Hooping 101:  Learn to love your hoops!

I hear on Facebook groups and elsewhere on the internet that people hate their hoops.  Hate them.  They use them only because they have to, and then don’t use them correctly! Fighting with your hoops has been going on for a long time!  But I am here to say, once you learn the skill, you will learn to love what your hoops can do for your embroidery!

Read on and learn to love your hoops!

get ready to hoop!

One of the things that I say often is that you are only as good as your hooping skills.  That is a saying that has been around for ages.  If you don’t properly hoop, your embroidery will not be as good.  You can have the most beautiful design, and if you don’t hoop it properly or use the correct stabilizer, you will have registration issues, things out of line or moved and even bird nesting and holes in your fabric.  If you “float” (gasp) stuff, you are not stabilizing your work properly, and your embroidery will suffer.  So remember this – you are only as good as your hooping skills.

Please notice that I said “skills”.  A skill is something that you have to LEARN!  Hooping is a skill, embroidery is a skill and a trade.  You don’t expect a welder to walk in and know everything, right?  No, he has to learn a skill or two and learn the whole trade and become an apprentice.  It can take years.  While embroidery is not as dangerous as welding, it does take time to learn your machine, your hooping skills, all about stabilizers and digitizing too!  It is a skill!  Hooping is a skill, so take the time to learn the skill properly, and then after you have mastered the skill, then you and improvise and make it work for you!

Learn to love your hoops.  Yes, you really can learn to love your hoops – the hoops do so much for you and make your embroidery look so much better, you will love them in the end!  The first part of learning this skill and learning to love your hoops is practice, practice practice!  Position the inner ring and the main ring of the hoops properly and use a little bit of pressure.  If you are putting a ton of force to hoop, then you need to make adjustments.  If you find it too hard to hoop, then you need to make adjustments.

This is how you stop fighting and arguing with your hoops.  First take a deep breath (lol) go and grab your hoop and grab some stabilizer and some fabric.  Take the fabric and fold it in half and hold it between your thumb and finger.  That is the amount of room that your hoop needs to hoop everything properly.  Take the thumb screws and loosen it to that amount.  Your stabilizer and fabric should be larger than your hoop – it should extend at least 2 inches around the shape of your hoop.  Now take both, make sure they are nice and flat (if your material has deep creases in it, grab another scrap or even iron it so it’s easier to do) and then lay them on top of the bottom ring of the hoop. The bottom part of the hoop should have the screw part at the top. We are not worried about placement or getting it straight or anything, we are just hooping for the practice.  Make sure the screw is at the top, then place your stabilizer first, then your material after.  Smooth everything flat.  Take your top hoop now, and get ready for hooping!

get ready to hoop

Let’s remember that hooping should not hurt your hands, it should not stress the hoop itself, and it should not stretch the material or the backing.  I have seen many items where the material was stretched in the hoop and once you embroider it and take it out, the material wants to go back to its original not stretched form – everything but the embroidery, of course.  So you would end up with a buckled, puffy embroidery.

The motion for gently hooping is that you start with the top of the hoop and firmly press down, but at the same time, pressing the bottom of the hoop as well.  I don’t mean that you should get the top and then the bottom, the action is smooth and at the same time.

The idea behind having the screw connection at the top is that the hoop will expand more evenly when you hoop it.

So this is just a practice run.  Was it too hard to get the hoop together?  Was it way too easy?  If it is too hard, then you must STOP and do not put too much pressure on your hoop.  Start again, but this time turn the screw a little bit looser, maybe half a turn and try again.  Keep doing that until you have it just right.  Before you go to embroider anything, you can practice hoop to make sure the screws are set properly and not too tight or not too loose.  Once you get that right, when you go to hoop the actual garment, you will only have to worry about placement – that is getting it lined up – because you know that the hoop is going to get into place properly – without fighting!  Your hoops are not love at first sight, for sure, but you can learn to love your hoops!

CHECK OUT THIS HOOPING VIDEO BY JOHN DEER:  He explains everything about hooping and he shows you how to do it properly, step by step.  It is a great video.

Click Here for John’s Hooping Video on Youtube

Once you get it right, you will know what hooping is all about.  Take a look at your fabric – it should be nice and flat in your hoop, not pulled or stretch and tight as a drum.  THE PERFECT PLACE TO ADD EMBROIDERY!!

find the perfect place for embroidery

That is what hooping is all about, making a perfect place for embroidery!  Take your time, be patient and practice, practice.  Do test runs before you hoop your garment.  Look up what the correct stabilizer should be – or make it super easy and use the Auto Fabric in Hatch – you tell Hatch what fabric you are using, and Hatch will tell you what stabilizer to use – use it!  It’s that easy.

Give your hoops a chance to do their job properly – you will see a big difference in your embroidery and your final garment.   Treat hooping as a skill, and learn that skill well. Your embroidery and customers will thank you!

Until next time,

Happy hooping!


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