An embroidery hoop or frame is an essential piece of equipment to any embroiderer. In my research I found very little has changed in the design or use of this item. Today's hoops still retain the general shapes as were used 100 or more years ago and the sizes available then are still available today. Of course, during the Victorian era, they were all made of wood. Often they were made at home and used white cotton wrapped around the smaller piece to accommodate the various thicknesses of fabrics that might be embroidered on. Below is some information which was published in 1889 to instruct ladies in the use of this important item.

It is true that many small pieces of work do not require that use of embroidery hoops, and that most of the larger pieces cannot be nicely done without them. They keep the work from drawing and are an assistance in shading, because an embroiderer cannot observe the shades properly, if obliged to hold her work in her hand. A good pair of these hoops or frames can be manufactured at home by taking two wooden hoops, one a little larger than the other, and winding both smoothly and firmly with narrow strips of white cotton cloth until one hoop fits very closely over the other.


There are other styles of hoops which are in use among embroiderers.

The "Martha Washington" Round Hoops and the "Dolly Madison" Oval Hoops are well made, of light colored wood, finely finished, with edges rounded. They are perfectly true in circles and will not warp out of shape. The spring on the outer hoop gives the required tension to hold tightly in place alight or heavy fabric without slipping. (See illustration.) It is a good plan to have two sizes of hoops, the most desirable are one pair 4 inches in diameter and the other of larger diameter.

The fabric to be worked is arranged by placing it over the inner hoop and drawing it smooth and even. The outer hoop is then pressed firmly down over the inner one, so as to hold the goods with an even tension and without straining them. In using the hoop, care should be exercised not to draw the work or crowd the stitches.

Today, good hand embroidery hoops can be found in any craft store. There are still a variety of tension methods but the most familiar are those using a screw type device for tightening. They are still made of light wood, just as they were in the Victorian era. Various sizes can also be obtained from almost any craft store and can be found in many department stores. Plastic is also a choice for this device. Each embroider must decide which is best for her/his needs. Neither the wood nor plastic are expensive.

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