Floating Machine Embroidery: What Is It and When Should You Do It?

Floating tips for machine embroidery at Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Machine embroidery projects should be hooped as a general rule for best results; however, there are times that you need to float it instead.

Picture of outline of machine applique design at Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Christmas Cookies, felt floated on heat-away stabilizer,
Cookies for Santa project

Floating isn’t magic, but it is essential in some machine embroidery projects that can’t be placed in a hoop. It may be too small to hoop, may be made of a fabric that will become damaged by a hoop (like velvet, vinyl, or leather),

Picture of machine embroidered ITH Needle Keeper project at Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Needle Keeper, Needle Keeper project

or may be part of an in-the-hoop (ITH) project like a zip bag, card, or mug rug that is constructed in the hoop.

Quilt Before Embroidery project

Other items may be too thick for your hoop, like towels or quilt blocks. Some stabilizers, namely thick ones like battalizer, are difficult if nearly impossible to hoop.

Picture of machine embroidered Halloween cat at Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Spooky Buddies, Halloween Banner project

Magnetic hoops are wonderful for many hard-to-hoop items. In cases where hooping is not an option, regular stabilizer is hooped by itself and the item you are embroidering is floated on top of the stabilizer.  

Picture of linen in hoop ready for machine embroidery at Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Sew Eggsquisite, Basket Liner project

Choose the correct stabilizer for your design and fabric you are embroidering. To hold the project to the stabilizer, you can pin it or use small magnets called Sew Tites as shown above (outside of the embroidery area), use a temporary spray adhesive, a glue stick, or baste it in place.

Depending upon results of your test sew, you may need to float another piece of stabilizer underneath the hoop to give extra support for stitching.

When embroidery is done, just remove everything from the hoop and trim away the stabilizer close to stitching.

What tips do you have for floating embroidery?

Debbie Henry
Sew Inspired by Bonnie

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