Sunday, January 30, 2011

In Answer to a Question

A while back the lovely Ria had a question. Now Ria and I know each other because we both like three things. We like to knit/crochet and we like NASCAR and as we are both on Ravelry and we have become friends through a forum there for fellow NASCAR fans. Oh, the third thing we both like? Well that would be our favorite driver.
Tony Stewart...yum
So, I promised Ria I would answer her question and I've finally gotten everything together so I can give you pictures with the descriptions. I figure Ria isn't the only person who might find this blog who has the same question so I thought it deserves a really good response.

Ria asked, "I thought you put the fabric in a hoop while you stitch. Do you re-hoop it every time you work on it? Does it stretch the fabric if you leave it on a hoop?" 

The answer to the first part is, "It depends." 

You see some people like to work "in hand". That means that you don't use a hoop, or other stretching devise (and we'll come back to this later), you hold it in your hand and as you work on it you may need to roll or bunch it up to stitch depending on how large the piece is. This technique is very handy because you can carry your piece with you without it taking up a ton of room. I like to work in hand, and do most of my stitching that way. However there are times when that isn't the best choice.

The next option is a traditional hoop.
They come in all shapes, sizes and materials. From round to oval, made from wood or plastic, they all do the same thing, they keep the fabric taunt so it's easier to have uniform stitches. Hoops have been around for hundreds of years. The best are hand made from high grade wood and are finished to a silky smoothness. Then there are cheap ones that often have rough edges. I tend to shy away from those because they can pick the fibers of my linen. However, I own a few hoops and have been known to use them from time to time.

Next comes Q-snap frames. Made from PVC these frames come in a variety of sizes from 6"x6" to 17"x17". I remember the first time I saw Q-snaps. I loved them. They are light weight yet sturdy, don't snag your linen and can be rearranged to make all different sizes since they are modular pieces that snap together. I personally own some of every size. They do keep your fabric fairly taunt. Most people use a cotton fabric between the c-shaped clamps and the fabric they are working on to protect their stitches, especially if they are having to use a smaller sized q-snap than their design. Some just like how adding the extra fabric helps keep the fabric stretched.
See how our own Jackie has her q-snap fixed with some cotton Warm and Natural (if I'm not mistaken) between the fabric and the c-clamps? As with a hoop it is best that you remove your fabric from the q-snap when you're not working on the piece. Depending on if I plan on picking the piece back up the next day, or in a few hours, I sometimes just "loosen" the fabric by turning the clamps inwards, which takes the stretch off the fabric. However, I wouldn't store a piece on a q-snap for any length of time. (Oh and I ALWAYS remove a piece from a hoop.) The advantage of the q-snap is they don't leave huge creases that hoops do.

Then there are frames. I actually have a couple of different types. The most common are scroll frames.
This is my Drawn Thread Alphabets on the scroll frame. I started out working in hand but realized that this piece is so long that the fabric was getting in my way. I have a number of different scroll frames, different size scrolls and scrolls that are different. This particular set of scrolls you have to sew the linen onto a strip of fabric that is on the scroll then you put them into the size bar you want to work with, and as you work you "scroll" the fabric from the bottom to the top. It doesn't take long to sew the fabric onto the frame with a sewing machine, and you can get a fairly taunt working space. This piece is really long, over 30", so this will work out well.

I have some scrolls that you don't have to sew the fabric on. Some have a groove in the scroll (dowel part) that a "thing" fits in that holds the fabric. I don't have a picture of this set, nor do I remember who the maker is. The "thing" that fits in the groove and holds the fabric are two very thin dowels that are held together. I haven't used this type in awhile, but may pull it out for one of my other pieces. The other type I have has just a plain dowel that you then use a Velco strip attached to the dowel and your fabric to hold the fabric on the dowel. I've never actually used these. I have the dowels and the Velco made for them. You do have to leave yourself an extra margin at the top and bottom because when you remove the Velcro from your fabric you probably have to cut it off.

Finally I have one other type of frame. Stitch Away mounts are handmade and come from Canada. I love it for smaller pieces. I own the smallest size and have had it for years. Learning to mount your fabric in the frame is different and takes some getting used to, but the results are great. Plus it's a piece that will be around for years.

Using a frame is nice, but you almost have to have a stand to put them in to be able to stitch without getting tired. I've owned a K's Creation Baby-z lap stand for a number of years and I like it because my Stitch Away mount, q-snaps and my scroll frames will all fit in the clamp.
I like that it will collapse down and I can pack it in my suitcase when I'm traveling on vacation. Mine still looks great after years of being used.

I hope I've managed to answer the questions Ria had without muddying the water even more. Everyone has their favorite way of holding the fabric to put stitches on, no way is more correct than the other. The good news is there is a way that works for each person and for some of us it just depends on the project. Now, when can I teach you to stitch Ria???


Ria said...

Wow, there's a lot more than I realized!

Thanks Teresa!


krayolakris said...

Good write-up Miss T. There's another kind of scroll rod also; the rod is split down the middle and one side has teeny nails, the other has matching teeny holes. You sort of skewer the linen on the nails, fit the other half of the dowel on top, and voila! Holds nicely but I think I like the "sew-on" ones better. Could never feel comfortable that Q-Snaps weren't going to skew my stitches although that doesn't seem to be a problem for anyone using them!

Heather said...

Most excellent explanation, T!

Except....GAH!...TAUT. "Taunt" is what I'm doing right now. ;) <3

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