Can You Embroider Without A Hoop?

Have you ever been in the midst of an embroidery project and thought, ‘Do I really need this hoop?’

I mean, it’s always been there, right beside our trusty needle and thread. But sometimes, thinking outside the hoop can lead to some exciting outcomes. So, let’s chat!

Can you truly embroider without it? It might sound a bit rebellious, but let’s dive into this less-traveled path of embroidery and see where it takes us. Buckle up; it’s going to be a stitch of a ride!

Can You Embroider Without a Hoop?

Embroider Without A Hoop

Yes, you absolutely can! Embroidery is not strictly bound to hoops.

With a steady hand and some practice, you can create stunning designs without one. If you’re up for the challenge, or simply curious about this unorthodox method, this article will guide you through the process of hoopless embroidery.

So, thread your needle, gather your fabric, and let’s dive into the world of embroidery without bounds!

What To Use Instead of Embroidery Hoop?

There are some handy alternatives that can make your stitching experience easier and more enjoyable. Let’s explore some of these:

Embroidery Frames: These are similar to hoops but are usually square or rectangular. Frames, like hoops, help keep your fabric taut. They come in different sizes and are especially helpful when working on larger projects.

Scroll Frames: These are great for large or long embroidery pieces like samplers or borders. You attach your fabric to the top and bottom rods and roll it as you work, keeping the part you’re stitching taut and clean.

Stretcher Bars: Typically used in canvas art, these bars can also be used for embroidery. They’re essentially four pieces of wood that fit together to make a frame. You attach your fabric to the bars using staples or tacks, stretching it to achieve the desired tension.

Q-Snap Frames: These frames are made from PVC pipe and come with four clamps that fit over the fabric and frame to hold it taut. Q-Snap frames are lightweight and easy to use, and you can adjust the clamps as you work to maintain tension.

Your Hands: Yes, the simplest method of all, but it requires practice. The key here is to keep your fabric as taut as possible using your non-dominant hand, while your dominant hand does the stitching. It gives you a lot of freedom, but remember to frequently relax your hands to avoid fatigue.

Before you decide which one to use, consider the size of your project, the type of fabric you’re using, and how much detail your design has. Each method will give you a different experience, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you.

How To Embroider Without A Hoop?

Whatever your reasons for wanting a hoopless embroidery, the good news is that you can achieve the same stitching quality when you use the right method. As earlier stated, all you need to do is to find a way to maintain the right tension that is required for hoopless embroidery.

One effective way to maintain embroidery tension is by using a scroll fabric.

Apart from being effective in maintaining fabric tension, scroll fabrics are also hands-free. This means you can place focus elsewhere without the risk of creasing or damaging your projects.

Another way to embroider without hoops is by using your hands. Hand embroidery is not a new phenomenon. Long before now, our grandmothers and the people who came before them made great designs with hand embroidery.

To embroider with your hands, hold the fabric between your fingers and thumbs and try to stretch it to help maintain tension in the area you’re stitching.

If you’re new to this, you’ll certainly feel some soreness between your fingers at first. However, as you do it more often and your muscles become used to the process, it gets a lot easier for you.

If you’re already used to hoop embroidery, learning to embroider with your hands can be a lot more challenging than normal.

All you need is to practice as often as possible until you’re used to this style of embroidery.

Embroidering With Hoops

Embroidering With Hoops

Hoops consist of two rings. You stretch the fabric between them and tighten it using a screw. Most hand embroidery practitioners use hoops because they often yield the best results.

For small designs, a 4-inch hoop works well. However, having hoops in multiple sizes is convenient. Different hoop sizes give you ample space around your design, leading to smoother embroidery.

Simple Hooping Rules

A smooth surface is necessary for great results. It is, therefore, important to not stretch your fabric at all.

Inspect your hoop to be sure it isn’t damaged. Check the wooden surface to see if there are any sharp objects sticking out. If your hoop is damaged, do well to get a new one.

