Hooping and Hoopless Embroidery 6/6/08

Hooping 101:   Initially, I thought I might be able to discuss hooping in a single blog.  After discussion with others and considering what hooping entails, hooping is more a series.  I hope to share my experiences and what I have learned from some very accomplished ME people.  Your thoughts and input are also encouraged and welcome for all my blogs.   Let’s start with some specifics about hooping with which we might all agree:

  •   Always use the smallest hoop which will accommodate your project
  •   A flat, sturdy space larger than your hoop is required to complete hooping
  •   Make sure your hoop is free of any glues or other debris
  •   Replace a hoop which is damaged in any way
  •   Check and mark the grain of your fabric before hooping
  •   Utilize hooping aids such as double-faced tapes made specifically for sewing
  •   Not all projects can successfully be hooped
  •   Not all projects need to be hooped 

Together with stabilizers, the hoop is equally important to prevent poor registration of a design.  I can remember my initial attempts at doing FSL with similar results to my photo.  My disappointment stemmed from the fact that I was 95% done with my project before I could see that it failed.  The reality is that it failed much earlier, but it was not very visible.  Of course it is always possible that the digitizing has some variance, but that was not the case for me. Frequently, there is more than one way to accomplish any goal.  Different methods are neither right nor wrong, just different.  I personally have hand issues and hooping can be difficult for me.  For fabrics which are heavy, slippery or in other multiple ways, difficult to handle, I use a hoopless method. Hoopless sewing is not for all projects.  Once again, a ‘Discovery Sew’ will be your best guide.  

This photo is a simple method of hoopless.  I was embroidering on a small tote that was difficult to hoop because of the size and the seams involved. 

  Baste  In this case, I simply hooped some tear away stabilizer and attached it to my machine.  I placed my fabric on top of the stabilizer which had 4 pieces of a product such as “Wonder Tape.”  I then sewed a basting stitch around the area where the design would reside.  You may also notice that I have clamped the sides to keep them from getting into the design.  This simple method would work for stable fabrics such as denim and woven fabrics.  It is a little less expensive because I am not using my adhesive stabilizer.     


The next hoopless option is for t-shirts, slippery and/or stretch fabrics.   I won’t discuss the stabilizing because we covered that on my last blog.  I did, however, start with hooping an adhesive stabilizer.  While this stabilizer has grid lines on it, the grid lines



will be cut away before I place my fabric.  I will be doing my own grid line for placement. The pins are only secured in the top fabric.  My objective is to have a stable fabric where I will accurately place my design. 

Next, I will be combining my fabric and stabilizer.  The hoop is also given a grid line.  



After lining up my grid lines, I have finger pressed my fabric to the stabilizer.  I then place a medium weight, water soluble sheet on top.  Basting is not required here.  I might add basting and/or stabilizers if there is an opportunity to make the whole project stronger.  In this case, I feel it has reached its stability.  I also have placed a ‘no-show mesh’ under the hoop, just as I would have done if I had hooped the project.   

Once you do a hoopless project, you just may be hooked.  I know that I am.  I only use hooping when necessary and that is not too often.  Fabrics like silk can get a ‘burn’ from the hoop and towels and heavy fabrics can be damaged.


  • Bonus:  Before you do your next project, I recommend that you take your largest hoop and place it on a flat surface.  Release the tension screw and notice that the gaps are not perfectly even.  Increase the tension a few turns at a time and notice that your hoop is compressing, but not necessarily evenly.  All hoops will have some variance and it will be helpful for you to know where those gaps might occur in a regular project. 
 If you have a lot of gaps when your screw is reasonably tight, you could utilize a gripper like is used in cupboards to keep dishes from slipping.  It is not expensive and sold in rolls.  If you need something like this, be sure to cut the gripping in strips and use them on opposite sides for balance of tension.  




