What would life in the stitching world be without the tools that make needlework easier, more comfortable, and more efficient?
One tool that dedicated stitchers eventually invest in is the needlework stand – a device that holds a frame or a hoop so that you don’t have to! It is essentially a third hand (or pair of hands) that leaves your own two hands free to stitch. Or, in today’s terms, you could think of a needlework stand as a “third party app” that really does make things work better!
Wrist, arm, neck and back strain; finger and hand cramps; strange sitting positions to balance large frames; awkward stitching when you need to use both hands – all of these are things of the past, when you have a needlework stand!
If you haven’t reached the point of using a stand, but if stitching has become a major part of your creative life, chances are, you’ll eventually consider one. Or perhaps you have a stand you’re not thoroughly satisfied with?
Today, let’s navigate through the world of needlework stands together! We’ll talk about different types of devices to hold needlework, we’ll discuss the benefits of a floor stand, we’ll chat about what to look for in a good needlework stand, and we’ll explore some of the popular floor stands on the market today.
When it comes to stands that hold your embroidery hoop or frame for you, there are essentially five types that can do the trick:
There are floor stands, which stand independently on the floor.
There are lap and table top stands, which rest either on your lap or on a table top in front of you.
There are clamp-on stands, that clamp onto a table top.
There are sit-on stands, that can serve as a table-top stand as well.
And there are trestles, which are the “big guns” of large needlework frame supports.
Today, we’re looking at the Floor Stand, specifically. We can look at other options down the road, but because the floor stand is usually a fairly hefty investment that requires a bit of pondering, it makes sense to focus on it first.
Benefits of The Floor Stand
The benefit of a floor stand is that it is independent of you and it is independent of any furniture around you. You can pretty much set up a floor stand anywhere it will fit, and the only thing you need to bring to it is a chair and your stitching stuff.
A floor stand rests in front or to the side of you and holds your needlework frame or hoop up in front of you while you stitch.
What to Look for in a Floor Stand
There are many manufacturers of floor stands out there! And there are many good ones on the market. When it comes to choosing one, you want to look for the following:
1. Extension & adjustability: Does it offer enough extension and can it be adjusted in various ways so that it reaches you comfortably in your favorite spot for sitting? If you sit, for example, in a recliner, some floor stands won’t work for you. Take into consideration, too, whether or not you want the stand in front of you or to the side, with the work extending over your lap.
2. Balance: Is the floor stand engineered to hold large frames and even attachable accessories (like magnifiers or lights, chart holders, tool trays) without becoming top heavy and toppling?
3. Parts & Construction: Is it made with quality parts that are easy to tighten and adjust when need be? Do all the parts fit together and move as they should, without rubbing or sticking?
Popular Brands of Floor Stands
Needlework System 4: I’ve been using this floor stand for about 15 years; it’s my go-to floor stand. I have a couple variations of it. You can read a review of it and see it in action here. They also make a travel version that folds down smaller for easy transport. This is an all-steel, front-facing stand, but with the extra extension arm, it can also be situated from the side. It is sold in separate parts, so you have to purchase the stand itself, and then the type of “head” you want on the stand to hold your work. Options include a clamp, scroll frame, and q-snap heads. I prefer the clamp option, as it holds both hoops and frames. There are other accessories to the stand available, too.
The Lowrey Workstand: This is a popular option especially with stitchers in the UK, which is where it is manufactured. It is a reasonably affordable stand with lots of accessorizing options. It’s an all-steel front facing or side situated stand. You can explore the Lowery Workstation here on their website. I used to have a Lowery, but I passed it along to someone else because I didn’t really need it, and it seemed a little more complicated to me than my Needlework System 4 stand.
K’s Creations: This company makes several types of floor stands, including a stainless steel stand similar to the Lowery. I’ve used K’s Creations stands (a scroll frame and lap stand) and they are good quality for wood products, though, like most wood products, they require infinite adjusting and tightening. I’ve also tried the stainless steel floor stand – it is much like the Lowery. It works, and many stitchers love it. You can explore K’s Creations on their website here.
Just a Thought: This is a wooden floor stand designed and sold by Judy O’Dell. (Update 2023: Judy has retired and no longer sells them.) It’s made to sit directly in front of the stitcher, and it works best with large frames. It’s very solid, which means it’s also somewhat heavy, and it takes up a slightly larger footprint than most single-base floor stands. But it is well made and a good option for folks in the US looking for an affordable, front-sitting wooden floor stand that will hold wider frames. You can read my review of it here. Keep in mind, the review is older, so the introductory sale price is not valid.
The Necessaire by Needle Needs: This is an all-wood work stand made to sit in front of the stitcher, too. The Necessaire is manufactured in the UK, which can be problematic for US stitchers. If you like the style of the Necessaire, you might consider the Just-a-Thought stand above instead. I’ve written about the Necessaire stand here. It’s well made. It’s significantly lighter and without as large a footprint as the JAT stand mentioned above. Unfortunately, the customer service and turn-around time when ordering from Needle Needs has proven problematic.
Edmunds Adjustable Craft Stands: These stands, pretty widely available at Big Box craft stores in the US and online through discount craft outlets, are all wood, front-facing floor stands. They are made in China, and they’re not the best quality stand out there. They have two things going for them: 1. They will hold your work, at least initially; and 2. they are affordable. They can be a “bridge” between no stand and a really good stand. What it comes down to is whether or not you want to put $50 or so into a temporary stand. And they are temporary. Eventually, the need for tightening and adjusting constantly becomes a bit of a frustration.
What About You?
Undoubtedly, there are other stands on the needlework market, but these see to be the mainstream stands that are often talked about in stitching groups. I’ve tried all of the above, and they all have their benefits and their drawbacks, depending on what you’re looking for in a stand and what your budget is.
But what about you? If you use a floor stand, what kind do you use and what do you like about it? What are its drawbacks? If we pool our collective knowledge about floor stands in the comments below, as a community we can go a long way to helping others who want to make a good choice when selecting their first floor stand or when switching to a different one.
So, chime in below, and tell us about your favorite needlework floor stand! The good and the bad! Don’t hold back!