The anatomy of a machine embroidery hoop

I’m very excited to be back this week!

As a sewist, I’m always excited to try new things and take advantage of the many learning opportunities available. The more I learn, the more I want to know, and I love asking, “What if?”.

Today, I thought I’d take a look at some of the different types of machine embroidery hoops. There are several different styles, and each one works a little bit differently. I often get asked why you would need those other hoops and what do all those markings mean. So, I’m exploring some machine embroidery hoops this week.

Wait – if you’re a quilter, don’t think this week’s posts are just for machine embroiderers. I’ll be looking at how I can use the embroidery machine to enhance and even quilt my projects, and I’ll be using the Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2 to work my way through some options.

Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2 sewing machine with embroidery unit attached

The color in the photo above is the classic color (Burgundy Blush) for the DESIGNER EPIC 2. In my photos, you’ll notice that I’m using one of the specialty colors for the DESIGNER EPIC 2. These colors were available only during the launch, and I was lucky enough to play with the Vivid Sunset colorway.

There are three hoops included with the DESIGNER EPIC 2. There’s the DESIGNER Imperial Hoop (360 x 260), the DESIGNER Crown Hoop (260 x 200), and the DESIGNER Splendid Square Hoop (120 X 120). Most people refer to their hoops by size, not by name. Phew – that saves some memorizing!

Three different sizes of machine embroidery hoops for the Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2

So, if you get three different sized hoops included, why would you want or need more? Not only are there many different sized hoops available, but there are specialty hoops as well. I’ll be looking at a couple of options this week and providing some great tips on using them. You can check out the available hoops in the Husqvarna Viking Accessory Catalogue to see just how many options there are.

When it comes to size, essentially, you want to use the smallest hoop possible that accommodates your embroidery design. The larger the hoop, the more fabric required, as well as more stabilizer. While it’s not hard to use the larger hoops, some people find it more challenging to hoop their fabric in the larger hoop. I also find that sizing my hoop to the size of the design and the project makes the embroidery process more stable.

As for the different types of embroidery hoops, there are slinky fabrics, new embroidery techniques, and challenging items like ready to wear garments, especially small ones for babies, that are a challenge to put into an embroidery hoop. The specialty hoops will help to speed up the embroidery process. If you enjoy what you’re doing and are successful at it, you’ll do it again. So, having some of those specialty hoops will make your machine embroidery experience a whole lot more fun.   

In the Default Embroidery Settings on the DESIGNER EPIC 2, you’ll find a list of all the hoops (sizes and types) that work on the DESIGNER EPIC 2. By indicating which hoops you own, the DESIGNER EPIC 2 will open up an embroidery design using the smallest hoop that you’ve indicated. Why do the thinking, when you can have your embroidery machine do it for you?

The list of hoops within the Default Embroidery Settings on the DESIGNER EPIC 2

Some of the standard embroidery hoops are rectangular, and some are square. Today, I’m using the NEW Mega Quilters Hoop (260 x 260) to demonstrate the anatomy of a hoop.

The packaging for the NEW Mega Quilters Hoop by Husqvarna Viking

You’ll notice the hoop is large, with a stitchable area of 10″ x 10″. (I love how flexible we are as sewists and quilters – we often work with the metric and the imperial system in the same breath, and it’s OK!)

The Mega Quilters hoop by Husqvarna Viking.

You’ll find the size of the hoop embossed on the frame of the hoop.

The size of the Husqvarna Viking Mega Quilters Hoop is on the frame of the embroidery hoop

So, what does 260 x 260 mean anyway? That’s the size of the stitchable area in millimeters. If you struggle with the metric sizing, I’d suggest that you convert the sizes to inches. Use a label maker or a marker and mark the size of each hoop on it in inches. That means the 260 x 260 hoop is a 10″ x 10″ hoop in the imperial system. I’m so used to the sizes now that I mostly use the metric sizing.

