Hand Embroidery To Hoop Or Not To Hoop

Urban Stitches Project End Day 2

I find it interesting to observe people and see when doing hand embroidery those who hoop and those who don’t.

Angels Watching


I’m not a strict hooper or a strict free hoop embroider (are they even real terms?) For me it depends on the project I’m working on. If I’m doing a pre-printed stitchery then I always like to have it in a hoop. I like how taut the fabric is in the hoop, I find I can do small fine details easier in a taut hoop. The draw back to a hoop is that often you need to re hoop it a few times due to the size of your hoop or stitchery. I don’t like the creases it leaves even though I know I’m going to iron it out anyway.


I like to free hoop if I’m doing a project where it is simple lettering or features. There isn’t a lot of detail and usually I finish it quickly. For me letters on a kids book isn’t worth the time hooping. If a project is really small like satin stitching an eye onto applique I can easily control it in my hand.

Embroidery No Hoop

I’m curious as to what others do. Do you have a preference?

7 thoughts on “Hand Embroidery To Hoop Or Not To Hoop

  1. I despise hoops, I think once you’ve used a proper frame you can never go back to something so irritating as a hoop, hard to hold and useless at keeping tension.
    I freehand a lot of things, without any drawing, and that I work in hand. I also work in hand for things like my zodiac and labours of the months because I carry them around in my bag.
    some of the medeival techniques I use, like laid and couched work, simply have to be done under tension, and for that I use a proper frame – I have medeival square ones and a couple of modern screw tensioned floor standing ones.

    for serious embroidery you really need to invest in a decent frame

    • I just had a look at some of the work you’ve done and it is simply stunning. Such fine detail and design I can understand why you would need to put it in a frame.

      Hoops and frames can be very cumbersome to move around so they aren’t really portable for when you want projects for on the go

  2. I don’t like the creases when I use a hoop for my cross stitches either! I’m always a tad afraid that it’s going to pull my stitches out of whack .. I’d say I’m a 80% free hand, %20 hoop kinda gal 🙂

    • Yes I get worried when I place the hoop over stitches that they may get distorted by the hoop. Also at Urban Stitches I took off my hoop to discover it had left rust marks on my cloth. Luckily it was in a area I was going to cut away but I did toss that hoop out immediately

  3. I hoop if it’s a small project or an unusually shaped one, that won’t go on my frame nicely. I have a Stitch EZ frame that goes under one leg, so it’s very portable. I also have a large quilting frame that I have used when stitching a very large baby blanket. I don’t know how to do fancy stitches though. =)

    • Your not alone not knowing how to do fancy stitches. I only doing back stitch and very basic Colonial Knots. I can chain stitch but it needs a lot of practice.

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