embroidery hooping

All About Hoops

Laura Gomez is the content specialist at Ricoma Embroidery Machines. Ricoma engineers, manufactures, and distributes embroidery equipment worldwide. To support both the industry and its customers, Ricoma regularly creates blog and video content to give both beginners and experts the confidence to start or grow their custom apparel business with embroidery. For more information regarding Ricoma, visit www.ricoma.us/contactus or click here to view Ricoma embroidery machine specifications. To contact Laura directly, email laura@ricoma.us

Besides serving as the frame for your embroidery, different hoops exist to help embroiderers achieve variety, efficiency, and quality.

In the embroidery industry, there are typically three types of frames: standard hoops, specialty hoops, and sash frames. In this article, we’ll explore the best uses for each type of hoop. Consider these suggestions to select the proper hoops for the designs and garments you plan to embroider.

Standard hoops

Most commercial embroidery machine packages include standard hoops. The hoop shape and size tell you a lot about their uses.

For the best quality embroidery, you should always use the smallest hoop that fits your design without the needle running into the frame. This provides more stability and combats issues such as puckering (your fabric pinching up around the area of the design).

Depending on what machine or package you decide to go with, you’ll usually get a variety of hoops with the smallest size being about 3.5" and the largest size being over 20".

Here’s a rundown of the industry’s standard hoop sizes and their uses:

3.5-inch round hoop: This hoop is typically used for smaller designs on small articles of clothing or hard-to-reach areas. Think baby bibs, onesies, and sleeves. You can also use this hoop for the side and back of unstructured caps and hats.

4.5-inch round hoop: This hoop can be used for small designs, small articles of clothing or accessories. For instance, you can use this hoop to stitch small monograms, patches, or phrases onto a T-shirt or polo. These may also be used to hoop accessories such as small bags and the pockets of backpacks. Like the 3.5-inch-round hoop, you can also use this hoop to embroider the side and back of unstructured caps, hats, and beanies depending on the size of your design.

6-inch round hoop: This hoop is typically used for standard-sized left-chest logos on workwear such as polo shirts, mechanic shirts, button-ups, and more. 

9-inch round hoop: This hoop is best for medium-sized designs on handbags, totes, and backpacks.

12-inch square hoop: This hoop is best for medium to large designs on the back of a jacket or the front of a sweater or shirt.

22-inch by 14-inch oval hoop: Hoops that are larger than 20" are typically used to embroider large designs on luggage, jackets, or sweaters. You can also use this large hoop to embroider large open designs on the front of larger garments such as dresses and blouses.

Sash frame

A sash frame is an extra-large frame that is used to embroider large items such as curtains, tablecloths, and bed sheets. Many embroiderers also use a sash frame for bulk production of patches. Currently, the industry’s largest sash frame for a commercial single-head is 48" X 14", allowing you to embroider large designs on large items in a single run.  

Specialty hoops

If you’re running an embroidery shop, you should consider investing in a variety of specialty hoops to expand your range of services or reduce hooping time.

Prices of specialty hoops range from the hundreds to the thousands, so before you invest in expensive specialty hoops, do a bit of research. Find out what’s popular and pay attention to what your customers are requesting to see which specialty hoops are the right fit for your business.

Hoop sets: 8-in-1 devices are a great entry-level specialty hoop option that increases your variety for a great value. It consists of a bracket that enables you to switch between eight specialty frames that are compatible with a wide variety of items. These hoops are square and rectangular-shaped, rather than the standard circle shape. Unlike regular hoops, these frames have a thin border which allows you to get into small or narrow areas like children’s clothing, shirt sleeves, or the legs of pants. Ask your distributor or manufacturer which frames are compatible with your machine before you invest.

Shoe clamps: Shoe clamps are a great investment if you’re planning on regularly embroidering tough shoes such as cleats. However, these run at a higher price point than regular specialty frames. If you’re just starting off, you can stitch on the tongue, front, and sides of canvas shoes using an 8-in-1 device. If you’re not sure if you’ll have the demand for shoes, it’s always best to start off with a less expensive, all-inclusive set to see what your customers need.

Cap hoops: While most distributors or manufacturers have their own set of cap frames for your machine, you can also invest in specialty cap frames to increase efficiency and quality. Some machine embroiderers find it difficult to hoop caps correctly with regular cap frames. Improper cap hooping can result in issues like needle breaks or the bill crashing into the back of the machine.

Magnetic hoops: Magnetic hoops can save you time and effort when hooping. These are a great solution for hooping thick and hard-to-hoop items such as luggage. The magnets in this specialty hoop allow it to automatically adjust to the thickness of different garments. That way, you don’t have to spend time adjusting hoop rings to get the hoop to fit.

Happy hooping!

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