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Monday, January 21, 2008

To Hoop Or Not To Hoop

That is the question that was posed to me last week. I thought for today, I would discuss the pro's and con's of hooping.

The purpose of using a hoop is to keep your fabric tight while you stitch. This prevents bunching and buckling around your stitching.

Be it cross stitch, embroidery or crazy quilting, I always use a hoop, with only one exception in my almost 40 years of stitching. Yes, I am older than I look. Older than I behave too!

Lucky Crazy Quilt

My Lucky Crazy Quilt is a 29 inch square whole cloth quilt meaning, it was pieced on one very large piece of fabric. I worked this quilt entirely in-hand and by the time the stitching and embellishing was complete, I was just as crazy as my stitching!

Now you're probably wondering why I didn't just hoop the area I was working on and then move the hoop. The reason for this is that certain fabrics will not recover from the tension of a hoop. Plush fabric such as velvet will be crushed by the hoop and it won't bounce back. Silk and satin will retain the hoop-mark as well. And certainly, once the beads, sequins and buttons start going on, well I'm sure you can imagine that moving a small hoop around on a large quilt would be impossible.

Redwork Cat

With cross stitch and embroidery, moving the hoop the around is certainly feasible although when possible, I do try to use a hoop that's large enough for the entire design. This isn't always possible but when it is, I see it as a time saver!

With crazy quilting, you most definitely want to use a hoop that your entire block will fit into:

Sunflower Purse

My favorite hoop is a 12 inch Quilter's hoop. Nine inch blocks fit perfectly in this hoop. I've also found that the wooden Quilter's hoops are a better quality hoop than the wooden embroidery hoops.

For my cellphone pouches and ornaments I use a 7 inch round screw type plastic hoop. The one that you see in the photo of my redwork cat.

For projects larger than 9 inch blocks, I have some custom frames that my husband made for me. I think he used a good quality pine which a soft wood. When I attach my block to those, I simply use thumb tacks to hold the block in place. Blocks can be laced on to frames as well but in my opinion, that's a waste of perfectly good stitching time.

If custom needlework frames aren't an option, Michael's Craft Stores carry wooden snap together frames in sets of two and in a variety of sizes. You can mix and match them to create whatever size frame you need for your piece. I have several of these as well and my husband actually glued them together with wood glue which makes them quite sturdy.

Another way of supporting your stitched piece is a style of hoop called Q-Snaps. I have some of these and honestly, I don't care for them. They are so heavy to hold and I've found that they slide around a lot. Whenever I've used them, I was constantly taking my piece out and readjusting it. I don't recommend them but I know there are stitcher's out there who swear by them!

So, in answer to the question I mentioned at the beginning of this post, yes, I do recommend using a hoop. There are times when it isn't an option, as in the case with a large whole cloth quilt. When possible though, you'll be much happier with your final stitched piece if you use one.


Gina E. said...

Agree with all you've said there, Pam. I use a hoop on all my smaller embroidery/cross stitch projects, and a frame on a stand for the larger ones like the Indian Chief. I also have one of those Q Snap things and like you, find it too bulky for comfortable use.

Susan said...

Hey, that's interesting. I never use a hoop! It just gets in my way. =) Things always press out nicely. I don't pull my stitches as tightly as I might, I suppose.

Lelia said...

q-snaps do have their problems. When I use them, I have a small-thin fabric under the 'clip' that way, nothing moves : )

I'm loving your tips!!!

ashleysmom said...

Hi Pam ...... After receiving your email I decided to check out your website. I am hoping I might be the first to request the Feb. 2008 issue of the Cross Stitcher magazine that you are giving away.
What a nice thing for you to do regardless of whether or not I am the first.
Now I am off to view the rest of your website!
Gay Trottier

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