“If you think I’m cute, you should see my mom.”
This was the message on a cap I saw the other day—so I bought it!
But I must admit, it wasn’t just the message that got me; it was also the design. And as someone who actively does cap embroidering, I’ve seen some terrible designs. I seem to spot them everywhere, especially since caps are ‘back in fashion’.
Today I help others with their custom hat embroidery. A lot of people love doing this as a hobby, while others have turned their skills into a fully fledged business.
If you’re looking for some advice on how to create custom hat embroidery designs, here are 9 that I stick to every time.
Get the Right Machine for the Job
Embroidering a cap or a hat goes much faster when you have a great sewing machine. If you’re embroidering more than one, a good sewing machine will save you hours!
Invest in a good machine if this is something you want to do on a regular basis.
Don’t Go Too Cheap
When I say invest, I mean spend a little extra. It’s tempting to go as cheap as possible, but you may end up with a machine that slows you down rather than speed things up.
With hat embroidery, accuracy is key So get a sewing machine that delivers precision work every time—and one that will last you for years to come.
Steam Wash Hats & Caps Beforehand
The stiffer your hat material, the more difficult it is to embroider.
Steaming your hat before you begin the embroidery process will smoothen the process and result in fewer errors.
A clean surface will also ensure that your design remains sturdy and fixed. Your hats and their respective designs will last longer if you do a quick steam before commencing.
How to Steam Your Hats
You could take your hats to a drycleaner for steaming. Or you could do it yourself.
If you’re doing hat embroidery long term, it’s best to invest in a steam cleaner to save yourself the time money and hassle that goes with drycleaner visits.
Start One Inch Up
It may not be as obvious at first, but your hat design will start to wear after a few months of regular use.
The bottom section (known as the visor) of most hats is harder than the top. Regularly putting on and removing a cap will wear your embroidered design away—slowly but surely.
Another danger is having the embroidery itself come apart. People’s hands tend to handle the cap visor more than any other part, so having it too low down will make it wear away faster.
The best way to combat this is to set your design slightly higher than the visor part of the hat. One inch should be enough. Your embroidery will last longer.
Keep Your Design Size the Same
One thing I learned about custom hat embroidery is that people want consistency.
If you’re embroidering a bunch of hats, you want them to all look the same, right?
By setting yourself a standard design size—one that will fit most hats—you will ensure that all your hats look the same when you’re done.
But even if the designs are different, remain consistent in resizing them. I stick to a standard of 2 inches for all my designs. If ever I have to remake an old order, I know the client won’t be disappointed.
Always Use Backing
Hats—especially bulk caps—tend to be flimsy, which makes embroidery super difficult.
Your hat can easily become damaged while you’re in the middle of embroidering it.
That’s why I use backing every time. It makes the entire process go a lot quicker and supports the hat even when you’re being a little rough during the process.
Embroidery backings should be purchased in bulk if you’re planning on doing custom hat embroidery in the future.
And yes, I have tried to do it without backing, and it never comes out quite the same. Take my advice; use backing every time.
Use Pins for Support
Your backing can be best attached to your hat with pins. For a two inch high design, about 12 pins should be enough to keep your backing in place.
Use Basting Spray
Basting spray is used as a temporary adhesive while you’re embroidering your hats. It’s also a great way to keep your backing in place while you focus on the hard part.
If you’ve used a sewing machine before, you know that most of them go at full speed when you hit the start button.
This is not what you want for hat embroidery. Instead, hold the button in. This not only slows down the needle, but also strengthens the down motion to penetrate harder, thicker surfaces (like caps).
Customize Your Design
You will receive a design from your clients or your friends, showing exactly how they want their hat/s to look.
But accept the fact that this design will change. You’ll have to edit it slightly to make it conducive to embroidery.
Remember, you are slightly limited to how the final design will look (due to color variations and the nature of embroidery. While some designs have already been designed according to colors & patterns that are embroider-friendly, most will need to be tweaked slightly.
Be Open with Your Buyer
Before you change your buyer’s design, be sure to talk to them about it. Let them know that it may not look the same as the picture they have in mind.
Create a sample for your customer and commence with your order once that sample has been signed off on.
You don’t want to be left with a large order of hats nobody recognizes or wants.