If you’ve been following along with the Multi-Needle Monday series, I hope you’re beginning to see similarities between the domestic, single-needle and the multi-needle machines. If there’s one area where the difference between the two machines is visible, it’s in hooping. Wrapping my head around how to hoop on a multi-needle machine was my biggest challenge when making the jump to this machine a few years ago.
Single needle machines were designed for sewing two flat pieces of fabric together. The body of a single needle machine has a flat surface where the sewer guides the flat fabric under the needle. Since Elias Howe invented the machine, it’s been the same basic design: needle on the left, controls on the right with a flat horizontal surface under the needle.
Enter in the technology for embroidery. An embroidery unit, or pantograph, is introduced to this design and basically, it snaps onto the left side (or the back on Janome machines) of the machine. No other body design change is made. Several drawbacks of this design are the hoop attaches to the pantograph at one point of connection and the fabric must sit above the hoop because of the flat table underneath the hoop.
Now, let’s look at the multi-needle machine. It doesn’t have a table (although optional tables are available); instead, it has two arms that extend out from the pantograph to receive the hoop. The space under the hoop is open, allowing a finished item to move freely during the embroidery process.
Look how much beefier the commercial hoop is. Commercial hoops do a better job of holding bulky fabrics due to their construction. Domestic hoops can sometimes handle heavy jobs, but not always.
Because the outer ring attaches to the machine, the fabric sits on top of the hoop. The hooping process for a t-shirt on a domestic machine is as follows: Place the outer ring on a flat surface, center the stabilizer and fabric over the outer ring. Insert the inner ring.
On a multi-needle machine, the hoops have been designed for tubular embroidery. The hoop’s inner ring attaches to the machine at two points and slips inside the outer ring. Because the inner ring attaches to the machine from the top of the hoop, the excess fabric falls over the outer ring, under the attachment points. This design allows for true tubular embroidery. The hooping process for a multi-needle machine is as follows: place the outer ring on a flat surface, center the stabilizer and fabric over the outer ring. Insert the inner ring.
Once I was able to wrap my head around the differences of domestic and multi-needle hoops, I had a much better understanding of the overall design of both machines. Sometimes, a step back and some quiet, analytical thinking can really pay off!