So you’re wondering, do you really need a hoop to embroider? I too wondered this and have experimented with embroidering without a hoop. The short answer is…technically no! BUT I wanted to go over a couple of reasons why it may be easier and beneficial to use an embroidery hoop.
- Your embroidery will turn out neater – Embroidery hoops stretch the fabric out, which keeps it tight, protects the weave of the fabric, and prevents the fabric from puckering under the tension of your stitches, which can lead to messy and uneven stitches.
- You’ll spend less time accidentally stabbing yourself with a needle – when you embroider without a hoop, you’ll have to stretch the fabric in your hand close to where you are stitching, and I’ve found I end up poking myself a bunch. Ouch!
- An embroidery hoop will keep excess fabric out of the way. If you’re stitching on a large piece of fabric, the hoop will help to keep the extra fabric from getting in the way of where you want to stitch.
- It prevents your hand from getting tired. Stitching without a hoop requires a lot of effort because you have to fiddle with the fabric and stretch it the right way while you’re stitching. This in turn leads to your hand fatigue and you won’t want to stitch as long. If you use a hoop, you can use an embroidery stand and not have to hold the hoop at all!
Can You Embroider Without A Hoop?
You can, of course hand embroider without using a hoop!
While it is very common to use a hoop, it is certainly not a requirement.
Here are a few circumstances when you may choose not to use a hoop:
- The fabric you’re using is very fragile
- The stitches you are making are easier to do with the fabric loose
- You are stitching along the edge of the fabric
- The fabric is an irregular shape / doesn’t fit in a hoop
How To Embroider Without A Hoop
Maybe you don’t have a hoop available or you have decided not to use one. There are a few options for embroidering without one:
Embroidering In Hand
Use nothing and keep the fabric loose in your hands while you stitch. This is perfectly doable and sometimes preferable for some projects. Loose fabric will gather more easily so pay close attention to how tight you are making your stitches!
If the fabric you’re using is super thin or stretchy, you may want to consider using some sort of embroidery stabilizer to help prevent warping or puckering of the fabric.
Similar to a picture frame, stretcher bars can be plastic or wood. They are commonly used for punch needle. The bars fit together in the shape of a square. You can then secure your fabric and stretch it across the frame.
This post goes over how to use wood stretcher bars.
You can also easily make your own stretcher bar frame.
Scroll frames won’t leave hoop marks and they also come in a variety of sizes that are great for larger projects.
I hope this helps you decide whether or not to use an embroidery hoop! Luckily, wood embroidery hoops are very cheap and easy to find. So give it a try both ways and see what you think!
Here are some of my favorite embroidery hoops. *affiliate link
Read more about all the different types of embroidery hoops.