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How to Set Up and Use Your Embroidery Hoop

How to Set Up and Use Your Embroidery Hoop

An embroidery hoop is a standard tool for hand embroidery. It's most commonly made of wood with an inner and outer hoop. The outer hoop has a screw at the top to tighten and loosen the circumference of the two hoops.

When I teach embroidery classes, I always start with how to place fabric in an embroidery hoop. This is because I often see new stitchers using an embroidery hoop without a clear understanding of how it works and what it's supposed to do for them.

An embroidery hoop should hold the fabric taught and provide something to hold onto as you embroider. But how taught should the fabric be? How can you adjust it? What is the best way to hold an embroidery hoop?

Let me show you how to set up your embroidery hoop correctly to make it easier to embroider your project.

How to Use An Embroidery Hoop

Melissa holding an embroidery hoop while embroidering

How to Set Up An Embroidery Hoop

  1. Start by gently unscrewing the screw on the outer ring. Unscrew this enough so that the inner hoop comes apart, but not so much that the screw comes out of the outer hoop.

wood embroidery hoop on top of fabric

2. Place the inner hoop on a flat surface.

wooden inner embroidery hoop

3. Lay the fabric flat on top of the inner hoop. Center this fabric on top of the inner hoop. Then gently press the outer hoop on top of the fabric and the inner hoop so that it sandwiches the three pieces together.

fabric in embroidery hoop

4. Gently tighten the top screw until there is enough tension to hold the inner hoop, fabric, and outer hoop together.

hand tightening an embroidery hoop screw

5. Now tighten the fabric inside the hoop. Hold one side of the embroidery hoop and tug the fabric on the other side. Then gently tight the top screw.

Repeat on the other side.

hands pulling fabric inside an embroidery hoop

6. Repeat this process until there aren't any wrinkles, puckering, or sagging of the fabric.

You'll know the fabric is tight enough, when you tap it and it sounds like a drum.

finger tapping the fabric inside an embroidery hoop

How to Hold An Embroidery Hoop

When using en embroidery hoop, it is best to hold the hoop along the outer wooden edge. This will help cut down on the tension placed upon the fabric and prevent sagging.

hand holding an embroidery hoop while embroidering stitches

Why Is My Fabric Sagging?

As you embroider, your fabric will naturally loosen in the embroidery hoop. This is because the needle is being pushed in and out of the fabric and if you're pressing on the fabric when you hold the hoop, these two actions can adjust the fabric tension. Adjusting the fabric is a natural part of embroidery.

  1. Hold one side of the hoop and gently tug the fabric into place on the other side. Then tighten the top screw.

  2. Repeat on the other side until the fabric is in place and taught like a drum.

Hands holding a fabric landscape embroidery in the hoop

Other helpful blog posts on embroidery hoops


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