Frame v Hoop: The Endless Debate

Ask any embroiderer or cross stitcher and they will have an opinion on this. Is it better to stitch with a frame or a hoop? Yes, of course it can depend on the project, but overall, which do you prefer?

I was a hoop girl for years. They're easy, reliable, portable, and cheap. I like that. And I'd never particularly been bothered by the tension I'd gotten off my hoops. I've always been one of those who pulls them pretty tight, so it feels like a drum when you hit your finger off it, and always found I could get it that way with a bit of elbow grease.

I started the Guardian on the smaller of my Millenium Frames as I had no expectation of needing to take it off anytime soon. This worked beautifully for about 5 weeks, and I've made quite a bit of progress on it happily. The Millenium is so easy to use, and at the end of the day its just two quick twists and the frame is loosened so your fabric won't get overly stretched. Unlike hoops, where I have to hold it in one hand, the Millenium doesn't cause me extra pain in my wrists when stitching.

So all was going well.

Then I was off to Belgium at the weekend and thought I'd take it along with me. But the Millenium is much bigger than a hoop, and with Ryanair's tendency to be anal about bag size, I didn't want to chance having to wrestle it into my roller bag instead of sticking out of the handbag as I would on any other flight. No problem, I thought. I simply popped it off my Millenium frame and grabbed a hoop to take with me.

And I hated it.

Don't get me wrong, I can still stitch on the hoop, but I just cannot for the life of me get the fabric as taut as I can on the Millenium. I cannot manage to pull that fabric over the hoop and out the other side and make it so that my fingers aren't pushing the fabric up as I stitch. I always preferred having my fabric tight, but now, having stitched on the Millenium for so long, I almost can't stand the looseness of the hoop.

Has it made a difference in my stitches? I can't tell. I can't see a difference, but then they haven't been washed, blocked, and ironed yet, and that may be the true test. But they FEEL like they're different. I'm scared to pull the floss too tightly with it that loose, worried I'll pull the weave out of whack.

Its not a big thing in the grand scheme of things, but I do think I've figured out which side of the debate I've come down on. Frames for me all the way, baby!

(Incidentally, this very topic got mentioned on my favorite crafty blog while I was away. Check out Needle'n'Thread's conversation on pros and cons of both.)


  1. I don't have a Millenium frame because I flat don't have the money right now, but I do have a scroll frame. I only started on a scroll frame with my last big project, but I am completely sold on it now. In addition to the extra tightness of the fabric (nowhere near the Millenium, I'm sure!), I also find that I don't get the dirty hand marks I would get from working in-hand, even though I always washed my hands. And my left hand doesn't cramp up from holding it anymore, either. I agree, frames are the way to go for me. I want to try a Millenium frame, but am afraid to for fear I would only want that :)

    1. I hear that fear. I'm currently stamping down my desire to buy additional stretcher bars so I can have more than one project going without swapping the bars between them. I definitely feel like frames are the way forward for me.


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