Embroidery Basics: How to Prepare Your Hoop for Stitching

Welcome to this embroidery tutorial on how to prepare your fabric and hoop ready for stitching.

1. Supplies

Let’s quickly run down everything that you will need to prepare your hoop. Obviously we’re going to need an embroidery hoop. This is a 15cm Arbee wooden hoop. Then we will need the fabric that is required for the design. This is some gorgeous Devonstone cotton in the color ‘Bee Sting’. Optionally, it can be good to have a second layer of fabric, like calico, to make the fabric a bit more opaque. Then a pair of long nose pliers and scissors can be super handy as well.

2. cutting your fabric

If you’re cutting your fabric from a larger swatch of fabric, just make sure that you leave yourself plenty of space around the hoop, to be able to pull the fabric nice and tight and adjust your finished piece as well. I like to allow myself a border of at least two to three centimeters if I can.

So, for example, this is a 15-centimeter hoop, I would be cutting a minimum size of 20 by 20-centimeter swatch of fabric.

3. preparing your hoop

The first step is to take your hoop and loosen the screw at the top to be able to separate the outer hoop and the inner hoop. Grab your fabric and place that over the top of the inner hoop, making sure that it is in the centre. Then you are going to place that outer hoop over the top to catch the fabric in place. Next, tighten the screw at the top to hold the fabric and then we’re going to be starting to make our way around the hoop, pulling the fabric through the two hoop pieces. 

This creates a smooth tight drum-like effect on your fabric, and this is a very important step, as tight fabric makes sewing easier, keeps your stitches even and gives a much nicer finish. Keep tightening the screw at the top as you are able to. Really secure that fabric in place. There should be no creases, no puckering and it should sound like a quiet drum. 

4. Using Pliers to Tighten the Hoop

If you are struggling to get your hoop tight enough due to having a slightly wonky hoop or weaker hand strength, grab some long nose pliers and use them to tighten the screw even more, to make sure it is really holding that fabric nice and secure. I don’t have to do this for all of my hoops but it is handy to have when you are struggling to keep your fabric tight.

At this stage some people like to trim the excess fabric from around their hoop to neaten it. I personally don’t choose to do this as I like to keep as much fabric as possible for when I have to turn my pattern around or for backing my hoop.

5. Preparing Two Layers of Fabric

If you are needing to use two pieces of fabric, maybe it’s a very loose weaved linen or it’s too translucent and your threads are showing through to the front, then the steps are pretty much the same. Place the two pieces over the inner hoop and secure with the outer hoop.

The main difference is to make sure that you tighten both pieces of fabric together and then sometimes separately, to make sure there is no puckering or gathering hiding at the back of your hoop.

Your hoop is now ready for the pattern to be transferred and just remember to keep pulling your fabric nice and tight if you’re starting to notice it getting loose as you are stitching.

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