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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Needlework System 4 Table / Lap Stand – Review


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On one side of the coin, you can call it serendipitous. On the other side of the coin, you can call it unfortunate.

You see, I have a new needlework stand – a Needlework System 4 table / lap stand.

(Update: Please note, this is the older version of the stand. The newer version, with the solid base, is far superior!)

Needlework System 4 Table / Lap Stand

I’ve always wanted one, but I could not justify buying one. I’m not short of stands.

But, due to the sad circumstances of needlework shop in Kansas City closing down and the subsequent Kansas Department of Revenue auction of all the goods therein, and thanks to a pal who bid on this and another stand that were “lotted” together, I now have a a Needlework System 4 Table / Lap Stand.

As it only cost me $40 including the clamp (that’s the serendipitous part – normally, the two together are around $225), you can understand why I didn’t pass it up.

Though I’ve reviewed the Needlework System 4 floor stand (5 years ago), I’ve never been able to give an informed opinion on the table stand, having never tried it. So, besides having a really good tabletop stand (perfect, especially, for travel), I can now review the thing for you! So we all win!

Well, all of us, except the shop. I’m always sad when a needlework shop closes.

Needlework System 4 Table / Lap Stand

The table stand with the frame clamp works much like the floor stand, except that the stand rests on the table. It can also sit on your lap, if you like to sit in a comfy chair or sofa and work with both hands free.

I use the frame clamp on mine, but there are other options for the Needlework System 4 stands – they have a Q-Snap option, for example, as well as a scroll frame option. I’m a stretcher bar / slate frame / hoop person myself, so the clamp works best for me.

You can read my previous review on the Needlework System 4 floor stand and frame clamp, if you’d like more detail on how the frame clamp works. I even have an old video on there, to show you how the whole head turns so that you can easily access the back of your work.

At first glance, you might think that the frame clamp on that forward-bending neck might throw the table stand off balance, that it would tip forward all the time. But indeed, no! It is weighted just right. I can bring the neck all the way forward so that the clamp hangs low off the edge of the table, and the frame still doesn’t tip.

I haven’t tried the contraption as a lap stand for an extended period of time – just a brief test to see that, yes, it does work as a lap stand.

Needlework System 4 Table / Lap Stand

Interestingly, the neck of the stand is the same piece that’s used as the “extension bar” that’s sold separately for the floor stand. It comes with the lap stand (it’s part of it), but you can remove it and use it as an extension bar on the Needlework System 4 floor stand if you happen to have one.

Needlework System 4 Table Stand Pros & Cons


1. Very sturdy, very well made.

2. Completely adjustable. You can set it at whatever angle is most comfortable for you, and it works great. Want it up high next to your face? No problem! Want it low so that your work hangs over the edge of the table? Equally no problem! Anywhere in between works great, too.

3. Light and portable – great for travel, classes, events, seminars, and so forth.

4. Takes up very little room and folds down easily.

5. Convenient!


1. Well, if you want good equipment, the fact is, good equipment costs money. And this is no exception. It is pricey. The stand itself (sans frame clamp, Q-Snap attachment, or scroll bars) runs about $100. But it is useless without the “head” (choices previously mentioned), and they run anywhere from $114-$150. The frame clamp runs around $120-$125 depending on where you buy it.

2. The manufacturer’s customer service is not so good. In one instance, I had an issue with the rotation mechanism on the frame clamp after a few years of use. I knew it was just a matter of changing a washer (one of them split, but I wasn’t sure of the size, because I had lost it). The manufacturer was not helpful with a response and wanted me to ship the whole clamp to them. Since I didn’t want to be without the clamp at the time, I trouble-shot the problem on my own until I found the right 12-cent washer from the local hardware store. I expected a little more help from the company when I corresponded with them, so this was a little disappointing.

3. The company used to boast that the stand was guaranteed for life, from what I understood when I purchased my first Needlework System 4 stand. I’ve scoured their website, though, and can no longer find any mention of a lifetime guarantee. However, on the Stitcher’s Paradise website, they have a brochure for the stands, and on this page, is states states that there is a lifetime warranty “against defects in materials and workmanship.” On this page, it states the stand is guaranteed for life. If a lifetime guarantee is important to you, I’d suggest contacting the company to verify before purchasing.

