Newbie Faints, Overwhelmed by Details


As a Newbie (we love YOU and we were all where you are), I can read your questions and remember when I asked the same things.  It does not matter how much you sew; or how much you have spent on your equipment and supplies; it does not matter what you know about embroidery; machine embroidery is different from anything you have ever done.


The good news is that science is telling us that when we learn something entirely new to us, it is keeping our brains healthy by exercising it with new things.  Sewing/gardening and other activities are great, but our brains need new challenges. 


You have found a wonderful way to give yourself new ideas and issues.


One facet of embroidery is the hooping. There is much discussion about the 'dos and don'ts' of hooping, and I am here to give you some of my findings from my experiences and what I have learned from others.


Let’s start with some specifics about hooping with which we might all agree:

  •  Always use the smallest hoop which will accommodate your project
    • Movement from the machine, needle and the hoop can cause some shifting of the fabric creating alignment issues.

  •  A flat, sturdy space larger than your hoop is required to complete hooping
    • You are creating a good basis for your work area.
  •  Make sure your hoop is free of any glues or other debris
    • Clean with a cloth or cotton swab with rubbing alcohol or vinegar will remove many common glues.
  •  Replace a hoop which is damaged in any way
    • A damaged hoop will mar your project and your machine as well.

  •  Check and mark the grain of your fabric before hooping
    • You will want to work with the manufacturer's lay of the fabric. 
  •  Utilize hooping aids such as double faced tapes made specifically for sewing
    • Use all the tools you need, Picasso had more than one brush and paints and other items to create his work.
  •   Not all projects can successfully be hooped
    • Any fabric with a nap or loops will need to be outside of the hoop.  Items such as towels, foam, leather or plastics must be handled attached and not in the hoop as well.  Hoop burn is difficult to remove.


  •   Not all projects need to be hooped
    •  Very small items like baby projects can be done with a light spray of adhesive and/or basted to the stabilizer. 

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 is very rarely the case. 


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’ (testing out your project) 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:  CoolCool  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.

Comments (5) -

What a good blog Pat, I agree with you totally except I don;t use that much stitcky and never hoop anything.

Everyone should try this method and I will almost guarentee and you will never hoop again.

M arge

tourlady522 4/13/2013 8:24:54 AM

What a great Blog Pat. I wish I could do what you do but I sure am glad you are doing it. I learn so much from you. I wish we lived closer.


The beauty of the Net is that we can enjoy and share things with each other despite our locations.  I learn a lot from reading the Forum and the blogs right here.  That is why AnnTheGran is a great place!

You don't  have to do exactly what I do, it is what works for me.  What you can do is take something from here and something from another blog and when it is right for you, you have your method.

Thanks for your comments, you don't know how much I love hearing from you.  

I am trying to add a little humor to my blog - when I went looking for a 'fainting' photo, you cannot believe what I found that was so FUNNY!  Hope you enjoy the photos too.

When we laugh, we learn even better, the humor helps our brain to pay attention and have fun!

Pat, The Avid Embroiderer

I very rarely hoop at all and usually use a sticky-backed stabilizer. Will definitely try hooping the tear-away and basting. Great idea, Pat!


Debbie - I find the basting a great idea for something that is heavy such as a towel.  I just did some Egyptian Cotton towels and they are THICK!

Basting makes it all better!  Pat

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