What’s old is new again! Handle-bar mustaches, victory gardens; the sourdough starter. So why can’t cross stitching be fashionable once more? Actually, it never truly left us. Many very talented modern cross stitch artists and designers are furthering the traditional, delicate art to new, untold landscapes. Cross-stitching is a classic art that is overdue for a resurgence.
A form of counted-thread embroidery, cross stitch is formed when x-shaped stitches are tiled in a pattern to develop a detailed design. What that design produces is entirely up to the artist’s imagination; there are literally no limits.
Today’s designs include pop art, clever dichotomies of prose and subject, and even portraiture.
Cross stitch artists will tell you their avocation is a labor of love. And, if they’re being frank, they might let you know that it’s also time-consuming and that the minute needlework can be tough on the back.
Fortunately, there is a great tool that helps make your cross-stitching adventure more effortless and efficient: the cross stitch lap stand. In this article, I’ll break down the different types of embroidery frames, go over some reasons for purchasing one, and outline what to look for in a cross stitch lap stand.
The Cross Stitch Revival
The art of cross stitch is many things to many people, and they are all correct. It is both simple and complex, old-fashioned and yet completely relevant. Cross stitch is domestic meditation and yet also political commentary. Cross stitch persists in many corners and is enjoying a remarkable revival.
Those who love cross stitch embrace its enigmatic qualities and then push their needlework even further.
At its most basic, cross stitching is essentially making a threaded “X” in fabric and then repeating over and over against a grid. Yet within that rigid simplicity is room for endless creativity. As a result, today’s modern cross stitch artists remain dedicated to the craft while taking the needlework to ever new places.
One such artist is Christy, of MsChristy’s Cross Stitch Emporium. Christy has been cross stitching since she was in elementary school. As an adult, she found cross stitch again during a challenging time in her life, parlaying her skills and interest into opening her own Etsy shop, selling her original designs and finished projects online.
The results were transformative. “Cross stitch gave me a way to be meditative while also being productive,” says Christy. “I figured out how to order my life while I was learning to order my threads.”
She told me about a piece of which she’s particularly proud. “My cross stitching masterpiece is a Dimensions Gold kit called ‘Beautiful Peacock,’ stitched on 18-count aida using full and half stitches and a lot of gold thread (which is a pain to work with).”
“The finished product is gorgeous, as the entire fabric is covered by thread, and it looks very “painterly.” It’s an advanced pattern, and the finished 5″x7” design took me several months to complete.”
Like many modern cross stitch artists, Christy delights in pushing the boundaries of cross stitch assumptions. However, her favorite pieces are more focused on humor. Explains Christy, “ I particularly like subversive patterns that look traditional or sentimental, but are pushing our preconceived expectations of what cross stitch looks like. In all aspects of my life, I value that which makes me (or those around me) stop and think. And if it also makes me or someone else laugh, then that’s even better!”
Those similarly searching to express themselves anew, one X at a time, would do well to explore the delightfully multifaceted world of cross stitch embroidery.
What’s the big deal about lap stands?
There is a quantum gulf between pleasant and torturous. When it comes to cross stitching, that difference can be a cross stitch frame.
Cross stitching involves a great deal of dedication, repetitive motion, and — more often than not — a stooped over body posture. In the end, the finished quality of all that hard work depends on how securely and evenly you’ve been able to create the actual stitches.
If — at the end of your project — you’re faced with sloppy stitchwork and a pattern that doesn’t line up, you might feel it was all for nothing; relegating cross stitch once more to your personal annals of history.
Cross stitch frames, or a craft stand, are essential tools for cross stitch artists. They effectively keep canvas fabric taut and secure, create a flat surface, and enable neat stitches and patterns free of distortion. Cross stitch frames help you handle your project’s fabric, stabilize your work, and see the holes more clearly (which keeps your stitch tension more consistent).
In addition, a frame that keeps your material in place makes the cross stitching craft much easier and more enjoyable.
So now that your project’s quality has been assured, how do you handle the whole backbreaking labor part?
That’s where cross stitch lap stands come brilliantly into play. These stands allow you to work on your crafts utilizing both of your hands, reducing body fatigue and empowering efficiency — often for not a lot of money.
These lap stands are designed for various needlework approaches — some models rest on the floor and are adjusted to one’s height preference, others can be placed on a seated surface from which you work, allowing all of your energy to go into your creation — and preventing fumbling with accessories or unruly fabric.
