An embroidered hat or baseball cap can make a great gift. Many companies offer customized baseball caps as promotional items, and they’re a fun, stylish way to commemorate a special occasion. The right style of hat can also be an excellent addition to the uniform of a sports team, band, or hobby group.
If you get the stitching right, your customized hat can really complete your look. But if you get it wrong…
In this article we’ll tell you how NOT to embroider a hat, show you the RIGHT way, and reveal our top pick for the best hat embroidery machine.
The Seven Deadly Sins of Hat Embroidery
- Running your machine too fast. This hobby of ours is an art form. It involves delicate, detailed work, and patience. Your unit shouldn’t be running at more than 750spm (stitches per minute) for flatwork embroidery, such as t-shirts, and you should slow it down even further for curved surfaces, such as pre-made hats.
- Hooping gone wrong. A hat should sit straight and center, securely in its hooping frame. Yes, some designs look better slightly off center, but getting this right takes years of patient learning and experience. For now, stick with a strong, centered design for a quality result.
- Lack of tension adjustment. The correct thread tension will produce neat, tight stitches and a seamless end result. Check your thread tension, adjust if necessary.
- Bobbin. The bobbin on your machine is like the seatbelt in your car. You wouldn’t drive off without checking your seatbelt, would you? In the same fashion, don’t start a project without checking your bobbin.
- Not changing needles often enough. Yes, changing needles is a chore, but it’s one that will save you time down the line. As soon as you notice that the timing is off, or a needle is damaged – replace it.
- Placement. When you are embroidering a pre-made baseball cap, you MUST leave at least half an inch clear from the bill of the cap. Catch the cap bill in your needle, and you might just be catching a bill for a whole new machine.
- Not digitizing appropriately. Make sure you digitize your files for the product you intend to embroider. A design digitized for a flat surface such as a t-shirt won’t work on the curved surface of a pre-made baseball cap.
The Cap Hat Hoop Package is worth a look if you are keen to start embroidering hats. Not only does it come with some samplers of colored threads and a free sock hoop, it also includes some very sturdy, good quality sewing scissors – it may well be worth purchasing for these alone! As they are intended as samplers, the threads included are not standard quality, and break quite easily.
The cap hat hoop fits a variety of models, including most of the leading brands, such as Brother, Singer, Janome and Babylock. It is, however, worth checking that yours is definitely compatible before you purchase. You will also need to purchase an adhesive stabilizer separately to use the cap hat hoop with an embroidery machine.
When you are using the cap hat hoop, the hoop on your machine needs to be larger than 5.25” x 4.5”.
Tip Your Hat To YouTube
In her concise yet comprehensive YouTube tutorial, embroiderer Sarah Cone talks you through the stages of embroidering a hat on the Brother PE770 5×7. The hat clamp she uses can be purchased from the Hiddensafes Etsy store.
- The baseball cap you intend to embroider.
- Your 5×7 hoop (if using the Brother PE770).
- A hat clamp that fits your hoop (the clamp shown in the video was purchased from Hiddensafes, on Etsy. They can be made in a range of sizes to fit most standard hoops).
- Self-adhesive stabilizer.
- Remove and set aside the insert from your machine’s hoop.
- Place your self-adhesive stabilizer inside the hoop. Ensure the sticky surface is facing you, but do not peel off the protective covering just yet.
- Fit your hat clamp inside your hoop, on top of the self-adhesive stabilizer.
- Peel off the protective covering from your stabilizer to reveal the self-adhesive surface.
- Loosen the wing nut screws at the base of your hat clamp. This allows you to fit the bill of the hat under the board at the base of your hat clamp.
- Place your hat inside the hat clamp, with the bill secured under the screwed-on base.
- Tighten the wing nut screws as tight as they will go. This ensures the cap is held securely while stitching is in progress.
- Undo the clasp at the back of the cap, and flatten the cap down as far as you can onto the adhesive stabilizer.
At The Machine
- Remember, the product featured in this video is the Brother PE770 (see our review below).
- Load your hoop set up onto your machine.
- Using the touch screen display controls, check the layout of your design, and make any necessary adjustments.
- Still using the touch screen display controls, select the area you want to embroider.
- On your display screen, check where the bottom of your design will be, and ensure you are within the maximum 4”x4” hoop area.
- Make sure the wing nuts on your hat clamp are as tight as possible, and that the cap is pressed firmly to the adhesive stabilizer. This will keep your hat stable during the process without the need for pins.
- Start your embroidery! If you have a pre-set design you are using, select this now, or load a new design.
- Once your embroidery machine has completed your design, remove the hat clamp.
- Unscrew the wing nut screws on your hat clamp.
- Pull the cap away from the adhesive stabilizer.
- Check the reverse of your cap design area. If the cap was securely fixed to the adhesive stabilizer, and the wingnuts on the clamp were sufficiently tight, the reverse stitching should be neat and smooth.
You may sometimes have reverse stitching “catches”, where the needle has got slightly too close to the cap bill. This does not normally impact the quality of the design.
Things To Remember
- You can do large or small scale designs (up to the maximum 4”x4” hoop area.)
- You can use text and images in your designs.
- If you are doing a design that uses the full area (4”x4”), it is advised to adjust it just slightly back from the edges of the hoop area, to ensure a smooth finish.
The Product We Recommend for Hat Embroidery
… is obviously the Brother PE770 5×7. This is an embroidery only machine, and cannot be used for sewing.
The PE770 has a larger than average working area, with a backlit display. This is great for people working on large projects, doing a high volume of work, or who just like the feel of having plenty of space in a machine. The display isn’t the brightest, but it doesn’t present any problems in terms of being able to see your working, even when using darker fabrics.
With 136 built-in designs, six fonts, and USB compatibility, the possibilities with the PE770 are virtually endless. Whether you’ve created your own unique design in a program like MS Paint, or have found an image on the internet that you love, you can easily transfer your own designs between your computer and this machine. There are even USB drives designed to resemble sewing machines, such as the Vintage Sewing Machine USB for PC and Mac from Sew Pro. Cute and unusual, and you’ll never forget which flash drive has your embroidery files on it again!
The PE770 has a built-in memory for easy access to your favorite designs. It also features additional editing options, which are exclusive to this model.
The one downside is that it cannot handle full fabric embroidery, but this is an option that would require a genuinely professional machine.