In the Hoop Machine Embroidery – Part 1

This is a two-part series about In the Hoop Machine Embroidery. Part 1 introduces Reen Wilcoxson, Embroidery Garden Master. Next week Part 2 will introduce Sisters in Stitches.

Embroidery “In The Hoop” in action with Embroidery Garden. In the Hoop Embroidery Reen Wilxcoxson

Embroidery “In The Hoop” in action with Embroidery Garden.

You might think “In The Hoop” is basketball slang . . . or a reference to Scarlett O’Hara’s undergarments. But, if you love machine embroidery — you know “In The Hoop” is a sewing revolution.

According to Eileen Roche, Editor of Designs in Machine Embroidery, “In The Hoop” (ITH) is basically a technique that allows you to construct AND embroider a project, using your embroidery machine and software.

Eileen has created many ITH projects, such as a camera case, clutch, cellphone wristlet, etc. that are featured in books she’s written. Designs in Machine Embroidery has developed a software program that turns almost any quilt block into an “in the hoop” block. They also have a special ITH Block of the Month program for their dealers.

Reen Wilcoxson Embroidery Garden Master  In the Hoop Embroidery Reen Wilxcoxson

Reen Wilcoxson
Embroidery Garden Master

One of the most popular ITH teachers in the country, Reen Wilcoxson, started her sewing business by selling at craft shows. Her love of technology and early embrace of the embroidery machine is the basis of her business, Embroidery Garden.

In 1997, Reen saw an embroidery machine for the first time — and knew she had to have one. She wanted to create her own designs and she dove into the software. Her oldest son was going to college for computer science, so he built a simple website. In 2001, Reen started selling her embroidery designs online. She also started to develop simple ITH designs for lollipop holders, gift tags, etc.

Needle Holder, an Embroidery Garden Design. In the Hoop Embroidery Reen Wilxcoxson

Needle Holder, an Embroidery Garden Design.

“‘In The Hoop’ is just like sewing, but you have the constraint of a hoop. There are some things you cannot do but there are workarounds. Early on, I figured out that . . .

  • The embroidery machine stops for a color change.
  • Placement lines and machine stops can be created so a zipper or fabric can be machine stitched in place.
  • Fabrics can be placed on the back side of the hoop.
  • When the project is done stitching and removed from the hoop, you trim, then turn the item to the right side through an opening that was created in the digitizing.”

She figured out how to create fully lined items like purses, wallets, etc. (with no exposed seams inside) completely in the hoop of an embroidery machine. These designs usually require two turns.

“The big advantage to ITH designs is that you produce a consistent product that turns out every time with perfect stitching and placement of your embellishment. Your embroidery machine does all the work for you.”

As her reputation grew, Reen was invited to teach ITH techniques at embroidery conferences and sewing events. Her classes quickly sold out, and she made sure every student completed their projects. She takes pride in the fact that she has the ability to handle any size group, and some of her 2016 classes have been close to150 students.

Embroidery Garden Designs, In the Hoop Machine Embroidery. In the Hoop Embroidery Reen Wilxcoxson

Next Week, Part 2: Sisters in Stitches



  1. Loren Simoneaux says

    I absolutely love Reen’s designs! I’ve attended 1 of her classes last year and looking forward to seeing her and some new sewing friends next month! Great article SCHMETZneedles!

  2. Carrie M Cunningham says

    Love Reen and her designs! They are sew much fun to make! Her classes are a blast! Looking forward to the next one!

  3. Love the article! And I love Reen’s designs and going to her classes. We always have so much fun <3

  4. Valerie Brown says

    Very nice article. I’ve been in both Reen’s and Eileen’s classes. SCHMETZ, you’ve picked the best in the business for your ITH article! Thanks bunches!!

  5. Thanks SCHMETZ!

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