embroidery stand part 2

Others have written reviews about the Lowery Workstand and there are images as well as one or two You Tube videos to boot but there isn’t much detail available regarding the dimensions. I bought my stand from Sewandso.co.uk and apart from limited information in one or two customer reviews, the website gives none at all in any of the product details tabs which is surprising. The Lowery website is not much better. Hopefully my review will fill in some if not all of the gaps.

The first image shows all the pieces: the blue on the base is protective film (attached to both sides) and the assembly sheet recommends that the film be left on the underside ‘to protect your floor covering’ but I can’t see how a thin film alone would be sufficient to do so. The ‘L’ arm resting on the baseplate is the longer one, and the standard one is already inside the main upright which together with the clamp, a large allen key for securing the upright to the base, and the height adjuster, all came shrink-wrapped to a cardboard sheet.

lowery-package

The Lowery base is made from a tough grade of aluminium and the other parts are I think, made from steel.  The ‘L’ bars are solid so I think they’ll stand up to a lot of wear and should not crack under pressure from the lever screw.

The short arm of the standard ‘L’ bar is roughly 6″ (15cm) long and the addition of the clamp arm extends this by approximately 5″ (12.5cm) at most, depending on which point along the ‘L’ bar you choose to secure the screw.  If your sewing chair arm means is wider than 6 inches (15cm approx) then you’ll likely want a wider ‘L’ bar as I did.

The larger ‘L’ bar measures 12″ (30.5cm approx) along the short side and added an extra third to the total cost. The longer side of both ‘L’ bars is approximately 18.25″ (46.5cm). If you sew whilst in a bed, you might need an even bigger ‘L’ bar but the Lowery website states that custom lengths can be ordered.

The main upright is screwed to the base with the supplied allen key and is 19.25″ (49cm) long. The holes that take the height adjuster are 2″ (5cm) apart and the workstand can be adjusted between 20″ and 36″ (50 – 91cm) up and down. The height adjuster (which I would call a split pin) comes with a protective cover for the split end.

The workstand took only a few minutes to put together. The information sheet gives several suggestions to solve any tipping problems caused by the weight of the work, such as putting telephone directories on the base but when I lifted the skirt of the settee cover to check the available gap, there wasn’t enough space for a directory even if I’d had one, so I wedged the stand in place with two spare rubber doorstops which I had handy (don’t you?). So far, this option is working well.

lowery-base

If you want pretty, this stand is not for you. If you want a stand that visitors will admire for its beauty, this stand is not the one to choose. Industrial was what JP called it and I agree, but if like me you appreciate simplicity and good engineering it could be what you’re after. (I suppose you could yarn bomb it to improve the aesthetics.) The hoop/frame clamp is heavy but extremely sturdy and easy to loosen or tighten. I chose to pad my hoop with heavy duty duster cloth plus two scraps of lightweight wood before tightening the clamp to better protect the fabric, any existing stitched areas and the hoop edge. I’m sure it will be well worth it. The red ribbon visible on the neck of the screw has one of those spring-loaded badge holder fitments attached from which hangs a small pair of scissors.

lowery-clamp

This last image shows my working setup from the front. It may not stay this way but so far it’s extremely comfortable and I can keep my reference pictures/book on my lap rather than spread over the settee or coffee table. Unlike some seat stands I’ve used, I don’t have to adapt the Lowery for stitching as a left-hander – a big plus in my book. The scrap wood in the clamp at the front holds my magnifier quite securely and I can easily change the position of the magnifier by moving it along the length of the scrap. I’ve also added two sticky magnets to it to hold needles and a ring at the top of the hoop hold whatever threads I need for the part of the embroidery I’m working on. Out of shot down the side of the settee is the lever screw which keeps the ‘L’ arm in place. The screw is the same as the one on the clamp arm and is easy to loosen or tighten. The only downside is that I keep forgetting to loosen it before swinging the arm away when I want to get out of the chair. When I first used the stand, I had the clamp screw facing upwards, which is incorrect and having rectified it, I can confirm that it’s less in the way when on the underside.

lowery-setup

Overall, I think the Lowery workstand is going to be a winner for me. I like the uncluttered look of my new setup and I won’t have to constantly tighten wingnuts. I should also be able to use the Millennium frame on it and I might even be able to clamp that tapestry I began in the early 1980s and maybe even finish it! I won’t toss my hybrid lapstand just yet as I can’t see the rail network being happy to find a Lowery workstand in the aisle on my journeys to Scotland!

I hope you’ve found this review useful. If you have any questions you think I can answer, leave a comment.

embroidery stand part 1

For more than a year I’ve been using an embroidery stand which is a mixture of parts from a Siesta Sonata seatstand and a Siesta Stitchmaster seatstand because individually, each one had failed in some way. The hybrid has been modified and tweaked as different problems or needs have arisen, but the older it becomes the more it now requires regular first aid of some kind.

lapstand-setup-2

lapstand-setup-4

I prefer a hoop to a frame but gradual hoop droop is a common problem with any stand due to wingnuts frequently slackening, and recent first aid at the point where the horizontal bar and the side arm connect, now prohibits the full pivoting range the bar was previously capable of, thereby restricting access to the underside of the work.  Is it too arrogant of me to suggest that the basic design of the average embroidery stand is the problem, in particular the joints and fitments? Could it be that the designers are mainly people who do not embroider or understand the needs of the embroiderer? (I would be delighted to be proved wrong, so if any manufacturer out there would like to send me any of their stands to test and review, feel free to get in touch!)

