It’s just been released – Judy O’Dell’s Just-a-Thought needlework stand! And it’s lovely, and I’m excited about it, and I want to tell you all about it!
Update 2023: Judy has retired and this stand is no longer available.
I was very fortunate to receive a stand for review, after reviewing the prototype and giving feedback on it earlier this year. Even though I did receive the stand from Judy (thank you, Judy!), the review below is objective. I don’t get any kickback or anything if you buy a stand or if you don’t.
You’ll hear pros and cons, along with my own thought processes while unpacking the stand, putting it together and using it.
I’ll also compare the stand to other stands that I own, so that you have a good idea of what the Just a Thought Needlework Stand is and what it isn’t.
And all this, just in time for Christmas! If you have a needlework stand on your Christmas wish list, this one may fulfill all your Christmas dreams!
The Just a Thought Needlework Stand is an all-wood needlework stand, made for holding medium-small to pretty darned large frames so that you can embroider with both hands free.
It works whether you’re sitting on a straight-back chair, a sofa, an easy chair (that allows something underneath it), a task chair or sewing chair – anywhere you can sit that you can have the stand positioned in front of you, with the base extending under your seat.
Let’s take it out of the box:
The stand arrives via UPS in a very large box. When you open it, you’re met with industrial bubble wrap. (I love bubble wrap.)
The stand was very securely shipped, with everything well packed and protected.
Ahhhh – the beginning of a love affair with an embroidery stand. The wood is beautiful! It’s smooth as glass, it’s a lovely color with a lovely finish.
At this point, I was seeing many differences between the prototype I saw earlier this year and the finished product – exciting and beautiful differences!
The stand comes with assembly instructions and all the hardware packaged in a neat, separate bag. In fact, it even comes with the Phillips head screwdriver you need to assemble the base. That’s very handy!
The instructions are simple and clear, and there’s really no difficult set-up here, although, if you have problems with your hands, you might need someone to help you attach the base, as the bolts are good and tight and the base is quite heavy.
The procedure: attach the base to the main shaft, attach the “head” of the stand to the top of the main shaft, and attach the arms to the head. Simple. With the exception of the three sunk bolts in the base, the other bolts feature an comfort-grip plastic knob to make it easy to adjust them.
This is the most interesting part of the stand. This is the “neck” of the “head.” It fits over the main shaft. Think of the top bolt as a pivot. (There are two positions you can place the top bolt in – one about two inches higher than the other, in case you want to adjust the height of the stand slightly.)
The lower bolt regulates the “swing” of the head, so that you can tilt it to a comfortable stitching position, depending on where you’re sitting.
The stand will hold your work perfectly parallel to the floor, or it will allow you to angle your work down towards you (especially helpful if you’re sitting on a low sofa – you’ll need to angle the head a little downwards).
Once the main shaft is attached to the base and the “head” is attached to the top of the main shaft, you bolt the arms on. The arms are long – about 22″. Between the bolts and the support pegs, they accommodate a frame of about 18″ deep. You can use a deeper frame if you want, but you have to rest it over the bolts on the back.
The wide arms can hold a pretty large frame! And the weight of the whole stand allows for heavy larger frames without a problem. You can also move the arms inward on the “head” (see the sunk washers across the head there?) to accommodate smaller frames.
When you’re not using the stand, the swing arms can be swung out of the way as shown in the photo above.
So, there you have some photos of the stand, unboxing the stand, assembly information, and the basic gist on how the stand works.
I have owned just about every major needlework stand on the market, mostly for the purpose of reviewing here on Needle ‘n Thread. There are a few stands that I use consistently: the Needlework System 4 floor stand, the Needlework System 4 table stand, and the Necessaire floor stand from Needle Needs in the UK. Additionally, I’ve taken to using a hoop on a stick fairly regularly these days.
I also use a pair of trestles to hold large slate frames that are always set-up in my workroom. And I use hand-held hoops a lot, too.
For the sake of comparison here, we’ll talk about the Necessaire, the Needlework System 4 floor stand, and the Just a Thought stand.
Just a Thought (JAT) vs Needlework System 4 (NWS4)
Both stands are good stands.
The NWS4 is a metal stand. The JAT is an all-wood stand.
The NWS4 requires the purchase of two components – the stand itself and the attachment for holding frames or q-snaps or whatever type of frame you want to use. The components aren’t cheap. A total NWS4 stand will cost you upwards to $250 – $300, depending on which head attachment you buy.
The JAT requires the purchase of just the stand.
The NWS4 is limited in the types of frames it can hold. The clamp holds stretcher bars, the scroll frames are a separate component and you must use the ones that come with the component, or you can purchase the q-snap component and use that. The clamp will also hold small to medium sized slate frames that have a flat bar at the top and bottom.
The JAT is not limited in the type of frame you can use. Slate frames, scroll frames, stretcher bars, the Millenium frame – all work on this stand. You can even set large hoops on it, or you can rig small hoops by using a soft-shoed clamp from the hardware store.
Both stands allow access to the back of the work. With the NWS4, you turn the “head” component to get to the back of the work. With the JAT, you just flip your frame. Flipping the frame is easier than turning the whole head component on the NWS4, and the turning mechanism on the NWS4 becomes more difficult over time, requiring the replacement of washers and so forth, to get the thing to turn easily.