If you’re looking for your own Needlework System 4 stand, you can find them through your local needlework shop (if you’re fortunate enough to have one), or online, they’re available through Needle in a Haystack in Alameda, CA; through Threadneedle Street in Issaquah, WA; and through other similar online shops that carry floor stands.

Questions, comments, suggestions? I’m all ears – leave a comment below!


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(51) Comments

  1. I have several system 4 stands and love them! I have the lap stand, like the one you just reviewed, one travel floor stand and one regular floor stand. I have two sets of clamps and a scroll bar attachment. I have used these stands a lot with my needlepoint and have only had one problem. My clamp, over time, became too loose to hold my projects. It was a very simple process to send my clamp back to the manufacturer, with a check to cover return shipping, for repair. I had my repaired clamp back within the same week! Now part of that could be that I live in the same area of the country as the manufacturer so shipping was quick, but I have never had a problem at all!

  2. I agree on both pros and cons. I have the floor and table stands and have both clamp and scroll frames. One issue I have had that you didn’t mention but that others I know have also had is that the teeth on adjustment wheels can go flat and lose their grip. In the case of my lap stand it came that way and I returned it and was sent a new one right away. You do have to be careful to rotate them freely without grinding against one another.

  3. I too have several System 4 stands – the floor stand, the travel floor stand, the table stand and the table clamp. I love them all. I brought the table stand and the table clamp on my last vacation to Hawaii and was very pleased with how they worked. I have several clamps as well as the scroll frame. I’ve even purchased extra scroll rods in varying lengths (standard size is 18″). The newer model of the table stand is slightly different than shown in your picture. Instead of the tubular base it now has a solid base which acts as a tray. As you noted, they are a bit pricey but well worth it for the quality of construction.

  4. I would really like to get my hands on a good stand (table or lap) for both hoops and frames so I can have both hands free, but alas my budget can’t really cover it. Even the simple ones cost enough for me to not consider it and spend my money on supplies instead.

    I’ve been thinking about making some sort of DIY solution as I doubt I’ll be able to find a used one for a good price, which could’ve been an option. But having never used stands, nor even seen a DIY tutorial on the subject, I’m not sure where to start with that project.

  5. Mary,
    You’re lucky… you got the original table stand model and it is (I believe) much lighter than the current one. I have the current one (which I do love), as well as the floor stand, but the current table stand has a solid base and is therefore considerably heavier and bulkier. I’d heard that the current stand doesn’t tip as much because of the weight, but you seem to have no problems there. For travelling, I’d rather have the original, but alas…

  6. I have had my System 4 Floor stand for about 2 1/2 years now. I love it and have had no problems so far.

    On another note: Mary if you are referring to Stitcher’s Paradise in Florida beware. I have an outstanding order that has never been filled, money repaid, or an explanation as to why not. Even after several calls personally to them!

    Barbara La Belle

  7. Mary — I have been following all your reviews on lap stands. However, I have yet to find anything on a lap stand that allows hoops. I love my Hardwicke Manor hoops. Is there a lap stand or floor stand that works well with hoops

    1. Hello Denise, Forever Embroidery Studio in San Francisco sells a hoop set and accessories to convert that puts stalks onto the hoops that then fit into an adjustable shaft. There are 3 models, a seat/lap set up and a floor stand set up, and a barrel clamp that fits on a squared off table. The hoops and accessories are made in the UK, so it is very good quality. There is also a twizzler tool to help save your finger pads from twisting the wing nuts (highly recommended). She does mail orders. Lucy@forever-emb.com

    2. Hi Denise, your Hardwicke Manor hoop should work fine with the frame clamp and the system 4 table or floor stand. Access Commodities who distributes Hardwicke hoops offers there fanny frames which allows for handsfree stitching. You could also use a frame weight on a table. And K’s Creations offers a table stand with a universal clamp that works similarly to the System 4. All in all the table stand from System 4 is really great and perhaps there’s a way you can try one at a shop.

