“Hands-free embroidery” (or needlework) is a term often used to describe a situation wherein needlework frames or hoops are held by a stand of some sort – a device that holds the frame or hoop so that your hands don’t have to.
When talking about hand embroidery, I always chuckle when I hear that term (“hands-free embroidery”) to describe using a stand. I find it a bit oxymoronic. But maybe that’s just me…
In any case, there’s nothing as wonderful as a needlework stand, whether it’s a floor stand, a table stand of some sort, a lap stand, or any other device that can hold your hoop or frame for you, so you don’t have to. It frees up both hands so that you can use both hands to do your work.
For techniques like goldwork and many types of silk embroidery, a stand is really essential because you need two hands for much of the work. But even for other embroidery techniques, a stand is so helpful – it allows you to work faster, with more ease and and with more precision. French knots and bullion knots when you don’t have to hold the hoop? So much easier!
I have two stands that I really love, both for different reasons – the Necessaire stand from Needle Necessities and the Needlework System 4 stand, and both of which I’ve reviewed here on Needle ‘n Thread.
So you might wonder why I’m doing this:
What you see in the photo above is a clamp from the hardware store. I use two of them in my workroom for a variety of odd jobs, from holding lights in place while taking photos to holding warping pegs in place while measuring out lengths of thread.
And now I’m using it to clamp my embroidery frame to my Necessaire floor stand. Why?
Well, I loaned my Needlework System 4 stand to a former student who is working slowly but surely through a goldwork project, and so it is out of reach for now.
And the Necessaire stand from Needle Necessities works great with the 20″ roller bars, but not so well with a 10″ stretcher bar frame.
Using a clamp, though, I can clamp the smaller stretcher bar frame to the main part of the Necessaire floor stand, and I’ve got a whole new configuration of a floor stand that works really well!
I know floor stands are expensive. But clamps really aren’t too expensive, and they come in all kinds of styles. This one that I’m using is easy on the hands and it’s easy on the embroidery and frame surface. It doesn’t un-clamp and re-clamp quickly, like regular quick-grip spring clamps do, so that’s a draw-back, and it has a very long shaft that the clamp moves up and down on, which can get in the way of some things. But overall, I like these clamps, especially because they have a wide, flat rubber surface for gripping the frame.
My point is this: you can actually rig up your own “hands-free embroidery” station, without the expense of a floor stand if you need to. I find table height a little low, personally, for most of my embroidery, preferring my frame to sit about 4″ – 6″ higher than table height, which is why I’m clamped to a floor stand here. But if you stitch at table height, you can clamp your embroidery to a table edge; and if you want it higher, with a little imagination, I bet you can rig a device that allows you to clamp your work where you want it.
Ideally, if you can rig a situation where the frame can sit at a slight tilt, this would probably be best – it’s easier to stitch on a slight tilt.
And if you’re hesitating about the expense of a floor stand, you can always put off the purchase until you’ve saved the funds (I’ve written here about how I budget for all my needlework stuff – it’s a good way to go!), giving you time to shop around for exactly what you want at the best price. And in the meantime, a $10 or $12 clamp and a little manipulation of your surroundings might do the trick until you can buy the stand you want.
It’s just a thought…..