Stitchqueries: Which Way Does the Hoop Go?

This question comes in from Sharon here on the blog and it’s a really good question!

I have a question about using the Q-snap or a hoop. Do you stitch on the top side of the fabric or the bottom as it lays in the frame? [fabric to hoop U shaped or inverted U shaped]

I started stitching on the bottom (U), because it was easier to anchor the threads on the back side, when that side was “on top.” My mother, however, thinks I’m doing it backwards. Just curious.

(I know that there is a right and a wrong side to some fabric, but what I’m talking about is the way it lays in the hoop. Is the right side of the fabric on top or down inside the hoop?)

People ask me about this all the time, usually when they see me stitching – because I do as Sharon describes when I’m using a hoop and snap it on in a way that most people would consider to be upside down. Here’s a picture to give you an idea…

Cross Stitch in the Hoop

You can see that instead of being “on top” of the hoop, my stitching area is on the bottom of the hoop. This is a bit of a trick I learned a few years ago in a discussion on the old TWBB (Teresa Wentzler Bulletin Board) – and I’ll be honest, until I made this little change I really hated using a hoop and I always opted for my q-snap or some other frame.

Now, please don’t think there is a right or a wrong here. I don’t think there is – and, yes, that’s just my personal opinion. Many will tell you that it is to be used the other way with the design area coming out on top. Why? Says who? Well, I say use your hoop however you are most comfortable using it, so long as it gets the job done.

Cross Stitch in the Hoop

I choose to use a hoop this way for a few reasons. It sits better in the clamp on my lap stand. It’s easier to hold in my hand if I’m stitching while I’m waiting for my son at the dentist’s office. It’s easier to start and finish off “tails” of thread in a row when the underside of the fabric is flat and on the outside, as opposed to up and on the inside when you use the hoop the other way.

When I’m using my Q-Snaps I’ll frequently do the same thing because it is really hard to start and end those “tails” when the fabric is out over the top of the frame, especially with the smaller Q-Snaps!

Happy Stitching ~ no matter how you position your hoop!

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About Loretta

Passionate stitcher. Mom of four amazing young men. Wife to a comic book geek who makes me smile every day. Transcriptionist by trade. Gluten-free by necessity. Writer at heart. Seeker of knowledge and reader of novels. Dreamer of big colorful creative dreams.


  1. I used to use them, so the back is free to finish of the threads. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Wow, it never, ever occurred to me to use my hoop this way, in all the years, my entire life of doing embroidery and cross-stitch, but I certainly am going to try it, maybe I’ll find it easier! thx for the hot tips!

    • Sharon Neely says:

      Me too Valarie, maybe it won’t slip so much, what an awesome idea. I’m a newbie, I’ve only been stitching a little over two years, so any tips I get I will definitely put them in my toolbox.

  3. Pamela via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    I use q-snaps with batting under the snaps. Always have the stitching on the inside with the back out so finishing threads is easier and my work is more protected. I try and have the size adjusted so the fit the whole picture. Don’t like moving them around….

  4. I never thought about it being easier to end threads that way! I’m going to try it with my Qsnaps. I’ve been having a heck of a time securing my threads because the back runs into the frame.

  5. Gail via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    Never considered using the hoop “backwards”. Will give that a try for sure!

  6. Colleen via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    I do freehand as well. It’s been 10+ years since I’ve used a hoop.

    • I do the same thing. I also sometimes use the scroll as well. Depends on the size of the project since I only have 2 scrolls. Itโ€™s been years since I have used a hoop.

  7. Donna via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    – for some time now, I’ve been using my hoop & Q-snaps with the stitching on the inside & the back exposed to finish threads. I do some small projects, so it was “learned” out of necessity, as I couldn’t finish threads inside the smaller hoops.

  8. Brandy via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    Neat idea, but I havent used hoops or qsnaps in year. I do it all freehand now days.

  9. This is called stitching “in the ditch” or “in the well”. I use either q snaps or stitch in hand, and generally use my qs “right-side up”, but with smaller qs, it’s easier to end threads if they are loaded “backwards”….especially for stitches close to the edge.

  10. Sandra via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    I couldn’t stitch without my Q Snaps! I stitch on top, but I think it is a matter of personal preference how you do it.

  11. Joni via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    I tried setting my HAED with the stitching “inside” of the frame…but I was worried the grips would catch on the backside of the stitches. Suggestions on how to prevent that?

  12. Joni via STNA's Facebook Fan Page says:

    Oh, right now I use the extra few inches of fabric around the design to fold over whatever stitching the grips are going over. When I tried that last night the excess fabric all folded over on my stitching…I hope I’m explaining this right. LOL

  13. Thank you so much for this tip. It’s really quite useful. I think ending the thread will be easier this way. Thanks.

  14. Wow have been stitching for almost 40 years and I never have tried that. I mostly used q snaps and what I have done is to loosen it to secure threads, but this sounds easier and a time saver. Definitely going to try it. Thanks for the great tip.

  15. Hazel Anderson says:

    Hi! I don’t think that it really matters which way up the hoop is, just as long as you remove it when you’ve finished stitching for the day so that you don’t get the usual marks on the fabric. Personally, I prefer the Madeira spring-type hoops but have never tried this type before. Best wishes, Hazel, UK

  16. Pam Rhodes says:

    When I use q=snaps I place a piece of felt under the aida or linen and that seems to hold the material fairly tight

  17. Mike Stewart says:

    I found this article interesting for a number of reasons. First, it reminded of something someone told many years ago when it came to stitching. She said, “Everything I show you or that you become comfortable using, will be wrong in somebody’s eyes. The important thing to remember is to do it in way that is comfortable for you. There is no hard and fast right or wrong way to do something.” I use Q snaps instead of hoops because I find they don’t mark the material quite as bad and to run the tails under, you can loosen the tension on the material for ease of finishing. Just my humble opinion. Peace from PA!

