Embroidery Basics for Hooping Caps

Follow this step-by-step guide for hooping this embroidery staple.

By Mike Doe, Contributing Writer

April 10, 2022

Embroidering caps on commercial embroidery machines can cause struggles and stress. Most cap styles are unique in their shape and the way they are made. Here, let’s consider different cap styles and ways to hoop them, as well as different types of cap frames that are available.

Caps can be made out of materials ranging from heavy wool to thin nylon. The material that makes up the front of the hat is called buckram, and it can be soft and flexible, or something that feels like heavy fishing line. Between these different parts, the seam connects the buckram to the rest of the cap.

Hooping some caps can be challenging, so practice is key. The goal is to hold the cap as tightly as possible while keeping the front panel low to the needle plate for the best embroidery.

The following step-by-step guide shows how to hoop a cap using a wide-angle cap frame.


Embroidery hooping designStep 1: Preparing the cap before it is hooped will help the sewing quality and ease the hooping process. Remove any cardboard from the inside and straighten the bill as much as possible. Pull the sweatband to the outside of the cap. It may be sewn into the cap near the back, so it may need to be folded a bit to fit in the frame.




Embroidery hooping designStep 2: Slide the cap frame onto the cap gauge. Swing the metal strap open. Please note that some wide-angle cap frames may have two straps. Place a piece of cap backing over the frame’s gauge and teeth. Ensure the backing is long enough to support the full embroidery area. For most wide-angle cap frames, a length of 16 inches will suffice.



Embroidery hooping designStep 3: Slide the prepared cap onto the cap frame with the visor pointing up and the frame going inside the cap. The bill should be pushed against the bill-stop on the frame and should be relatively centered. The centering mark on the bill-stop can be used for reference. The cap should ride over the two clip posts toward the bottom of each side of the frame.


Embroidery hooping designStep 4: Press down on the bill to ensure it is falling in the bill trough of the cap frame. This will help keep the cap from sliding or coming off the frame during sewing. Pull the side of the sweatband toward the cap frame and down, and smooth any bunching on the sides or sweatband. You may eventually need to fold the sweatband a bit to avoid the latching hook. Watch the backing to ensure it’s still in place.




Embroidery hooping designStep 5: When the left side of the cap is within the strap hinge post, swing the strap up and over the brim. On the side, the strap’s teeth should fall just above the seam attaching the sweatband to the cap.





Embroidery hooping designStep 6: Continue bringing the strap around the front of the cap, where the strap’s teeth must fall into the bill’s seam. Bring the strap down the other side of the cap and ensure the teeth fall just above the stitching attaching the sweatband.







Embroidery hooping designStep 7: Hook the latch on the strap into the hook on the latch post. You may need to fold or adjust the sweatband slightly to accommodate the hook and latch. At this point, you should hook the latch, but not close it.





Embroidery hooping designStep 8: The cap frame strap may need to be tightened if it does not fit the cap snugly or loosened if it’s too tight to fasten appropriately. This only is necessary when hooping a different cap style for the first time using the frame.





Embroidery hooping designStep 9: Smooth the lower part of the cap while snapping the buckle closed. It should be tight.







Embroidery hooping designStep 10: While pressing the cap material around the post, use a clip to secure the material to it. Orient the clip handles toward the back of the cap. Some wide-angle cap frames may have a different way to hold the back of the cap. Please note that clips only are necessary when sewing the sides or if the cap is unstructured.



Embroidery hooping designStep 11: Remove the cap frame from the gauge, as it is ready to be placed on the wide-angle driver on the embroidery machine.







There are several different types of cap frames, all of which offer distinct advantages compared to the wide-angle type. For example, the conventional cap frame holds the front of the cap from multiple locations, thus minimizing cap movement. However, it only allows embroidery on a cap’s front panel.

Mike Doe has been working at Melco since 2002. He has held various positions, from sales to management and engineering. Currently, he is the company’s director of business development. For more information, visit melco.com.

For more embroidery articles, visit https://impressionsmagazine.com/embroidery/.