Can in-the-hoop style embroidery projects replace actual sewing? I recently purchased Urban Threads Madame Nightshade’s Beauty Emporium in-the-hoop drawstring bag to test this theory out. First off, this project is remarkably easy – the only ‘work’ you need to do is cut fabric from the template, press, hoop your stabilizer, and press start… the machine does the rest. With something so quick and easy, are there any drawbacks? Sure there are:

First off, if you’re a stickler for making your bags look as pretty on the inside as the outside, this project isn’t for you. Since everything is made in-the-hoop, there isn’t any finishing around the edges. Secondly, this isn’t really a drawstring bag. Only one side draws up and gathers (because of the way it has to be constructed there is not a continual channel for the drawstring to be fed through). It looks nice when gathered, but the back gapes open slightly so it’s not as ‘functional’ as I would have liked. Lastly, I had a bit of an stabilizer issue (photo on right). As you can see, there was so much ‘pull’ on the fabric during the embroidery process that the tear away stabilizer actually started ripping on the die line (the marking where you place your fabric to start bag embroideryconstruction). This didn’t just happen in one spot, but several and began pulling the material way from placement. While the finished bag worked out, there is visible stitching where there shouldn’t be (I’m thinking next time, I should try hooping two layers of stabilizer).

So, my final analysis? No, in-the-hoop projects don’t replace actual sewing, but they sure are fun and easy to do – I didn’t have to measure anything nor did I have to mark placement for the channels or worry about things matching up because the machine did it all for me. It also freed me up to work on other things (i.e. cutting out my next project) while my machine stitches. Despite the drawbacks, I can’t see me not trying this project (or even another in-the-hoop design) again – in fact, I think I’ll make a few more, just for fun!