The NWS4 stand is lightweight. Although it lightweight, it does remain balanced even when holding heavier stretcher bar frames and the like. Because it’s lightweight, it is easier to transport.
The JAT is not lightweight. It would not be easily mobile, but it can certainly be moved from one spot to another.
The NWS4 stand collapses. It can be folded up for easy storage, with a small storage footprint.
The JAT does not collapse (with the exception of the swing arms that can be swung out of the way). It’s storage footprint is fairly large.
Both stands can be used at a chair, sofa, couch, etc. But the NWS4 stand can be used from the side of a sofa or an easy chair, so you don’t have to have the stand resting in front of you. In order for that to happen comfortably, though, you have to buy a special extension arm. The NWS4 stand could also be used if the stitcher is in bed, again, with the special extension arm.
Both are made in the US.
Summary: The JAT is a great stand for more permanent use. I find it more stable feeling than the NWS4, which can be a bit jiggly because it’s so light. The JAT is quite heavy and not really suited to transporting, so if transportation of a stand is your main concern (you want something, for example, to tote back and forth to classes), then the JAT probably won’t do it for you, unless you don’t mind lugging something larger and heavier around with you. The JAT does not conveniently break down for storage, so if space and storage is a concern for you, this might be problematic. At the same time, though, the JAT is a beautiful stand. So if you have the space to leave it set up, it won’t detract from its surroundings – it’s quite attractive. For small stretcher bar frames, I prefer the NWS4 frame clamp. For heavier and wider stretcher bars, slate frames, or the Millenium, if choosing between the NWS4 and the JAT, I’d go with the JAT. On price point: the JAT right now is $120 (+ shipping); the NWS4 runs upwards to $300.
Just a Thought (JAT) vs. Necessaire (N)
The JAT and the Necessaire (hereafter, the N) are very similar stands. The concept behind both is pretty much the same. Both stands are convenient because they hold a variety of frame types and sizes, because you can easily access the back of the work by flipping the frames, and because they can be adjusted in tilt and at least a little bit in height.
Both stands easily accommodate slate frames, scroll frames, stretcher bar frames, the Millenium frame, q-snaps, large (12″+) hoops and smaller hoops if rigged with a clamp. These types of stands are not really really meant for hoops, but I find you can always rig them.
Both stands are well made. The N is made from beech, while the JAT is made from maple. The N is made in the UK; the JAT is made in the US.
The N is significantly lighter, compared to the JAT. It’s easier to move physically because it doesn’t weigh as much. It can also be transported more easily, although it is not technically a collapsible stand.
The JAT weighs a lot more, especially because of that larger mono-ped base, which is quite heavy, but is also what lends that overall stability to the stand. There’s a definite feeling of stability with the JAT because of the weight, more so than with the N.
The storage footprint of the JAT is larger than the storage footprint of the N.
The JAT is a lot broader across the top of the “head” than the N. This makes it easier for the JAT to accommodate very wide and heavy frames.
The N has two lengths of arms available. It comes with the longer 18″ arms, but you can buy shorter support arms. The JAT has one length of arms.
The N has a chart-holder across the top of the head, where you can prop a chart. The JAT does not.
The N is adjustable to three set levels of tilt. The JAT can be adjusted to tilt to any level within its tilt scope. You can get a more “customized” tilt with the JAT.
The N is often on backorder and it takes a while to arrive (especially if you’re outside the UK). Right now, the JAT is in stock.
Summary: Both stands do the same thing, essentially. And they both do it well, though I think the JAT feels more stable overall than the N. For those of us who live in the US, and assuming portability and storage footprint are not concerns (neither stand is really made to be a portable stand, but the JAT is less portable because of its weight), there’s really no question. I’d definitely buy the JAT. Price point: The JAT is $120 (+ shipping) right now (through December 24, 2014). The Necessaire is £111.56 (approximately US$175 + shipping).
Pros & Cons of the JAT in Summary
If you don’t have a floor stand and you use frames of various sorts, and if you live in the US, the JAT is a great stand to get! The pros are abundant: it’s well-made; it’s stable; it’s easy to assemble; it’s attractive; it’s affordable.
The only “cons” (depending on how you look at it) is that it is not easily collapsible or transportable. But – it’s hard to count those as cons, unless you do a lot of traveling or you pack away your stand often. The weight to the stand gives it real stability.
Where to Find the Just a Thought Needlework Stand
Update 2023: Judy is retired and no longer sells these stands.
Within the US, Judy said shipping to the farthest destination away from her is $45. So that’s the most you’d possibly pay in shipping, and in most circumstances, shipping will be considerably less. For international orders, Judy does sell internationally, but – and this is a mighty big but – the shipping is more than the cost of the stand.
Finally, Judy is also happy to talk to shop owners who might be interested in carrying her stand. So feel free to contact her, if you fall in that category. All the contact information is on this PDF about the stand.
So, if you’ve been hankering for a good floor stand to hold your needlework frames, now’s the time to dive in! The stand’s on sale through December 24, for $120 (+shipping). After that, it’ll be the regular price of $149.
Put it on your Christmas list – but order it today, if you want any chance of getting it by Christmas!
(No affiliation here. As mentioned above, I did receive the stand from Judy, with no obligation for a positive review. I also advised on the prototype earlier in the year. But I don’t receive any kickback or anything, just so you know. I really do like the stand – I would have bought one for myself. And if I didn’t like it, I’d tell you why!)
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