And lastly, by special request, I was asked how often should you change your needle?  There are a dozen answers for this one as well.   Some ME enthusiasts say "when it starts to sound different;" others "at each new design:" another says "after a certain number of stitches:" etc.  I change my needles partly based on my design and partly on number of stitches.  If my design has a lot of details, I definitely change the needle.  I do check the number of stitches I have done since my last change and try not to exceed 150,000 stitches, and less if my needles are cheap.   There are more ways to think of needles, but I buy them by the 100 pack and they are very inexpensive that way, some as little as 15 or 20 cents each.  Not really worth keeping in my mind.  I had a needle break and make a significant gash in my machine plate so I don't hold on to a used one.


Next time I will be discussing things I wish I had known before I began ME.  That is a really long but manageable list.  If you want to put something on that list, please contact me through my profile. 

Thanks for stopping by, Pat



Comments (60) -

jalcumbrack 6/6/2008 9:51:09 AM

Great Blog Pat!

jalcumbrack 6/6/2008 11:44:40 AM

Another point on needles ,is to check with your machine manufacturer to see what they recommend as well. My machine only works really well with one brand,and that is also the one the manufacturer recommended as well.I tried many different ones before I went back to the original brand.

I also used some needles that were not up to par,and they as well broke,so I went back to using the ones I know worked well.They cost a lot more,but are worth it.If it is one that I have only used for one design,then I will  save it for another day when the design I am working on isn't for anything special,like I just want to see how something will sew out, not for anything I am using it on,I just want to see it sewn out.

As with everything in ME ,a lot of it is personal preference.

Thanks Judy!  Needle usage is a really tricky proposition.  My manufacturer does not give any info on how long to use a needle.  But it does encourage me to discard a blunt needle.

Since I have broken a number of needles over the years, and I have a fear of getting objects into my eyes, I don't hold on to a used needle.  And, you are so right, it is a personal preference.


jalcumbrack 6/6/2008 2:47:44 PM

Neither does mine, but it does recommend a certain brand. I don't think using a needle for one design is going to make it blunt either,unless it is a whopper of a design,in which case ,Yes I would most deffinatly discard it.

I have been sewing in one capacity or another for over 30 years  commercially as well as at home,and in that time I maybe have broken 4 needles,but never on an embroidery machine.Sewing commercially also taught me to wear safety glasses while sewing,for that very reason.But like we said it is always a personal preference.

travelbug1237 6/7/2008 6:16:04 PM

WOW Pat....another VERY helpful blog!!!

  I learned something brand new right off the bat....to use the smallest hoop needed.....hmm...didn't know that but thanks for that tip!!! I only have the 5X7

one but will order the 4X4 asap.

  And I didn't know you should check the grain of the fabric...yikes...

Hmmm...Oh...I have SO much to learn....but I will just keep chipping away and

will practice and continue to read and get hints. Some will hopefully stick in my brain permanently. SmileSmile

   Again...this blog....along with your others....will be a wonderful resource

that can be referenced repeatedly....and I for one will be using it a lot.

Thanks Pat!!!!

LOVE all those photos too!!!!


Thanks again!!!!!!


I usually just read and don't make complements but wanted to say, be sure and check your thread that it won't get tangled as it will snap a needle very quickly.  I use the big spool for black, white, and red and use the holder but it can still get tangled and pull on your needle.  I found out they have a quide that goes in the extra spool holder (the small one that stands up) and I run it through that and sloved that problem.  Don't know if this will help anyone or not, also if you don't have the spool holder for the large spools, you can use an large empty coffee jar and it will keep your spool straight and thread coming off like it should.


amyinstitches 6/8/2008 11:52:53 AM

Hello and thankyou so much for all the great tips on embroidery. You have great embroidery tips and i thankyou fo much tor all your hard work. I have learned to use the proper size hoop for projects, and not be lazy changing needles. Thankyou for all your embroidery tips way to go from amy.

tourlady522 6/8/2008 12:31:13 PM

Thanks Pat and everyone else for your tips. They all help us. I know they sure help me. I am looking forward to trying a hoopless project soon

farmtags - (interesting name!)  Thanks for that tip.  I know that twisting thread is dangerous to say the least.  Broken thread (for me) equals frustration.  