    3. I sell quite a few of the System 4 stands. Yes they are expensive but we have all become accustomed to prices of products made in China. Though you may be frustrated at times with what you feel is poor customer service I’m not sure that there’s more than one person employed at the manufacturer and I think he’s doing the best he can. As a shop owner I’ve been nothing but impressed with the service he provides me.

    4. Thanks for responding to my question and the link to the shop in San Francisco. Karen, if possible, can you send me a link to your shop? Thanks. Denise Story

  8. i have 2 of the table stands (solid base not tubular)and the floor stand….(2 clamps) I also have the medium and large scroll attachments. I swear by the table stands for 2 reasons. 1) there is less torque in the curved arm than the long floor stand and the piece i am working on does not bounce/vibrate when stitching (the ‘stretcher-barred’ canvas does not vibrate). 2) i rarely ‘sit & stitch’. i prefer to stand….& my kitchen counters are at the perfect height to place combined with my height (5’6″) to do that…it also helps that i have perfect lighting in the kitchen – recessed spots that illuminate my stitching spot so that no additional lighting is required. And i have a very energetic small dog…….Benefits all – I do not get fanny fatigue, my neck, arms and shoulders never get tired & when Monte thinks I have stitched too long & wants too play, he just drops his toy on my foot & I race after him in the kitchen, hallway and family room.

  9. Some years ago, I had received the scroll rod attachment part of the System 4, and my husband built me a wooden stand for it. Well, eventually the connecting piece, with the teeth that interlock, wore out. When I contacted the company about a repair, I was told that I would need to pay for the return postage as well. Well, my husband was able disassemble the frame and when I talked to the guy, and he found out that all I would be shipping was the defective 1-1/2 inch x 9 inch piece, he said don’t bother. He shipped a new replacement piece out on the next post at no charge. I thought this was pretty awesome service, so I am sorry that you had a bad experience. I now have purchased the System 4 floor stand.

  10. Interesting about your review as last week I was talking to a needlework store owner and she told me about these stands as I told her what I was looking for. She highly recommended this product and sent me the website. I put in a small note under contact us as I wanted to buy one and have not received any response. Normally stitchers will get back to you in a day or less so I agree with your comments on customer service. Pity!

  11. Mary, I have never had one of these stands, but I bought the necessaire floor stand from Needle Needs and I love it so much that I wouldn’t need to have another one, unless it was a trestle table. I love the necessaire because when I need to turn it over it isn’t on a clamp, which makes it very easy to use.

  12. Mary,
    Great buy for you! Congratulations.

    Thanks for reviewing the lap stand..I’ve been thinking about purchasing it as I have accumulated the other pieces over the years. I can justify it because I will use the lap stand while my main leg and medium stretcher bars make the journey to be refurbished. I estimate that I purchased the basic stand 20-30 years ago.

    A suggestion for anyone who travels with their System 4 in an RV. Do not travel with the “gears” tight against each other. The constant vibration and motions will really wear them down.


  13. Dear Mary

    Thanks for this review of the System 4 table stand, what a bargain but it’s a shame that the needle shop closed down, I do love needle shops alas there is so few of them, I’m sure you will make good use of the stand.
    I do have a system 4 floor stand which I like, but last year I bought the Necessaire stand as well as the Millennium Frame from Needle Needs and I am hooked, I really like them, the frame sits nicely on the stand and I like the fact that you can lift and turn the frame which is easier then twisting the frame, but you can attach a hoop to the system 4 so there are advantages to both stands. Thanks for sharing your experience with the table stand with us.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  14. I have had this lap/table stand for two years. It’s heavy and I only use it for very big pieces that wouldn’t fit well in a hoop. It’s too heavy for me to use when I go to classes but I’m not sorry I purchased the frame. It is extremely well-made and the times I’ve used it, I was glad I had it.

  15. Awesome score for you, but it’s too bad about the needlework shop. There’s too few of them already. And since Department of Revenue is involved, I’m guessing that the closing is even sadder cirumstances that closing BEFORE they went bankrupt??

