Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Crafter’s Way 187–Do I Need An Embroidery Hoop?

This week’s Messenger column discusses this question.

This is one of the most asked questions by people wanting to learn Embroidery. There is no simple Yes/No answer to this question. The purpose of an embroidery hoop is to keep the fabric taut and smooth. This will assist you to keep your stitch tension and size even.

I always use a hoop when I am using a fine or flimsy material such as silk or organza. I also always use a hoop when stitching french knots, bullion stitches etc, however, if I’m using stem stitch I prefer to pop my fabric out of the hoop and hold the fabric in my hands. The smaller the piece I’m working on the more likely I will be using a hoop.

How do you decide which type of hoop? Again this will come down to personal preference. Hoops can be made from wood, plastic or metal. They come in many different sizes and styles. If you are a novice embroiderer or haven’t used a hoop before try a small hoop to begin with. This will feel less cumbersome in your hand.
Most embroidery hoops have two circles which are held together under tension by a screw clamp.

1. Prepare your fabric so that the fabric is straight in both directions.
2. Place the ring which is the enclosed circle, on a table.
3. Place your fabric on top.
4. Loosen the screw on the second ring and slide over the fabric and first ring.
5. Tighten screw. As you tighten adjust fabric to ensure that it is held taut within the hoops. The fabric should make a sound when gently tapped.
Some Embroiderers choose to bind their hoops. Again this is personal preference. The theory is that binding assists to hold the fabric tauter and that the hoop is less likely to mark your work. There are some clear online tutorials on how to bind hoops if you prefer to work with one. Hoops may mark your fabric if left for a long time. If you have long periods of time where you don’t do any embroidery always pop your fabric out of the hoop before putting to one side. I must admit I always leave my fabric in. I find that if have to spend those few minutes resetting the hoop every time I want to stitch a bit I simply can’t be bothered. If I leave it in the hoop I pick up and do a few stitches whenever I have 5 minutes.
My favourite hoop is a free standing one. It sits on my lap allowing me to use both hands. This minimizes thread twist and knotting. I still pop the fabric out if doing Stem Stitch.

Using an embroidery hoop is a personal preference. If you have not used on before give it a go. They are not expensive and you may find that you enjoy your stitching more.

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