Welcome Amy - I remember learning that "using the smallest" hoop, and thought to myself "duh!"  Sometimes the obvious isn't so obvious.  In a game where stability is the name of the game, every little thing adds to your perfect design sew out.


Why can't I print the info in your newsletter?

having trouble with the buckles-ups.  I need help.

debjaxon13 6/8/2008 3:37:25 PM

When I make a design that is just a tad bit off, rather than toss the work, I find a permanent marker color that is very close to the thread color and dab in (where white is visible).  To the eye of the beholder, they can't see the mistake.  It doesn't happen often, but this has saved a few projects in the last 7 years.

This was great.  I still have difficulties with the hooping thing.  Never get it tight enough.


i just started reading the blogs am loving it. i 've done many projects hoopless and love it i have many questions but my brain is empty right now. thanks for the tips. fran

I purchased waffle weave large comestic bags to embroider with name or initials.  The embroidery work turned out very well; I was surprised at how easily and smooth the embroidery process appeared on the plastic side or inside of the bag.  My problem is that when I removed the sticky stabilizer, some of the adhesive and paper remained on the plastic liner.  I have used alcohol, nail polish remover, soap and water as well as other oil based cleaners.  Nothing has removed this mess.  Has anyone else had this problem. All of the girls in my family sure will miss having a monogramed cosmetic bag.  I used NESCHEN sticky stabilizer.  HELP!   CiCi

rosarypark 6/8/2008 7:21:21 PM

I used needles of an inferior brand because they were left over from my old machine,& now am up for a new bobbincase & have wasted heaps of time & fabric trying to get a design to sew out correctly.


Pat you sure do sound good for your age. Keep it up.

alssweetheart 6/8/2008 10:25:55 PM

Something I just learned about hooping is that if you are using just stabilizer or a very thin fabric and stabilizer and it just doesn't want to tighten as it should, use a long strip of fabric (or felt) and position it all around your hoop and have it between your stabilizer and hoop.   It works especially well with the peel and stick stabilizer!!

Thanks for all the comments, I enjoy reading them.  

Easmitty- Try this:  At the beginning point, left click your mouse and drag down to the ending point.  You should see the info highlighted.  Let go of the mouse and place it ON the highlighted area.  Right click and select "copy."  Go to your Notepad or Text document software and right click on a blank page and select "paste."  You can save and/or print from there.

Madison22- I am unfamiliar with "buckle ups." Please explain and perhaps someone can help.

debjaxon13- You are so right, a colored pen can save the day.  Beware though, I did that on a towel and the ink spread and ruined my project.  There are specialty pens that won't spread.  The name is Pigma Micron Pens.  I found them on the Net at:  http://www.dickblick.com/">http://www.dickblick.com/

Mycici- Try nail thinner, it is different than nail polish remover and more like laquer thinner but not as harsh. No guarantees here, but I find it works sometimes.

Alssweetheart - You and all the rest of the readers make my work worth it for me.  It is a pleasure to write for you and I hope I help.  

Thanks to all, Pat  

Thanks for your blog.  I just started reading and am having a wonderful time with your tips.  They couldn't be more timely.

1st time in.  Learned a little.  Have LOTS to learn, so will reurn!

Need help with emb. on baby onsies...if using hoopless method, how to best keep work from being

"scratchie" for Baby's soft skin.

Nanapat7 - I have not tried this, but I understand that using the 'mesh' stabilizers on the back, you should not have 'scratchie' issues.  I would think that I might sew that mesh over the completed project.


armymomanita 6/9/2008 3:44:07 PM

  easmitty said:

Why can't I print the info in your newsletter?


