All You Need to Know about What Is Floating in Embroidery

Ever wondered about the mesmerizing art of embroidery? What is floating in embroidery? is a question that often intrigues beginners. Floating, in the realm of embroidery, is a technique that lends a touch of magic to the process. It involves the artful use of stabilizers to support delicate fabrics and ensure impeccable stitchwork.

This pivotal step guarantees that your intricate designs come out flawless, even on the most intricate of fabrics. So, let’s delve deeper into this essential technique and unravel the secrets of achieving impeccable embroidery.

Salient Points

  • Floating in embroidery involves hooping only the stabilizer, allowing embroiderers to work on small or un-hoopable items.
  • It is particularly useful for delicate fabrics like silk and chiffon, as well as thick materials that are challenging to hoop conventionally.
  • This technique helps prevent damage or distortion to delicate fabrics and ensures smooth embroidery on difficult materials.
  • By attaching the item securely to the stabilizer, embroiderers can achieve precise and professional results without directly hooping the item itself.

Different Types of Embroidery

Type of EmbroideryDescription
Cross StitchA simple and versatile form of embroidery where cross-shaped stitches are used to create intricate designs. It’s commonly used for decorative purposes on fabric items like towels, cushions, and garments.
Crewel EmbroideryOriginating from England, crewel embroidery involves wool threads stitched onto a linen or cotton fabric. It often features flowing motifs and is known for its vibrant colors.
Satin StitchThis technique creates a smooth and shiny surface by covering the fabric with parallel stitches. It’s ideal for creating bold, solid shapes and textural effects.
Chain StitchA basic embroidery stitch where a continuous thread forms a chain-like pattern. It’s used for outlining designs, creating dimension, and adding texture.
French KnotFrench knot embroidery involves twisting the thread around the needle to create a small, textured knot. It’s commonly used for detailing, such as creating flower centers or tiny accents.
CouchingIn couching, a thicker thread is laid onto the fabric surface and secured with small stitches. This technique allows for bold lines and the incorporation of different textures.
BlackworkOriginating in England during the Tudor period, blackwork involves intricate patterns stitched with black thread on a white or neutral fabric. It’s characterized by its geometric designs and repeating motifs.
Crewel WorkSimilar to crewel embroidery, crewel work utilizes wool yarn on a sturdy fabric. It’s often associated with Jacobean motifs and is used for decorative pieces like wall hangings and pillows.

These different types of embroidery offer a wide range of techniques and styles for creating beautiful and unique designs on fabric.

Unraveling the Magic: What Is Floating In Embroidery

What Is Floating in Embroidery?

When embroiderers encounter items too small to hoop or un-hoopable in some way, they employ a technique called floating. This involves hooping only the stabilizer while attaching the item to be embroidered onto the stabilizer itself. By doing so, the item remains in place for embroidery without needing to be directly hooped, enabling the embroiderer to work on small or difficult-to-hoop materials.

Floating is particularly useful for delicate fabrics like silk or chiffon, where hooping directly could cause damage or distortion. It also proves beneficial for items like towels or thick materials that are challenging to hoop conventionally.

For instance, when embroidering a delicate silk scarf, the embroiderer would hoop only the stabilizer and then attach the scarf securely to the stabilizer using clips or temporary adhesive. This ensures the fabric remains smooth and undamaged during the embroidery process.

Overall, floating provides a practical solution for embroiderers faced with items that are too small or difficult to hoop conventionally, allowing them to achieve precise and professional results.

Unraveling the Magic: What Is Floating In Embroidery

How to Do Floating Embroidery?

Here’s how to do floating embroidery:

  • Prepare the hoop: Begin by selecting a hoop appropriate for the size of your stabilizer.
  • Place the stabilizer: Lay the chosen stabilizer flat on a smooth surface.
  • Position the item: Carefully position the item you want to embroider on top of the stabilizer, ensuring it is centered and aligned correctly.
  • Secure the item: Use clips or temporary adhesive to secure the item firmly onto the stabilizer, ensuring it stays in place during embroidery.
  • Attach the hoop: Gently place the hoop over the stabilizer and the attached item, making sure it covers the entire area to be embroidered.
  • Tighten the hoop: Tighten the hoop screw or mechanism to secure the stabilizer and item in place within the hoop, ensuring they are held firmly but not overly stretched.
  • Load the design: Transfer the embroidery design onto your embroidery machine and adjust the settings according to your preferences.
  • Embroider the design: Start the embroidery process, allowing the machine to stitch the design onto the secured item and stabilizer.
  • Monitor the process: Keep an eye on the embroidery machine as it works to ensure that the item remains securely attached and that there are no issues with the stitching.
  • Remove the hoop: Once the embroidery is complete, carefully remove the hoop from the machine and loosen the screw or mechanism to release the stabilizer and item.
  • Finish the embroidery: Trim any excess stabilizer from around the embroidered design and remove any remaining clips or adhesive from the item.
  • Inspect the result: Examine the embroidered item to ensure the design has been stitched correctly and that there are no issues with the final result.

Benefits of Using the Floating Technique

Using the floating technique in embroidery offers several benefits that contribute to the overall quality of the finished product.

