Can You Embroider Without A Hoop?

Most machine embroiders come with hoops because they can help prevent distorting or stretching the fabric. Yet, for different reasons, you may not be able to use hoops on your embroiders. There’s a lot of confusion as regards using an embroider without a hoop amongst sewers. Hence, I will try to explain how you can get around this problem.

Can You Embroider Without A Hoop?

Embroider Without A Hoop

Yes, it is possible to embroider without a hoop.

Hoops basically help to stabilize your work. If you can stabilize it using another method, you won’t be needing a hoop for your embroidery. All you have to do is maintain a decent level of tension on your fabric to prevent it from puckering and clamping.

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 are made up of two rings with the fabric stretched in between them and tightened with a screw. Hoops are the most commonly used tools for hand embroidery. One thing that is worthy of note is that embroidery done with hoop always produces the best results.

When embroidering with hoops, a 4-inch hoop is recommended for small designs.  Yet, it is more convenient if you have them in several sizes. Using different hoop sizes allows you a decent amount of space around your design to help achieve smooth 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: Another reason why people may not want to embroider with hoops is when the embroidery has to be done on a small area of the fabric. In this case, it can be quite difficult to fit this area into a hoop. A good example is embroidering on 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:

  • 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.

  • 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!
  • Separate The Inner Ring from The Outer Ring: A standard hoop consists of two rings that can be separated by loosening the screw. There should be just enough give to slide out the inner ring but tight enough that the outer ring still holds the inner ring in place. A thicker fabric might require more space to fit in but your outer ring can always be adjusted to create the needed space.
  • 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.
  • Replace the Outer Ring Around The Inner Ring of Your Hoop: The outer ring should be carefully placed around the inner hoop without putting unnecessary tension on the fabric that is 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.
  • 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.

Related Questions

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 fo the hoop’s tension on your fabric to loosen as time goes by. This is why it is strongly suggested that you remove fabrics from the embroidery hoop if you’re 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.


Hello, I am Jessica Flores, and you are welcome to my website. I am a professional fashion designer and a seamstress. I always carried a passion for craftwork. My love for craft grew along with time. I have spent years researching and practicing in this field to gather colossal experience.

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