How to Back Your Embroidery Hoops – Sew Basically..

Every once in a while I’m asked how I back my embroidery hoops. In the past I’ve made a tutorial that wasn’t very clear (and maybe even left you with more questions) so here I am again to cover every last detail!

This is honestly so simple and quick. No scary hot glue near your embroidery, no excessive trimming, no precise felt circles, no cardboard that has to fit perfectly inside your hoop… just an extra circle of fabric and some thread and you’re good to go! The way I back hoops is so beginners level that even my sister can do it and she isn’t sewing savvy if you know what I mean. (Jessica, I appreciate you, thanks for occasionally backing my hoops now that you’ve learned how )

Get your hoops ready! Let’s Go!

Here’s what I’m starting out with. I’m finishing up the hoop we’ve been working on from the Sew Basically..  series! I’ve got thread cutting scissors and fabric scissors.

Then there’s this DMC thread ball in color ECRU. This thread is way better for backing hoops than just regular embroidery floss because the thread is just a thick strand. You can find these thread balls where you normally get your embroidery floss! I also have a large easy to handle needle (it’s gotta be big enough to take that thread width!) and my standard backing fabric.

As far as backing fabric goes, I like to use this floral printed cotton canvas. It’s got a good stretch and it holds up really well. I’ve seen people use felt but that’s just not my style. Of course, use whatever you’re comfortable with!

Trim your embroidery fabric. I like to trim mine down so it matches up with the little screw at the top of the hoop. Maybe half an inch or a few centimetres or so out from the hoop?

Side note: BEFORE BACKING YOUR HOOP, MAKE SURE YOUR EMBROIDERY IS 100% CENTERED AND FINISHED. Nothing is worse than backing your hoop and then realizing your embroidery is slightly to the left and you forgot to stitch a spot. 

Flip that hoop over, thread your needle with an arms length of thread, and get to work. I don’t tie any actual knots when I back hoops, I just make a ton of loops. I start by looping (horizontally) a few times between one pinch of fabric until my thread won’t fall out when I pull tightly.

Continue on from there and create a running stitch around all of the fabric you trimmed down. When you get back to the point where you started, pull your thread tight so your fabric cinches in. Take your needle up through the area where you made all of those horizontal loops, and make some vertical loops to lock your thread into place. If you have enough thread left over to continue stitching for part 2 of backing your hoops, DON’T TRIM IT! (I mean you can if you don’t have enough thread to keep going, but it’s just easier to have a lot of thread and keep it all as one piece than to keep starting and stopping.)

At this point I neatly pile all of my thread inside my hoop, and prepare my backing fabric for trimming! You want to trim it to the same point where you trimmed your embroidery fabric. Don’t trim it to the same size as your hoop! You need that 1/2”-1” seam allowance around your hoop!

This is the Very Important Tip for not having any wrinkles on the back of your embroidery! However much fabric you cut extra for ‘seam allowance’ – you have to tuck that much under when you start stitching it down! Otherwise you’ll be tucking under different amounts of fabric each time you rotate you hoop and it’ll end up all uneven.

Create a whip stitch (is that what it’s called?) around your embroidery hoop, tucking bits of your backing fabric as you go. If all goes well and you tuck evenly, you should be left with something like this:

At this point you can just tuck all of the remaining bits under, and since you tucked the same amount under the whole time, it’ll be even with where you started and there won’t be any wrinkles! Wrinkles happen when you either:
A. Tuck too little in at the beginning and have too much leftover fabric at the end and have to shove it under.
B. Tuck too much fabric in at the beginning and then have to really pull and stretch your backing fabric to reach the other side of your hoop and then everything gets all wonky and wrong.


At the end of your backing process, make those little loops again and maybe some knots in those loops if you feel like it. Cut off the the extra string and you’re done!

One beautifully backed hoop!

I’ve been backing hoops like this since I’ve started cross stitching in 2014. I love how they look. You can’t see my messy embroidery stitches, it’ll sit flat on a wall or a shelf, and it just looks really clean.

If you use this tutorial to back some hoops I’d love to see them! Share your work on Instagram and tag me in your photos@StitchingSabbatical, or use the hashtag #tutorialsabbatical !

Happy Stitching!


  1. thanks!! i’ve been looking for this since forever! i’ll try it and use your hashtag 💟

  2. Great post! Lots of great info.

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