Now that you know a lap stand is essential to your next cross stitch project, how do you find the right one for you?
Cross Stitch Lap Stand Features
Just as there is a wide range of choices in cross stitch lap stands, so, too, are there considerations to keep in mind when searching for your perfect embroidery hoop. The best solution for you will be based upon how you intend to use it most, the type of projects you’ll be working on, and the space you’ll need.
1. Build Quality
You’ll want to get the best quality frame you can afford, one strong and sturdy that won’t break or bend under pressure. Whichever style you choose, the structure should offer an even tension around the fabric, so there will be no clumping or sagging.
The composition of your lap stand should be of durable material, such as wood, that will offer stability and will stand the test of time and pressure. Quality stands can also double as displays for your final product.
The adjustability of your cross stitch lap stand is also an important consideration: your frame should be able to adjust to encompass a range of project sizes.
In addition, your lap stand should not cause creases in your fabric, should be easy to keep clean, and adjustable to allow for better positioning to reduce fatigue.
Another benefit is the ability to adjust frame height and angle to ensure your comfort whenever you happen to be working (and wherever you’re working on the canvas).
Speaking of which, consider portability. If you are up for cross stitching on the go, you’ll want to choose a style that can travel with you. Some models are easily portable, lightweight, and compact for ease of movement.
If you work on your projects in different rooms — say in a dedicated workspace and also on a couch or in a bedroom — a portable stand can follow you from room to room, unlocking productivity no matter where you choose to work.
Let’s look at the different types of lap stands available and some of our best recommendations with those considerations in mind.
Types of Cross Stitch Lap Stands
Wooden hoop cross stitch lap stands (or embroidery hoops) take the most familiar cross stitch frame and render it wonderfully hands-free. Most of these models will be adjustable and easy to assemble. The downside to embroidery hoops is they’re limited by the same issue presented by traditional hoop frames: size constrictions.
You are constrained to a small work area that has to be manually reset as you go. And fabric size variations could require purchasing additional frames.
Most models do not come with their own embroidery hoops, but they all hold your hoops securely for you so you can work.
Hand Embroidery Hoop Stand by CopperwoodandStone
This beautiful handmade wooden stand is a super-secure hoop frame that can also double as an heirloom display for your finished projects.
It features three adjustable arms that lock into place, a hold that allows you to rotate a full 360 degrees, and solid construction (made in the US). This stand includes a built-in magnet to safe keep your needles close at hand.
Lightweight and portable, this stand is comfortable to use while seated, with the base securely beneath you or as its tabletop. Total bonus: there is almost zero assembly for this unit.
Made of beech wood, this cross stitch stand has a unique benefit built in: it includes a small display board that easily accommodates your references, be it tutorial video, patterns, fabric swatches, or finished design.
The hoop can be rotated 360 degrees for ease of use, supports just about any hoop you would want to use, and is quick and easy to assemble.
Cross Stitch Lap Stand by 55tree
Another option with 360 degrees of rotation and adjustable height, this hardwood cross stitch lap stand not only frees up your hands — it also helps your posture while you work!
This craft stand can be sat upon to hold it firmly in place while your hands are free to tackle needlework or any other fabric magic. In addition, it’s easily portable and travels with you so you can work on the go.
Offering a unique articulating arm, the Nurge Adjustable Cross Stitch Stand is super adjustable and pivots to meet you where you want to work. The hardwood frame is designed to be comfortably sat upon for stability but can also be used as a tabletop stand.
Although it doesn’t include its own hoops, it will securely hold any size diameter hoop to accommodate your entire project spectrum.
Cross Stitch Frame Hoop Holder for Q-Snap Frame by FrameDIY
This cross stitch lap stand stands out for its sturdiness. It holds your hoop securely for 360 degrees of rotation and has large wooden knobs that are easy to turn and lock in your desired angle.
This model holds your hoops securely on both sides and will not snag your fabric — plus it’s easy to put together and its small size means it travels effortlessly.
Scroll frame cross stitch lap stands consist of two parallel sides of a frame, with two scroll rods making up the other sides. This keeps your project’s fabric stretched taut while you work and allows for easy scrolling of the entire canvas as you stitch.
This style is especially beneficial for larger projects and those who invest a lot of time in cross stitch. Another upside to scroll frames is that they do not leave rings or marks on your fabric as hoops can.
