Machine Embroidery Hoop Sizes

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Day 4 of my month-long series, All About Machine Embroidery, is going to focus on hoop size and why it matters.

Machine Embroidery: If you are thinking about getting a sewing machine that includes Machine Embroidery then you will want to read All About Machine Embroidery. I have 31 posts that cover every possible thing you could want to know.

Where machine embroidery is concerned, it’s all about the hoop size. All of your creative ability and potential is limited by the size of the hoop a particular embroidery machine will handle.

Machine Embroidery: If you are thinking about getting a sewing machine that includes Machine Embroidery then you will want to read All About Machine Embroidery. I have 31 posts that cover every possible thing you could want to know.

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Manufacturers will list their hoops either in inches or millimeters. This chart will give you an idea of how many different hoop sizes there can be from just one manufacturer.

Machine Embroidery: If you are thinking about getting a sewing machine that includes Machine Embroidery then you will want to read All About Machine Embroidery. I have 31 posts that cover every possible thing you could want to know.

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Many hoop sizes are in millimeters, but a few will come in US measurements. The most common hoop measurements are 4″ x 4″ and 5″ x 7″. The key point to remember: Most designs that you purchase will be digitized for either a 4 x 4 hoop or a 5 x 7 hoop.

An example is this fall leaf design which requires a 5 x 7 hoop. If you had a machine that could only handle a 4 x 4 hoop, then you could not use this design.

Machine Embroidery: If you are thinking about getting a sewing machine that includes Machine Embroidery then you will want to read All About Machine Embroidery. I have 31 posts that cover every possible thing you could want to know.

 (Image Source)

The question to ask when shopping for an embroidery machine is this:  What size hoops does this machine use? If you choose a machine that will only take up to a 4 x 4 hoop, then your embroidery field is going to be pretty small – more like 3” x 3”.

Machine Embroidery: If you are thinking about getting a sewing machine that includes Machine Embroidery then you will want to read All About Machine Embroidery. I have 31 posts that cover every possible thing you could want to know.

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A 4 x 4 hoop is very limiting and all that it is good for is stitching out very small designs and three-letter monograms. 

Here’s why. If you were to purchase this set, it would come with the complete alphabet in three sizes. That means that each letter of the alphabet would be 3.5”, 2.5”, or 2”. You could put an initial onto something with a 4 x 4 hoop, but there wouldn’t be enough room to monogram an entire name, even with the 2” letters.

Machine Embroidery: If you are thinking about getting a sewing machine that includes Machine Embroidery then you will want to read All About Machine Embroidery. I have 31 posts that cover every possible thing you could want to know.

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You will see these types machines at both dealers and chain stores. My recommendation is to avoid machines that can only handle a 4 x 4 hoop. It is just too limiting. However, getting a machine that can handle up to a 5 x 7 hoop is ideal. It is the most universal hoop available.

Most designs are created for fitting into this hoop size. That means you will have lots more variety in what you can embroider. There are many different price variations on embroidery machines. The higher the price, the larger the hoops the machine can handle.

Things to remember about hoops when shopping for an embroidery machine: 

  • Look for a machine that will take up to a 5 x 7 hoop. Many manufacturers may come with a 4 x 4 hoop with the option to add the 5 x 7 at another time. This is great for anyone with a small budget. You can get started with machine embroidery and purchase the 5 x 7 hoop when there is a sale.
  • Understand the millimeter/inches conversion for hoop sizes. Many companies such as Bernina and Pfaff will list hoop sizes in millimeters. By doing a little homework ahead of time, you can know these calculations. Also, there are some aps available that can do conversions for you.
  • Almost all stablilizers (I’ll be talking about this soon) are designed around the 5 x 7 hoop. This lowers the cost of machine embroidery.

Tomorrow’s topic will be machine embroidery designs. See ya’ there.  


Want to learn more about Machine Embroidery. 

>>> Click here for a list of all the posts in this series.