The ideal hoop size for your design should be 1 or 2 inches bigger than the design. Basically, it shouldn’t be too big or too small.

If you want to stabilize your fabric, hoop the fabric and your stabilizer together.

If you’re looking for the best option, plastic hoops are the best on the market. They are easy to wash and handle.

Why Do People Embroider Without A Hoop?

Why Do People Embroider Without A Hoop

Although a hoop helps to stabilize your embroidery, there are several scenarios where using a hoop can be most uncomfortable. They include the following:

To prevent Damage to Project

While embroidering a project with hoops, there’s always that chance that you might crease, mark or damage your project with the hoop frame. Some sewers prefer not to take chances and would instead choose not to embroider with hoops.

When Embroidering on a Difficult Area

People might choose not to use hoops for embroidery when working on a small fabric area. Fitting such an area into a hoop can be challenging, like when embroidering a shirt collar.

Uneven Fabric Surface

Sometimes, your embroidery project may have an uneven fabric surface like the seam on a pair of blue jeans. In such cases, the project’s uneven surface makes it hard to fit the surface to a hoop.

How To Put A Fabric On Your Hoop For Machine Embroidery?

Machine Embroidery

The following are steps to take when putting a piece of fabric on the hoop:

1. Get the Right Type of Hoop for Your Project

Sounds like a minor fact, right? But you’d be surprised how much the success or failure of your embroidery depends on getting the right hoop. The size of your hoop should depend on the size of the fabric.

Some embroidery machines come with only one size of hoop. More expensive machines, however, usually come with three sizes to ensure you have the right hoop size for any embroidery project.

If your hoop is for a hand-embroidery project, you should also consider your ability to hold the hoop in your hand or on your lap.

2. Launder your Fabric

Wash and iron your fabric to avoid having to do this after the fabric has been embroidered. The risk of damage being done while trying to launder a finished embroidery work is significantly higher.

Also, clean your hoop and wash your hands to avoid transferring dirt to your laundered fabric!

3. Separate The Inner Ring from The Outer Ring

A standard hoop has two rings. You loosen the screw to separate them, ensuring the outer ring still grips the inner ring but with enough slack to slide the inner ring out.

For thicker fabrics, you can adjust the outer ring to create the necessary space.

4. Spread your Fabric Over the Inner Ring of your Hoop

Place the inner ring on a flat surface and evenly spread your fabric over it. Ensure the hoop is overlapped on all sides.

5. Replace the Outer Ring Around The Inner Ring of Your Hoop

Place the outer ring around the inner hoop carefully, ensuring you don’t put unnecessary tension on the fabric in-between.

Resist the urge to make adjustments to too-tight or too-loose hoop settings by adjusting the screw to your preferred resistance and then pulling the fabric.

Always remove the inner ring entirely from the outer ring before making adjustments. You do not want to damage your fabric.

6. Tighten the Screw

When the fit between your inner and outer rings is snug, tighten the screw just a little bit more to achieve the right tension you desire. Remember to adjust the fabric to stretch tautly and smoothly on your hoop. Your embroidering surface shouldn’t be loose or wrinkled to avoid uneven stitches.

Can I Use A Smaller Hoop Size To Stitch A Bigger Design?

No, you cannot use a smaller hoop size for a bigger design. You can manage a bigger hoop size for a smaller embroidery design though. But it is always advisable to work with the required size for a perfect finish.

My Fabric Seems To Be Getting Looser On The Hoop. Is This Normal?

Fabric Seems To Be Getting Looser On The Hoop

Yes, it is perfectly normal for the hoop’s tension on your fabric to loosen as time goes by.

That’s why we strongly suggest removing fabrics from the embroidery hoop when taking a long break from your project. Gently fold your fabric and place it in a neat, plastic bag.

You can always return your fabric to your embroidery hoop whenever you’re ready to continue, using the tips above.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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