Everything You Need to Know About Embroidered Hats

May 31, 2016 - By Emily Potter

The Basics of Embroidered Hats

Embroidery is a decoration technique, which uses a needle and thread to create words or images on products. It is not unique to hats, though it is the most common means of decorating headwear. Embroidery can be done by hand or with a machine. Most embroidered hats are created using machines with multiple needles; each needle has it’s own thread color. Without additional needles, the machine has to be stopped and rethreaded each time the color needs to be changed, which slows down the decoration process.

An embroidery hoop is a tool that holds the fabric in place while the garment is decorated. Hoops come in a variety of sizes but not all machines accommodate all hoop sizes.


Digitizing refers to the process of turning a design or logo into a stitch file that can be read and understood by the computerized embroidery machine. A flat graphic or photograph is turned into an image made up of stitches. This image tells the needles how to move to create the embroidered version of the original image. Hoop requirements must be kept in mind when digitizing a file. If the design won’t fit within the hoop, the digitizer has to break down the file into pieces. The decorator then has to stop the machine and re-hoop the fabric between sections.

Embroidered Hats

Stitch Count

Simply put, this is the number of stitches used to recreate the design. The higher the stitch count, the longer it takes for the machine to produce the product. Promotional hats are priced using the stitch count; less dense designs, or those with longer stitches and a lot of white space, will require fewer stitches making the product less expensive. With less dense designs, it is normal to see the fabric beneath peek through the stitches. Highly dense stitches will be shorter, thicker and closer together. Dense designs with higher stitch counts are more expensive. A larger sized design that covers more surface area does not necessarily require a higher stitch count, however, a more dense design does.

Domestic and Overseas

Embroidered hats can be done either domestically or overseas. Facilities overseas have the ability to embroider individual panels of the cap before it is assembled. This expands the decoration placement and size options because the fabric is sewn flat whereas domestic embroidery must be done on a completed round cap. Additionally, overseas factories have the ability to create a wider variety of stitch types.

Embroidered Hats


Domestic embroidery can only accommodate two stitching techniques: Flat stitch and 3D. As mentioned earlier, there are also more stringent requirements on decoration size and location. Here are examples of  options typical of embroidered hats.

Check out this video on 3D embroidered hats!

Embroidered Hats     Embroidered Hats  Embroidered Hats


In addition to flat stitch and 3D, there are a number of additional techniques that can be accomplished overseas. This is by no means every type offered, but it serves as a nice comprehensive list.

  • Applique Embroidery
  • Asynchronous Stitch
  • Bamboo Pattern
  • Broken Stitch
  • Chain Stitch
  • Chenille Embroidery
  • Circle Stitch
  • Cloudy Stitch
  • Cross Pattern
  • Dot Stitch
  • Edging Embroidery
  • Flannel Embroidery
  • Foam Stitch
  • Gradient Embroidery
  • Grain Stitch
  • Hairy Embroidery
  • Herringbone Pattern
  • Intertexture
  • Irregular Stitch
  • Mesh Stitch
  • Net Pattern
  • Pattern Fill Stitch
  • Plaid Stitch
  • Rhinestone Embroidery
  • Saw Tooth Stitch
  • Sequins Embroidery
  • Shaved Flat Stitch
  • Snow Stitch
  • Stone Stitch
  • Threadless Stitch
  • Weaving Pattern
  • Wheat Stitch
  • Yarn Embroidery
  • Zig Zag Stitch

Specialty Shapes

We have covered location and size requirements for domestic embroidery on baseball caps, but what about other hat shapes?

Cold Weather

Embroidered HatsEmbroidered HatsThe location and size of the embroidery vary based on whether a cuff is present. If a cuff is present, it is then dependent on the size of the cuff.

Check out this video on 3D embroidery for beanies! 


Military style caps have the same location requirements as ball caps. Although, they may require a smaller sized decoration depending on the height of the front panel.


Embroidered HatsEmbroidered HatsStraw hats require the same decoration size and placement as baseball caps. However, if you are embroidering on the fabric band of a straw hat the dimensions are then 1″H x 4.5″W.


Visors also have the dimensions 1″H x 4.5″W and can be embroidered only on the front.

Getting high-quality custom embroidered hats has never been easier. With all the technique, style and shape options you’re sure to find something your customer will be proud of. We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of technique possibilities – stay tuned in as we continue our All About Headwear series. Don’t forget to stay updated with us on Instagram using the hashtag #hatswork.

Emily Potter

Emily is the Content Marketer for Outdoor Cap Co. She holds an M.A. in AD & PR from the University of Alabama and a B.B.A in Marketing. Emily is an avid Crimson Tide football fan. She has a golden retriever named Opie Winston, and a cat named Tide.


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