Sep 28, 2006

Rods, Hoops, Qnaps... Oh My!

For designs with specialty stitches, hardanger, and needlepoint... You will want to use hoops, scroll rods, stretcher bars, or qsnaps.

Some stitchers prefer to stitch without hoops, scroll rods, or qsnaps. This is referred to stitching 'in hand." If you can keep even tension while stitching, this may be an option for you. Your stitches should not distort or change how the fabric looks (i.e. “puckering” the fabric, or opening up the holes at the corners of the stitches). When stitching in hand, you can stitch in a sewing motion (think running stitch) -- from front to back to front in one movement of your needle. The only time you’d need to go to the backside is when you begin or end a thread. Of course, you could also use the “stitck & stab” method -- pulling your needle up from the back and pushing it straight down toward the back. This requires you to move one hand from the front to the back to pull the needle through and vice versa.

Hoops come in many sizes. They’re usually round or oval, but I’ve seen some that are sort of rectangular in shape. They can be made of wood, plastic, or metal. Hoops will have an outside ring and an inside ring. Depending on your viewpoint, you can put the smaller hoop underneath the fabric and place the larger hoop on top directly over the smaller hoop. (or vice versa) Then, you push the larger hoop down over the smaller one and it will give you a good tension for your fabric. Some put the smaller hoop on top in order to keep the front side of the fabric clean. I have always put the larger hoop on top. On the metal hoops, there is a spring-like mechanism and it automatically tightens itself when pushed over the smaller hoop. The bad thing about metal hoops is that they rust over time. On wood and plastic hoops, there is usually a little screw and you will need to tighten this once you put the two hoops together. I use this kind. To avoid deep wrinkles and stains in the fabric, always remove the hoop each time you are finished working on the design.

Qsnaps remind me of lightweight PVC pipe. A minimum of four pieces of plastic tubing is snapped together to form a square or rectangle. The fabric is placed over the square and then a plastic clamp snaps over the fabric. Qsnaps come in a variety of sizes in order to make the frame the perfect size for your stitching project. I have a small 8” set that I haven’t used yet, so I can’t comment on how well they work. Some stitchers think they’re great!

Scroll rods and frame consist of two side bars -- which determine the height of your work area -- and two dowels (also called rods) for the top and bottom of the frame -- which determine width of your work area. Fabric is secured to the rods and rolled so the desired working area is showing and then secured with the knobs or wing nuts to hold the fabric tight. Fabric can be attached to scroll rods in a variety of ways: 1) Fabric is basted to a fabric “tape” attached to the rods 2) “No Stitch” Velcro system 3) Split dowels where fabric is placed between each half of the dowel. No basting required with this either. To use scroll rods, attach the fabric to the top dowel first. Roll the top of the fabric to the desired position and place the side bars onto the dowels and tighten with the knobs or wing nuts to hold fabric securely in the top dowel. Next, attach the fabric to bottom dowel and roll fabric around bottom dowel until it’s taught. Slip the side bars onto the bottom dowel and secure knobs or wing nuts. If you roll the fabric so that the wrong side is facing outwards on the dowels, it keeps the fabric clean while stitching.

Floor stands and lap stands allow you to stitch without having to hold the frame, hoop, or qsnaps, etc. There are many on the market! It’s always best to determine how and where it’ll be used and then do some research as to which one is right for you. If you have a chance to try one out at an LNS or a friend’s house, that’s even better! Some companies that offer stands:

K's Creations
Gripit Plus, Inc.
American Dream Products
Artisan Design, Inc.
Hearthside Craftworks

Stretcher bars come in various length and width sizes. They fit together and make a frame for your needlework. Stretcher bars should be about an inch or so smaller than your fabric size to enable you to attach the fabric over the outer edges of the stretcher bars. To do this, you place your fabric on top of the stretcher bar, with the fabric overhanging the edge of the bars. Then use a stapler or tacks and secure the fabric evenly across the top of the stretcher bar. Next, gently stretch your fabric taut across the bottom edge of the stretcher bars and attach in the same way. Repeat for the two remaining sides, keeping the fabric tension even.


Anonymous said...

Great summary, Meari! I love my Q-snaps, but I'd like to try scroll frames for larger projects.

I totally agree with your advice to try out a floor stand before you buy one. It is an expensive purchase and you want to make sure it will be comfortable for you to work with. I tried mine out at my LNS first - I bought the Ergo by Artisan and I've been really happy with it.

Anonymous said...

I stitch in hands. My hands are weak so hoops and such cause too much pain.