Guide To Embroidery Hoops and How to Use Them

So you’re ready to start embroidering…you walk into the craft store to pick up some supplies and there are SO many embroidery hoops to choose from. Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Well, this post will go over many of the most popular types of embroidery hoops and some handy tips on how to use them!

Disclaimer: This post has some affiliate links in it. I receive a small commission from purchases at no additional cost to the buyer. I only recommend products I would use and love and that are of good quality. All opinions are my own!

Why Use an Embroidery Hoop? Do I Need to Use One?

First things first, I wanted to go over the benefits of using an embroidery hoop. This is not at all required to embroider. There are some cases where you may not be able to or don’t want to use a hoop. This article goes over some reasons why you may not want to use one! However, if you don’t have a specific reason not to, I do find it to be way easier, and using one sets you up for success on your next project.

Benefits of Using A Hoop

  1. Embroidery hoops stretch the fabric tight and can help preserve the structure of the fabric weave, which in turn will help keep your stitches neat.
  2. Fabric naturally gathers under tension, but keeping it tight in a hoop will prevent your stitches from creating wrinkles and puckering the fabric. You’ll have a smoother piece of fabric when you’re done!
  3. They prevent hand fatigue. Instead of stabilizing the fabric with your hand as you’re stitching, the hoop does it for you.

How To Use an Embroidery Hoop

Most embroidery hoops are used in the same basic way, so the photos below show how to put fabric in a wood embroidery hoop.

how to use an embroidery hoop
  1. Loosen the top screw.
  2. Separate the inner and outer rings of the embroidery hoop.
  3. Place the fabric over top of the inner ring.
  4. Place the outer ring over top of the fabric and inner ring.
  5. Tight the screw and pull fabric evenly through the hoop until it feels tight like a drum.

Types of Embroidery Hoops

There are so many different kinds of embroidery hoops, and I’m not going to cover every single on in this post, but I will be going over some of the more popular ones so you can choose which one you’d like to use.

wooden embroidery hoops

Wooden Hoops

These are the most common ones you normally find at the craft store, and they’re also the type that I personally use the most. I’m grouping bamboo hoops in this category, as they are both hoops that are on the cheaper side, but serve their purpose.

plastic embroidery hoop

Plastic Hoops

This is another type that is common in most craft stores. These can be great to use because they have a lip on the inner ring that grips the fabric, making it so that the fabric won’t slip as much.

using a flexi hoop

Flexi Hoops

Flexi hoops are made of plastic. You can find them in many colors and some even have faux wood grain on them. The outer ring is a flexible plastic that stretches over the inner ring. These hoops grip the fabric pretty well and they look a little bit nicer than the plastic and wood hoops to display finished embroidery in.

Q Snap Frames

Q snap frames are made of plastic and come in a variety of different sizes. The plastic pieces fit together in rectangle or square shape and 4 pieces snap onto the frame and grip the fabric. I don’t use these often, but I find that the fabric is extra secure in them, and it’s all up to personal preference if you want to go this route!

Metal Hoops

I have yet to find new metal embroidery hoops anywhere, but I find them thrifting a lot! I would say that these are more for decorative use and not everyday use because the outer ring has a spring on it, and over time springs can weaken. From my experience, they don’t hold the fabric as nicely and they can also leave marks on the fabric (use at your own risk).

What are Some of the Best Kinds of Embroidery Hoops?

Like I said before, I use inexpensive wood hoops a lot, but it can be nice to have something a bit fancier to frame your work in. Here are a few embroidery hoops that are made of nicer wood and hardware.

embroidery hoops and embroidery supplies

Things to Take Into Consideration When Choosing Hoop Size and Type

All of the different types of hoops above come in multiple sizes. Here are a few things I ask myself when choosing hoop size.

Will you be leaving the finished embroidery in the hoop? Choose a hoop that fits the entire design without too much extra space around the design. Also, make sure that you’re happy with the way it will look framed!

What size is the design I’m stitching? Make sure the hoop fits around the design you’re stitching. If you’re embroidering a super large project and you can’t find a hoop that fits around the entire design, I would explore custom embroidery stitching frames or be extra careful when placing the hoop over the top of existing stitches.

Keep in mind that using hoops that are super large can make it harder to hold the hoop and it also sometimes makes it harder to keep the fabric tight.

Additional Tips And Tricks

  • When shopping for embroidery hoops, pay close attention to the inner and outer rings. Make sure there are no gaps between them and also check that the hoop doesn’t have an irregular shape. I’ve found that bamboo hoops can be a bit warped sometimes.
  • Be sure that the inner and outer rings are present when you purchase hoops! I’ve gotten home before to find that I’m missing the inner ring. No fun!
  • If you’re working with delicate fabric that you’re worried about creasing or stretching, or you feel like you’re fabric isn’t staying tight in a hoop, try binding your embroidery hoop. Needlenthread has a tutorial on how to do this.

What Can I Do If I Don’t Have an Embroidery Hoop?

If you can’t afford one or you’re not able to get one for some reason, maybe give this take away container DIY embroidery hoop a shot! I’ve never tried it before, but it’s worth a shot!

Learn More About Hand Embroidery