Embroidery hoops help stabilizer the fabric and provide an even tension on what you are going to embroider. Improper hooping can cause garments to stretch, move, and stitch out poorly resulting in misaligned designs, puckering, and poor stitch outs. Hooping correctly can be a difficult and frustrating skill to master, but when done properly will produce great results in your finished embroidery and smooth pucker free designs with aligned stitches.
Choose the Correct Hoop Make sure you are using the smallest hoop that your design will fit in. The closer your design is to the edge of your hoop the more stabilization your hoop will provide. A hoop that is too large will enable the fabric to move around causing your design to stitch out poorly. The shape of the hoop also has an impact on hooping. A circular hoop will hold the material more securely and constantly within all places inside the hoop.
Use the Correct Size Stabilizer The backing sheets you buy or cut from a roll, should be large enough that it extends beyond all the edges of the outside of the hoop by about ½" - 1". The best practice is to measure the outside or your hoop and add about 1-2" in each direction. Commercial hoops sizes usually refer to the inside dimensions of the hoop; but on home hoops, the sizes are listed by the allowed sewing size in that hoop. For example, on a 5" x 7" home machine hoop, you will need a stabilizer of around 9" x 12".
Use a Hooping Station and Placement Tools The use of hooping stations can help with the speed and accuracy of hooping. A hooping station will hold the bottom hoop and secure the stabilizer while you align the garment and snap in the top hoop. In larger embroidery shops with big jobs, a hooping station lets all employees hoop the same job consistently and in the same location on the garment. Placement & alignment tools can also be used to facilitate initial placement help locate the design in the same place on every shirt.
Don't Stretch Your Material You want to create a taught tambourine like surface on the material to be embroidered without stretching your garment. If you stretch your fabric when you hoop, you will freeze the fabric in a stretched out state under the stitches. When this is done your embroidery will look fine while still hooped, but when removed from the hoop all the fabric that is not locked under the stitches will relax and cause puckering.
Use Spray Adhesive A light misting of a temporary spray adhesive can provide some extra stabilization when hooping stretchy items. It's important to only use a light misting, over spraying can gum up your needles and cause issues.
Use Double Sided Embroidery Tape Double-sided Embroidery tape is also a perfect solution for items that can not be hooped or where parts need to be kept out of the way. Just hoop a piece of stabilizer and use the tape to attach fabric to the backing. Unlike when using sticky stabilizer, double-sided tape holds the fabric from the sides so that the needle is not stitching through glue therefore preventing the needle from gumming up. Also perfect for holding back excess fabric so they are not in they way when embroidering.
Don't Over Tighten Hoop Screws Beginners have a tendency to aggressively tighten hoop screws. This can damage the hoop by stripping screws and increase the chances of hoop burn. Simple finger tight is usually enough to do the trick and keep the material snug in the hoop.