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One of the most important embroidery techniques to learn is hooping. Hooping is simply the act of placing the sandwich of backing and cloth within a frame so it can be attached to the machine. The important factor is placing the right amount of tension on the fabric.

Backing does not stretch, so placing tension on backing is achieved by smoothly pulling it across the face of the hoop and reaching what people call a “tambourine skin” tension. If one lightly taps on the backing it should resonate almost like a drum or a tambourine. The actual fabric of the garment is a more delicate matter. It needs to be smooth and tight but not too tight.

The secret in hooping is to first consider the garment construction and how it will be used. A sweater, for example, is rarely worn loose. More often they are slightly stretched when worn. This needs to be considered when hooping. One would typically hoop the garment so the fabric would be slightly stretched. This way the logo or design applied would fall naturally on the fabric as when it is worn. By the same token, care must be taken not to overstretch garments when they are hooped. If a pique knit shirt was stretched to its limits during hooping and then relaxed when it was worn, it would create puckering around the design.

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