Blog 112 12/08/2022 A Literary World: The Embroidery Hoop

Posted in on 11 August, 2022 in News

A Literary World: The Embroidery Hoop

Jean-Baptiste-Vanmour Turkish woman at her-embroidery frame c.1720-c.-1737.1382×1927

An embroidery hoop is a tool that helps to keep your fabric tightly stretched between its frames as an aid to embroidery or any other form of needlework.

Man’s desire for embellishment is an art form that can be traced back to as early as the Iron Age, and like all textile arts, it shows the evolution of civilization, the desire for beauty, and the need to show one’s wealth and standing in the community. Early man embroidered on everything from silks to animal skins using cotton and linen to extravagant threads of gold. Throughout time, the detail and fabrics became more and more complex and many that survived have now become works of art preserved in museums for all to see. The earliest embroidered fabrics would no doubt have been worked by hand, but the more complicated the pattern and stitching, the more taut the fabric needed to be.

Prior to modern-day hoops, the tambour was used. This was made of wood and later used to make lace, but over time, the frames evolved. Many of them were portable, to enable for carrying from one place to another. They were also adjustable for height, allowing the embroiderer to sit comfortably while working. But embroiderers using the tambour needed to move the embroidery hoop to the new section when working on a large section as they worked which could be a tedious process and certainly interrupted their work.


On the left of the eastern wall of the Palazzo Schifanoia (Ferrara, Italy) the Triumph of Minerva has been painted by Francesco Cossa, 1476-1484. On the right side of the fresco a woman is busy with an embroidery frame on simple trestles accompanied by other women doing needlework and weaving.

Claude Joseph Bail 1862-1921 French Academic Classical painter Early Morning Conversation by Claude Joseph Bail 1862-1921

The Needle-working Women by Leonard Campbell Taylor

The adjustable embroidery hoop as we know it today, was invented by Helen A. Harmes, of Washington, Missouri. This patent application was granted on November 17, 1903 as U.S. Patent No. 744,070. This small and practical frame led to a renewed interest in embroidery. She had been living in Washington, at the time, and the idea came to her as she embroidered. Prior to the adjustable hoop, earlier hoops were often made of metal, bone, or ivory while the hoops of today are made from plastic and wood.

1792 Gilbert Stuart (American artist, 1755-1828) Catherine Lane Barker

Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (Rose Paxton) by William McGregor Paxton (circa 1902) Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Ugo de Cesare, Italian painter, was born in a small village near Florence. He studied at the Academy of Naples and Florence.

Francisco Sanchis Cortés


“Girl embroidering” by Jiang Changyi (Chinese, 1943)

Magda Sole Folch (Spanish, 1903 – 1981)


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