H is for Hoop

A to Z of Machine Embroidery and Quilting

H is for HoopIf you have an embroidery machine then it will come with at least one hoop to be used with it. While it can definitely be said that “the bigger the better” where hoops are concerned, biggest isn’t always best.

In general when you’re stitching an embroidery design, you want to use the smallest hoop that will fit the design. The more stitches a design contains, the more “pull” is exerted on everything that is in the hoop. The bigger the hoop in comparison with the design, the bigger the chance of an uneven pull.

I love to create designs that maximize the capability of my biggest hoop, the BERNINA Jumbo Hoop. Wherever possible, I also provide a split version of the design so that it can be stitched in a smaller hoop (using multiple hoopings – instructions for my perfect placement technique for multiple hoopings are included in all my design collections). When using the BERNINA Jumbo Hoop – or the BERNINA Maxi Hoop – or the BERNINA Mega Hoop – or any equivalent sized hoop from any other brand of machine! – the following tip can significantly improve your results:

  1. Place a piece of stabilizer on a flat surface
  2. Remove the inner hoop from the outer hoop
  3. Place a piece of double sided Scotch tape on each long side of the bottom of the inner hoop
  4. Place the inner hoop on the stabilizer and press down to stick the inner hoop to the stabilizer
    (extra tip: as stabilizer comes off the roll, it has a tendency to curl up. Press it with a medium heat dry iron to flatten it, making it much easier to work with)
  5. Now put the inner hoop and stabilizer into the outer hoop and tighten the outer hoop

You now have a beautifully taut piece of stabilizer in your hoop that isn’t going to shift around during stitching.

Here’s another tip for using sticky stabilizers in the hoop:

I’ve seen a lot of people wanting to keep their hoops gum free and so they hoop the sticky stabilizer with the backing paper still attached. When the stabilizer is in the hoop, they score around the inside of the hoop and remove the backing paper.

There are a couple of potentially serious problems with this approach:

  1. If you score too hard, you risk scoring the stabilizer as well as the backing paper. It might not be all the way through, just a little bit. You’ve just weakened your piece of stabilizer so it can’t do it’s job properly. You’ll more than likely end up with some puckering and, worst case scenario, the stabilizer may rip during stitching.
  2. The backing paper tends to be really bulky and it can also be quite slippery. I’ve seen way too many instances in classes when even a minor knock on the hoop will have the whole thing fall apart with the inner hoop popping right out of the outer hoop and …. need I say more?

The solution:

  1. Remove the backing paper completely from the sticky stabilizer
  2. Stick the inner hoop right onto the stabilizer and then put the inner hoop into the outer hoop

If your hoop gets unbearably sticky, a spot of dish soap in some warm water with a non-stick scouring pad will remove the gummy residue in no time at all!

Daily Deal

From 12:01am on June 30, 2017 until 11:59pm on July 2, 2017, take 25% off GO! Be Dazzled.

Enter promo code “A2Z-H” at the checkout.

Add to Cartย GO! Be Dazzled $120.00
(Delivered as a digital download. Optional CD available at the checkout)

What I love about this collection…ย GO! Be Dazzled most definitely is NOT a quilt in a day kind of quilt! It was originally designed as a Block of the Month quilt. I love that stores all over the United States brought people together to make GO! Be Dazzled quilts. There are dozens – if not hundreds – of GO! Be Dazzled quilts that have won blue ribbons in local, regional and national quilt shows.

Go Be Dazzled Quilt

Stitched on a BERNINA 830

Go Be Dazzled Quilt Detail

Go Be Dazzled Quilt Detail

The photo below shows the GO! Be Dazzled wall at the exhibition of my quilts at the European Patchwork Meeting in France in September 2012. Far left is the original GO! Be Dazzled quilt. Next is Judy’s award winning GO! Be Dazzled in black, red and gold. Next is Sandy’s award winning GO! Be Dazzled in autumn tones. The green quilt on the right is a “simplified” version of GO! Be Dazzled featuring the square blocks that make up the points on the star in the larger version of the quilt.


One of the other super cool things about the GO! Be Dazzled design collection is that all of the designs used to create the big quilt are also available as individual designs – hearts, stars, circles, flowers etc. So you don’t have to make a masterpiece, you can create any number of small projects that can be given as gifts to delight your friends and family.

GO! Be Dazzled Heart


  1. Thanks for the hooping tips. I had never heard of these methods of hooping and learned some valuable lessons today.

  2. Beautiful quilts

  3. Thank you for today’s news

  4. Love the info you give us. Thank you.

  5. Thanks for all of the information.

  6. Thanks for the hooping tips. I have been enjoying the Alphabets. Great job!!!

  7. Monica Hendewerk

    Does the collection include files to cut out the shapes using a silhouette instead of a go machine?

  8. Excellent tip!! I sometimes have hoop issues. Maybe it isn’t always operator error.
    Thank you.

  9. Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips Sarah!

