Learn to Cross Stitch: All About Hoops - The Jolly Jabber Quilting Blog

Learn to Cross Stitch: All About Hoops

Cross stitch is more than cloth and floss! In this installment of our How to Cross Stitch series, we’re diving into the world of hoops. As always, you can use the menu below to jump to any section quickly.

Do You Need a Hoop?

For beginners, the question of whether they need a hoop often arises. Hoops, also known as embroidery hoops and needlework hoops, those circular frames made of wood or plastic, play a significant role in securing your fabric while you stitch. They come in various sizes, allowing you to choose the best fit for your project. Hoops help maintain the fabric’s tension, preventing wrinkles and ensuring even stitches.

If you choose to use a hoop or frame when starting, which we would suggest, it’s important to get the right one for you and your project! The right hoop size is essential for a comfortable stitching experience. 

Consider factors like project size and fabric type. For smaller projects, opt for a smaller hoop to maintain better control, while larger projects may benefit from larger frames to accommodate more fabric and reduce the need for repositioning. Different fabrics may require different tension levels, so matching the hoop size with your fabric type is essential.

What is Stitching in Hand?

You may have heard this term in Fat Quarter Shop Flosstube videos or seen Kimberly talk about how she often stitches this way. 

Stitching in hand is an alternative technique that skips the use of hoops altogether. Stitchers hold the fabric in their hands, providing more freedom of movement. 

This method is particularly popular for small projects or working with Evenweave or linen fabrics. However, using a hoop or frame is often better for complex projects, as it helps keep the fabric tight and ensures accurate stitching.

This is why we recommend beginner stitchers use embroidery or needlework hoops when first learning to cross stitch!

Hoops Vs Stitching in Hand

The debate between using hoops and stitching by hand is ongoing in the cross stitch community. Hoops are affordable, portable, and easily adjustable. However, stitching in hand offers more flexibility and can be more comfortable for some stitchers. Beginners often find hoops helpful for maintaining fabric tension and improving stitching accuracy.

As mentioned above, hoops are a simple tool that holds your fabric taut while you stitch. They’re affordable, portable, and easily adjustable. However, there are many brands and styles, so we’re highlighting our first choice when you’re learning to cross stitch, Q Snaps!

Q Snaps

When it comes to hoops, one popular choice for beginners is Q Snaps. These frames, consisting of four plastic rods, offer versatility and ease of use. They come in several sizes, including 6″, 8″, 11″, and 17″ squares, as well as 11″ x 17″ rectangles.

A small Q Snap cross stitch frame within a larger one

Q Snaps allow you to attach fabric using clips that hold it in place while you stitch. You can easily rotate the clips outward to create more tension and rotate the clips inward to release them. They’re easy to put together and take apart for storage and travel, and you can reuse them without losing tightness. 

Q Snaps are easy to assemble, adjust, and store, making them an excellent option for stitchers of all levels. That’s why they’re our go-to for when you’re just getting started—after all, Kimberly learned on a Q Snap!

We receive common questions about using embroidery hoops and frames, like Q Snaps, almost daily. You may be wondering if you need to remove it between stitching sessions. You don’t have to, but it can lead to creasing in your project if you don’t. Some hoops are more prone to this than others.

You may wonder if you can use a smaller hoop for a larger project. Again, this comes down to your preference. A large frame makes it easier to hold your whole project and not have to adjust as you go, but you can use a smaller hoop or Q Snap. Be wary again of leaving it over you, stitching for too long, and leaving creases.

There are no bad questions when you’re getting started stitching and if we didn’t answer yours above then please leave it below or reach out to us on our social media! You can also hear all about hoops and Q Snaps from Kimberly herself in our All About Hoops Stitchy Talk video!

Next Up for Beginner Stitchers

Are you ready to get stitching? From floss to finishing, we’re going to tackle it all. We hope you continue to join us for our Learn to Cross Stitch Series by subscribing to this blog. On the desktop, you’ll find the Subscribe sign up near the top of the right-hand menu area, and on the phone, it’s near the bottom of the page.

We’ll be sharing everything you need to know about cross stitching throughout this series the first Tuesday and third Thursday of every month, until we reach the end! Check back May 16 because next up we’re finally getting into the how-tos of stitching itself!

Drop a comment below and let us know… what questions do you have about cross stitching? Do you have specific stitch-type questions?

Happy stitching!

Stay connected to Fat Quarter Shop!


  1. I used to cross stitch many years ago. I regret getting rid of my patterns so much!!! I kept all my threads though. I just ordered a pattern for you and can’t wait to start again. I’ve never used a hoop before or stitched on linen. For some reason, it always intimidated me. I would appreciate tips on that.

    1. Hi Karen!

      So excited to have you back in the stitching community! 🙂

      Our tips and information on hoops is all shared here, unless you have any specific questions which I would be happy to answer. I’d definitely recommend watching the YouTube video above as well because Kimberly explains everything really well and the visuals are helpful!

      As for linen we have a guide to cloth here: https://blog.fatquartershop.com/learn-to-cross-stitch-how-to-choose-the-right-cross-stitch-cloth/

      I’d recommend watching the video included in that blog too about Linen’s it has everything you need to know as well as some of Kimberly’s tips and thoughts!

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

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