    • Loretta says:

      I absolutely agree, as long as it gets the job done and you’re comfortable with it then it’s the right way for you. That’s great advice for anyone doing anything ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I use my q-snaps “upside down” probably about half of the time as well. It depends on if I’m holding them in hand or clamping them into my lap stand.

      • I am a “hoop girl” and love this idea. Finishing threads, especially in tight corners is such a challenge and I can’t wait to give it a try when I get home from work.

  18. I have just started using a hoop in the last couple of months since I’ve been using evenweave but I never thought of doing this. Like Michele I can’t wait to get home from work to give it a try, so thanks for the tip!

  19. What an interesting topic! I use several sized hoops and a q snap frame too… I must be one of the strange ones as I use my hoops the opposite way to you! Always have. I am self taught so know no difference as I have never been shown. After reading why and how you use your hoops.. YEP!! That is a great way to do it! And I can see how it would be easier when putting on a stand too! And explains why I have always struggled to but it on my stand!! Well Thank you for inviting me to this conversation as I have learnt something new and useful to help me!! Wonderful!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. I do it the exact opposite of what the picture shows – I’ve tried it the other way with some qsnaps that I was testing and didn’t like it. I understand why some do it this way it just isn’t comfortable for me

  21. Desiree says:

    I have noticed in embroidery books printed in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s the hoop is often pictured being used in the ‘upside down’ position. For many years I have wondered why the advice is to bind the inside ring of a hoop rather than the outside, I know one reason is to stop the fabric slipping, however, I have a feeling it is also to protect any stitching already done, by binding the inside hoop (in the upside down position) the stitching is pressing on the binding, rather like pressing embroidery on top of a towel so as not to squash the stitches. For that reason I bind the outside ring of my hoops rather than the inside ring, I don’t use the ‘upside down’ position of my hoop to stitch, I am going to give it a try though, because it does seem that it would make it easier to end off threads.

  22. I always stitch with my fabric on top. I have never used a snap hoop of any kind nor a screw type. I always use a type where you squeeze the inner metal ring and pop it in the hoop. If the ring is on the top to put the fabric “in the well,” then my threads catch on the parts of the ring you use to secure the ring into the hoop. It was a nightmare. I thought it would be easier since I could see them and it was a horrible experience for me. Sometimes I think we are most comfortable with the way we learn to do something. I still stitch with the hoop/fabric combo I learned over fifty years ago.

  23. I have been cross stitching for over 30 years. I haven’t used a hoop in years. For large projects I use a scroll bar that one of our local artisans make. It works well for me. For smaller projects I free hand it.

  24. Depending on the Aida cloth I may not use a hoop. If there is plenty of starch or stiffness it works fine with out a hoop. When I use a hoop it would be for a large project to keep it manageable. And yes, I use the hoop with the fabric up high.

  25. Kari-Ellen says:

    i use hoops , i thought bout trying the q snap but havent had the extra money to get one

  26. I’ve been stitching for 50 years and I’ve always turned my hoop ‘upside down’. As noted, it’s easier to tie off loose threads. It also provides a ‘basin’ to catch those pesky dropped needles. It also keeps the design area cleaner because your fingers/hands are holding the wrong side of the fabric….h…

  27. I use both hoops and q-snaps. It really depends on how big my project is. I never thought to use my hoop like this, but I might try it. Right now if I have a lot of fabric left over I bunch it on the side and hold it down with a hair clip or one of those large black paper clips. I have not used q-snap on a big project yet. I am interested in getting one of those standing frames for the big projects, but, of course the one I want is expensive. Gotta save for it.

  28. I also like to use the hoop/q-snap upside down. Besides liking the easier holding, it also catches my needle if I should “lose” it while threading or stitching.

  29. irene mcintosh says:

    I tried stitching with the inner hoop on top of the fabric (the U version) but I worried about the fabric laying over the tightening screw. I didn’t want the fabric or the threads to scrape and be damaged by that. Mostly I use q-snaps for medium sized projects, stitch in hand for smalls and use scroll frames for the big designs.

  30. Very interesting article and I learnt a new way of using a hoop. I have only used a hoop, and always with work fabric on top. Came to know about q snap only after joining other stitching groups. We don’t get qsnap where I live. Never seen one. I am going to try this method too, work in the inside of the hoop and it makes sense too, specially when tying off a thread, it would be so much easier.

  31. Jan Imonti says:

    Wow, such insightful comments. I use my hoop and scroll frames with the stitching inside because I’m more concerned with having to try to clean the edges where I hold my work if the fabric is on top. Using your method (as I do) means that the dirt of stain from my hands is on the inside or backside of my stitching. Started doing this after my first embroidery project when I was probably in my teens and my project was ruined because I didn’t realize that the oils on my hands transferred to the fabric – now 60 years later I don’t have that worry!!

  32. Hi, I only use a hoop when doing embroidery, beading, and counted thread work
    Which includes pulled stitches or cutting and removal of stitches. Like you, I use my
    Hoop backwards, for ease of ending threads, and helping ty o keep work cleaner.
    For any pure cross stitch projects I NEVER use a hoop. I see no difference in my
    Finished stitching, and stitching is quicker as well

  33. Dorothy Schott says:

    I like this idea I am going to try it. One thing I have learned as well is my thread was always getting tangled on the screw part of the hoop. Now I screw about 1 or 2 oโ€™clock on the opposite side of my dominate hand. Now it doesnโ€™t get snagged, works good.

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