How to Machine Embroider on Clothing Without a Hoop

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Things You'll Need

  • Hoop
  • Fabric
  • Fabric pen or chalk
  • Adhesive stabilizer or stabilizer and adhesive spray
  • Light or water-soluble stabilizer, if needed
  • Thread for basting

Machine embroidery makes decorating clothing both enjoyable and easy. With the variety of new sewing machines, software and dazzling array of threads, you can personalize just about anything. To avoid stretching or distorting the fabric, most machine embroidery requires the use of a hoop. In some cases, however, the item is too small or the hoop is too large for you to machine embroider conveniently, or you want to avoid hoop marks. "Hoopless" embroidery involves using other methods to stabilize the layers so you can easily and accurately embroider the design of your choice. You use the hoop to prepare the fabric but you don't use it for the actual embroidery.

Preparing the Fabric

Cut a portion of stabilizer about 1 inch larger than the hoop on all sides.

Hoop the stabilizer with the release side up. Use the hoop's grid template to mark center, right and left edge lines.

Mark the design's corresponding center, right and left edge lines on the wrong side of your fabric.

Line up the marks and attach the fabric to the stabilizer, right side up, and press gently to make sure the fabric is taut. Adjust or smooth out any wrinkles in the fabric.

Place a light stabilizer on top of the fabric if required by your project. Baste the layers together for added stability.

Remove the hoop. Trim the stabilizer to a convenient size for your fabric. Your project should be both taut and sturdy enough to embroider without requiring use of the hoop.

Embroider your project. Remove the stabilizers and enjoy the beautiful finished result.


  • This method works best on edges, cuffs, and any small areas, and for less stitch-intensive designs. You may use this method for machine embroidering small difficult-to-hoop projects, and simply keep the hoop attached to the stabilizer for ease of maneuvering during embroidery. This method also prevents hoop marks because the hoop is never attached to your project during any part of the process.


About the Author

Naomi Smith has been writing full-time since 2009, following a career in finance. Her fiction has been published by Loose Id and Dreamspinner Press, among others. She holds a Master of Science in financial economics from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in political economy from the University of California, Berkeley.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images