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Embroidery machines are commonly described in terms of their hoop sizes, which help users understand the approximate design size limits of each machine.
However, the concept of hoop sizing can be confusing to beginner embroiderers!
Why? First, the actual measurements of the hoop itself differ from its named “hoop size,” which also differs from the actual embroidery area available.
And, to make things even more confusing, hoop sizes are referred to in both millimeters and inches!
Are you overwhelmed? Don’t be! This post will demystify embroidery hoop sizes.
And for those of you who hate converting from inches to millimeters, you can also download a printable machine embroidery hoop size chart to stick next to your machine.
What is a hoop size?
Every embroidery machine is programmed with a maximum size of design that it can stitch at one time. The embroidery industry’s term for this value is the “hoop size” of the machine.
However, this “hoop size” is really just a rounded value of the embroidery field or embroidery stitching area.
This is important because, for instance, if you try to stitch a design measuring exactly 4″x4″ with a 4″x4″ hoop, your machine will not let you. This is because the largest design it can really stitch is 3.93″x3.93″!
Embroidery Hoop Size vs. Embroidery Stitching Area
Now, let’s go through a picture demonstration of how to measure embroidery hoop size and embroidery field to help you better understand the differences between these embroidery terms.
First, above is what Brother calls my 4″x4″ hoop. As you can see, the plastic hoop itself is not 4″x4″ but closer to 5.5″x7″ around the edge.
The machine cannot stitch a design that takes up the entire hoop area, so there’s extra space for the embroidery foot and needle to move around.
Next, adding in the plastic template shows the usable maximum embroidery area for this hoop. This is also called the embroidery field, stitching area, stitching field, and more.
This grid is around 4″x4″, which is why the hoop is referred to as a 4″x4″ embroidery hoop.
However, when you carefully measure its actual dimensions, the grid is only 3.93″x3.93.” This is the maximum embroidery area, which explains why my 4″x4″ hoop can only stitch a design that is 3.93″x3.93″ or smaller!
(Thanks to industry standards, when a design says it’s created for a 4″x4″ hoop, any experienced digitizer will have made the design 3.93″x3.93″ or less so you don’t have to worry about this small discrepancy.)
And, one last thing. The embroidery field is not always smaller than the hoop size. A 5″x7″ hoop, for instance, can accommodate a 5.12″x7.09″ design on my Brother machine!
Thus, measure your hoop’s grid, do a test stitch, or check with your manufacturer for the exact specifications of your machine’s allowed embroidery area.
Using Different Hoop Sizes
While a machine’s maximum “hoop size” corresponds to the largest design size it can stitch in one pass, it’s possible to use different sizes of embroidery hoops on a machine.
It’s always possible to use a compatible smaller hoop as long as the design fits into that hoop’s embroidery field. For instance, on my 5″x7″ embroidery machine, I can use a 4″x4″ or 1″x2.5″ hoop for small designs.
It’s also possible with some machines to use a larger hoop than the max hoop size. However, attaching the larger hoop (sometimes called a continuous or repositional hoop) to your machine does not allow it to embroider a larger design.
Rather, you can split a design into two sections using embroidery software. Stitch the first section, and then remove and reattach the hoop rather than rehooping the fabric before stitching the second section.
As an example, for my 5″x7″ embroidery machine, I have a 5″x12″ continuous hoop (top of the above picture) that I can use when I want to embroider a larger design.
What size hoop do you need for your embroidery machine?
If you haven’t purchased an embroidery machine and are still searching, hoop size is one of the most significant differentiating factors between machines.
Machines with a larger maximum embroidery area allow you to embroider more projects, but they are naturally much more expensive.
It’s thus important to decide what your embroidery goals are. Do you want to embroider large designs, or are you okay splitting large designs or opting for smaller designs?
Standard Embroidery Hoop Sizes in Inches and Millimeters
I made a hoop size conversion table to have next to my machine because I often forget my inches and millimeters conversions. (Download the pdf machine embroidery hoop chart here if you don’t want to save the below image!)
This table features the most common hoops sizes that designs are digitized for.
Brother Embroidery Hoop Sizes
Now, below are the most common Brother embroidery hoop sizes. I’ve also listed popular machines for each size if you’re looking for a new machine.
- 4″x4″: Brother SE600, SE625, SE630, PE535, LB5000M, LB5000S, PE550D, NS1750D
- 5″x7″: Brother PE800, SE1900, NS2750D, NS1150E
- 6″x10″: Brother NQ1600E, NQ1700E, NQ3600D, NQ3700D
- 8″x8″: Brother PRS100
- 8″x12″: Brother VM5200, PR680W, PR670E
- 8″x14″: Brother PR1055X
- 9.5″x14″: Brother XE1, XJ1
- 10 5/8″x16″: Brother Luminaire XP2
Janome Embroidery Hoop Sizes
If you are interested in a Janome embroidery machine, here are their most common sizes.
- 5″x5″: Janome MC230E, Memory Craft 200E
- 6.7″x7.9″: Janome Skyline S9, Janome Memory Craft 9850
- 7.9″x7.9″: Janome Memory Craft 400E
- 7.9″x9.4″: Janome MB-7, Janome MB4-S
- 7.9″x11″: Janome Memory Craft 500E
- 7.9″x14.2″: Janome Memory Craft 550E
- 9.1″x11.8″: Janome Memory Craft 15000, Memory Craft 14000
Baby Lock Embroidery Hoop Sizes
Baby Lock’s common hoop sizes mirror Brother’s specifications and are shown below.
- 4″x4″: Baby Lock Verve
- 5″x7″: Baby Lock Accord
- 6.25″x10.25″: Baby Lock Aventura II, Baby Lock Flare, Baby Lock Flourish II, Baby Lock Vesta
- 8″x8″: Baby Lock Alliance
- 8″x12″: Baby Lock Aerial, Baby Lock Pathfinder
- 9.5″x14″: Baby Lock Altair, Baby Lock Meridian
- 10 5/8″ x 16″: Baby Lock Solaris II
Now that you understand the difference between the term hoop size, the actual embroidery field, and the physical size of the embroidery hoop, I hope you have a better grasp of what you can use your embroidery machine for!
Please let me know if any definitions are unclear, and I can help more!