Would you like to have a class with Ellen?

Ellen would be delighted to have a class with you or your group! You can check out her classes at www.ellenanneeddy.com. She also offers independent studio time in her studio in Indiana. Talk to Ellen about classes at 219-921-0885, or contact her scheduler Sarah at 616-485-5646 to set a date

About Me

My Photo
Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
View my complete profile
Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Most people who do even minimal free motion embroidery are familiar with the distortion issue. It's only natural. You run that much thread through that much fabric and your fabric ruffles like a child's party dress. There are a bunch of tricks that help, but nothing actually cures it. It's the same situation as having a cold. We can make it better but it doesn't go away. Stitch choices, and stabilizers help, and we'll talk about those another day. But one of the best helps is a hoop.
A hoop keeps your fabric from bunching up, going down the needle hole and all kinds of other bad behavior. In holding the fabric tightly, it makes your machine stitch better. And a hoop is something you can hold on to and manipulate easier than just your fabric. Good hoops last for ever and are worthy studio tools. 

I have several hoops in my studio for different purposes. And several hoops I wouldn't use for anything but ring toss. The biggest issue with hooping comes down to two factors: How thick is your project? and How densely did you intend to stitch.

The Hoop That Came With Your Machine
A lot of times people will come in with the hoop that came with their embroidery machine. It's not a bad hoop. It usually has good grip and the sizes are usually sensible. They don't accommodate anything thick though. They're made for one layer of fabric and a stabilizer, maybe. 

The Hardwood Hoop
I use a German hard wood hoop that has a screw. I'm not being  nationalistic here. That's simply what they're called. I assume they do come from Germany, but I don't really know.They're made of a dense thin hardwood. These hoops are narrow and fit under the machine foot. They also have a screw with a slot on one side that lets you tighten the surface, which insures a better stitch.I keep an 8", and a 10" square one. Any hoop over 10" will not give consistent enough support and you'll get skipped stitches.

This is the hoop of choice for free motion embroidery on a piece of lightly stabilized cotton. I use them when I'm embroidering a sold image on a single layer of fabric. You can put a hoop on a project with more than one layer, but it get's harder as they layers add up. 

Did you fuse on several sheers? Have a layer of cut away or embroider on the top as well? At a certain point your wooden hoop is hard to use.That's the time to bring out 

The Halo
This is Sharon Schamber's creation. It's a metal weighted hoop dipped in a rubber substance that grips. Originally I believe she made them for long arm stitching and they're great for that. Instead of clamping them on, the weight holds them in place and you can slide it along as you stitch.
When I saw these, I bought three of them on sight. Two for the studio and one to travel. They are an astonishing help for free motion. I often have a piece where I've stabilized it with a layer of fused on felt or several layers of fused sheers onto window shade interfacing.I bring them into class because I consider them an essential studio tool. You can also stack two of them together for more stability.

They do not work for any embroidery that isn't solidly backed by stabilizer, so you'll want a wooden hoop for that.

Ring Toss Hoops:
These are the hoops that are cruel hoaxes. They have no use in machine embroidery.  I take them away from students in class because I'm afraid they'll hurt themselves on them.

Spring Hoops
 I never use a spring hoop, because they tend to do just that.Sprong! Right while you're sewing!  I really take a down on anything that springs up out of my project while I'm stitching.I consider them dangerous and I take them away from students in class and let them borrow one of mine if they need to.

Cheap wooden hoops
You find these at craft stores. They're thick. The wood splinters and cracks. I believe they're made for hand-embroiderers but I wouldn't use it for that. They're not only inexpensive, but they're cheap too in their making. Who needs splinters?
Wrapping it up

Good hoops make your work easier, flatter, and much more fun. You can find Sharon's halo at her web site at http://www.sharonschamber.com/shopping%20cart/new%20products/newproducts.htm
You can find good hardwood hoops at most sewing machine stores. I bring both kinds to students in class when I'm teaching. A good hoop helps make for a good sewing day.


Helen from Hobart said...

I totally agree with you about the Halo - a brilliant invention.

Please could you post a picture of your hardwood hoop ?

Rosalind said...

I am enjoying your blog so much! Thank you for being so generous with your knowledge.
My hunt is now on for a square hoop-------I didn't even know they were available!

frazzledsugarplummum said...

This is wonderful information. Thank you so much.

Ellen Anne Eddy's Flowers on Youtube.com

Review of Thread Magic Garden

Review of Thread Magic Garden
From the Subversive Stitch

Review of Thread Magic Garden

Review of Thread Magic Garden
Book Review from Golden Dog Quilting

C&T Blog

C&T Blog
My Studio Garden: A blog at C&T Publishing

Like us on Facebook

Like us on Facebook

Quiltposium, Fall2011

Quiltposium, Fall2011
Ellen's New Article, Dance of Design

Essential Embroidery Stitches: Free Hand and Machine Embroidery Designs and Techniques.

Essential Embroidery Stitches: Free Hand and Machine Embroidery Designs and Techniques.
Get this free book from Quilting Arts. It has a series of articles I wrote called Defining the Line.

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect

Guest Blog On Subversive Stitchers!

Guest Blog On Subversive Stitchers!
The Stories Tell Me

Guest Blog On Quilt Gallery

Guest Blog On Quilt Gallery


National Quilters Ring

Quilt Teacher Blog Ring

Home/Join | List | Next | Previous | Random