All about the embroidery hoop

If you do hand embroidery or cross-stitch then you are familiar with embroidery hoops, a stitching accessory used to hold fabric and keep it stretched and  firm as you stitch. It ensures the stitches lay well over the fabric. Additionally, it allows for even stitching and prevents wrinkling. The embroidery hoop is made up of two rings, one slightly bigger than the other. When stitching, the cloth sits in between the two.


What embroidery Hoops are used for:

Embroidery hoops are used for cross-stitching and hand embroidery. However, the decision to use one depends on many factors. For instance, the materials you are using and the level of experience you have in stitching.

  • Hand embroidery
    When doing hand embroidery, having the hoop is very important since the fabric needs to be firm. The hoop holds the material firmly and creates tension. That tension will assist you in making neater and cleaner stitches. It also prevents creasing in the spaces between the stitches.
  • Cross-stitching
    Most cross-stitching work do not need one. However, if you desire to make even stitches, then you can use the hoop especilly if you are just getting started with cross-stitching, then an embroidery hoop will helps you handle the material and keep the stitch tension more consistent.

The embroidery hoop is not used on all types of materials. The one you choose plays a huge role in whether to use the hoop or nor. For instance, you can use a hoop when cross-stitching on linen. When linen is held inside the hoop, you will be able to see the linen’s finer weaves more clearly. It comes in handy when you are using specialty threads or when you are stitching on dark cloth.

Using an embroidery hoop when stitching is not mandatory but a choice. Some sewers use it while others prefer not to use it or use it rarely. It all comes down to what you are comfortable with.

Types of hoops:

All embroidery hoops hold fabric the same way. The cloth is sandwiched between an outer ring and an inner ring. The only difference between the types of hoops is the tension created by each. That being said, there are several embroidery hoop types.

Here are the different types of embroidery hoops:

  • Spring tension
    When using a spring tension hoop, the tension is created by a metal inner ring. This ring slits into a channel in the plastic outer ring. Spring tension is common with machine embroidery. Additionally, you can also use it for cross-stitching and hand embroidery. This type of hoop keeps the fabric firm and nice. However, its handles are huge and get in the way when you are stitching.
  • Screw tension
    The screw tension is the most widely used hoop in the embroidery business. It has a screw fixed on the outer ring. Adjusting the screw lets you increase and decrease tightness on the hoop. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials and are easily available.
  • Flexi hoop
    Flexi hoop is made from an elastic vinyl material that fits closely over an inner plastic ring. It has the look of real wood. Flexi hoops are hard to use, but they hold the cloth super tight. They come in handy when you want to frame a finished piece rather than using it to stitch.

How to use the embroidery hoop

Before you start using the embroidery hoop, first ensure you have traced the desired pattern over the cloth and have it ready. We are going to use a screw hoop since it is the most commonly used hoop.

Here is how to use the hoop:

  • The first step is to loosen the screw and separate the outer and inner hoops. Be careful not to unscrew completely.
  • Put the smaller ring or the inner hoop on your work surface (this is the one without a screw). And then put your cloth over the inner ring face up. Ensure that the pattern faces you. Adjust the cloth such that the portion you are going to stitch lies within the ring.
  • The next step is to loosen the outer ring a little bit. This ensures that it fits over your fabric without too much hassle. Now, slide it over the cloth and the inner ring smoothly. Do not pick up the inner ring as you slip on the outer ring. For a smooth operation, keep the hoop on a flat surface. This helps you in lining up the inner ring and the outer ring so that they are even. Additionally, you can opt to press the outer ring down so that it fits correctly.
  • Tighten the screw until the cloth is taut. The screw should be tight enough to prevent the outer ring from sliding off when you pick it up. You can pull the edges of the fabric to tighten it. This removes any bumps and folds.

Cross-stitch vs Embroidery

Many people often confuse these two.

  • Cross-stitch is a form of embroidery. However, it is usually classified as needlework. Cross-stitch is even used on weave fabrics, for instance, Aida. Embroidery, on the other hand, refers to any sort of embellishment stitched onto fabric. However, when one talks of hand embroidery, it typically means the type of needlework that is done on top of the fabric in a free-form fashion.
  • When cross-stitching you need to follow a pattern. This pattern shows how many squares you need to do for each color. The patterns come as chartered designs or hot iron transfers. Embroidery also requires you to follow a pattern, but unlike cross-stitching, it doesn’t rely on counting stitches to complete a design.

Tips for getting good tension

  • Pull evenly and tightly around the fabric to ensure it is tight in the hoop.
  • Tighten the ring screw to ensure the cloth does not slide off.
  • Wrap the inner ring with cotton twill tape.


Embroidery hoops are an important asset to have when you want to do cross-stitches and hand embroidery. They ensure your fabric is tight and you that can see the holes where you stitch.