An embroidery hoop is an important part of the toolkit for any sewer. They hold the fabric taut, so you can sew into easily and accurately, counting the threads in the warp and weft to make sure you’re following your pattern correctly. Sewing without a hoop risks the fabric drifting, creasing, or puckering and creating an uneven result you may not notice until you’ve finished.
At times, however, you need to look for an embroidery hoop alternative: sometimes an embroidery hoop will put a crease through the middle of a project and it’s impossible to eliminate, meaning you might not want to display the results of your hard work. Sometimes, you simply don’t have an embroidery hoop to hand when you need, or one breaks midway through a project.
Fortunately, there are alternatives.
For projects needing a larger space, you can buy what are called ‘scroll’ or embroidery frames. These large, freestanding tools hold the whole piece of fabric you’re working on taut, not just the area contained in the circle of an embroidery hoop.
If you don’t have a hoop when you need one, you can home make one – the lid of a round plastic takeaway box can be adapted into a makeshift embroidery hoop surprisingly quickly!
You can also practice the technique known as hand embroidery. This can be difficult to pick up if you’re used to an embroidery hoop, but it’s worth trying it out so you’re ready. In hand embroidery, you use your thumb and fingers to hold the fabric taut yourself where you’re stitching it, and work your way around the fabric.