In the picture below, you’ll see the inside area of the hoop is 11″ wide x 12″ high. So why is it called a 10″ x 10″ hoop? The embroidery foot needs clearance on all sides, so that it doesn’t hit the edge of the hoop, which would be a bad thing. There’s ½” clearance on the two sides and at the front of the hoop.

The Husqvarna Viking Mega Quilters Hoop on a cutting mat. The inside of the 10″ x 10″ hoop is larger.

Did you notice that the hoop isn’t square? An extra inch at the back of the hoop allows the necessary clearance for the embroidery foot.

The Husqvarna Viking Sensor Q-Foot in an embroidery hoop

Another important feature to note is that the vertical center of the hoop, indicated by arrows embossed along the top and bottom, is centered along the top and bottom edges of the hoop. However, if you check the horizontal center along the sides, you’ll notice that the arrows are 1″ below the actual center of the hoop along the sides.

They are in the center of the stitchable area, not the opening of the hoop. Remember, there is extra space at the back (or you might call it the top) of the hoop to accommodate the space required for clearance of the embroidery presser foot.

Traditional embroidery hoops come in two parts – the outer hoop and the inner hoop. The outer hoop is where you’ll find the Embroidery Hoop Connector and the Quick Release. The two parts should fit easily together, and the tension will be adjusted using the Quick Release. When I store my hoops, I keep the two pieces together (tighten the Quick Release) to make it easier to find the correct hoop. This also lessons the possibility of the hoop getting damaged or broken.

The outer and inner sections of the Husqvarna Viking Mega Quilters Hoop

In the bottom right-hand corner of the outer hoop, you’ll find the Quick Release. You want to open the release when you’re hooping your fabric. If it’s necessary, you can further release the tension by using the screw.

The Quick Release is open on the Husqvarna Viking Mega Quilters Hoop.

Once you’re satisfied with the placement of your fabric between the inner and outer hoop sections, then you’ll close the Quick Release and tighten the spring (if necessary). You want your fabric to be taut in the hoop. Not stretched out of shape, but taut. And don’t forget that when you’re hooping your fabric, you should be hooping your stabilizer at the same time. I’ll be chatting about some different stabilizers as the week goes on.

The Quick Release is closed on the Husqvarna Viking Mega Quilters Hoop.

You’ll notice three arrows along the bottom of the hoop on both the inner and the outer hoop sections. It’s important when you place the inner hoop inside the outer hoop, that those the two sets of arrows are pointing to each other. You do not want the inner hoop to be upside down.

A set of alignment arrows ensure the inner hoop is in the correct orientation inside the outer hoop.

Here’s my fabric and stabilizer hooped in the 260 x 260 hoop.

Fabric and stabilizer are shown hooped in the 260 x 260 machine embroidery hoop.

If you’re using a very thin fabric and stabilizer and you feel you need a little more tension on that hoop to prevent slippage, you can use metals clips to increase the tension between the inner and outer hoop sections. Not all hoops come with clips, as they only need to be used on the larger hoops. I use them from time to time, depending on how secure I feel with the fabric in the hoop.

There are other hoop aids to help prevent slippage, but I won’t go into those options in this post.

Metal clips used to increase the tension between the inner and outer hoop sections

In case you’re curious, the hoop on the left is the largest non-turnable hoop for the DESIGNER EPIC 2, at 360 x 260. It’s also called the DESIGNER Imperial Hoop. The hoop on the right is the new 260 X 260 hoop, also known as the Mega Quilters Hoop. Because of its large square stitchable area, I envision using it a lot.

The Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER Imperial hoop (360 x 260) and the Mega Quilters Hoop (260 x 260).

Be sure to come back tomorrow, when I’ll be stitching out some designs using the Husqvarna Viking DESIGNER EPIC 2 and that new Mega Quilters Hoop. You’re going to love what I’ve been stitching out!

Have a great day!


This is part 1 of 5 in this series

Go to part 2: Pushing the envelope: machine embroidery to QUILT a project

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