Headwear-Stitching Solutions

Follow these basic tips for better embroidery on caps, knits, beanies, visors and more.

By Talia LeBlanc, Contributing Writer

One of the most popular headwear types for embroidery is the baseball cap, which can be either structured and unstructured (shown). All photos provided by Madeira USA.

April 17, 2021

Embroidering on headwear typically presents challenges that can scare away some embroiderers, even those who have years of experience. Embroidery is a creative, fun and expressive way to personalize items to create a unique piece. While it can be tricky to embroider headwear, it’s possible to get professional-grade results if you have the right embroidery supplies and some helpful tips, which will be presented here.

There are a variety of different headwear options and a lot of different things to consider. You can browse catalogs or websites and find hundreds — if not thousands — of different choices. From these options, you must choose a headwear color, material, style, bill type and more.

This article will cover all different types of headwear, ranging from bucket hats to caps, beanies/knits and more.

Bucket Hats & Beanies
Sizes vary when it comes to bucket hat styles. Most have a fabric band around the bottom of the crown that restricts the available design space because you can’t embroider over the band. Bucket hats typically have air holes and snaps on the side that will get in the way during the embroidery process. Given the restricted space for this type of hat, it’s best to stick to the front or back for design placement.

Beanies often are made of fleece or knitted fabric. Remember to watch closely while embroidering, as small elements could disappear into the soft fabric. It’s also important to find a location that works for the design size.

If you encounter this problem, there are accessories that can help mitigate the problem. For example, E-Zee Aqua Supreme is a water-soluble embroidery topping that prevents intricate parts of a design from sinking into the beanie. This also can advance the design’s crispness and create a smooth surface.

Visors & Caps
Visors are a bit trickier to work with due to limited space for embroidery. The ideal location is in the front center, where they are the tallest. The sides of most visors will only allow a small amount of embroidery — about less than 1 inch tall. Meanwhile, the back of the visor can’t really be embroidered at all.

The crown’s height and the visor’s curve should be considered when sizing the design. Small lettering or detailed designs may not work well on visors due to the small embroidery area.

Some of the most popular headwear types for embroidery are baseball caps, which can be either structured or unstructured. A structured cap has a stiff supportive fabric, called buckram, inside the front two panels, which helps the cap hold its shape if ever folded. Unstructured caps have no buckram in the front two panels.

Embroidery Thread
Choosing the best thread for embroidery on caps is just as important as being particular about the quality and the material from which the headwear is made. There are different materials, colors and thicknesses to fit your preference.

This is where you truly get to be creative; you even can experiment with specialty threads. When embroidering on headwear, consider a matte-finish thread. The vivid colors give designs a high-definition appearance that adds dimension and clarity to the embroidered design. It’s highly colorfast when exposed to the sunlight for long periods of time; therefore, colors won’t fade, making it ideal for embroidered items like headwear that will be worn in direct sunlight.

Backing & Stabilizers
Cap stabilizers provide a smooth embroidery surface, resulting in clean and crisp designs. These stabilizers are available in white, with some options available in black. Using two pieces can be beneficial for hard-to-hoop caps by adding extra stability when embroidering.

Another option is E-Zee Cap Tear Away embroidery stabilizers, which are cut specifically to fit within cap frames and are easy to tear. They are ideal for structured caps that are hooped on round cap frames.

Steaming caps prior to hooping helps soften the center seam, making it easier to hoop flat. Using a sharp-point needle is best for woven caps. Needle breaks can be prevented with the use of a titanium or #80/12 standard-eye needle.

Designs for caps should be digitized to stitch from the center out and from the bottom to the top. This will prevent the fabric from “flagging” or folding over during the embroidery process. Underlay may be necessary to tame the most difficult fabrics. Always digitize designs by section for better alignment. The fabric type and the design’s size will determine the stabilizer weight that’s needed.

Embroidery Positioning
You will have a variety of placement options when embroidering on different headwear pieces. Most multihead embroidery machines can handle the front, sides, back and most places in between. The most common and easiest embroidery locations are the front and center of the cap.

If this isn’t desired, maybe an off-center location is a better choice. Designs can be added to the sides, depending on the type of headwear, to emphasize a brand, organization, team, etc. The back of the headwear is a great place to display a business name or small slogan. Baseball caps are perfect for this embroidery placement. However, visors are not.

With these simple tips and tricks, headwear embroidery doesn’t have to be frustrating or tedious. Instead it’ll be a rewarding experience that you and your customers will enjoy.

Talia LeBlanc is the product marketer for Madeira USA specializing in embroidery thread and bobbins. Skilled in embroidery and communications, Talia manages the marketing of Madeira thread from the company’s headquarters in New Hampshire. For more information or to comment on this article, email Talia at tleblanc@madeirausa.com.

See It In 3-D

Another option to add dimensions to your headwear embroidery is E-Zee 3-D Foam. This material is intended for use with designs that have been digitized for raised embroidery on stable fabrics. It is available in many different colors to match the embroidery thread you decide to use.

Use a piece of E-Zee 3-D Puff Foam that’s large enough to cover the area being stitched. When the machine stops, lay the foam over the area inside the hoop. You can use a spray adhesive to hold it down. Continue stitching the design and once complete, remove the excess foam by tearing it away.