Benefits of Floating TechniqueDescription
Improved stitch accuracyAllows for precise placement of each stitch.
Better fabric manipulationProvides flexibility in rotating, flipping, and repositioning the fabric.
Enables intricate designsAllows for the creation of complex patterns and detailed motifs.

Minimizes Fabric Distortion

Significantly, the floating technique in embroidery helps to minimize fabric distortion, ensuring a more precise and visually appealing final product. By using this technique, embroiderers can achieve better stitch quality and maintain the integrity of the fabric.

Here are four reasons why the floating technique is beneficial in minimizing fabric distortion:

  1. Reduces tension: Floating the fabric allows for even tension distribution across the embroidery hoop, preventing excessive pulling and distortion.
  2. Prevents puckering: By not attaching the fabric tightly to the stabilizer, the floating technique helps to minimize the risk of puckering, creating a smoother and flatter surface.
  3. Enables better embroidery access: With the fabric floating above the stabilizer, embroiderers have easier access to the stitching area, allowing for more precise and controlled movements.
  4. Preserves fabric integrity: Floating the fabric minimizes the risk of stretching or distorting the fabric, preserving its original shape and texture.

Enhances Stitch Precision

The floating technique in embroidery offers a notable improvement in stitch precision, allowing for more accurate and intricate designs. By floating the fabric in the embroidery hoop, stitch accuracy is enhanced as the fabric is held taut and securely in place. This technique minimizes the risk of fabric distortion, ensuring that each stitch is placed precisely where it is intended.

In addition to stitch accuracy, the floating technique also allows for better fabric manipulation. The fabric can be easily rotated, flipped, or repositioned within the hoop, giving the embroiderer more control over the design. This flexibility enables the creation of complex patterns and detailed motifs, resulting in visually stunning embroidery pieces.

Increases Design Versatility

By incorporating the floating technique in embroidery, embroiderers can expand their design possibilities and achieve greater versatility in their creations. Here are some ways in which the floating technique increases design versatility and improves embroidery efficiency:

  1. Intricate designs: Floating allows for the creation of more complex and detailed designs, as it provides the flexibility to move the fabric freely and position it for precise stitching.
  2. Layering: With the floating technique, embroiderers can easily layer different fabrics or materials, adding depth and dimension to their designs. This opens up a whole new range of creative possibilities.
  3. Enhanced texture: By floating the fabric, embroiderers can experiment with different stitch techniques and thread densities, resulting in unique textures and visual effects in their embroidery.
  4. Efficiency: Floating reduces the need for constant hooping and rehooping, saving time and effort. It allows embroiderers to work on multiple areas of the design simultaneously, increasing productivity and efficiency.

Incorporating the floating technique in embroidery not only enhances design creativity but also improves overall embroidery efficiency, making it a valuable skill for embroiderers seeking to elevate their craft.

Floating Vs Hooping

DefinitionAttaching the item to be embroidered to the stabilizer only, without directly hooping the item.Placing both the fabric and stabilizer in the embroidery hoop.
FlexibilityOffers flexibility to embroider small items or those that are difficult to hoop conventionally.More suitable for sturdy fabrics or items that can be easily hooped.
Fabric careMinimizes the risk of fabric distortion or damage, particularly for delicate materials.May cause fabric stretching or distortion, especially with delicate fabrics.
StabilityMay require careful monitoring to ensure item stays in placeItem is securely held within the hoop
Ease of useRequires additional securing methods like clips or adhesive but offers versatility.Straightforward method involving simply placing the fabric and stabilizer in the hoop.
UsageCommonly used for small or delicate items where hooping is challenging or risky.Preferred for larger projects or materials that can be hooped without issues.
ResultProduces professional-looking embroidery with minimal risk to the item being embroidered.May require extra attention to ensure the fabric remains properly hooped and tensioned.

How to Choose the Right Stabilizer for Floating Embroidery?

When it comes to floating embroidery, selecting the appropriate stabilizer is crucial for achieving optimal results. Here’s how to choose the right one:

Consider the Fabric Type and Weight

Begin by assessing the fabric you’ll be embroidering on. Different fabrics require different types of stabilizers. For lightweight fabrics such as silk or chiffon, opt for a lightweight stabilizer to prevent distortion. Conversely, heavier fabrics like denim or canvas necessitate a heavier stabilizer to provide adequate support.

Evaluate the Design Complexity

The complexity of your embroidery design also influences your stabilizer choice. Intricate designs with numerous stitches or dense fill areas require a stabilizer that offers strong support to prevent puckering or shifting during embroidery. For simpler designs, a lighter stabilizer may suffice.

Test and Experiment

Before committing to a stabilizer for your floating embroidery project, it’s essential to conduct test runs. Experiment with different stabilizers to see which one yields the best results for your specific fabric and design. This trial-and-error process allows you to fine-tune your technique and achieve optimal embroidery outcomes.

Seek Expert Advice

If you’re uncertain about which stabilizer to choose, don’t hesitate to seek advice from experienced embroiderers or consult online tutorials and forums. These resources can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on their expertise and firsthand experiences.

