In-the-Hoop Recipe for Success
In-the-Hoop Recipe for Success
In-the-hoop designs are a fun way to
take your embroidery to the next
level. You can embroider, assemble,
and sew a project completely in the
hoop, all with the ease and
precision of machine embroidery!
Each of our in-the-hoop designs (pot
ornaments, and lots more) comes
with its own
instructions. Here, you'll find
some general tips to help your
in-the-hoop projects reach their
like a recipe in the kitchen, your
in-the-hoop "recipe for success"
starts with quality ingredients. For comparison's
sake, we test-sewed the same
in-the-hoop savory potholder
twice: once doing everything wrong that we
could, then again using our recipe for success. Read
on to see the results.
one's short but sweet: use a 75/11 sharp sewing
needle. In this picture, you can see the difference
between the two needles we used for our tests: the
larger needle on the left is a 110/18 universal
needle, and on the right is the 75/11 sharp. A sharp
needle penetrates the fabric, while a universal
needle has a tip that's slightly rounded, so it
slips through the weave of the fabric like a ball
To show the difference in the perforations each
needle leaves behind, we "stitched" a dieline on
stabilizer, without any thread. Notice that the
holes on the left are much larger than the holes on
In the examples
below, you can see the noticeable difference in the
results: the universal needle leaves big holes
behind and lets the embroidery thread pull at the
fabric, while the sharp needle leaves the fabric
To learn more about
needle types and features, see
this article called "Know Your Needle."
The tearaway stabilizer you choose can have a big
effect on your finished in-the-hoop project. For our
first example we used
Inspira medium-weight tearaway, and for the
second we used
Terradon Clean Tear.
Take a close look at
these tearaway stabilizers before we embroider
anything on them. The one on the left has larger
fibers in a more visible pattern. The one on the
right has a somewhat finer texture. If you could
feel these samples, the one on the right would be
slightly more flexible than the one on the left.
When you tear away
the stabilizer at the end of an in-the-hoop project,
you'll sometimes notice little bits of stabilizer
left behind. Everyone has a different word for them
-- fuzzies, pokies, wispies -- you know what I mean.
The amount and texture of the fuzzies will vary
depending on which kind of stabilizer you use.
Here are the results
from our tests:
Using tweezers is a
good way to remove these fuzzies -- with scissors,
there's a danger of cutting into the satin stitch
border. The fewer fuzzies you have in the first
place, the easier this will be.
technique is to fold the stabilizer back and forth
along the satin stitch edge before tearing it away.
Just like when you crease a piece of a paper in
order to tear it cleanly, folding the stabilizer
will help weaken the fibers along the edge of your
in-the-hoop project, leaving a cleaner edge.
We've also tested
other tearaway stabilizers to see what "fuzzies"
they left behind. Here's what we found out:
is a close up view of the
tear away stabilizer (to find out
more information about this brand,
www.Google.com and search for
HTCW stabilizer). In my opinion,
this tear away had the neatest
finish of all the four that we
tested. The stabilizer has a nice
mesh that when torn away, leaves
very little behind.
image to the right uses tear-away
Stiffy by Sulky. It feels less like
stabilizer, and more like a sheet of
thick paper, but it worked just
This stabilizer also gives a clean finish. The "fuzzies" that are left
behind are chunkier, easy to grab
and remove with a pair of scissors.
Bending and tearing also gave a
Next, we tested
The feeling of the stabilizer was
very different than the Stiffy line.
Great to work with, but does leave a
few remaining pieces behind.
Finally, the tear away stabilizer
America Sews (use
Google.com to find resources), which left the
most pieces of tear away behind.
It's a great product, and supported
the fabric well while embroidering.
But of the four that we tested, this
brand left the most pokies behind.
Some embroiderers use water-soluble stabilizer
instead of tearaway; you may want to give it a try and see if it
works for you. Janette graciously shared her
experience with this method:
have just tried using a double layer of water
soluble Vilene to make some Candy Cane holders
and am really pleased with the results so far.
Maybe a single layer would work just as well but
I wanted to be sure that the Vilene would not
disintegrate before I was finished sewing. It
held up beautifully. I used normal cutaway on
the appliqu� pieces and had no problem with the
spray-on adhesive melting the Vilene as I
thought it might.
Of course, when the embroidery was complete it
didn�t "pop out" of the hoop but had to be
trimmed-but not too close to the stitching. I
removed the excess Vilene by using a thick
paintbrush dipped in hot water to dissolve it,
and this resulted in no pokey bits at all. The
project edges dried up nicely but this may be a
problem on some fabrics. I will keep
gingerbread man candy cane holder
stitched with tearaway stabilizer
(left) and water-soluble stabilizer
sure to hoop your stabilizer tightly and evenly. For
an in-the-hoop project, there are a lot of different
elements that need to line up precisely - dielines,
tack downs, satin stitch borders, and decorative
elements. Very stiff stabilizers can be harder to
hoop than more flexible ones. Once you've hooped
your stabilizer, test to make sure the inner hoop
won't pop out, and that it's taut all the way
around. For more general hooping tips, see
you've tried all the usual tricks and still have
trouble hooping a stabilizer tightly, you can try
applying Wonder Tape to the hoop. This double-sided,
water-soluble tape is available at craft stores and
will help the hoop grip the stabilizer. Apply it to
the underside of the inner hoop. Make sure to cover
the corners -- that's where you're hooped stabilizer
is most likely to get loose. The tape should last
through a few hoopings; when you're done, you can
either peel the tape off or remove it with hot
We hooped our first
project very loosely. The dielines, which should
have been covered by the satin stitch border, showed
And in one spot, even
though we'd lined up the fabric precisely with the
dieline, the satin stitch border didn't cover the
edge of the fabric at all. On the tightly hooped
project, the satin stitch border covered the fabric
and dielines all the way around.
And there you have
it! Cut and apply your fabric carefully, stitch with
a 75/11 sharp sewing needle, select a good quality
tearaway stabilizer, and hoop tightly -- that's your
in-the-hoop recipe for success.
|Kenny is a
master digitizer and Vice President of
Production at Embroidery Library, Inc.
Ask Kenny! Send your questions to
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