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20 Comments

  1. I’m new to embroidery and certainly love your series!! I have a Husqvarna Viking H Class 600E. On this machine, I can edit to resize a design for the larger or smaller hoop. This feature may be true for other machines so would suggest (especially when purchasing) checking to see if this can is feature with the machine.

  2. I know I’m coming late to the party, but I have to correct you on your statement that a 4 x4 hoop only gives you a 3 x 3 field of embroidery. Sorry, but this is incorrect. I have sewn with a Brother He240 embroidery machine since 2009, and yes, it only goes to a maximum 4×4 hoop. However, I can use nearly all of that to stitch in. Most of my 4×4 designs, both purchased and created myself, go up to 3.92 inches square. You pretty much get a nearly four inch by four inch field to go nuts in. Yes, it seems small, but you can do a lot in that space.

    A 5 x 7 hoop is preferable, that way you can use more designs. But if you’re on a budget, a 4×4 embroidery machine is a great place to start. Machine embroidery isn’t for everyone – it’s not as easy as it looks, it takes a lot of failed t-shirts and hard-to-use test stitch-outs to develop a feel for it. Not to mention pricey threads, pounds of different stabilizers, needles by the gross… it all adds up fast. Why blow a $thou on a bigger machine ’til you have some experience with a smaller $300. one , and know it’s something you enjoy and can grow into future challenges and bigger fields ?

    Thanks for a great article series. I look forward to reading the rest !

  3. I have a question. I have a Brother HE1 (I think ) it only has a 4×4 hoop. If I wanted to upgrade to a machine with a 5×7 hoop what are some suggestions and please if u know price or round about price that would b appreciated. Thanks

    1. I always suggest you check with a local dealer for machine specific questions. A good dealer in your area can be invaluable. If you don’t have one close by, look for one in your vicinity ~ it will be worth the drive.

  4. I just bought my very first embroidery machine. I would be totally lost without these articles. I had read many, many blogs stating that the machines that only used 4 X 4 hoop were quickly outgrown. So I purchased an older, used Brother Innovis that can go up to a 6 X 10 I think. This latest post about software has been a great help. Can’t thank you enough.

  5. Whilst a 4×4 hoop limits you, it does not really limit you in a design provided you have digitizing software. With the digitizing software you can split a design and create whatever size design you need. It does of course need multiple hoopings but it may be an option for someone that would like to design their own designs – it would mean just having to buy the software and a lower range machine with smaller hoops which may be all they can afford, having bought the software. It would actually be cheaper than buying a high end machine with the really big hoops, and then having to buy software on top of that.

  6. Hi,

    Thank you so much for the info about machine embroidery. It is very helpful and clear. I find your article easy to comprehend for a novice like me.

    I am grateful.

    1. This will depend on the machine. I recommend contacting a local Brother dealer to see which hoops work with your particular machine.

  7. This may seem like a silly question but I have two hoops for my machine. One is the smaller 4×4 but I also have a large hoop that is 10 x 6. My question is, can I use the 10 x 6 to do designs that are digitized for a 5 x 7 hoop? It makes sense to me but I was wondering if there is some problem with doing that?
    Any help is appreciated!

    1. Absolutely. I use an oversized hoop for most of my embroidery. It wastes more stabilizer but I love working on a larger field.

      1. Thank you Leslie! This has kept me from buying a lot of designs just because no one else could seem to answer the question for me. I appreciate your taking the time to answer!! Stitch On!

  8. I am looking to get started in embroidery, and I’m looking at the Brother Innovis NS1150e and the Brother Innovis 1600e. The difference is the 1600 has a 6×10 hoop size vs a 5×7 hoop. The 1600 can also scale designs. Are both of those features must haves, or is a 5×7 a good starting point? The price difference is $400. What type of projects would require a 6×10 hoop? I mostly want to do stuff for my young children like shirts or baby stuff for friends.

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