I found that the "print" function does not work on this site too. So, I copied and pasted the entire article to my "word" page and cut out what I did not need to keep, then I printed the pages. I keep them all in a folder just for my sewing.

leonard_a_macska 6/9/2008 8:29:26 PM

Mycici--try Goo Gone or Ronsonol Lighter Fluid (for cigarette lighters).    I use the lighter fluid all the time to remove those pesky price stickers that department and specialty stores insist on putting on everything.  The stuff lasts forever as you only need a little bit.  It may stink a bit, but once it evaporates, there is no lingering odor.



ArmyMom- thanks for that input.  We are all using different computers with different software and believe me, printing a page can be a surprise on the Net.  I remember the first time I tried to print a "page," I stopped my printer because it would have printed 53 pages!!

Leonard- I forgot about Goo Gone and Lighter Fluid, both terrific cleaners for lots of little stickies.  When my kids were little, they would put up stickers on anything that was not moving.  The dog appreciated that!


dreamstitcher 6/10/2008 1:07:50 AM

You know, Pat, I had thought of trying the waffle weave non-slip shelf liners that Walmart sells, for when I do my hooping, when I couldn't get the hoops tight enough, but I had some heavy cut-away stabilizer, and I just kept 2 strips that were left over, and I straight stitch them onto the sides of my tear away stabilizer. Works great. I am going to try the non-slip waffle weave tho. I bought a whole bunch at a dollar store, to cut out place mats, because they are so great to embroider seasonal things on, or children's designs, and the kids love them! AND they are non-slip! Great blog, and great advice!!!

Thanks again!!!

Dawn Winn


Good information once again, thanks!  I have often used the "hoopless" method and had no troubles with it.  Keep up the great blogs we appreciate them.

Lollie in Oregon

dreamstitcher..what type stabilizer do you use for the waffle weave? Never thought about using it? Anyone else have any input on using that material/

tym2embroider 6/10/2008 10:08:48 AM

To dispose of needles without getting poked in a waste basket, I use empty pill containers.  When full, you can safely throw them away.  

Enjoy all the comments and the blog

This input is so excellent.  I appreciate all of you for your thoughtful comments and additions to my blog.

Needle disposal is an important issue because you never know who might be injured by them.  Tym2embroider, thanks for reminding us about it.  There is also a forum on other methods, but I really think the pill bottle, sealed appropriately, is among the very best.


Thank you so much for the great information very helpful.

There is a product you use for hoopless embroidery you just peal of the bit you want to use and can be used over again like contact can any one tell me where I can purchase please.

I got hubby to make up a wooden stand and you can use either nails or small dowl on each side of a larger one that is in the middle and place a small cup hook or a small ring type which is used when puting up the stretch type wire for curtains this works better as the cotton doesn't come off.

I have a section of my craft counter that I leave a waffle weave placemat on. I put my hoop on top of it while hooping. No sliding out. I also cut pieces and put them under my regular sewing machine and serger's foot petal so it dosen't slide on the floor. I never thought of embroidering some, duh.....

For getting sticky residue off of the waffle weave plastic lining I use a product called Un-Do. It leaves no residue and dries with no marks. I also take a cotton ball with some on it to clean my needle after a project, if I use a spray adhesive, just in case.


I'm new at this too, ladies, and have enjoyed reading the blogs.  Yes, I am learning from all of you....and, maybe someday soon I will have a project completed I will be able to share with you.

Thanks for all of your input!! You're a GREAT encouragement!

Mary in NW

The comments on hooping were very useful  


Hi Pat on the subject of pricing for design stitching -I do as follows -any number of stitches under 5.000 I charge 1.00 per 1000- then between 5 and 10 thousand 75c each and anything over the 10,000  50c each -customers seem to be happy with totals as they understand that the bigger the design the more cost   Doreen  Brit in Tx

Thanks for the comments and information.  