  10. This is my favorite so far! Gorgeous.

  11. Kathleen Mennell

    Awesome info. Good to know about the larger hoops and stabilizing. Thankyou.

  12. Love your hooping technique, especially the cross hairs marking it just makes it all line up wonderfully.

  13. Thanks for sharing all this wonderful information, Sarah! I’m saving them all and going to put them in one file so I have them all in one place!

  14. Thanks Sarah. I’m really enjoying all the great tips.

  15. Great tips! Thank you.

  16. Sarah, when you are embroidering an applique that has the candlewicking stitching on the perimeter, do you still do the stitch-in-the-ditch technique to make it sort of “rise” above the surrounding quilt like you do with non-candlewicked-outline appliques? Not sure I’m making this very clear, but one of your awesome alphabet entries was on making the applique pop by SITD around the perimeter of the applique. Thank you! LOVE love love your designs–only wish I was wealthy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Hi Marilyn,
      Yes, I do “stitch in the ditch” around candlewicking. If I’m feeling crazy enough I’ll stitch around each candlewicking stitch – so if you looked at it from the back you’d see a scalloped edge around the shape ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Will these A to Z tips be available on the website forever? They are very informative. Thank you.

  18. Thanks for the tip about hooping the stabilizer.

  19. I know exactly what you mean about the sticky stabilizers. I have often thought that it was too bulky in the hoop. Fortunately, I have not had it pop apart. This is another beautiful quilt!

  20. Love your designs

  21. I have always used hooped the sticky stabilizer first and then scored it CAREFULLY! Now I’m going to try it your way! Sounds like a much better way.

  22. I find I can rub away sticky spots on my hoops with an art gum eraser. If it needs a good cleaning, I get a small scrap of fabric & put a bit of lamp oil (a friend uses WD40) & gently wipe on, wait a moment if the adhesive is really sticky & wipe off. The lamp oil is handy for removing adhesives from bottles & jars, too. It’s very thin, so be careful not to spill on wood surfaces.

  23. This is my favorite post so far! The information in your posts has been SO very helpful and not intimidating, at all, but empowering and encouraging. THANK YOU!!!

  24. Forgot to mention, I score outside the hoop on the rare occasion that I use sticky stabilizers & the tear the paper back at the corners to ensure it’s not thick at the hoop corners. I tend to shy away from the sticky stabilizers, tho, as my needles get gummy & cause a myriad of issues.

  25. I too have always used the sticky stabilizer in the hoop. After I stitch the placement line for the fabric I score very carefully with a pin and have had no problems. I use Sulky sticky stabilizer. Then I place my fabric (stabilized with Sulky iron on stabilizer) to be appliqued in the hoop using Sarah’s method. Your designs are great!

  26. This is a great tip with the double sided sticky tape for stabilizing the stabilizer. Thank you. Best tip so far!!

  27. My favorite of all your collections!!

  28. I have received many accolades about my Go Be Dazzled Quilt that I made in a class from you. It is hanging in our entrance way. I learned many things from you during the class and continue to learn from your e-mails, blurbs and educational tips. Thank you Sarah. Keep up the fantastic work.

  29. Thanks, Sarah, for all of your wonderful hooping “tricks”! You always have such excellent information. The Go Be Dazzled quilts are gorgeous!

  30. Really am enjoying the A-Z s!!

  31. Go be dazzled was the first one I bought from a shop in Canberra where I saw your designs for the first time and I love it and all the tips you have shared. Thanks

  32. Jennifer Swenson

    Thanks for the tips!

  33. Thank you very much for the tips on hoop. Very helpful.

  34. Not sure why I didn’t receive the “H is for Hoop” emails! I receive your emails twice because you have two Email addresses for me, but NO H emails showed up at all yesterday. Some days I only get an email to one of my addresses and not the other. Not sure what’s happening to part of them. Thankfully I can still read your tips here, but unfortunately no points on those missing ones for me! Thanks for all of your helpful tips!

    • Teresa Moffitt

      I didn’t get the H e-mail either and just came here to read it! So glad I did as I feel the way I was approaching the sticky stabilizer may have been causing me some problems! I love the approach of using the double sided tape and just hearing this one too has given me confidence to move forward once again. I have been st a stalemate with one of my projects as I felt I wasn’t quite ” there” with my results. This may be the reason! Sarah does it again!!

  35. I seem to recall seeing a video awhile back on how to hoop a design that has been split and requires multiple hoopings but I am unable to locate it now. This procedure is different than the one in the Back to Basics video currently on You Tube. If I am just imagining, could you do one?

  36. Love you daily emails. Another option for gummy hoops is rubbing alachol. I use it on some batting and works all the time.


  37. Love this series. Can you please show pictures of this hooping method with double sided tape? Also I have not tried it, but I was once told in an embroiderey class that Lectric Shave gets glue & overspray off of hoops.

  38. Great tips Thanks so much

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