“Embroidery Hoop Anatomy”

I am a visual/kinesthetic learner.  Put simply; I need to see and do in order to learn.  When I first started machine embroidery, I had a hard time remembering that the hoop area I saw was not the hoop area I would get to use.  Maybe you have also had trouble reconciling the inside of the hoop you see versus the inside area of the hoop you get to use.  Let me break it down for you.

For my example I am using the 120 x 120 mm square hoop.
The 120 x 120mm hoop is often referred to as the 4″ x 4″ hoop, but it’s really a little bigger than that. The 120 x 120mm hoop measures 4 9/13″ x 4 9/13″. If you want a true 4″ x 4″ hoop, try the 100 x 100mm hoop.
For this explanation, I traced the inside of the 120 x 120mm hoop to demonstrate the inner area. The hoop size refers to the inside area of the hoop.
Though this is supposed to be a square hoop, the inner area doesn’t look very square, does it?
There are four nibs on each hoop; one on each of the sides and one on the top and bottom. These nibs allow you to center your fabric to place the design just where you want it.
If I draw a line vertically and horizontally from these nibs, they create a center point. Still doesn’t look very square.
Once I draw the allowances for the embroidery foot, you can now see an exact square. This is the actual area you have available for the embroidery design. This area measures 4 9/13″ x 4 9/13″.

The embroidery foot needs room to move around the hoop, thus the allowance of 1/4″ on three sides and the 1.25″ on the top. When you purchase a design or use one from the built in designs on your machine, you will notice the size is never as large as the stated hoop size. This is done to allow you to use the positioning feature on your machine, placing the design exactly where you want it. If you are looking for the most exact measurements, remember to use everything in metric. The conversion to inches leaves a little “fudge factor” just because they are not the same measurement systems. I hope this makes the embroidery hoop a little easier to understand. Happy Sewing!