Tools of the Trade

I’m often asked about the best embroidery hoop to use for an embroidery project so I thought I would share some of the hoops that I use in my work. The hoop I use often depends on that fabric I’m working with (and what I remembered to take with me!). Here are the different types I have in my stash.

Good to Know… When using any embroidery hoop it should feel comfortable to hold in your hand. Sometimes it’s easier no to use a hoop, especially if the fabric is a heavier weight. Embroidery hoops all leave marks on your fabric. It’s best not to leave your fabric in the frame all the the time as these marks can be hard to remove.

Wooden Embroidery Hoops

These embroidery hoops are often made from beech and have a solid brass screw to tighten the hoop. I use this kind of hoop for most of my projects, it’s great for both cotton and wool fabrics. There are also bamboo alternatives that have a steel crew on them, be careful with the bamboo variety as some of the cheaper frames are warped and wont be a perfect circle.

To use the hoop, place the smaller circle on a flat surface with your fabric on top. Next place the outer hoop on top of the fabric and press down firmly. To make the fabric nice and taut, gently pull the edges until the surface is flat. You can check the fabric is ‘drum tight’ by flicking it with your finger, the fabric should make a popping noise as you do this.

To bind or not to bind? If your hoop has a very smooth surface you can bind the inside section with cotton bias binding or tape. This is also great if you have a slightly distorted bamboo hoop as it will help you to create more tension. There’s a great tutorial here.

Flexi Hoops

These plastic alternatives often feature a wood effect outer hoop and have a decorative hoop for hanging which makes them great for displaying finished work. You can also pick them up in a variety of bright colours.

As with the wooden hoop, place the smaller circle on a flat surface with your fabric on top. Next place the outer hoop on top of the fabric and press down firmly. These hoops are great for fabrics that are heavily printed or more delicate as they create tension easily without excessive pulling around. This type of hoop can distort if you leave a heavy fabric like wool or denim in them for too long so make sure you take the hoop off when you have finished sewing for the day.

Elbesee Easy Clip Roller Frames

These larger wooden frames are most commonly used for tapestry projects but I use them for large scale hand embroidery pieces. I find them quite heavy to hold in my hand so they can be coupled with an embroidery floor stand to make it easier to use.

To use the frame, remove the plastic clips and wrap your fabric around the wooden bar. Click the plastic clips into place to secure the fabric and repeat on the second wooden bar. Once the clips are secure, gently turn the bars so that the fabric is taut. Tighten the wing nuts to hold the wooden bars in place.

You can also get a version without the clips where you stitch the fabric to a piece of cotton tape on the frame. I use this frame with vintage fabrics as it gives a more even tension. You can also get a handy little tool called a ‘Twizzler’ to help you tighten the wing nuts.

***Please note that this is just my personal observation on the products I use regularly, everyone has their favourites and I recommend trying lots of different types to find the best one for you.***

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