A downside to these is that most scroll frames tend to be less portable than smaller types, so make sure to pick a model that best suits your working style.
K's Creations Original Needlework LapFrame by Beecreekltd
This original lap frame is a standout, hand-made by an artist for artists. It’s highly adjustable to accommodate stretcher bars and completely collapsible to store or travel along with you.
Made from maple hardwood and birch plywood, the frame offers 360-degree rotation for optimal stitching and a well for needles & tools to keep all your materials in one place.
This scaled-down design is as easy to put together as it is to work with. It holds fabric taut and secure with a unique tightening system that uses plastic holders to ensure that your material will not snag.
It’s easy to assemble and compact enough to take anywhere. The downside to this model is that it’s not scalable, but it is affordable enough to secure more than one of its five available sizes.
Hands Free Cross Stitch Scroll Frame Table Stand by BestStitchKits
As pretty as it is functional, this small, scrolled embroidery stand is made of polished beechwood. It’s easily adjustable and can be locked into position. As a result, it can readily be used on a table or laptop.
Although it is a rigid design, this lap frame is available in three different sizes so you can avoid compromising on your work.
Although not technically a lap stand, the Frank A Edmunds Stitch Master Floor Stand can stand in as one — and then some. Akin to a standing desk of sorts, the wooden stand adjusts from 16” tall all the way to 37.5” tall, giving you control over its support.
It holds scroll frames but in a unique twist will also accommodate both hoops and stretcher bars. The stand itself will also adjust from 8” to 27” wide.
This stand is fantastic for cross stitching and can also be used as a base for other crafts, giving you serious potential for your money.
This model is compact and portable, perfect for working on the go — it even folds flat! It comes with a 9” x 18” split rail scroll frame and is fully adjustable.
The dual folding leg design prevents tipping and gives you an unlimited array of angles to work from – plus it can be used from your lap or tabletop.
Stretcher bar cross stitch lap stands are made up of bars that you slot together to build a frame size specific to your project specifications.
Because you can change the size to accommodate the canvas you’re working on, stretcher bar frames are ideal for those working on various sizes and projects.
Many models are easily portable and made of high-quality wood so you get versatility and durability in one sleek package. They can be more complicated to use and assemble than simpler stands, but offer more advanced capabilities for an experienced user.
Tambour embroidery frame by EmbroideryhoopKS
Handmade of dried beechwood, the design of this top-rated cross stitch frame relies upon strips of fabric and a tightly-braided belt attached to its rail. The working surface can be fixed horizontally or at an angle and features the ability to adjust to fit your project size
K's Creations Z-Frame Lap Frame Needlework Stand
The unique X-design of this popular lap frame allows the workspace to be fully adjustable to the user’s preference while maintaining steady support.
It’s completely collapsible for storage and travel — without disassembly — yet is renowned for its strength and stability. It also allows full access to the front and back of your canvas with the ease of a turn.
Frank A Edmunds Adjustable Scroll Frame Lap & Table Stand by GaribaldisNeedleWork on Etsy
The split rail scroll frames in this scaled-down lap stand fit fabrics up to 21” wide. Its height is also adjustable, making it comfortable to work from your lap or on a nearby surface.
Stainless Steel Floor Stand with Tablet/Pattern Holder by Beecreekltd
This extravagant, made-to-order stand has it all: a tablet holder for reference items, an accessory tray that holds everything you could need for a project, and the versatility to conform to your work style.
Crafted of metal and wood, the genius of this design is its ability to adjust: height and angle, workspace and tool storage. Yet it’s still light enough to be somewhat portable, at least from room to room.
This budget-conscious model is made of organic beech, light, and ready to go. Its rounded clamps ensure quick and easy fabric attachment with no damage to the cloth.
Although it has fixed working spaces, it’s affordable enough to have all three sizes on hand if various canvas sizes are required for your projects.
Whether you approach cross stitch as a new hobby or as a seasoned stitching pro, lap stands are vital tools to up your game. Determining factors such as how much space you’ll need, how you’ll use it most, and the types of projects you’ll be working on will help you choose the right solution for you.
With the art of cross stitch being elevated — from feminist statements and advanced portraiture to modern pop art — it’s well worth the investment of a quality lap stand to ensure you’re ready and set for the revival.