An embroidery hoop makes the stitching process easier and I find I produce a better result if I use one. I know many people dont like to use a hoop but I always encourage people to try it particularly if you have trouble with tension. If your stitches pucker and pull the the fabric learn to use an embroidery hoop. Here is a tutorial on how to bing a hoop, what size to choose and tensioning a hoop.
Choose the right sized embroidery hoop
I know some people say a hoop is uncomfortable to use. However, often the hoop they choose is too large. Unlike quilting hoops when you hold an embroidery hoop you should be able to easily place your index finger in the centre without strain.
How to bind an embroidery hoop.
Some people worry about a hoop creasing and squashing their work. To counter this only have your work in the hoop when you actually stitch, in other words don’t leave your work in the hoop over night. Also I have some tips at the end of the article about steaming your work.
Always bind at least the inner ring of your hoop. This is called dressing a hoop. I know that term sounds Victorian but it is what binding a hoop is called. I know this sounds fussy but it is really worth while taking 20 minutes and dressing your hoop.
Dressing a hoop is quite easy. You need some cotton twill tape, which can be found in the sewing haberdashery section of a fabric store. It is not expensive – a couple of dollars at the most. Make sure what you purchase is cotton. If you use a polyester or polyester mix tape your dressing will not have the same grip and the fabric you place in the hoop will slip. Since the idea is to control the tension of the fabric slippage undermines what you want it do.
The process is a simple enough. Start off by tucking the end of the tape under the first wrap.
Continue wrapping until you have the whole hoop covered evenly.
Secure the end of the tape with a few stitches.
Using an embroidery hoop
After you have wrapped or dressed your embroidery hoop this is how you use it.
Yes dressing an embroidery hoop is the correct term – Victorian I know!
Lay the dressed inner ring of the embroidery hoop on the table and position your fabric over it centring your design or stitching area in the middle of the ring.
Loosen the screw on the top ring to open it slightly and place it over the fabric and bottom ring. Have the screw mechanism sitting at about 10 o’clock if you are right handed.
If you are left handed set the screw at 2 o’clock . This means you will not tangle your thread around the screw closure. It is very frustrating to have your thread catch on it with every stitch!
Tighten the screw enough so that it grips the inner ring and stays in place.
Tensioning the fabric in your hoop
After placing your fabric in you hoop you need to tension it. For even weave embroidery where there is a lot of stab stitch involved ie you push the needle into the fabric and with the other hand push it back to the front you will need a tight tension on the fabric. If it is surface embroidery where there is scoop stitching involved allow a little bit of ease on the fabric.
Let the fabric have a little flex. Not too much, just a fraction to allow you to scoop stitches should you need to and you can always tension the fabric by pushing it from the back with the middle finger on your non dominant hand. I see lots of people trying to do surface embroidery stitches with a hoop stretched drum tight. You should be able to take a bite of the fabric with your thread. Don’t tension the fabric so tight that it becomes impossible to manipulate the needle and thread.
What if your work is too big for an embroidery hoop?
If your work is too big for a hoop that fits your hand think about using a larger hoop that is mounted on a stand. This will leave both of your hands free to stitch. The other alternative is to use a frame.
However I do have a confession as I often move a hoop along. For instance my band sampler is done this way I simply move it along and place the hoop over the stitches. Many embroiderers would have a fit at this, as they see it as squashing the stitches but honestly if you you use good thread it will usually bounce back and to be honest it does not cause me troubles. I usually just have the hoop on the fabric while I actually stitch. I also have the fabric a little slack and I will steam out creases the sampler if need be.
If your embroidery becomes creased, particularly if it is something like silk ribbon embroidery. Hang it in a steamy bathroom to relax it. Peg your work to a hanger and take a hot shower with the exhaust fan off, then hang your work up in the bathroom. Another way of doing it, is hold the work over a steaming kettle. Keep your hands and arms clear of the steam, as you do not want a burn but hold the work there for a little while and steam it. You will find the fabric, thread and ribbon relaxes into its original shape.
I hope you have found this article useful. Do you use a hoop? Do you have any tips for readers on using a hoop? What do you think are the key advantages and disadvantages to using a hoop?
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