    As far as lifetime guarantee – I seem to recall that it may not mean what we usually think it means (it will last OUR lifetime). There have been some companies that argue it means the product’s lifetime. If the normal lifetime of a product is say 10 years, and yours breaks after 11 years, that’s great it lasted that long, but too bad, it’s not under waranty any more. If that’s the case, they should be prohibited from using the term “lifetime guarantee”!

  16. It’d be great to be able to afford anything nice like that! Shame they weren’t selling two off as I have £40 of anniversary pressie money to spend (prob about US$65) and this would have interested me…=) I’ll have to think of something else to buy. Any ideas??

  17. Hi Mary,
    I love your column and find it extremely helpful. However, regarding the System 4, I have to disagree. I sell a lot of the stands for needlepoint and my customers are extremely happy with them. We have had a couple that needed repair, we have sent them back for our customers, and received the pieces back in a timely fashion. Any time I have called the manufacturer directly, I receive great customer service. I’m sorry that you had a bad experience.

  18. You taught me something I did not know – the use of the curved neck on the floor stand!! I’m gonna try that pronto. Your table stand is an older/original model, they now sell the stand with a “filled-in” bottom, which becomes a nice place to park paraphernalia while stitching. Congrats on the inexpensive investment. And your comments late in the post about company service and the washer sounded like you had, indeed, purchased a System 4. Just noting. Thanks. Tho I am a needlepointed, I learn loads from your blog and admire you, “out in the middle of Kansas”. Have maternal family from Hill City and Garden City and Olathe.
    Best, MaryAnn

  19. Hi, The new system 4 lap/table stand has a solid base. Yes, it is heavier but the stand will hold heavier/bigger pieces. I am a needlepointer and I mostly use Evertites and the lap/stand holds the small and bigger pieces well.

  20. Dear Mary,
    I’m stuck on your sentence….”I’m always sad when a needlework shop closes.”

    When I was a kid, may be 5 or 6 yrs old my mother used to visit an embroidery shop in Pune (Maharashtra, India), then Poona, called “Embroidery House”. The shopowner was a very polite and knowledgable book shop owner. My mother could not afford to buy most of the books there, and he probably knew it, but he always greeted her and showed her all the new books, frames, anchor threads, knitting needles, crochet hooks, tatting shuttles and what not!

    Despite the prohobitive costs my mother still managed to have decent collection of small books (which were cheap) embroidery magazines and “Simple embroidery” from Ondori which i and my friend used for our school projects! i still have all of them.

    Last year when I went to Pune I tried to find the shop. I wanted to browse in the shop like my mother did and buy! Now I could afford it…. or so I thought. I found the shop. The old gentleman was no more. His son who was managing the shop had to turn it into a garment shop selling ready made clothes and undergarments to be profitable. And obviously, i don’t blame them, none of the salespersons could understand properly what I was asking for. I grant it to the owner, who showed me 10 or 15 old embroidery books which nobody asks for nowadays.

    Embroidery House is a part of my childhood and my visits to the shop are some of my fondest memories! Apart from my mother’s interest in needlework the shop itself was a source of inspiration!

    I almost started thinking that doing needlework was not a very smart thing to do nowadays… and then I found your blog needlenthread, through you I discovered Trish Burr, Tanza Berlin and all the news about embroidery books, conferences….. Its an amazing world! Something in me was dormant and dying… You revived it! I discovered the high level of excellence that can be achieved in ambroidery! Long live the handicraft traditions of the world!

    When I started writing this reply (didn’t know it would be so long) I was almost teary with nostalgia but want to end it on a funny note…. So I thought I had money but soon realised that even today I can’t afford most things in the modern embroidery world! Maybe its a good thing to yearn for something save and then buy! If my mother could, I will! Thanks Mary!
    Love the work you do! Take care!

  21. Oh Mary, Mary. Why do you do this to us? No sooner have I spent mega-dollars setting up with a Millennium frame and stand than here you are dangling some other must-have beauty in our faces. This is probably fine if, like you, one is lucky enough to acquire such goodies so cheaply but that is unlikely for me, here in Australia. So I somehow think that this one will be out of my reach. However I am enjoying the Millennium frame even if I do need to read your review of it again.

