Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Embroidery Hoops, Excess Fabric, & Huggers!


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It’s funny how a single needlework topic comes up repeatedly in several different venues all at the same time.

For example, over the past couple weeks, I’ve had no less than six emails asking about how to control excess fabric when you’re embroidering something in a hoop. The topic has come up on Facebook three times in the past week.

When this happens with an embroidery technique (i.e. “I’m having trouble with plaited braid stitch, can you help me?”), I assume that folks are involved in a stitch-along or a class, or that a kit involving the technique has recently hit the market.

But when the topic comes up about something like how to control excess fabric when working with a hoop, I just figure there are a lot of people out there stitching who are being annoyed by excess fabric hanging off their hoops.

So I’m going to show you my solution, which I adopted probably about a year ago now, after perusing the notions wall at a locally owned fabric shop.

Spool Huggers for controlling excess fabric on embroidery hoops

Here’s a 6″ embroidery hoop on a flour sack towel. There’s excess fabric around the hoop, and especially on the right, where my hand mostly accesses the back of the hoop.

If the excess fabric is hanging there, I have to access the back from a different direction or move the fabric out of the way every time I go to grab the needle.

But if I clip that fabric up somehow and get it out of the way, I have easy access to the back of the hoop and the fabric stays cleaner and tidier while I stitch.

I’ve used all kinds of things to hold back excess fabric on larger projects – from clothespins to paper towel tubes and clothespins and rubber bands and quilt roller things and on and on.

Of course, it depends on the project. If you’re talking about a massive amount of excess fabric (say you’re working on a king sized bedspread or a huge table cloth), certain solutions are going to work better than others.

But if you work on average sized projects – table runners, hand towels, pillow cases, and the like – your solution can be relatively small, like the colorful little doohickeys in the photo above.

Spool Huggers for controlling excess fabric on embroidery hoops

These delectable little morsels are almost as enticing as candy, aren’t they?

They are spool huggers – or, on a tongue-twisty day, hool spuggers.

They are exactly what they look like: silicone wrappy things that roll in on themselves. They are made to “hug” spools of thread and hold the thread in place so you don’t have slippery threads straying all over your sewing area.

When I first saw them at my favorite fabric shop, the package caught my eye because they’re so colorful and bright and cheery. My first reaction on reading what they were for, though, was to roll my eyes.

What next? thought I. A gimmick for sure!

But then I realized that there are other types of spools in the world than the ones I use, and there are some that have very slippery thread, and so perhaps they might come in handy for those.

And as I started to walk away, I thought, But wait. I can think of other things to use those for, too…

And I took a package home with me.

In fact, I’m pretty sure it was just the color, the novelty, and my mood to buy something cheery that provoked the purchase.

Spool Huggers for controlling excess fabric on embroidery hoops

I took them home and tried them on spools.

But the truth is, I would never take the time to hug up the few spools of sewing thread I use with these things. And besides, the sewing thread spools I usually use have a little notch at the top of the spool for grabbing the stray end.

And I wouldn’t really use them for hugging up my embroidery thread spools. After all, they have that little click top for holding the stray end.

I might use them on spools where the click top is broken, though – I do have quite a few of those.

The first definite, real use I found for them was for bunching together favorite pencils, pens, and paint brushes for toting. I like them for that!

But then, one day, when I was stitching with a hoop and using a clothespin to hold excess fabric out of the way, I had an a-ha moment.

You see, clothespins – which had always been my go-to solution for excess fabric – can be unwieldy. They can flop about. And if you’re working with a longish thread, the thread will magically be attracted to the clothespin no matter what precautions you might take to keep them from ever meeting.

I’m sure it’s just some sort of misdirected love-chemistry going on, but it can be a huge source of annoyance – even more annoying than excess fabric.

Spool Huggers for controlling excess fabric on embroidery hoops

Enter: the Hool Spuggers! (Hoop sluggers. Sloop uggers. Gool pluggers…)

They work great for holding back excess fabric. Just roll up the fabric and unroll the hugger and let it roll back up around your excess.

They’ve become good friends on my hoop-stitching days!

I am sure I am not the only one who has done this. I know there’s a gal in my Leafy Tree group who is using them on her hoop – it made my heart happy to see them!

And that is your solution for the day, if you’ve ever experienced irritation or annoyance with excess fabric hanging from your hoop. They won’t work on Huge Projects, but they work great on most average sized embroidery projects.

Sure, they’re an “extra” and they probably aren’t super-necessary, but I like ’em! I love not having extra fabric hanging off the access side of my hoop.

Where to Find Them

Once I found such a delightful use for Spool Huggers (and for bunching together my paintbrushes, pens, and pencils), I ended up purchasing a slew of them on Amazon, where they come in bulk packages.

If you want some, too, you can find them listed on my Amazon Recommendations page, under Tools & Accessories.

The link to my Amazon Recommendations page is an affiliate link, which means that any purchases made through that link results in a small commission for Needle ‘n Thread at no extra expense to you.


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(21) Comments

  1. I like your use for them! I can’t tell you how often I’ve managed to stitch the excess outer fabric into my project and then have to reverse stitch. These would solve that dilemma quite nicely!

  2. Mary! You are a delightful genius. I purchased a bag of huggers from Amazon while visiting my daughter and managed to get them home without the grandchildren taking them for rings and such. Thank you!!