Thus, choosing the right stabilizer for floating embroidery involves considering factors such as fabric type, design complexity, and conducting tests to ensure optimal results. By following these guidelines and seeking advice when needed, you can confidently select the appropriate stabilizer for your embroidery projects.

Pros and Cons of Floating Embroidery


  • Allows embroidery on small or un-hoopable items.
  • Prevents damage to delicate fabrics.
  • Offers flexibility in positioning and alignment.


  • Requires additional stabilization techniques
  • May result in slight shifting during embroidery.
  • Can be time-consuming to secure items onto stabilizer.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Floating Embroidery

Embarking on floating embroidery can be daunting for beginners, but avoiding common mistakes can ensure smooth and successful stitching. Here are some key pitfalls to steer clear of:

Insufficient StabilizationFailure to adequately stabilize the fabric being embroidered can lead to puckering, distortion, or misalignment during stitching.
Incorrect PlacementPlacing the fabric too far from the hoop or stabilizer can result in shifting or misregistration of the design during embroidery.
Excessive TensionApplying too much tension when attaching the fabric to the stabilizer can cause stretching, distorting the design and compromising the final result.
Poor Hoop AlignmentFailing to align the hoop properly on the embroidery machine can lead to skewed or off-center designs, resulting in unsatisfactory embroidery.
Inadequate TestingNeglecting to conduct test runs on scrap fabric or a similar material can lead to unforeseen issues such as thread breakage or poor stitch quality.
Ignoring Thread TensionDisregarding thread tension adjustments can cause uneven stitching, thread bunching, or looping, detracting from the embroidery’s overall appearance.
Skipping Hoop Size ConsiderationUsing a hoop that is too small for the design or fabric can restrict movement and lead to incomplete stitching or difficulty in maneuvering the hoop.

By avoiding these common mistakes, embroiderers, whether novice or experienced, can enhance the quality and precision of their floating embroidery projects, achieving professional-looking results with ease.

Tips for Doing Floating Embroidery Successfully

  • Choose the Right Stabilizer: Select a stabilizer appropriate for your fabric type and density. This ensures proper support and prevents fabric distortion during embroidery.
  • Secure the Fabric: Use clips or temporary adhesive to attach the fabric securely to the stabilizer. This prevents shifting or wrinkling during embroidery.
  • Use Proper Hooping Technique: Hoop the stabilizer firmly, ensuring it is taut without stretching the fabric. This provides a stable base for embroidery.
  • Mind the Tension: Check the tension settings on your embroidery machine to ensure proper stitching. Adjust as needed for different fabric types.
  • Test Stitch: Before starting your actual embroidery design, do a test stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure proper tension and placement.
  • Monitor Progress: Periodically check the embroidery progress to ensure the fabric remains secure and the design is stitching correctly.
  • Remove Excess Stabilizer: After embroidery is complete, carefully trim away any excess stabilizer from the back of the fabric for a clean finish.
  • Practice Patience: Floating embroidery may require more time and attention to detail than traditional hooping methods. Be patient and take your time to achieve the best results.


In conclusion, understanding What is floating in embroidery is akin to unlocking a hidden treasure trove for any embroidery enthusiast. By employing this technique, you empower yourself to create masterpieces on even the most delicate fabrics with finesse. The judicious use of stabilizers ensures that your stitches remain precise and your designs impeccable.

So, embrace this technique as an indispensable tool in your embroidery arsenal, and watch your creations come to life with a newfound perfection. Elevate your embroidery game by mastering the art of floating!


  1. Mechanisms of sewing machines
  2. Association of individual and work-related risk factors with musculoskeletal symptoms among Iranian sewing machine operators
  3. Reduction of work-related musculoskeletal risk factors following ergonomics education of sewing machine operators
  4. A randomized controlled trial evaluating the effects of new task chairs on shoulder and neck pain among sewing machine operators: the Los Angeles garment study

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Has the Floating Technique Been Used in Embroidery?

The floating technique in embroidery has a long history, with its origins dating back centuries. Over time, this technique has evolved and been refined, becoming an integral part of the embroidery process.

Can the Floating Technique Be Used on All Types of Fabric?

The floating technique in embroidery has its limitations when it comes to different types of fabric. While it can be used on most fabrics, certain delicate or stretchy materials may require alternative stabilizing methods to ensure the best results.

Is It Necessary to Use a Stabilizer When Floating in Embroidery?

When utilizing the floating technique in embroidery, the question arises as to whether a stabilizer is necessary. While some embroiderers may opt to use a stabilizer for added support, it is not always essential depending on the fabric and design being embroidered.

Are There Any Specific Embroidery Designs That Are Better Suited for the Floating Technique?

Certain embroidery designs lend themselves better to the floating technique. Designs with intricate details, delicate fabrics, or multiple layers benefit from the flexibility and support provided by floating. This technique ensures precise stitching and prevents fabric distortion.

Can the Floating Technique Be Used With Both Hand Embroidery and Machine Embroidery?

Yes, the floating technique can be used with both hand embroidery and machine embroidery. It allows for greater flexibility in creating intricate designs by temporarily securing the fabric to a stabilizer for embroidering.

Leave a Comment