Doreen - I like your idea of  varying the base pricing.  It makes good sense.  Having a really stitch intensive design can be very pricey.  Additional color changes and rehooping can add so much to your time.  I think there is no realistic answer.  You just have to be willing to help people understand that your investment is not modest and your time is valuable.  

If any of you are interested in creating an avatar for your posts, just go to "Edit Profile" at the very top of this page (in upper right hand corner).  

Select the Avatar Tab and follow the instructions.  Don't forget, an avatar is of your choosing, not necessarily you, and certainly not necessarily at your current age.  If you want to put up your High School Grad Picture, we all could use a good laugh - - make that we all would enjoy it.  


very interesting comments. thanks everyone..i am new at machine embroidery. i have a brother pr600. i am having trouble with my automatic threader.  any ideas on what is wrong?

Deane61-  Have you had your dealer look at it?  Certainly, there can be problems and/or adjustments that were needed and not done at the factory.  

I am also wondering if you are having threading issues.  Review what you have in your manual, the position of the wire (about position #6) is really important and can be troublesome.  

If you can be more specific about what is happening, perhaps someone here on AnnTheGran can assist you.


I'm new as well to m e  as well as surging - I bought both machines at the same time - boy am I getting

confused between the two!!! Thanks for this great bogcast - I'm learning a lot!  I plan to keep coming back and back and back.................to read more!

anokagirl - Thanks for the warm response, it makes me feel great.  Do check my Archives for more information.  

joanremillard 6/19/2008 1:59:49 PM

I read your stabilizer tips, but still don't get the overall guidlines for stabilizer use:  lighter stabilizer for heavier and more stable fabrics?  heavier for lighter fabrics?  etc.  I find myself always calling my Viking consultant and asking advice on different fabrics.  Also, any advice on MEing baseball caps?  Available hoop for caps?

joanremillard 6/19/2008 2:09:32 PM

In your subject line of e-mail, you mentioned a "stitch remover" that I did not see mentioned in the discussions on stabilizers.  Do you have a good way to remove stitches without ruining the project?  


Joanremillard-I was trying to send you an email, but was unable to do so.  

On the stabilizer issue, there is never a problem with calling your dealer/consultant for advise.  You have purchased their knowledge along with your machine.  As a general rule of thumb, you will be creating as sturdy and stable a working fabric as possible.  

Are you doing a "test sew out" before doing the design?  It is generally accepted that if you don't do a "test" of your design, you can expect trouble.  And my feeling is that it is almost impossible to over stabilize and under stabilizing is a problem waiting to appear.

Doing baseball caps does, in my opinion, require a special hoop.  There is one available here at ATG, just do a search for baseball cap hoop and you should get it.  I have not yet purchased that item, but trying it without a special hoop has resulted in designs that ran down hill everytime!  Some items just cannot be completed without special equipment.

I am uncertain about the "e-mail that mentioned 'stitch remover.'"  I think you must have read the e-mail from Ann (AnnTheGran) which talked about "Peggy's Stitch Remover."  I believe that this tool will be available soon and I plan to be first in line to buy one.  I also understand that it is very important that you hold the tool correctly.  Failure to follow directions exactly can result in less than hoped for results.  

So, when I have an opportunity to work with it and feel confident in my efforts, I will definately be doing a Blog on stitch removal by Peggy's Stitch Remover.  You can look for that about a month after it becomes available.

Peggy's Stitch Remover was being updated and no one has inventory of them as of this date, June 22.  If they have any of them, make sure you get the new one which is supposed to be well improved over the older model.  


First time user.  I have been at the computer almosst 5 hours and have learned much.  What a wonderful way to learn aboout your machine and all the accesories and tips.  You are a GOD se.  I now have ou in my favorites


Gee, jkessler - I hope I can be up to your expectations.  I love sharing and know that I had the very same questions at one time or another.

