Hand quilting with a hoop is great for the smaller projects and even though some quilters still sit on the fence about using a hoop or not when quilting, there’s no way denying it: hoops may be so helpful in some quilting projects.
Some say that using a hoop when quilting as a beginner may be a great thing for improving your quilting skills.
When you decide to use a hoop for your quilting, some information wouldn’t hurt. It’s going to help you know a little better on which model fits the best your project and how to handle it better.
Having the right hoop means more easiness when quilting, as you do have to learn how to balance the hoop on the edge of the armchair and the low level of your lap, for a good support. One hand guides your needle on the top side, whereas the other hand does the same on the bottom side, giving nice quilting stitches.
Even though a hoop is small, this doesn’t mean it’s not strong or efficient. The two-part round frame keeps the layer of your quilt tight together and ensures an even tension, minimizing the risk for slipping.
The hoop is tighten thanks to the screw and bolt placed on the outer circle. You simply move the hoop from one area to another as you quilt the areas. The quilting hoop is great as you may change the direction, while having your layers tight and secure at the same time.
The quality of the wing nuts is important and they need to be solid and large enough to tighten safely. Pay attention and look that there’s no gaps where the hoop meets the brackets, after you tighten the hoop.
You also need to make sure that there are no staples or sharp points on the interior of your hoop.
When you’re done with checking these manufacturing details, it’s time so settle on a size. The hoops out there are ranging from 10 to 22-inches in diameter, but 14 to 18-inch hoops are the most common option.
Pay attention when buying, as you don’t want to get an embroidery hoop instead of your quilting hoop. The embroidery hoop is ½ inch deep and presents sharp edges, whereas a quilting hoop is 1 to ½ inches deep, and its edges are a tad rounded.
Be willing to pay the extra buck when getting quilting hoops. The good ones may last you for life.
If you’re short on budget, a fair option is a spring-loaded plastic hoop. Keep in mind that you can’t adjust it for firmness, which is why it may not perform the best when hand quilting.
When the fabric is slipping, you may wrap the inner hoop with bias strips of your fabric. You may use this trick for any type of hoops, not only the plastic ones.
Another decent option is the plastic PVC piping that works well especially for the rectangular or square quilting hoops. It’s a versatile choice also because it’s easy to snap it together and to disassemble when not in use. The Q-snap frame makes the clamps pretty stiff and tight, but they do get loosen in time.
How to use the hoop
Using a hoop may look easy peasy and it is, as long as you do keep in mind some essential rules. For instance, don’t place the quilt in the hoop and keep your quilt rather loose in the hoop, not tight, as you’d do with your embroidery.
Always place the hoop all the way over your quilt and push down in the center, having the hoop come up flush with the sides. A dip (that you may not notice) comes up in the center. When you pick up the quilt, it looks rather floppy in the hoop. Never forget to remove the hoop when you’re not using it.
It’s essential to load your quilt properly. After you separate the inner and outer circles of the hoop, place the smaller hoop on a flat surface.
You continue by placing the quilt sandwich over the smaller hoop, while smoothing all the wrinkles that you see. Now it’s time to put the top ring over the bottom ring and to tight the screw. Apply only some tension while doing it as you need to be able to move the quilt sandwich in the hoop.
You need to pay attention to this step as at time you may have to straighten the quilt in the hoop and to remove any wrinkles as well. Keep in mind to only tug with the straight grain of the fabric. After you flipped the quilt over, you smooth out all wrinkles.
Using your fist and a circular motion, go around the underside of the hoop. This move relaxes the quilt and gives a little play.
It takes some time until you learn to bend the fabric over the point of the needle, without bending the needle. It’s so much easier to bend the fabric instead.
When working with a hoop, it’s essential to master the amount of tightness that you apply to your quilt. You get in time that the rhythm of your stitching may be essential when using the hoop.
Always relax the tension made by the hoop and try not to have any stretching of the quilt. Once you’re done with the hoop, take it out and enjoy your work!