    1. Christina F,
      I have have just had a couple of days off and time to read a lot of Mary’s doings. I too as an Australian thought that the cost of some of these mega great frames and stands a hit to the pocket. I did find a shop in WA that had the System 4 but I could not believe that the cost was much the same and postage as such.

      Whilst I whole heartedly agree with Mary about the System (as I have both the travel and lap ones and a clamp for each) I am totally in love with my Millenium, it is truly a lovely item. I donot have the stand (the postage was nearly the same price as a frame) and I do have most of the frames. Because I did not get the stand and I had the System 4 I have made a holder to fit the System 4 so I can use my MilFrames. Works like a dream and I am a happy sew-ure (better that a sewer). All of this was possible when our dollar was high.
      My other favourite of a frame are the Evertites. A bit more fiddly as it requires tacks but fare better than lashing down. Like you it is a matter of save the dough and do a lot of investigating where the best buy is. For us here in Australia it is the scourge of distance.
      So donot despair you are not alone. Just remember that need is the mother of all invention. Keep enjoying your Millenium. Love mine so much I am contemplating being buried with them… +(:-)+
      Cheers for now

  22. By coincidence my husband treated me recently to a new floor stand. It is a Daylight metal stand. The reason for change was that I needed a daylight lamp over my embroidery to enable us to sit as a family in the evenings with the goggle box! I had noticed an offer in “Stitch” – I am an EG member – for this stand and went on line to check it out. They too had a discount so arm twisted later. I am the proud owner. This stand comes with a general clamp for the frames, plus holder for the design and a VERY useful lamp that has a magnifier that sits beautifully over the area of work. It has an additional bar system that allows you to clamp standard tapestry frames, but also any that have holes for adjustment. And it is fully rotational – a factor I hadn’t totally considered. So I am not envious – this time. Note to UK members the English Embroidery “Twixt Art & Nature” is available from our Library system!

  23. How would you compare this to the other frame you’ve been raving about lately? The Millenium, I think? I’m hopefully going to be in the market for one this fall and I need a setup that I can put far enough away so that I don’t bend my elbows more than 90 degrees and pinch the nerves. Numb hands make it hard to stitch. I don’t need a magnifier yet, maybe in 10 years or if I pick up doing a different style of embroidery!

  24. I had an issue with a recently purchased floor stand. I found Daryll to be a delight in resolving my issue. He sent me a new scroll rod assembly and then had UPS pick the defective one up on their dime. Every step along the way was documented via email. And yes, I do believe it is a one man operation. In closing, BUY AMERICAN!

  25. One does need to be careful when adjusting and really undo the screw – apparently the teeth wear out. It is not clear how that would be fixed because it does not look like a replaceable part. I have owned it three years now, use it all the time, and do take it to classes/seminars.

  26. I want to order the magnifier/light attachment for my System 4 Floor Stand… but the APCO light recommended is no longer available.

    Anyone know what magnifier/light would work with my stand? I would prefer an LED light 🙂

  27. Hi Mary, I was gifted a System 4 lap frame,clamp also a q-snap holder. This gift was from an estate and therefore can not ask the previous owner this question (no LNS close)the gift was unassembled. The q-snap frame has the two white holders, but there are two different sizes and shapes. Which one goes on the top?

    Thank you in advance. Patty Ann

    1. Hi, Patty Ann – I think it depends on what size a snap you want to use, doesn’t it? The top and bottom bars should be the same size, and they’re the tubular round bars. You might have to add the corner turns? I don’t have the q snap option for my stand, so I’m not quite sure how it goes together… The half circular tubes, though, are the “snaps” – you build the frame out of the full cicprcular tubes that fit together, and then you snap the half circles over your fabric, over the full circular tube frame. I hope that helps a little bit. If it doesn’t, you might try contacting the folks who made the stand – just google needlework system 4 stand and you should come up with their web page, which has contact info on it. -MC

    2. Thanks for your comments Mary, but my question was not how to assemble the q-snaps, but rather how to assemble the System 4 q-snap frame. Sorry for the confusion.

