Displaying embroidery in a hoop

Embroidery hoop finishing

SO why shouldn’t you just take a pair of scissors and hack off all the excess fabric that sticks out behind your wooden embroidery hoop?

Because it looks like a butcher did the job with a cleaver. Because a hooped embroidery always loses tension over time, and goes saggy, and if the embroidery goes saggy, you can’t stretch it taut. Because you can’t undo the hoop to clean the embroidery, as you’ll never be able to get the fabric back into the hoop. Because if the edges of the embroidery ever fray, they may come dangerously close to showing on the front of the piece. Because you can’t later change your mind and move the embroidery to a bigger hoop, or make something different out of it, when it’s been cropped so close. Because you’ve gone to all this trouble to stitch something nice, it’s a shame to rush through the finishing steps like a knucklehead. Because you are not a knucklehead.

⓵ Trim the fabric outside the hoop into a circular shape, but not very close to the hoop. I gave this embroidery a 2 ½-inch margin, and I’d say that’s the narrowest margin I’m comfortable with.

On the other hand, the maximum fabric margin you can leave is the measurement from the center of the circle to the hoop’s edge. That is, half your hoop’s diameter. So if your hoop is 8 inches across, the maximum fabric margin you can leave on is 4 inches.

For a really finished look, you can opt to now blanket-stitch, machine overlock or  finish this raw fabric edge with a wide zigzag machine stitch. I didn’t have time, at this point, but I can still choose to finish the raw edge of my embroidery later. Needless to say, hat’s one advantage of finishing an embroidery this way.

Embroidery hoop finishing

⓶ Thread some strong thread into a sharp needle—toning to match the fabric if you wish—and make a temporary (removable) knot at the end. Now sew a running stitch all around the fabric circle. Stay about ¼-inch (around 10 mm.) in from the edge of the fabric. My running stitches are about ¼-inch long, too.

Embroidery hoop finishing

Embroidery hoop finishing

Sew full circle until you find yourself back at the starting knot.
Embroidery hoop finishing

You can take the needle off the thread’s end, now, and undo the temporary knot. The framed embroidery will look something like this:
Embroidery hoop finishing

Now pick up both thread ends and gently start pulling the excess fabric together. It will ruffle and pucker like this. Use your free hand to ease the fabric along the thread, aiming to get the ruffles evenly spaced and sized, all around the hoop.
Embroidery hoop finishing

When done gently and properly, the ruffles will come toward the center of the back of the embroidery, and lay reasonably flat, like this:
Embroidery hoop finishing

Finish off by tying an overhand knot, and then a small, simple bow, as for shoelaces. This way, the knot is easy to undo and the embroidery can be removed for washing. You can leave the gathering stitches in when washing or working on the embroidery… just gently slide the fabric until the ruffles open up and your embroidery lays flat.
Embroidery hoop finishing

Another good tutorial, by Cheryl C. Fall,  for hooping and finishing an embroidery to display is here. The reason I don’t use her method is that I would have to undo all those tiny slip-stitches around the back of the embroidery before I could do something as simple as adjust the tension in the fabric, or remove the embroidery for cleaning.

But it looks much neater than my method. 🙂 Either way, it beats taking a pair of scissors and giving your embroidery a close, ugly shave. Looks much more professional, too, if you are interested in selling your work.

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About smallestforest

bookbinder, crafter, lit. major, passionately curious
This entry was posted in embroidery, fabric, Hell2Breakfast, sewing, thread and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Displaying embroidery in a hoop

  1. Pingback: ✂ – – – displaying embroidery in a hoop – – – ✂ [from Hell to Breakfast] « the smallest forest

  2. Glenda says:

    I gather the back, similar to what you’ve done, and then stitch on a piece of felt to cover the back (and it also serves to completely hide the stitching and helps keeps dust from getting in from the backside of the hoop). And I like to ribbon-wrap the outer hoop, to add a bit more color but it also helps secure the embroidery because it makes for a very snug fit as compared to fabric against bare wood. I have a tutorial for the ribbon-wrapping on my Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wrenandstitchy/sets/72157627983346347/with/6336599190/), and the last picture in that set is of the backside, showing how I’ve stitched on the felt.

    If needed, it’s easy enough to snip the threads from the felt, to remove it from the back. In fact, I’ve done that before when I’ve wanted to take an embroidery out of a hoop-as-frame and do something else with the embroidery :-).

    Oh! Another reason I like having the felt on the back is when I want to include a label (not often, but occasionally!), like I did for an embroidery I made for a giveaway, it can be secured to the felt (here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wrenandstitchy/5593618652/in/set-72157625668457105). Whoever won that giveaway basket can easily remove the label or the felt and leave the back of the embroidery open, or take it off the hoop completely and use it for something else.

    • molly says:

      do you use anything to secure the ribbon? didn’t notice any glue or ? in your flicker pics….thank you.

  3. patty says:

    I have 2 handkerchiefs that were presents to my husband and me from our daughter on her wedding. I woud like t display them, but am unsure ofthe best way. One is embroidered in a diamond orientation the other in a square. I would like to have them in a frame with mats ideally. I had thought of stretching them over something either plexiglas or plywood and securing them by sewing them in the back. Does anyone have a better idea?

  4. Rusty says:

    Love the look of this, and such a useful tip. Thank you!

  5. Pingback: One way to use up leftover thread… « the smallest forest

  6. i have a tutorial here http://maximumrabbitdesigns.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-to-frame-your-embroidery-in-hoop.html which gives a lovely neat finish and a slightly raised padded finish 🙂
    love the embroidery – so pretty 🙂

  7. Pingback: “it is a romantic idea, to be beautiful” | thrifted.

  8. Embroidery says:

    Very beautiful design. Thanks for sharing these tips.

  9. threlkelded says:

    This is a fantastic post! Thank you. 🙂

  10. Pingback: Engagement Cross-Stitch « Emily Threlkeld

  11. L. says:

    Shoot–why didn’t I see this post before I cut my fabric to start the projects?–I left a 1-2 in margin, but nothing as neat/tidy as what you’ve done here. This actually seems easier than some other ideas I’ve seen, and looks pretty too. Thanks!

  12. Pingback: unsecret crafts! | Swaying Lights

  13. cloudcoucou says:

    Thanks very much for this I was wondering what to do..very helpful and the embroidery is lovely!

  14. Pingback: Embroidery hoop art | cocojude

  15. gundesmontir says:

    thanks for sharing this! nice embroidery and nice way to finish it.

  16. Beautiful design! Middle flower is giving professional look to this embroidery design.

  17. molly says:

    love your nail(s)!

  18. jasmine says:

    Perfect! this is exactly the tutorial i was looking for. Thanks!

  19. Jackie says:

    I too was looking for ways to display my “machine embroidery”. I found that using “foam core board” and a picture frame works very well and if you use the glass it will also keep your projects protected.
    Here is the link: http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/07/how-to-frame-hand-embroidery

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