What are Embroidery Hoops?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2018
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Embroidery hoops are sold in sets of two hoops that fit into each other. The smaller hoop is only slightly smaller in size than the larger hoop, and the larger hoop usually has a tightener that allows you to clamp the two pieces together and stretch the fabric you are working on. Fabric, as for needlepoint or quilting, is set between the two hoops and then stretched via the tightener on the top hoop. There is a range of applications for embroidery hoops. They are used for standard embroidery, cross-stitching, quilting, and with sewing machines. Most sewing machine hoops are rectangular while those embroidery hoops you will be using for handwork are round or oval in shape.

The best places to find embroidery hoops at are local craft stores, and sewing stores that have a notions or crafts department. You may even find kits for the beginner that come with thread, hoops, needles, and fabric. You can also look on the Internet for embroidery hoops that will work with your sewing machine. Read the directions for your particular machine model to find the proper size, which may be sold by the machine manufacturer or available in limited areas. If you buy a used machine that doesn’t have instructions, look up the model number online or contact the manufacturer to get recommendations.


In most cases, you’ll have the choice between wooden or plastic embroidery hoops. A few are available in metal. Wood hoops are the classic choice, and many prefer them. Some like the plastic ones better since they tend to be more durable.

When you shop, you’ll discover embroidery hoops in a variety of sizes, ranging from very small ones to ones that are exceptionally large. A basic all-purpose hoop is a good purchase to make if you plan to embroider or cross-stitch frequently. Consider one about 5-6 inches (12.7-15.24 cm) in diameter for everyday embroidery. Special projects may require larger hoops or smaller ones.

For instance, if you’re embroidering handkerchiefs, you may need smaller sizes so the fabric will fully fit over the bottom hoop frame. Failure to properly tighten the fabric can turn your lovely project into a mess of uneven thread. You may sometimes find sets of embroidery hoops that feature several different sizes. This too, may be a good investment to make if you’re a fan of needlepoint.


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