Lately, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the set-up and materials I use to make embroidery stitch videos for Needle ‘n Thread and to photograph step-by-step instructions. I figured, instead of writing up multiple responses, why not tell everyone?
If you’re not interested in the nitty-gritty of this kind of stuff, I completely understand! But for those of you who are interested, today’s your lucky day – I’m letting you in on some Deep, Dark Secrets here. Shhhhhhhh!
Ok, ok. You’re right. There’s nothing deep or dark about it!
This is my current set-up. This changes from time to time, depending on what I’m working on and what other mess is cluttering up my space. Normally, I have two more lights surrounding the embroidery frame, and sometimes, I even have lights in large light tents set up around the frame. The lighting I use depends on the natural lighting in the workroom, the time of day, and the time of year.
For me, using a large piece of fabric set up on a large frame is the most convenient approach to making embroidery videos and doing step-by-step photos. I use a large Millenium frame, 36″ wide.
One of the advantage of using a large cloth on a large frame is that I can move around on different sections of the cloth and work out a stitch, without having to re-hoop fabric. The nice thing about the Millenium frame in this situation is that it is very easy to loosen up the fabric for some stitches that work better without taut fabric. I can also roll up the fabric as I go, when I need to expose a clear area of fabric. Another advantage: if I need to change out the fabric, I can do it lickety-split with a Millenium frame, rather than the much longer procedure needed to dress a slate frame. So the large Millenium frame serves me really well in this situation.
The fabric is always linen. Sometimes, it’s Round Yarn linen by Legacy, sometimes it’s Strathaven linen, and sometimes it’s Sotema 20L linen.
There aren’t too many needlework stands out there (in fact, none that I know of) that can handle a large, independent frame well. The best solution for large frames is a set of trestles. These trestles can be adjusted so that the frame lies perfectly parallel to the floor or at about a 45-degree slant, depending on what I need.
When resting on the trestles, the frame sits a little higher than the regular height of a table, which is great, because it relieves me from having to bend over the embroidery, and at the same time, it is a good height for my tripod. I can also see the work more clearly because I’m closer to it.
You can see my tripod here. It’s a pretty good tripod – heavy duty, so there’s no jiggling or instability to worry about. It has a horizontal “boom” arm that allows the camera to be situated right over the work, so that the videos show you the stitches being worked just as you would see them, face-to-face with your fabric.
I use a computer desk chair with the trestles, though a regular kitchen chair or a stool (I sometimes use a stool) also works. The advantage of a computer chair is that it’s on wheels, so I don’t have to scoot it back or anything when standing up. It just rolls out of the away. I stand up and sit down quite a bit while making videos or taking pictures, to make sure I’m getting the shots I want. Another point with the computer chair: I can adjust my sitting height if I want. I’m not particularly tall, nor particularly short (5’3″), but sometimes, I like to be either higher or lower in relation to my embroidery.
Next to the whole set-up, you’ll see that small foldable “TV table.” I have two of these that I use all the time for extra table space when I need it. They come in really handy, and they’re great for pulling up to the sides of my trestle set-up.
And beyond the little foldable table is my regular work table, which is spread out with a jolly mess o’ stuff (you’re seeing the tidy end). When I’m working on video or step-by-step photography, I only keep exactly what I’m using right at hand, so that I don’t get muddled with extras while recording video or shooting photos.
For actual photo equipment, I’m afraid I’m not very sophisticated. I have lofty plans of getting my dream DSLR some day, but it’s a slow process to save all those pennies! Right now, I use an Olympus point-and-shoot 8 megapixel camera for step-by-steps I take while stitching (it’s much easier to maneuver, to use quickly, and so forth, than a larger camera, and it has really good macro settings for a point-and-shoot), and for video, I use an Olympus micro four-thirds camera (their E-PL line). It’s somewhere between the point-and-shoot and my dream DSLR. I also keep two batteries for both cameras – one is always on the charger – and two memory cards on hand. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a session and either running out of juice in the camera or space on the card!
For editing, I use Adobe Photoshop for photos and iMovie and Final Cut Pro (depending on what I’m doing) for video.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your set-up for doing how-to videos or taking progress or instructional photos, I hope this information gives you some ideas. Or, if you’re trying to figure out how to handle larger frames, thinking about what types of chairs to use, or anything like that, maybe there’s something useful here for you, too!
And now, off to the workroom! Have any questions? Feel free to ask them below!