What kind of wood are embroidery hoops made from? I am embroidering a large tablecloth as a keepsake. What size hoop is optimal? Help please!
Traditional wooden embroidery hoops tend to be made from beech, although they are not always marked as such. A good quality hoop will be smooth, with no sharp splinters or rough edges on which your fabric or thread could snag. The best ones have brass fittings which hold a screw that can be tightened using a screwdriver.
With regards to size, I would always recommend a smaller hoop rather than a large one, even when working on a large project such as your tablecloth, Aline. I hardly ever use anything bigger than an 8 inch hoop, and prefer one even smaller than that.
Yes, you will need to move it around as you work, but a smaller hoop will be easier and more comfortable to hold and cope with. A smaller hoop will allow you to reach into the center easily, whereas one 10 inch or larger will mean you have to take the full weight of the hooped fabric in one hand, while stitching with the other.
I also find that the larger hoops do not keep the tension as well as the smaller ones. It is annoying to have to keep tightening the screw of a hoop which allows the fabric to sag and not remain firm to work on.
In an attempt to counter this problem, modern plastic hoops often have a lip around the inner ring, but I find they can get sweaty and slippery to hold, when stitching in warm weather.
Whatever size or type of hoop you choose, remember to take it off your work when you finish a session. This will help to avoid hoop marks which may be difficult to wash out.
I hope this tips help you choose the ideal wood embroidery hoop for you, Aline.