Hooping 101: Onesie
on baby clothes is a great way to
express love and affection for a new
addition to the family. It's so fun to
spruce up shirts and dresses and little
jackets and onesies with colorful
critters and messages!
But onesies, those teeny-tiny-itty-bitty
things, can be tricky to hoop. They're
so small! How in the world can they be
hooped so that the design ends up
article I worked with the teeniest,
tiniest onesie I could find: the 0 -
6 month size. The fabric is
extremely soft and stretchy --
onesies are usually 100% cotton.
Begin by laundering the onesie, with
a tumble-dry, to pre-shrink.
I am working with a small 3 x 3 inch
design, so I'm using the smallest
hoop that I have that will
accommodate the design.
To position the
design on the onesie, I printed
A template is a printout of the
design, made with an embroidery
software program. The embroidery
software program prints the
design at its full, stitched
size, and adds horizontal and
vertical axis lines, as well as
a center point, so that I can
position the design where I want
Most embroidery programs can make templates of designs:
Embird from (www.embird.com),
Wilcom's TrueSizer (available from
www.embroiderystartup.com ), are two of many
programs that can print templates.
If you don't have embroidery software, then you can make
a template from a sample stitchout, or cut a piece of
paper to the size of the design, and draw horizontal and
vertical axis lines, as well as the center point.
Arrange the template on the onesie until you have it
right where you want it. You can also reference the
free placement guide for infants, toddlers, and children
Once you have the template
positioned where you want it, mark the horizontal and
vertical axis lines on the onesie, as well as the center
point. Use an air-erase pen, soap, chalk, or other
marking method. These lines will help you when hooping
Remove the template and draw
lines that connect the marks.
Unsnap the onesie and turn it
inside out. Lay it flat. Cut a
piece of cutaway stabilizer (2.0
ounce works the best) a bit
larger than your hoop.
Spray the stabilizer with a
temporary spray adhesive (we use
KK100) and smooth the cutaway
stabilizer on the onesie over
the back of the area that will
about stabilizer choices:
Because onesies are made from a very soft, very
stretchy cotton knit, using cutaway stabilizer
will bring the best results. When working with
very light designs, like simple Redwork,
tear-away can be used, but results will be
sporadic. Also, because baby items are washed
often, the tear-away stabilizer will degrade
over time, leaving the onesie wrinkled and
shapeless. Cutaway stabilizer will stand up
better to frequent washings than tear-away
Some embroiderers that stitch baby items are
concerned about the rough feeling of cutaway
stabilizer, thinking that the stabilizer will
irritate a baby's skin. In my experience, a
good-quality cutaway stabilizer will begin to
mold to the fabric after a wash or two; only the
low-quality stabilizer remains rough after a few
Floriani's No-Show Mesh or Sulky Soft 'n' Sheer
are sturdy stabilizers, and soft. In my opinion,
they are great choices for working with baby
Also, after embroidering, you can add an
interfacing to the back side for extra softness.
A tutorial for that technique can be found
Now that the onesie is marked, and
is backed with stabilizer, we're
ready to hoop!
Turn the onesie right side out.
Insert the bottom portion of the
hoop inside the onesie with the tab
facing out towards the opening at
the collar. You'll note that this
means that the onesie is hooped
sideways; rotate your design 90
degrees clockwise prior to
Hoop the fabric and stabilizer
together, aligning the marks on the
hoop with the marks on the fabric.
Hand tighten the screw after
Now I'm going to wrap the excess
fabric around the hoop so that I
don't accidentally stitch through
both sides of the onesie, and so
that no stray fabric interferes with
the hoop's movement.
Pull the onesie up around each side
of the hoop so the bottom of the
hoop is free and clear.
Along each side of the hoop, roll
the excess fabric up towards the top
of the hoop. Secure the rolls in
place with small clips, such as hair
clips, chip clips, or binder clips.
These clips can be purchased at many
different places -- try a Google
search, or check at Target, Walmart,
the Dollar Store, etc.
Attach the hoop to the machine, and
move the hoop so that the needle is
directly over the center point (most
machines have this feature).
Embroider the design!
After you've finished embroidering,
remove the hoop from the machine,
and the onesie from the hoop.
Turn the onesie inside out and trim
away excess stabilizer, leaving
about 1/2 inch around the design.
This helps to support the fabric
during wear and wash.
Launder the onesie to remove any
chemicals from the marking tools or
For this tutorial I used a quick-stitch rocking
horse design (click
here to find it). I prefer (and recommend)
light and quick-stitching designs for onesies.
Babies grow so quickly -- before you know it,
they'll be too big to wear that teeny-tiny
onesie that you've embroidered. Using a design
that has a few stitches and color changes makes
Another reason why I prefer light and
quick-stitching designs on onesies is because of
draping. Solid or heavy designs will sink into
the soft cotton fabric, and after a couple of
washings, any solid fills will sink in, creating
dimpling and a misshapen area. Choosing light
designs will eliminate that problem. Redwork,
toile, vintage, and other designs in the
Quick-Stitch category are a perfect fit for baby
For a new embroiderer, getting accustomed to
hooping can be the most difficult part of the
learning curve. The hoop wiggles around, the
onesie will get hooped upside down and inside
out, and it can be tricky to get it straight.
When trying to learn this new skill, keep in
mind three things: practice, patience, and
perseverance. Hooping your first onesie
might be difficult; doing it a second time will
be easier; the third time easier still. Soon
enough you'll be sending me an email and giving
me tips on how to make this article better and
more helpful for new stitchers. And I welcome
your ideas, and look forward to hearing them!
Kenny is a
master digitizer and Vice President of
Production at Embroidery Library, Inc.
Ask Kenny! Send email to