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Finding Your Technique: Hooping Vs. Floating

Finding Your Technique: Hooping Vs. Floating main article image
Posted on March 17, 2021 by Ariel Snow

When learning to embroider, it quickly becomes clear that there are elements to the process that are constant and then there are elements that are based on personal preference. How you decide to hoop your project can be one of those highly debated techniques in the embroidery community. This skill, however, truly depends on your own preference and how comfortable you may be with either hooping a project or floating it. This article will discuss both techniques in the hopes that you are able to learn which one fits your style the best.

Photo from Pexels.com

What is Hooping?

Hooping a project means that you place both the stabilizer and fabric in between the fastened hoops provided with your machine. That hoop is then attached to the machine before stitching out your project. Different Machines come with varying hoop sizes and shapes but the most common are 4X4, 5X7, 5X12, and 6X10. To hoop a project:

  • You will first want to mark your fabric with where your design will be stitched.
  • You then want to make sure the fabric and stabilizer are securely placed on top of the bottom hoop frame.
  • Next, place the second hoop frame on the fabric and snugly fastened atop the bottom hoop.
  • Lastly, you will tighten the screws on the hoop to make sure your project is snug between the hoop frames.

Hooping can be the preferred method for crafters who like the security provided for the fabric. While it is important to babysit your project while it is stitching out, there is a peace of mind that comes with hooping because you know there is no chance for the fabric to move. Here are some tips to make sure your project is correctly hooped and snug:

  • Hoop Size: Although your machine may fit many different hoop sizes, it is important to make sure your project isn’t too big for the hoop or too small! An appropriate hoop size can also keep you from wasting material or having more room for errors.
  • Stabilizers: The stabilizer should be big enough to fit through the entire hoop. It is important to not cut off the stabilizer because then it will not be taught in the hoop and can get caught in your needle when stitching out a project.
  • Security: Although hooping is the most secure technique, some fabric might require extra security! If you need to use a fusible stabilizer, tape, or pins to provide double security for a project, do so even if you are hooping.
  • Taught Not Tight: Hooping ensures that the fabric is taught between the hoop frames but if you pull the fabric too tight, you will not have the flawless stitch out you desire. Make sure the fabric and stabilizer are taught but not too tight!
  • Keep It Away: Even with hooping, excess fabric can be a problem. Make sure to keep the fabric bunched up and away from the needle while stitching it out. Keep a close eye on your project periodically to make sure no problems arise during the process.

What is Floating?

Floating a project does not mean you get rid of the hoops! Floating simply means that you hoop the stabilizer needed for your project and secure the fabric on top before attaching it to your machine. Floating can be an easier technique but it is still very important that it is done correctly to achieve a great finished project. To float a fabric for best results:

  • You first want to securely fasten the stabilizer between the hoops and tighten the screw as you would when hooping a project.
  • The fabric is then added on top of the stabilizer by using pins or temporary adhesive spray. It is important that the fabric area is still measured to fit correctly inside of the hoop guides, so your project is stitched exactly where you want it!

Floating can be a better option for projects that require thicker fabrics like towels or more delicate fabrics like lace. Also, projects that will not fit through a hoop at all, like baseball caps or tote bags, can be floated. Here are some tips to get a flawless floated project:

  • Attachments: Make sure you experiment and find the best attachment method that works for you. Floating is only successful if the fabric is attached to the hooped stabilizer and has less chance to move. There are various attachment methods like double-sided tape, painters’ tape, temporary fabric spray adhesive, or push pins (if you have a thicker fabric, use thicker or longer pins). Be sure that whatever method you use doesn’t prevent the hoop from moving around when attached to the machine!
  • Placement: When floating, it is equally as important, as with hooping, to use hoop grid marks to know where your design should be placed. Once you have those grid marks, make sure to lay your design carefully and correctly to get the perfect stitch out.
  • Keep It Away: As with hooping, it is very important to keep extra fabric out of the way to avoid any problems when stitching out. Floating in particular will have extra fabric around the hoop so make sure to fasten the extra fabric together or pin out of the way. Keep an eye on your design while it is stitching out to avoid such problems from happening.

Which is Better?

There is not a better or worse between hooping a project or floating it but there are situations where one might be preferred over the other. It is important that you take the time to learn each technique and decide for yourself which you prefer!

Pros to Hooping

  • Hooping is very reliable and will lead to a nice and neat stitch out.

Cons to Hooping

  • There may be hoop marks left on fabric that may be hard to remove. These hoop marks can also damage very intricate or delicate fabrics.
  • Hooping tends to waste more stabilizer and fabric if you are not using proper hoop sizes for your projects.

Pros to Floating

  • Floating takes less time than hooping
  • Floating opens up your fabric option to thicker fabrics or items that will not fit under a hoop or more delicate fabrics that can be ruined by hoop marks.

Cons to Floating

  • Floating can make it challenging to center a design or lay a fabric exactly where you want it
  • If you do not use an appropriate method to attach your fabric to the hoop, things will move around when being stitched out and your project could be messed up.

While both options have their pros and cons, hooping and floating can become regulars in your embroidery tool kit to make each project as easy as possible and as flawless as ever!

Happy Crafting, Friends!

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Ballyhoo Creations

March 29, 2021

It was already stated in French above, but the project in the photos is hooped upside-down. The fabric should be at the bottom so it touches the bed of the machine. If you hoop it as shown in photos, you'll have problems. :-)


March 21, 2021

front et back sont inversés, si vous brodez de cette manièer , vous allez avoir des problèmes

User's profile picture

March 21, 2021

la vis doit être en dessous le tissu

Ariel Snow's profile picture
Ariel Snow

March 25, 2021


Thank you!

This is very handy, thanks for the great article!

Ariel Snow's profile picture
Ariel Snow

March 25, 2021


Thank you!

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