Yes.  Hooping is a skill, and it is a skill that you must master!  It can take time and practice, but you will eventually be able to hoop everything, and have perfect embroidery.   Let’s start at the beginning – things you need to have around for hooping, and things you should never use in your hoop.

There are a few things you can do to work on your hooping skills.  First I would suggest approaching every design with the right attitude.  How can I hoop this?  What is the proper way of hooping?  How can I do this properly?  You may need to do some research, you may need to watch some videos or read some blogs, and you may need to practice hooping, but in the end, you can get it done.  I should point out that not EVERYTHING can be hooped, but most things should be hooped.

I would also like to point out that I am talking about hooping with the hoops that came with your machine, not different styles of hoops:  fast frames or clamp hoops for example.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with these different types of hoop, it is just not what I am talking about today.  I have some different hoops in my collection –  magnetic hoops (which are closest to “regular hooping”), fast frames and a clamp frame or two, so I am definitely not saying that you shouldn’t use them, or anything negative, but I am saying that you should master hooping with regular hoops first.

What do you need for hooping?  Well, hoops of course.  The ones that came with your machine, or similar design.

Stabilizer – you need to make sure you are using the correct stabilizer for the job, and yes, you need a stabilizer for EVERY embroidery that you do.

Spray Adhesive.  Not a necessity, but once in a while, this stuff is handy.  I buy a big bottle of it and it lasts more than a year.  I use it, but I use it very carefully and only when necessary – especially handy for applique.  You need to be careful with spray adhesive, however, so make sure you are using it right.  I suggest not over spraying or saturating the material.  I also suggest that you don’t spray anything that is already in the hoop – you can make a real mess of the hoop – it gets all sticky and messy.  I would also suggest that you don’t spray anything anywhere near your machine.  Take a box, cut off the top so it is open, and spray your fabric inside the box – the sides of the box will catch any overspray and you don’t risk gumming up your machine.

Painter’s Tape.  Not a necessity, but definitely handy.  Yeah, this stuff is cool, and it works to temporarily hold down your fabric or applique or parts that need to stay in place.  Painter’s tape is sticky, but not too sticky so it will not leave any residue or make a mess when you remove it.   I wouldn’t stitch through it though, you might make a mess of your needles or machine.

What you don’t need in your hoop

Pins.  <GASP>Please. Stop. Using. Pins.  Seriously, please stop it!  You are not doing your embroidery any justice by using pins!  They are dangerous to your machine, and they really don’t hold anything in place.  When you are pinning something to your hoop, you are moving and stretching the stabilizer to get the pin in.  Do that 4 times and your stabilizer is not stable anymore, and again you are not doing your embroidery work justice!  Why do you work so hard on a design, or creating a design, or digitizing a design only to take it to your machine and risk it looking bad by misalignment or out of registration?  Why?  Let’s not even talk about the DAMAGE PINS CAN DO TO YOUR MACHINE.  I would never, never EVER put pins anywhere near my machine.  Pins are for sewing two fabrics together, on a sewing machine.  Not for embroidery.  Anyone ever do any sewing making a seam or putting the binding on a quilt?  Yes, you pin it right?  And then you mostly remove the pins and re-align the two pieces before sewing, right?  So why do you think that pinning anything to a stabilizer will keep anything in alignment, or keep it from moving?  Let’s not even talk about what happens if a pin slips…and ruins your machine bed or needle plate.  Let’s not talk about if a pin drops out.  Let’s not talk about if you pinned too close and your embroidery needle hits it.  Do you know the damage that can do to your machine?   It can throw out the timing, it can cause a machine motor error, it can break the needle and cause pieces of needle shards to go flying around, it can bend the needle area.  It can BREAK your machine.  So why do people think it is worth the risk?  I just don’t get it.  Hoop and you will NOT NEED PINS.    So please, please stop using pins.

do not use pins in the hoop

Pins are for sewing, not for embroidery.

Floating anything.  Sigh….I have gone over this again and again and people still insist that floating is the way to go.  No.  It just is not the way to go.  I have written a blog here called “float a boat, not stabilizer” that outlines all of the reasons why you should NOT FLOAT ANYTHING.  If you are embroidering on a shirt, why on earth would you float the shirt?  Why do you think they have hoops in the first place?  SO YOU CAN HOOP THE STABILIZER AND THE SHIRT, AND NEITHER WILL MOVE WHEN YOU EMBROIDER YOUR DESIGN.  That is the whole purpose of hoops – to give your work stability and a nice flat area to embroider on.  Floating just doesn’t do it right.  It may be easier to some, but it is wrong.  Yeah, I said that out loud.  YOU ARE WRONG IF YOU FLOAT ANYTHING.  If you float stabilizer, it is the same thing.  You are NOT providing any stabilization for your work.  So why, why bother at all?

