Floating or Hooping Your Next Machine Embroidery Project

Machine Embroidery Quick Tip: Floating or Hooping Your Project 
Watch the video or read the article below. It’s the same info presented differently!
After all, it’s all about crafting with machine embroidery!

Floating vs Hooping?

Know when to hoop a machine embroidery project and when to float it. Plus, different ways to float your project for the perfect finished design.

A piece of green fabric is hooped in a machine embroidery hoop


Hooping is when you hoop your project with the backing inside the hoop. The hoop is being used as a stabilizer to hold your backing and your fabric or project in place.

It means that you have enough fabric all the way around your hoop to fit into the hoop.

Floating a project is having the project set inside the hoop


Floating is when you hoop your stabilizer or backing in your hoop and then you float your project on top.

Your project or your fabric is not connected inside the hoop and is not held tight or stabilized with the hoop.


When to float and when to hoop your project.


As a general rule for industry standards, you should hoop everything you possibly can for better stability.

The hoop acts as another stabilizer for your project by holding together your fabric and backing for less movement and better embroidery. 

The industrial embroiderer doesn’t float projects, but they don’t make creative projects as you can.

Sometimes non-industrial embroiders float all their embroidery projects because they don’t have hooping down to a science yet, and it is easier for them to float instead of hoop. This is okay too. 

Float the following projects types: 

  • Anything you cannot hoop because of size, weight, or placement. Projects such as:
    • Onesies, wash clothes, and other towels.
    • Hats, some apron placement, and stuffed animal parts.
  • Applique’ designs: The main project such as the shirt will be hooped but the pieces of fabric inside the design will be floated. 
  • In The Hoop (ITH) projects that are specifically created to float part or all of the project.

Tips to successfully float your projects:

  1. Slow down the embroidery machine:
    By slowing down the embroidery machine you have less movement and less chances of the design becoming distorted or ugly.
  2. Use the correct stabilizer or backing and hoop it correctly.
    Make sure you use a stabilizer that stands up to your project and the purpose of your project. Hoop the stabilizer so it is taunt but not stretched, and there are no bumps or loose areas. 
  3. Tack down the floated material or section of the project.
    Make sure the fabric you’re floating is secured so it doesn’t move during embroidering. 

Securing the floating part of your project

The part or parts of your project that are being floated in the hoop need to be secure so they do not move while the embroidery design runs. If the floated material moves it could mean a ruined project. 

The following are a few ways to help hold the floated portions of your project in place while embroidering. 

  1. Hold the material down manually with your hands:
    Be careful when your hands are in the embroidery area. This works well when the design has a quick tack down stitch to start. 
  2. Use spray adhesive on the fabric.
    I personally don’t use spray adhesive because I don’t have aerosol cans in my home. Many people do use them by spraying the fabric then setting the fabric into the hoop. Never spray near your machine. 
  3. Use Sticky Back Stabilizer
    Sticky back stabilizer can be used to float in 2 different ways.

    One, you pull off the non-stick backing and connect it to the back of the hoop. You aren’t actually hooping the backing. Then you stick the floated fabric onto the top of the hoop. 

    Two, you hoop the sticky back stabilizer with the shiny smooth side up. This shiny smooth part covers the sticky part of the stabilizer.  Then you remove sections of the shiny smooth paper to fit your project. The area being embroidered of the project will be stuck to the sticky area. 

    Warning you do not want to use sticky back stabilizer with projects like towels where the looping of the towel can pull when removing the backing.

  4. Pins
    You can use pins to hold down the fabric. Make sure when pinning the end of the pin comes up into the hoop so it doesn’t scratch or catch on your machine. 
  5. Tape
    You can use clear tape or masking tape to hold parts of your project down for embroidering. 

To hoop or float your next project…

It depends on the project…

As long as your embroidering, creating and enjoying it doesn’t really matter. 

Happy embroidering!

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2 thoughts on “Floating or Hooping Your Next Machine Embroidery Project”

  1. Step 3 is a little confusing…
    Two – You do hoop the sticky stabilizer with the sticky side up, just still covered by the shiny layer. The non-sticky side is the back. You peel off sections of the shiny covering to expose the sticky surface.

    1. Suzanne:
      Sorry about the confusion. And thank you for pointing this out! You are definitely correct – you hoop the sticky stabilizer with the shinny side on it and up.

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