Way back a gazillion and some odd years ago, I wrote a review of the Needlework System 4 stand and frame clamp.
I’m told that this review has sold a lot of Needlework System 4 stands, and I’m happy to hear that! It’s a great stand. In fact, I’d go so far to say that the Needlework System 4 stand is my favorite embroidery stand for average sized projects. I’ve been using mine for some 12 years on a regular basis, and I’m still using it. I’ve had to replace some of the washers and make some minor adjustments, but for a stand that gets a regular workout and isn’t really treated with kid gloves, it’s held up really well!
When people email me and ask if I still recommend it after all these years, I give a hearty yes.
Lately, many inquiries revolve around the fact that there’s no mention of “embroidery hoops” with this stand. Is it possible, so the inquiries go, to use an embroidery hoop with this stand?
Here’s my reply.
I do it all the time!
Yes, you can easily use a hoop with the Needlework System 4 stand, but there are a few caveats.
First, you have to have the right components. To have a fully operational Needlework System 4 stand, you have to purchase two components: one is the stand itself – the part that extends from the floor upwards – and the other is the “head” component that attaches to the stand and holds the embroidery work. If you want to use the stand with hoops, then this latter piece must be the frame clamp.
Second, your hoops can’t be too small… and, in some regards, they can’t be too big, either.
My frame clamp is holding a 6″ hoop that’s 5/16″ deep.
To fit it in the frame clamp, I just put it into the space between the two “plates” and tighten them. I make sure the hoop part is not pushed too far back – that there’s enough of the hoop for the clamp to grab onto. And I normally turn the hardware part of the hoop so that it is outside the clamp area. It will work with the hardware inside the clamp, but I can move the hoop around better in the clamp if the hardware isn’t part of the equation.
Now, if you’re using a bigger hoop – say, a 10″ or 12″ hoop – the clamp works, but not as well, because the curve is more gradual and there’s not as much of it inside the clamp. I find that an a 6″ and 8″ hoop work great. A 10″ hoop is getting a little large and open, so that there’s less of a curve inside the clamp, and therefore, less hoop to hold onto. The curve helps keep the hoop from tipping in the clamp. I have a hard time keeping a 12″ hoop clamped firmly and held straight without tipping in the mouth of the clamp while I’m stitching.
The clamp will also work with 4″ hoops, but it doesn’t leave much space for embroidering! I’ve used it successfully with hoops that small, though.
I prefer to clamp thinner rather than thicker hoops in the frame clamp on the Needlework System 4. The thicker the ring, the more difficult it is to clamp the hoop with a good, firm, sturdy hold. So while I have successfully used 8″ hoops that are 5/8″ thick, I find that the 7/8″ thick hoops are a little less stable in the clamp.
Fabric in the Hoop
Even if you have what seems like a lot fabric in the hoop, you can flip up the fabric over the part of the hoop that’s in the clamp, and fold it off to the side.
If you’re working on a huge project and the hoop is in the middle of the fabric, the clamp might not work as well for you – so just be aware of that. I’m working on a 36″ long x 14″ wide runner, and it works fine for this project, but if I were working in the center of, say, a 54″ table cloth, it would be more difficult to situate the fabric and hoop in the clamp, and the weight of the fabric could cause the hoop to tip.
So there you have it! You can definitely use the frame clamp on the Needlework System 4 stand to hold regular embroidery hoops, and, keeping a few of the tips above in mind, it works great!
Where to Find
If you’re looking for the Needlework System 4 stand, you can check out the manufacturer’s website here, where you’ll find a store locator. They are sold through many fine needlework shops in the US and Canada. If you have a local needlework shop that carries the stand, you should stop by and try it out, to see if it’s for you.
If you don’t have a local needlework shop that carries the stand, Needle in a Haystack online (located in California) carries it and its parts, as does Threadneedle Street in Issaquah, WA (this is where I got mine – the prices are generally a little better, and she stocks the stands and components so they ship out pretty quickly).