Using Non-Embroidery stabilizers.  OMG.  Seriously?  I have seen some strange things out there.  I know that tear away stabilizer seems paper-like, but it is not paper!  You cannot use paper in place of tear-away stabilizer.  You cannot use paper towel.  You cannot use parchment paper.  Those are paper, those are not stabilizers, so they will not stabilize your embroidery.   You cannot use <gasp> wax paper for anything on your machine!  You can’t use a plastic wrapper (think saran wrap in your kitchen) for embroidery.  None of these things are made for embroidery.  They do not enhance or help stabilize your work.  They do not help and will create bad embroidery and probably damage your machine because they are not made for embroidery and they were not made for your embroidery machine.

WSS.  While Water Soluble Stabilizer is made for embroidery, and it does have some brilliant uses, YOU DON’T NEED TO USE IT FOR EVERYTHING.  You have to have WSS for FSL (free standing lace), that is what it is made for. But, if you are doing some pretty embroidery on jeans, you do NOT need to put WSS on top.  What do you think it does, other than making a mess when you are done your embroidery.   The only time you need to use WSS would be when you have a design with a high nap – like a bath towel – and the WSS will help the stitches from getting lost in that nap.   To be perfectly clear, I am talking about using WSS on TOP of the towel, not on the bottom. If you use WSS on the bottom of a towel, you are going to have a terrible looking product once the towel is washed even once.   Let’s look at this logically.  Take a towel, and take a t-shirt and put them beside each other.  The towel has a fuzzy nap that stands up from the fabric.  Now, look at the t-shirt.  Does it have a nap or is the material flat.  How about jeans?  The answer is NO, there is no nap, and therefore using WSS on top of t-shirts, jeans or most fabric is a waste of time and money.  WSS can be expensive, so why are you wasting your money?  If you want to toss money away, please toss it my way, ha ha!  And the time it takes to get rid of the WSS is a waste of time.  And in the embroidery business, wasting your time removing something you don’t need is a waste of money.  Time=money, so stop wasting both!

I will be doing a Hatch Facts video on how to hoop something tricky – lace on the edge of a towel – and I will be giving you step by step instructions on how to properly hoop both the stabilizer and the edge of the towel.   And no, I will not be using pins or floating anything.


learn to hoop rpoperly

Hoop everything for best results!


Until Next time,


10 Responses to “Hooping Skills 101: Things you need and things you should never use in your hoop.”

  1. Vickie Barlow says:

    Thank you. I have been trying to tell people this for years. It is very difficult to convince them when ‘floating’ is taught at the local sewing/embroidery center. It is sad to see the finished product of most ‘floated’ projects and even more difficult not to say something when asked “what did I do wrong? My design looks off wack.” I have printed this out to share at my store when asked about hooping. I have often called myself the ‘Happy Hooper’. Thank you again

  2. Wendy Bowditch says:

    Cant wait for the video on lace on a towel and thank you for your information

  3. Lenora says:

    Thanks Sue – posted this in my FB groups.

  4. Mary Chambers Waller says:

    Great info, just seen someone talk about using wax paper on Facebook… Seems these things would destroy a machine!

  5. Having started in the embroidery business in the mid ’80’s before many products were available and embroidery machines were not in every household, I am always skeptical when I see an article about hooping. This one is spot on. Having done many lectures at many different venues over many years, and even written a book, I’ve heard and seen it all about people avoiding the hoop. As this article states, it’s there for a reason and should be used and used properly. How many times did I have to prove that a thick towel can be hooped? Just hoop it!

    Martha Sheriff, formerly from OESD

  6. Sandy Walsh says:

    Hi Sue, Thank you for this awesome article. I have my own Embroidery Group on FB and try to help everyone that has problems. I find that many don’t even read their manual. (so sad) I explain that you need to use the correct stabilizer for the project they are doing. I have to confess that I do use Iron-no tearaway most of the time. I also iron and use spray starch on just about everything I embroider before I put the stabilizer on and hoop. I tell people when you iron and use spray starch is like an invisible stabilizer, I think the proper prep work is very important. I do hoop everything. I have had people ask if I hoop or float. I say I am a hooper and feel the same as you, It is easier to line things up. and I don’t have to worry about anything shifting while it is stitching.

  7. Pam says:

    I agree with most of this, but with plush Terry towels, I find hooping really marks the towels. How do you avoid that if not floating? Rhanks!

    • Sue says:

      The marks that are left are called hoop burn, and its very easy to fix! all you have to do is use a bit of steam to make it look like new again. You can carefully use a kettle or pot, or you can purchase an inexpensive hand held travel steamer – works like a charm every time!

  8. Bee says:

    Steam or Just use a spritz of water to remove hoop burn. I hoop everything I can and encourage others to do so too. As the article says, hoops are there for a reason!

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