  28. I read your review of the System 4 lap stand. My sister has one and raves about it. What I was also interested in is the stand you mentioned owning that is perfect for travel. I do a lot of travel and have yet to find a stand that I am happy with.

    1. Needlework System 4 makes a travel stand that folds down, but it’s not something you could, say, use in a car or anything like that. It unfolds to the same size as the non-travel floor stand. Maybe one of their lap / table top stands would work better for you?

  29. I just bought the Needlework System 4 lap stand based (mostly) on your review, and I love it so far! I got the newer model with the solid metal base instead of the base that is just a metal frame. Still works great though! Now I have to learn how to stitch two-handed instead of doing it all with my right hand while my left holds a hoop.

  30. I already have the systems 4 floor stand but thinking about the table top one.. now I see there are two styles or models. One with solid tray and one with just a large bar bent in a rectangle shape with rounds corners. What and why the difference ? And what do you feel is the better of the two..
    thank you.

    1. Hi, Leslie – the one with the bar as opposed to the flat tray (I have the bar one) is the older version. The newer version is the flat tray. If I had an option, I’d go for the flat tray one, personally. It’s an upgrade for the better, I think!

    1. Hi, Barb – They either removed or moved that page, and I can’t find it anymore. I’ve removed that link and I’ve linked instead to two different shops that carry the stand and its accessories, so that you can see what it’s like. If you have a local needlework shop in your area – or even within an hour’s drive or so and you can make such a drive – and they carry the stand, it would be worth going to see it in person, to see how it works and if you like it.

  31. Mary, your insert of the places where to buy the Needlework System 4 Stand isn’t connecting.
    Could you please check out what the problem is? Thank you. Jo

    1. Hi, Billie – fixed it. It was a list on the website for the company that makes the stand, but they must have removed or moved that page, so I’ve inserted a couple shop links for places that carry it.

  32. I am new to needlework. And was looking for all in one stand to hold my work. I sit in a recliner, also not sure what is a good starting size. I like it to be of the scroll type so I can just clamp my materials in .
    Any place to start?

    1. Hi, Bob – Is your recliner recliner when you’re using it? Is there space between the base of the recliner and the floor, in case legs on the stand need to slide under? Do you mean you want to be able to clamp the scroll frame onto the stand, or do you mean you want to be able to clamp your fabric into the scroll frame somehow? There are many different types of scroll frames, and many types of stands that might accommodate one kind of frame but not the other.

  33. None of the advertisements tell the width and depth of the system 4 table stand. I use a walker and need to know if the base of the stand will fit if I use it as my table. Also is the clamp a separate purchase?

    1. Well, the larger the project is, the more interference you’ll have from the table you’re working on, when you want to flip the frame. It all depends on how you arrange your frame and your workspace, whether you’re stitching on your lap or on a table, etc. I’ve used it for fairly wide projects, but not very deep projects – so 16″ wide, 18″ wide – even 20″ or more wide. But depth-wise (the distance between the clamp and the front of the frame that sits closest to me), I usually go relatively small. I’ve worked on a 14″ deep frame, but I have to turn it around and work “upside down” to work with it comfortably on a table. If it’s hanging downward, though, and is hanging off the table, it’s easier to work on a deeper frame.

  34. I’m trying to get clarification on how to adjust the radial arm so that I can stitch and my 10” stretcher bar frame can be rotated (clearing the table) so that I can access the back. I get it adjusted to the right stitching height and it doesn’t clear the table. It was drop shipped directly to me so it’s all trial and error. Thanks. Hoping for a magic trick!

    1. You might have to adjust the head of the frame clamp so that it sits straighter, rather than at a tilt. I’m guessing it’s tilting in front of you? Or you’ll need to draw the stand closer towards you so that the work is off the table. You have to fiddle with it a bit to get it to where you need it, for it to do everything you want it to do. Change the height, change the tilt, move the stand forward, etc. There’s no one set formula.

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