiration to adventure in needlework. Thank you.

    1. Hi, Joan – I’ve not found a source for them in the States, but I’d like to… I’m thinking about finding someone who can make a set of the simple, traditional ones for me… I’ll let you know if I come up with something!


  7. I’ve been pondering how to go about finding something that could be used with larger slate type frames so that I can work on victorian type garment parts (in the early stages of construction) and wonder if a quilter’s frame that I saw in Hobby Lobby today might work… any thoughts or suggestions as to what I might need to check on before I purchase one? – its certainly not going to be as nice as the one you have that inspired me to think more seriously about this, but might it be workable? – the dimensions certainly seem ok~

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