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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!

This post is part of a series of posts all about hand embroidery supplies.

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 one. This article goes over some reasons and circumstances in which you may not want to! 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.

Reasons To Use One

  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.

  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.

Everything You Need To Learn Embroidery In One Place

Any new skill can leave you feeling overwhelmed with where to start and let’s face it: your time is limited.

I created this e-book with you in mind!

It has everything in it that you need to know to get started stitching. This e-book covers all of the basics: materials and supplies, embroidery stitches, and it also has 4 fun projects that will build your confidence and allow you to not just learn the art of embroidery but have something to show for it!

Types of Embroidery Hoops

There are so many different kinds out there to choose from. 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


These are the most common hoops you can usually find at most craft stores, 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.

You’ll want to watch out and make sure that the inner and outer rings are not an irregular shape and that they match up with no gaps in between them. Bamboo hoops can sometimes be mishapen.

plastic embroidery hoop


These embroidery hoops are also commonly found 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 also made of plastic, but instead of stiff plastic, the outer ring is flexible and stretches over the inner ring. You can find them in many colors and some even made to look like wood grain. 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 to 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! You can find these in a large variety of sizes online.

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 the springs can weaken. From my experience, they don’t hold the fabric as nicely and they can also leave marks on the fabric.

What Are the Best Embroidery Hoops?

As I previously mentioned, inexpensive wood hoops are suitable to use and work relatively well, but it can be nice to have something a bit nicer to frame your work in

. Here are a few embroidery hoops that are made of better quality wood and hardware:

embroidery hoops and embroidery supplies

Are Plastic Embroidery Hoops any Good?

Yes! Plastic hoops are a great choice. The no-slip embroidery hoops hold the fabric really tight and so do flexi hoops ( the kind that stretch over the fabric). The only downside is that some of the no-slip hoops come in super bright colors, so you may want to purchase a separate hoop for displaying your embroidery afterwards.

Which Embroidery Hoop is Best For Beginners?

Any embroidery hoop will work fine for beginners as long as it grips the fabric well. 4-6 inch hoops are a great size to start with because they are easy to hold while you’re stitching and they are a great size for a beginner project.

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.
  • Check to make sure that the hardware is not bent inward. Flimsy or bent hardware will make it harder to screw the embroidery hoop tight and the hoop won’t hold your fabric as well.
  • 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!

Learn More About Hand Embroidery