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Can You Embroider Without a Hoop?

Embroidery hoops come with challenges: finding the right size hoop for your project can be tricky if you aren’t using a flat piece of fabric. You may have to constantly have to adjust the hoop and risk damaging your stitches. Is there a better way?

Why Embroider Without a Hoop?

  • There are several reasons why people choose to embroider without a hoop:
  • You’re worried about damaging, marking, or creasing your project with a hoop frame.
  • Your embroidery project is on a small or difficult area, such as a shirt collar, that cannot be fitted to a hoop.
  • Your embroidery project has an uneven fabric surface, such as the seam of a pair of blue jeans. The uneven surface makes it difficult to fit to a hoop frame.

Whatever the reason, the good news is that hoopless embroidery is possible to do, and with the same quality of stitching which you’d get when you use a hoop. The challenge to hoopless embroidery is maintaining a good level of tension on the fabric you’re stitching in order to prevent fabric clumping and puckering.

There are a few ways to maintain the proper tension needed for hoopless embroidery. Scroll frames allow you to maintain fabric tension and are hands-free so you can place your focus elsewhere, but they won’t damage or crease your projects. Most scroll frames are adjustable, and come in tabletop or standing models.

Many people are reconnecting with traditional embroidery techniques used by their grandmothers and long before that by embroidering using only their hands. Hand embroidery takes practice and can be difficult to adapt to if you typically use an embroidery hoop. Much like the difficulty we’d face if switching between an automatic and a manual transmission car, it can be tricky to teach yourself something new when you’re used to another method entirely.

Embroidering by hand requires you to stretch the fabric between your thumb and fingers to maintain tension at the area you’re stitching. If you’ve never done this before, chances are you’ll experience some soreness in your hands at first, but as those muscles strengthen and you get a better feel for the fabric and how to maintain tension, embroidering by hand will come naturally!

Curious about starting an embroidery business? Turn your hobby into a career! Check out our free guide on starting your own embroidery business online!

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