Understanding Machine Embroidery Hoop Sizes & Formats 

Ever wondered why your machine embroidery hoop sizes are different to the actual size they will stitch? Or maybe you’ve discovered that some designs have been digitised for a specific hoop size you don’t have? How do you know which design format you need for your embroidery machine? Relax, because I’m going to explain everything you need to know about the sizes of your hoops and which design format to pick …

Everything You Need to Know About Machine Embroidery Hoop Sizes

When it comes to machine embroidery, the size of your hoops matter. Everything you want to do with your machine depends on the size hoops you have available. The size hoop or hoops your embroidery machine come with depend on the manufacturer, the machine itself and how much you pay for it. A cheaper machine is likely to only have one small hoop, while the top of the range model often has several sizes.

Embroidery machine manufacturers will identify their hoops by sizes, usually in inches. The hoop sizes for each machine will be listed in the manual which comes with it. If you were to physically measure your hoop, you will find it is a different size. Even more confusing, if you measure the area of sewing field within the hoop, it too would be different. This is because the physical hoop size is not the actual sewing field, nor the actual size it is known as. Rather, the size of your embroidery hoop gives only an indication of the size of design it can embroider.

For instance, a 4 x 4 hoop may measure 5.3 x 5 inches around the outside, suit a 4 x 4 inch designs and have a sewing field or stitch limit of only 3.93 x 3.93 inches. As the machine cannot sew very close to the edge of the internal hoop, the maximum area it can embroider upon is smaller than the hoop size itself.


Common Machine Embroidery Hoop Sizes

There are three common sizes of embroidery hoops: 4 x 4, 5 x 7 and 6 x 10 inches. Some machines will take more than one hoop size, others will only offer one. To find out the specific size hoops your machine can take, please refer to your manual or the manufacturer’s website.    

You can view a comprehensive list of Hoop sizes at

 As with most Industries, there are some 'common usage' (jargon) terms used that contradict the rules. 

  • The  4x4 Hoop has a sewing field of 3.94 x 3.94 inches (100 by 100 mm)
  • The 5x7 Hoop has a sewing field of 5,12 x 7.09 inches
  • and the 6x10 Hoop has a sewing field of 6.30 x 10,24 inches
  • But, as with the rest of the Industry, when we refer to a design being for a 4x4 hoop, we have created it to the 3.94 sewing field.

The main hoop sizes I digitise for are:

 4x4 inch

 100 x 100 mm

 5x7 inch

 130 x 180 mm

 6x10 inch

 160 x 260 mm

 8x10 inch

 200 x 260 mm

 8x8 inch

 200 x 200 mm


The question I get asked most about hoop size's is, I don't have a 5x7 hoop - can I still stitch the design?

You can use a bigger hoop to stitch the design, but not a smaller hoop.

Choosing the Right Machine Embroidery Format 

Your embroidery machine has been designed to sew digitised designs with a specific format. This is due to the type of software it has been loaded with. It is important you know which format or formats it can recognise and stich out. Another way of thinking about the design format is as a language. Your machine can only ‘read’ the language it has been taught!

Below is a (simplistic) table of the most commonly used formats and the type of machines they suit:

Your Machine Manual (or Manufacturer Website) will confirm the exact format for your particular Machine Model



Some Brother Machines

Some Husqvarna Machines

Some Janome Machines

Some Pfaff Machines









Baby Lock










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