Pros and Cons of Cross Stitching in Hand, with a Hoop or Frame!

November 10, 2021

You might be thinking whether it’s best to cross stitch using a hoop or frame, or maybe there’s an even quicker way out there? This week we’re going to talk you through the differences between each method and let you decide what works best for you. While we discuss the pros and cons of each technique and how they work, it’s worthwhile to keep in mind the best option is whichever makes your stitching most enjoyable!


Using an embroidery hoop when cross stitching is one of the most popular methods as they can be inexpensive and easy to source. We offer hoops as part of our smaller and junior cross stitch kits.

They simply work by placing the inner hoop underneath your fabric, placing the outside hoop on top and then tightening the screw - you can use a screw driver if the mechanism is particularly stiff! This will hold the fabric tightly within the hoop, making it easer to keep the tension of your stitches consistent. However, one downside with hoops is that you will definitely need to iron your finished piece afterwards as this will likely leave a crease in the fabric. Not to worry, as we have a super easy tutorial showing how to iron your cross stitch!

 cross stitch embroidery hoop


Hoops are readily available in a range of different sizes and can be found in your local craft store or bigger retailers such as Hobbycraft and Amazon. The size hoop that you use is completely up to personal preference, this will depend on the size project you are working on and also what is most comfortable for you to hold. You can actually cover stitches with the hoop which is helpful if you are completing a full coverage project and as long as you're careful this shouldn't damage the stitches at all.

Hoops are normally made from wood and we would recommend beech wood hoops as these are better quality and have a smooth finish that makes stitching more comfortable. The hoops we offer in the smaller kits or premium junior cross stitch kits are high quality made by Elbesee which are really lovely to use! Or how about using a bright, colourful plastic hoop? These are super flexible, making it easy to pop your fabric in and come in a variety of different colours!

Another option are flexi hoops, these are made in a similar way to plastic hoops but are finished with a woodgrain effect and have metal hoop on the top to make this the perfect hoop to finish your cross stitch piece off in. You can also find specialist hoops which have a spring tension rather than a screw, these also keep the fabric taught but the metal handles can sometimes get in the way.

Typically, embroidery hoops are usually round but they also come in different shapes such as triangle, oval and square. These are available on the DMC website, which work well with a design that isn't round. Feeling fancy? Why not go for a Liberty fabric covered hoop! These are beautifully decorated and would compliment any finished cross stitch piece. You could also go the extra step and buy a wooden hoop back that covers the back of your cross stitch, and would make this a lovely gift too!


A slightly different method is stitching in hand, this is easier in that you don’t require any extra accessories to get started but it can be trickier to get used to. This is because you don’t follow the typical cross stitch method of coming up through the fabric and then back down to create each stitch.

Instead, you complete this in one motion as you’re only stitching from the front of the fabric! Simply start in the bottom left corner as you normally would and then from the front of your fabric, go from the bottom right hole to top right hole with the needle continuously and this will create a row of half stitches. You would then go in the opposite direction using the same method to complete your cross stitches.

 stitching in hand


This is a handy method as you can speed up your stitching time and this can help you finish all those WIPs quicker. However, it can be difficult to keep the stitches neat and consistent as there isn’t much tension when stitching in hand so this is again down to personal preference for what is most enjoyable for you. A top tip would be to keep your thread as flat as possible, regularly letting the needle drop to allow the twists in the thread to unwind. We do have a speedy time lapse video on our YouTube channel showing the stitching in hand method in action!

 grime guard cross stitch frame


Next up is using a plastic clip frame, which works like an embroidery hoop to hold your fabric nice and tight whilst stitching. A popular brand of frames are Q-Snap however here in the UK they can be slightly harder to get hold of, so this method isn’t accessible as using a hoop.

Similarly to hoops, they are available in a variety of sizes too, which can comfortably fit whichever project you are working on. The frame is made up of four plastic tubes which connect in each corner, with a removable clasp on each side. You would start by laying your fabric over the frame, and then simply snap the claps on top of the frame!

If you are working on a slightly bigger project, these frames are great as you can roll any excess fabric up and hold these under the clasps to keep your project nice and tidy. Another advantage is the bigger sizes can be more comfortable to hold compared to a hoop due to the thickness, so you can use a larger frame which will give good coverage and prevent you from having to move the fabric around too much. Here you can see my grime guard covering the frame, it fits perfectly and protects the fabric from everyday grease or grime from hands!

 cross stitch grime guard and frame


Whichever technique works best for you, we hope you learnt something new and found our blog post helpful. Why not try out one of the methods with a beautiful pattern from our free eBook of patterns you receive when signing up to our newsletter!

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