  3. Oh my gosh, I have ‘the’ answer. OK, no one ever has ‘the’ answer, but I’m close to AN answer….OK… a good suggestion. Lol. Use Viva paper towels, (I have no affiliation with Viva) . I lay the paper towel flat on top of the fabric, then roll up the Viva and fabric together. Just like you see in Mary Corbet photos she used today. Since I’ve covered where my hot little hand holds the rolled up fabric covered with Viva, it works. Since it the paper towel is what I Touch, all seems good. Fabric stays clean. Since the paper towels can be placed and replaced, all seems to work. At least for me. Good luck and hope this helps.

  4. Dear Mary

    I really like your Hool Spuggers! (Hoop sluggers. Sloop uggers. Gool pluggers…) love the name, ha, ha. They look just the thing to hold back that annoying fabric on hoops, as well as being colourful you can’t lose those. I just love your “I had an a-ha moment”, they are always helpful to us embroiders. Thanks you for sharing your hoop huggers/spaggers/uggers/gool pluggers with us and for the photos and the links above a very useful accessory.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  5. Hmmm, could they be used as a thimble for those of us who push the needle with the side of our finger or too cumbersome?

  6. Hi Mary,

    A clothes pin would drive me nuts. Too long and heavy, especially when it dangles.
    For years I used binder clips. Loosely rolling and gathering / folding fabric around the curve of the hoop as I roll. So we are not talking a neat cylindrical roll, that wouldn’t work for me. The shape I see of my roll sometimes reminds me of the edges of a pie crust. (Btw I notice I roll opposite to your way, it’s more comfortable to hold for me, my hoop stitching is without a stand. Or maybe I’m seeing it wrong. My stitching surface is on the inner surface of the roll.)
    Clip on the roll to hold the fabric together, often far away from where I started to roll, and never attaching on the hoop. For most projects a single clip will do, 2 max, depending on where I am on the piece. If it’s hard to picture I’m happy to send you a picture.
    Once you introduced me to wonder clips I ditched the binder clips. I like the super light weight of the plastic.

    I give those new gadgets a try and see if I like them attached to the hoop even better. If I don’t im sure I’ll find other uses for them 🙂

    Thanks for the suggestion!


  7. They are *great* for the mini king spools of machine embroidery thread that don’t have the click bases. (Yes, probably I should buy a better brand, and am gradually doing so as I use up colors in the original set.)

    Machine embroidery thread is just slightly stiff enough it wants to uncurl off the spool, and I had a mess before I got these. But I learned pretty quickly to peel them off from the ends and not slide it off the top of the cone, because the silicone is just grabby enough it’ll mess up the the top layer of thread.

    There are also versions that fit around machine bobbins, which are a little annoying because they mostly conceal the color, but otherwise are also wonderful.

  8. Oh, thank you. I’ve tried clips and clothes pins too. Now I will try this out for sure on my redwork table runner that probably won’t get made in time for Xmas this year, but the spool huggers might help speed things up the process.

  9. I’d gotten some of these to try for needlework after reading about them on another blog very recently, but have not tried them yet. I’m glad you are pleased with them, not only for needlework, but for holding other things as well.

  10. What a great idea! I’ve used the very large Wonder Clips to keep excess fabric under control. I will certainly try these spool huggers.

  11. OMG!! You are brilliant!! I have also used clothes pins & hated them for all the reasons you stated. I thought about those giant scrunchies (Grime guards?) but my hands are tiny & I always keep them super clean when stitching (my hands not the grime guards) and ordering the right size has made my head spin & I just gave up… ANYWAY… what a fantastic solution!!!

  12. This is the best idea! I’m working on a wedding sampler and the curls work perfectly in making the excess fabric manageable! Great tip!!!!

  13. Thank you Mary!
    You have given a solution to the bright curls!
    I ended up with an enormous amount of these after I had ordered online in a white/translucent option. It was a scam storefront in an online marketplace. Many others fell into this as well because is too difficult to choose a color palette for a project with neon things breaking the field of vision.
    The majority went to a friend that is a Long Arm Quilter. With a couple of quick modifications they worked well keeping her large spools in order with 90% of the color shoved down into the big cones. She refused to take the last little bag, commenting that she was sure there would be something they could be used for around the studios.
    It took a little longer than expected, but you have solved a long-standing problem that has kept me away from round hoops for years! Everything I work on is n some sort of square frame to keep the fabric more easily manageable.
    Now, I suppose some shopping is in order to try out some of the beautiful hardwood hoops with grooves and screws for tightening!

    Kim D

  14. I got my set of sluggers last week, and I’ve been using them on my Fall Festive table runner.

    I LOVE THESE THINGS!!! They are my new favorite tool!

    Thank you for the info and review. I learn so much from your website. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  15. did i read that you mentioned a clamp for system 4 that would add to the one for stretcher bars?
    I am looking for one that would fit the same on the frame but for scroll and Qnaps
    Than you

    1. Hi, Marcelle – They have a clamp frame but it doesn’t work so well with q-snaps, and whether or not it will work with your scroll frame depends on the type of frame. They sell a separate head for q snaps, and a separate scroll frame attachment, assuming you use their scroll frame.

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