Pucker Prevention: Three Things You Should Never Do When Hooping

Hooping is such an important part of machine embroidery. Do it right and it likely goes unnoticed but do it wrong and everyone will notice. These tips will help you avoid puckers when hooping!

Hoop Without Tension

Often, you hear that your hooped embroidery should be tight as a drum. That is a bit of a misnomer. Drum surfaces are pulled tight. Think of your project as being comfortable in the hoop--not sloppy loose and not uncomfortably snug. (Tip from Bonnie: Gently run your fingernail across the hooped fabric, if it moves like snow in front of a snow plow, it's too loose.) Get more specifics on proper hooping technique here.

Don’t Tug on Hooped Fabric or Stabilizer

One of the biggest causes of puckering in machine embroidery is that your fabric has either been stretched too much or the stabilizer is not flat and smooth in the hoop before embroidery even begins. It is tempting to just grab a corner of the hooped fabric or stabilizer and tug on it to smooth out any wrinkles.

While it looks nice and flat in the hoop, the fabric and stabilizer are in a state of pull. When everything  comes out of the hoop, the tension releases and fabrics spring back to their normal state followed by puckers.

Using a temporary spray adhesive to hold layers together not only makes it easier to hoop, there is less chance of wrinkles. Get more specifics on keeping your stabilizer and fabric from shifting here.

Don’t Over-tighten the Hoop Screw

Hoop screws allow you to tighten or loosen the bottom or outer hoop. Contrary to popular belief, hoops should not be tightened after your project is hooped. It can add tension to your fabric and stabilizer. You want the adjustable part of the hoop to be just large enough to accommodate your project and inner hoop. (Tip from Bonnie: Get a great starting point by folding your fabric and stabilizer in half and looking at the thickness.  Now look at your bottom hoop.  The gap next to the screw should be approximately the same width as your folded material and stabilizer.)

If it is too loose, unhoop and tighten the hoop screw a bit before rehooping. If it is too tight, don’t force the project into the hoop. That will stretch your fabric, producing puckers when the material is removed from the hoop.

What tips do you have to for avoiding puckers when hooping?

Debbie Henry
Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Share this post...
Previous post Next post


  • Sharon Robinson - June 10, 2024

    Love to win ❤️

  • Debbie Henry - June 07, 2024

    Thanks for reading, Sharon!

  • Sharon Brennan - June 03, 2024

    I love your "don’t stretch the material too much! You always give great advice and tips. THANK YOU

Leave a comment