No if’s no but’s – If you want your stitching to look its best then you need to use an embroidery hoop to stitch with.
There are a multitude of hoops to choose from and it can be difficult to know where to start. Mainly out of curiosity, over the years I have tried quite a few!
Here’s your essential guide to which ones work (and those that don’t!) IMO.
Just to say, I am not an affiliate for any of the hoops mentioned – my opinion is based on my own experience of using them.
We all know the old adage ‘A poor workman always blames his tools’ however with Hand Embroidery, the hoop you use to stitch your pattern in can actually make a huge difference to the end result, so in this case your tools (or hoop!) could actually be the reason your stitching does not look as fabulous as it could.
Well, with embroidery hoops quality really is everything. An embroidery hoop for me needs to do 3 things…
- Hold the fabric tight
- Be comfortable to hold whilst stitching
- Be nice and smooth so your fabric and fingers don’t get snagged.
Before we look at the types of hoops – here’s a basic guide on how to use one and get your fabric nice and tight…
So, to make sure you get the best hoop for your stitching, let’s go through a few of the options out there and I’ll let you know my experience of them…
Wooden Embroidery Hoops
Wooden hoops are great. The one thing I can’t stress enough though is Quality is everything. You want a nice strong smooth wood so your fabric is held tight and does not continually slip.
This is what a quality hoop looks like…
The wood is beech so strong and soft and the inner ring fits snuggly inside the outer with no gaps. It has quality brass fittings with a proper screw for tightening.
Personally, my go to choice is always Elbesee as I have never been dispappointed with the quality and stitching experience plus they are easily available in the UK and reasonably priced. You do sometimes have to re tighten your fabric and they don’t last forever (over time they do lose their grip) but its not a huge problem as they don’t work loose too much at all and they don’t cost a fortune to replace. You can Purchase Elbesee hoops from my Etsy Shop and I ship worldwide – yay! Elbesee Hoops
Wooden hoops also come in different depths – the one pictured is about 2 cm deeps and I do find these hold the work even better and are nice to hold and stitch with.
As well as this you can get a seat stand to clamp them in and I have found this seat stand to be my firm favourite. It comes with 3 different sized hoops, is fabulous quality abd has spent many an hour with me on the sofa stitching away!
For those of you who like a touch of luxury then there are these absolutely gorgeous hoops from Hardwicke Manor (manufactured in Germany). I have seen these at shows and they do look fab but as yet have not purchased one as I can’t justify the cost!
Plastic Embroidery Hoops
I have never got along with these. Some people think they are great and work really well but for me the ones I have are kept at the bottom of the pile and quite honestly never used.
My biggest bug bear with these is their flexibility when being used which for me means the tightness of the fabric is continually compromised. This spoils your work so easily as you can’t maintain tension as you stitch.
Spring Tension Hoops
I was so disappointed when I tried these as I was so looking forward to stitching with them! The smaller ones work better than the larger but ultimately I found they had a similar issue to the plastic hoops. Although not as flexible, they still don’t give a nice tight fabric to stitch with. The tension stays really springy and when you try to pull it tight it pings out of the hoop entirely!
Even if you don’t mess with the fabric and stitch with the springy tension, I found the metal ‘handles’ on the inner ring just got in the way and were really irritating.
Flexi Embroidery Hoops
I love these! You can stitch in them if you so desire as the tension is certainly better than the plastic ones above but not as good as the Elbesee wooden hoops. My main use of these is for framing a finished piece as I just love the way they hold the design and give a really nice frame to it. They come in different colours as well as wood effect, different shapes, and a whole host of different sizes.
They can be tricky to get your fabric in and out of so for stitching this would be a bit of a negative unless the whole design was available to stitch and you didn’t need to keep taking it in and out.
As a frame you can’t go wrong…
What size should you use?
I tend to stick with a size of hoop that is about an inch bigger in diameter than the design I am stitching. That way I can be naughty and leave the design in the hoop in between stitching.
If the hoop is smaller than the design you will need to take it out each time you stop stitching so the parts that are in between the rings does not get spoiled.
Of course, the size of the overall design determines what you choose as well. If I am stitching anything over 8 inches then I switch from using a hoop to a canvas bar frame (more about that in another post).
Hope this has proved useful and made your choice a little bit easier.
If you have any experiences to share with particular hoops leave a comment as I am sure people would love to hear!