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Hooping Multi-Needle

Multi-Needle Hoops

If you’ve been following along with the Multi-Needle Monday series, I hope you’re beginning to see similarities between the domestic, single-needle and the multi-needle machines.  If there’s one area where the difference between the two machines is visible, it’s in hooping. Wrapping my head around how to hoop on a multi-needle machine was my biggest challenge when making the jump to this machine a few years ago.

Single needle machines were designed for sewing two flat pieces of fabric together.  The body of a single needle machine has a flat surface where the sewer guides the flat fabric under the needle.  Since Elias Howe invented the machine, it’s been the same basic design: needle on the left, controls on the right with a flat horizontal surface under the needle.

Enter in the technology for embroidery. An embroidery unit, or pantograph, is introduced to this design and basically, it snaps onto the left side (or the back on Janome machines) of the machine.  No other body design change is made.  Several drawbacks of this design are the hoop attaches to the pantograph at one point of connection and the fabric must sit above the hoop because of the flat table underneath the hoop.

Now, let’s look at the multi-needle machine. It doesn’t have a table (although optional tables are available); instead, it has two arms that extend out from the pantograph to receive the hoop. The space under the hoop is open, allowing a finished item to move freely during the embroidery process.  Hoop1

The next visible difference is the construction of the hoops. Look how much ‘taller’ a multi-needle hoop is than a domestic hoop.  Hoop2

The image below shows two 4” x 4” hoops, side by side. Hoop3

Look how much beefier the commercial hoop is.  Commercial hoops do a better job of holding bulky fabrics due to their construction.  Domestic hoops can sometimes handle heavy jobs, but not always.

Let’s look a little closer at the hoops.  On a domestic machine, the outer ring not only accepts the fabric and inner ring, it also attaches to the machine at one location. Hoop3A

Because the outer ring attaches to the machine, the fabric sits on top of the hoop. The hooping process for a t-shirt on a domestic machine is as follows:  Place the outer ring on a flat surface, center the stabilizer and fabric over the outer ring. Insert the inner ring. Hoop4

Pull all excess fabric above the hoop, nesting it above and around the hoop. Attach the hoop to the machine.  Hoop5

On a multi-needle machine, the hoops have been designed for tubular embroidery. The hoop’s inner ring attaches to the machine at two points and slips inside the outer ring. Because the inner ring attaches to the machine from the top of the hoop, the excess fabric falls over the outer ring, under the attachment points.  This design allows for true tubular embroidery. The hooping process for a multi-needle machine is as follows: place the outer ring on a flat surface, center the stabilizer and fabric over the outer ring. Insert the inner ring. Hoop6

Lift the hoop by the attachments and slip it onto the machine, threading the machine’s throat through the t-shirt body.  Hoop7

The bulk of the t-shirt hangs below the attachment points and surrounds the throat. Hoop8

Once I was able to wrap my head around the differences of domestic and multi-needle hoops, I had a much better understanding of the overall design of both machines.  Sometimes, a step back and some quiet, analytical thinking can really pay off!




  • maria elena

    It seems it is a lot easier to hoop for a commercial machine. I wish I had the room for one but am happy to have what I have and thank you for all the info, it all helps!!

  • Cathy

    Thanks – Very helpful. I just purchased a used multi-needle machine, but have not picked it up yet or had the training so this is GREAT – Thank you!

  • mary Hutson

    This is one of my favorite attributes of the multi needle machines…the hooping is awesome! and the quality of the stitch out on the designs are beautiful. They are sturdy and will handle jackets, jean, purses, etc just fine. yeehaw

  • Joe

    I just traded my Ellisimo for an Endurance II. Looking forward to more six needle machine tips. I was used to using my single needle machine and now need to learn my six needle machine. Thanks to Eileen!! Babylock makes great machines.

  • Chris

    Thank You, Thank You, Eileen, for the brilliant demo on hooping with a multi-needle! I LOVE my Enterprise–it gets the most use of my 6 machines in my sewing room. (I am so very blessed to have them all!) I never thought about hooping difficult items (like baby t-shirts) in this manner. I always have my table connected, which is so very helpful, but never thought to take it off and hoop this way. Thank you so much! I’ll give it a try soon!

  • Shirl R

    This series is SO interesting! Hope you show how to set up the multi-needle for embroidering on hats.

  • Carol Coleman

    I love my multi needle machine. I had the six needle and decided to graduate to the 10 needle and enjoying it.

  • Crissy Caldwell

    I have a multi needle Babylock that I purchased used but had been taking very good care and serviced at every suggested point. I love it, especially after using the single needle Singer Futura. I didn’t get a tutorial when I purchased. I never knew that the inner hoop with the bracket went on top of the item being hooped. I’ve been using fast frames and have really enjoyed the ease of use and ability to embroider many different types of items that can’t be hooped the traditional way. Thanks for explaining. This opens up a whole new world for me.

  • claudia hermansen (Create with Claudia)

    Thank you Eileen. I have been using the multineedle machine for a little over 2 years now and just love it! I did eventually purchase a ‘table’ because on BIG items (quilting) it takes some of the weight off of the hoop and needle. I also think it helps to prevent what I call “hoop fatigue or stress”. I am sure there is a better word for that. I am keeping all your blogs in a special folder because there is always room for education!

  • Royce Zook

    Thanks to Eileen again! The reason I purchased a multi-needle was the extra flexibility in hooping. I do have one fear though, it is getting the excess fabric of the item caught in the pantograph. It hasn’t happened so far but the fear remains especially with the speed of the movement of the pantograph. Keep the information on the multi-needle coming as it is very helpful.

  • Christine

    The information is great Eileen and it makes me want a multi-needle machine to add to my 3 other single needle ones!!!!

  • Gail Beam

    It’s always interesting to learn about new machines, even if you don’t own one.

  • thanks it is very helpful blogs

  • embroidered hat

    great I am keeping all blogs in a special folder because there is always useful in my unit!

  • Carolyn morgan

    Great explanation, Eileen. I think this education helps takes the fear & mystery out of multi-needle machines. It opens the door to a new and exciting aspect of machine embroidery. I am so glad I made the decision for multi-needle, it has opened up a whole new world of opportunities.

  • Irma Clements

    I have had my Brother1000pre for a year now .I love it even when I have small problems with it. I wish I had bought it years ago.These machines are much easier to hoop t-shirts etc.

  • Vicki

    After the fabric is hooped in the multi-needle machine’s hoop and the hoop attached to the machine – what can be done to adjust the position of where the machine will put the embroidery?
    Without “rehooping” what can be done? Does the machine let you alter the “origin point” by up/down and left/right motions?
    Does the machine let you alter the “angle of the embroidery field”?

    • Royce Zook

      Positioning the design in the hoop is important for most projects. My 10 needle has the capability to position the start or design center very accurately within the stitch area limits of the hoop / design relationship. I have had a project removed from the hoop, re-hooped and repositioned for stitch-out completion without being able to see the interruption. My machine has a video camera to assist with needle location on the fabric as well as a needle location within the design itself. The controls are up, down, side-to-side and rotational. Very accurate.

  • Joanie

    I am quite grateful for the information you’ve been posting on multi needle machines!
    I have 2 embroidery/sewing machines. I am ready for a multi needle & amazingly, you are writing about them,

    I am in the research stage, not sure what brand. I live in a small town there are no local dealers. I’m worried about servicing, repair & training. I would love to hear what to look for in a multi. I know I want at least a 10 needle

    Your blog makes me wish I already had it! Thank you so very much!