Soon, everyone will be experienced and confident, because that is my over all goal.


designerlady 7/19/2008 12:43:05 PM

I am fortunate to have one of the new  Peggy's stitch removal #8. I just received it 10 days ago. This is truly awesome. It sure beats trying to pick out all those stitches. As Pat mentioned, you do have to hold it correctly. When doing so, it looks like you are holding it upside down. I have never seen anything work so well for removing stitches. There was a time that I tried a Bic shaver, but found it didn't do too well. It wasn't as safe as Peggy's. Remember the secret to using this tool, is to keep your item in the hoop.

Thanks Designerlady!

Peggy's Stitch Removal Tool has gotten some bad press over the years.  

I do have a rule that works really well...."When all else fails, read the directions....."  

I do love your avatar!  I posed for it.  LOL


Hi there

Thanks for the blog and all the tips - I am supposed to be sewing round about now, but all these tips are too good for me to close the computer down.

Please can you tell me what a 'no show mesh' is, and what it is normally used for.

Sorry I'm a bit late at reading this blog.

Hopefully my 'shy' avatar has come out of the closet now!

Pat - I am still wondering at the delights of the internet - it is so fabulous for tutorials and knowledge like this.  I am relatively new at this ME stuff but have picked up a lot of useful info in just this issue of your blog (the first I have had opportunity to see) - I look forward to more and can I pick up past issues somewhere?  Thanks so  much for your hard work - information is extremely useful.  Marysewfun  Smile

Mary - Let me get your check in the mail!  LOL

Just go to the end of this blog and you will see my archives.  I cannot believe that I have done 10 blogs!!!  Incredible.  It seems like yesterday that I did the first and wondering if anyone would want to read what I had to say!  

Thank you and read each blog as you need them.  Additionally, you should be able to print them off if you want to.  (Printing has been a challenge, so if you have problems, let me know).  

Check out the Forum as well because there is lots of great info there.  Stitchin Shortcuts and the other blogs are informative and fun too.  It is a lot of reading and perhaps printing, but take it a little at a time and you will learn - - -  as we all still are learning.

Best Wishes to You and Yours, Pat

I have never tried hoopless embroidery, but after reading this I did have a question . . . doesn't the sticky on the stabilizer gum up your machine/needles when doing hoopless embroidery?  I can remember YEARS ago when I had to tack down some sticky back velcro on a project and someone told me I could do it on my machine . . . I tried it and my needle got so gummed up that I NEVER used sticky back velcro again!

Check the forum for my response.  I find that trying different techniques will give you lots of good and bad experiences, so try a lot of them.


thank you so much this is helping me allot

I am new to the blogs and I am getting a lot of info from

every one. Thank you so much. I been able work out a lot of

problems I have had by just reading what everyone has to say.


I just discovered your blog and have been reading ever since. Thanks so much for this one. I didn't know you could embroider without the hoop like that. Kamala

charlie207 3/5/2011 9:03:55 AM


I have only just arrived at this blog but found it so helpful - as usual.  Can you please tell me what 'no show mesh' is?  I don't even know if this is available in the UK but will look for it if I can see what I am looking for.  Thanks again Angela

I have just come across this blog.  I didn't know a blog could be so helpful.  I will be back to this one often.  And I will be looking for others that have these kinds of helpful tips & tricks.  Thanks so much for taking the time to put yourself and your help and hints out there for those of us who are just getting started.  I can't wait to get them all read.

Thanks again and bless you for sharing.


I even learned what and how to use an avatar.  Go figure???  You guys are great.  Everyone has so many ideas and inspirations that it will be hard to get any of the projects done.  At least I know where to come if I have a question and will probably find that someone out in cyberspace has had the problem and come up with a solutions.

Thank you again Pat for all the time and effort you have put into this blog.  I am SOOOO glad I found you.


Sewmore49 - Thank you so much!  Even 3 years later, something still can be of help!

I love doing this blog because of you!!!


I don't understand.  There are a lot of designs you can not download.  Why?

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