embroidery hoops
'How To' Tutorials,  Equipment,  Hoops,  Supplies,  Tools,  Using a Hoop

The essential guide to hand embroidery hoops…

Why use a Hoop?

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 your design in.

There are so many different types of hoops to choose from and it can be difficult to know where to start.

Luckily for you, I have tried quite a few and compiled this guide to give you an honest review of what is good and what isn’t about some of those hoops you can buy.

Just so you know, this post may contain affiliate links.  If you click through to a website and register or purchase something, I get a commission from that sale at no extra cost to you. All opinions and reviews are my own.

Why do you need a hoop anyway?

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.

Why so?

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.

How to use an Embroidery Hoop?

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…

how to use embroidery hoop

Different types…

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

My favourite wooden hoops are  Elbesee Embroidery Hoops and Nurge Embroidery Hoops.

With wooden hoops quality is everything. You want a nice strong smooth wood so your fabric is held tight and does not continually slip.wooden embroidery hoop

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.

Things to consider when choosing a hoop –

  • great quality and stitching experience
  • easily available
  • 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 and Nurge Hoops from my Stitchdoodles Shop and I ship worldwide – yay! 

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.

The Elbesee Seat Stand is fantastic and it comes with the deeper hoops in 3 different sizes. Mine is pictured here and spends many hours 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 Round 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.

If you would like to give them a try you can find them here.

Spring Tension Hoops

I was so disappointed when I tried these Spring Tension Hoops 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! Perhaps that’s just me!

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. Flexible Embroidery Hoop…

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.

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, you can read all about using these in the post ‘How to Hand Embroider with a Stretcher Bar Frame.’

Hope this has proved useful and given you some thoughts for trying out different hoops until you find the one you like the most.

If you have any experiences to share with particular hoops leave a comment as I am sure people would love to hear!

Happy Stitching!


Want to remember this? Post this Embroidery Hoop Guide to your favourite Pinterest board!

embroidery hoops essential guide


  • Cara Cannon

    Appreciating the time and effort you put into your website and in depth information you offer. I love embroidery and do a lot of free hand sewing and stitching, so I think this tutorial is an awesome idea! Thanks for putting it together so that more people can learn this awesome art and craft form!

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