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.
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