As my hotch-potch of a stand could soon require major repairs that I am not capable of undertaking, I began looking for its future replacement using the following criteria:

  1. it should not require a second mortgage to pay for it.
  2. if purchased from overseas, shipping costs should not be almost as much as the cost of the stand.
  3. it should securely hold a hoop or a frame equally well.
  4. I should be able to easily swivel or flip the hoop or frame to access the back of the work.
  5. the height and angle of work should be adjustable.
  6. it should be comfortable and stable on my lap no matter how I sit or which chair I choose.
  7. if a floor stand, it should not dominate the room.
  8. it should be strong and stable but not too heavy.
  9. the joints/bolts/wingnuts should remain firm until I choose to loosen them.
  10. is should be easy to set up and dismantle.

I think my criteria are easily met but after many, many hours of internet browsing and reading as many reviews as I could find, several American makes were excluded due to a high purchase price and or shipping costs or nil deliveries to the UK, as were any lap or seat stands that were designed only for frames. It was becoming depressing. I wondered if I couldn’t design a stand myself. I knew what I wanted, I had pencils and paper…

Over the following weeks I became frustrated at not being able to translate the ideas in my head into any kind of viable reality for “Mrs G’s Ultimate Embroidery Stand” (spoken in the same way as the voice said “Herge’s Adventures of Tin Tin” at the start of the tv programme many years ago). Once or twice I felt I was close to success but a foamboard mini-prototype could only take me so far, foamboard being good, but not that good.  What I really need is an engineer, or a carpenter, who can tune into my brain or interpret my doodles and go “Ah! I know what you want and how to make it”. Sadly, I know that this is unlikely to ever happen so I reconsidered the shortlist and on Tuesday morning succumbed to the little devil on my shoulder and ordered a Lowery Workstand from SewandSo.co.uk. It arrived within a mere 24 hours(!) and I will tell you all about it in part 2.

lowery

 

 

 

 

oldest wip

I resurrected this wip on Saturday. I began it over thirty two years ago when I was pregnant and did most of what you can see before I gave birth. I lost interest in it for the next decade during which time it sat in a cupboard, the frame dismantled and stored with the embroidery in a bag I made specially for it. In the next ten years I unpacked it once more and added only a few more french knots to the trees before it was put away once more. In the last ten years I’ve looked at it once and then packed it all away without adding any more stitches at all, deciding that I hadn’t ever finished it because it was a kit and I had become used to ‘doing my own thing’.

I don’t know why I suddenly felt the need to start stitching it again but looking at it with a more experienced eye than I had when it was first begun, I shudder at some of my stitching quality of thirty two years ago. I know that my stitching is better now than it was then and I could of course do a lot of unpicking and start from the beginning but I’m not going to even though the differences will no doubt be obvious. Wish me luck!

crewel work

full flight

I was never so glad to be at the end of a piece of embroidery than yesterday after watching a fascinating BBC programme about owls. If I’d been at the start of this owly mousey piece I might have stopped stitching before it got very far because I now realise that my stitchy version of what is an owl falls far short of the real thing. In my defence, how could it be otherwise? Anyway, every time I look at my owl I think I could have done it better or differently or, or, or, so I’m calling it quits now before I lose my sanity completely.

I added some wax crayon colour to suggest a hint of blue sky and to help ‘ground’ the wheat field. I should have done this before any stitching but I didn’t think it needed any until recently. I think that worked, unlike my borders which have gone off the straight and not so narrow but I really can’t be bothered to unpick anything else. I said in my last post that I wouldn’t unpick the wings but I did. After two attempts at adding the grey stripes on the upper wing I realised that the feathers were going in the wrong direction so out they came.

This embroidery is undoubtedly grubby, no matter what my eyes think so I’m inclined to wash it before having it framed. I’ve never washed any of my embroideries so that will be a challenge. Thank you Mary Corbet for a very detailed ‘how-to’. Lots of deep breaths and a skipped heartbeat or two ahead I think.

 

August 6

the redhead

I’ve been working on this little redhead for the past couple of days and I really like everything about her – even her outrageous nose!

redhead portrait

portrait three pt2

Portrait three was finished less than an hour ago. I can’t decide whether he’s an old-fashioned butcher just missing his apron or whether he’s out for a Sunday stroll to check out the local talent. Either way, his hat-holding hand took several practices until I was satisfied enough to settle for the last one. The straw boater hat was made from three layers of fine loose weave fabric, moulded over a small bottle cap, stiffened with fabric stiffener before trimming the brim to size and adding the ribbon band.

 

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first portrait

So, the portrait I began yesterday turned into a man and I enjoyed making the costume and monacle most of all. I’m not sure where stumpwork and/or embroidery ends and dressing dolls begins, but does it matter? I think he’ll look good in an oval frame with a wife in a companion frame alongside so I guess she’ll be the next one to make.

 

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Update: see the wife’s portrait here.