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Honey Bear's Vocabulary for In the Hoop Embroidery Projects

We've been talking a lot lately about group hops.  If you are unfamiliar with a group hop, it's simply a gathering of embroidery digitizers who cross promote one another in their Facebook groups.  You can follow along and join these groups to get freebies, but more importantly, meet new digitizers and test their wares. It's like free sample day at the warehouse store.  Our latest hop is based around Valentine's Day designs.  From January 28-31, 2019 You'll have the chance to get 17 new designs.  You can get more information about that in the Honey Bear Studio Facebook group.    If you're reading this after those dates, you can still join the group and get notified when we start a new one!  We do 2 or 3 a year!!  


You can see Valentine themed designs on our webpage here: Valentine Search


Now, you might be one of our friends who hasn't tried an in the hoop project yet.  Not to worry!  All Honey Bear Studio files include a tutorial with lots of pictures to help you along.  The group is also a good source of helpful people who were just like you and had to start somewhere.  The thing about embroidery machines, and the shops that sell them to you is that they don't really show you all there is to know about embroidery.  In fact, when I bought both of my machines, I had to find out how to do projects.  They basically showed me how to thread my machine and push buttons and change a bobbin, but there was no real "meat" to my lessons.  

If you've come to the point where you'd like to try an in the hoop project, then keep reading!  First let's have a vocabulary lesson: Later, I'll talk about the tools and materials we mention in this post. 

In The Hoop (ITH)- This simply means you are creating a finished product from raw materials right IN YOUR HOOP! As opposed to embroidering or appliqueing ON a finished product or a piece to go in another project, you're making the whole thing.  This could be a bag, a key fob, a bookmark, a banner piece, a free standing lace piece, a Christmas ornament...the options are varied and numerous here! Many of the projects have a back layer of material that is added during stitching to cover all the bobbin/back stitches so you have a clean look. It should be mentioned that most of these projects are made with a non fraying material like marine vinyl or glitter vinyl.  This will be discussed in a separate blog post.  

Snap Tab- This is one you'll see a whole lot of.  This was MY personal entry into ITH projects.  A snap tab is an embroidery design that has a tab on it to connect hardware like a lobster clasp or split ring.  Snap tabs can also be used to hold items like headphone wires or a kitchen towel.  The snap part of the word comes from the little snaps applied.  The most common are plastic KAM snaps with a male and female part to snap together. We'll talk about snaps and tools in a separate post. 

Eyelet Fob or Zipper Pull-This is basically the same as a snap tab, except there is no tab.  Instead, a hole is punched and an eyelet is installed to accept the hardware like a split ring or an ornament hook.  A fob is a key chain size project, and a zipper pull is much smaller, usually less than 1.5 inches.  Many designers offer most of their snap tab designs as eyelet designs in the same purchase.  For instance the Cupcake shown here has both versions.  

Here's our Rainbow Clouds set in eyelet and snap tab version.


Zipper Bag- These seem to be the most intimidating project for beginners.  There is a mystique surrounding sewing zippers in things and that flows over into embroidering them as well.  They are actually quite simple once you are familiar with the steps.  Zipper bags will usually be a small bag (the size of your embroidery hoop) with a zipper opening. They are used for anything you'd use a small bag for. Some are custom designed for very specific items while others are a simple rectangle. Yes, you actually sew the whole bag in your hoop with your embroidery machine!! 

More popular in the hoop projects are

Bookmarks-exactly what you'd think. ITH bookmarks are made with detail stitching on one side and a blank back side that covers all the stitches that would normally show through. Some add ribbons or tassels as embellishment. 

Free Standing Lace (FSL), This is a beautiful and delicate project that is made entirely from thread.  FSL is stitched on a clear or wash away stabilizer that is removed after all the stitching is done.  Free Standing means there is literally nothing but thread, but it remains on its own without any fabric beneath it.  These designs can be very intricate, but your machine can really surprise you with their beauty. 

Banner Pieces- Banner Pieces are hoop sized pieces (4x4 or 5x7 etc) that you make and then string together to make a banner to hang.  The pieces are also cute used in wreaths or other projects, especially around holidays or special occasions. Shown below is a banner made with 4x4, 5x7, 6x10, and 7x12 pieces. 


You can also stitch wonderful items like quilt blocks, kids activities, finger puppets, sleep masks, games, book pages, sleep masks, earrings, hair bows, gift card holders, and so many more.  The main thing to do is grab a project, print out your tutorial and gather materials.  Read your tutorial and READ IT AGAIN.  RTT. Read that tutorial!  Prepare your materials and give it a shot! You can do this.  There are hundreds of people learning how to do these projects every week.  You can be one of them!  Visit us in the group and ask us your questions.  Y'all come see us!








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  • Great information and very detailed.

    Tina Sitz

  • Thank you for explaining all the different types of embroidery designs. Saved this as a reference.

    Janis Lu

  • thank you

    Lois Powell

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