How to Embroider a Hat by Hand & Machine (+ Embroidery Ideas)
Are you interested in learning how to embroider a hat by hand or machine? Well, if so, then you’re in the right place. If you’re unsure where to start, consider referencing this guide as the ultimate list of tips and ideas for embroidering a hat, baseball cap, or beanie.
Embroidery can be a fun craft or hobby to dive into, but it’s essential to start with a solid foundation and then build your skills up. We’ve also included a list of designs to get your creative juices flowing.
We hope you enjoy this embroidery tutorial and find it helpful as you embark on your new embroidery project.
What You Will Need to Create a Hand Embroidery Hat
Here’s a list of all the items you’ll want to have on hand before beginning your journey to create a DIY embroidered hat:
- Blank hat such as a baseball cap
- Embroidery hoop
- Embroidery floss/embroidery thread
- Embroidery needle
- Embroidery design to transfer
Once you’ve gathered these essential materials, it’s time to begin work on step-by-step embroidering.
How to Embroider a Hat by Hand
So, you want to embroider a hat by hand? Well, you’re in luck. After following a few simple steps in this tutorial, and getting a hand workout along the way, you’ll have an all-star hat you embroidered all by yourself in no time:
- Stabilize the hat
- Get a design ready
- Thread the needle
- Use the underside of the hat to tie off the embroidery thread
- Finish off your design
- This method also works if you’re interested in embroidering a beanie by hand.
1. Stabilize the hat.
You’ll want to use a 3- or 4-inch embroidery hoop to keep the hat still as you stitch your design. Separate the hoop into two pieces. Place the smaller, inside hoop on the underside of where you want the design to go on the hat. Then, put the larger hoop over the front of the hat and make sure the fabric is stretched tightly for a smooth surface to embroider. Tighten the screw at the top of the hoop to seal the cap’s fabric in place.
2. Get a design ready.
You can free draw your plan directly onto the hat, use a template to trace over, or put the design on transfer paper. Whichever option you choose, make sure it’s a design you love. It’ll be permanent after all. But you can always try out new hat and embroidery combinations to keep them fresh.
3. Thread the needle.
Pick the first color you want to work into your design, and thread it through your embroidery needle. Maybe even choose all the colors you want to work with if you’re a planner like that. If not, it’s fine to be spontaneous and decide as you go. Follow your heart in embroidery and life.
You can use a needle threader for this part or just eyeball it if you’re feeling lucky. Some people start at the center of the design and work their way outward. Others begin with the piece's most prominent color and finish with the finer detailed colors.
4. Use the underside of the hat to tie off the thread.
When you finish using all of one color at a time, tie up each color thread as you finish on the side of the hat that’s nonvisible while worn. You can leave a long “tail” of the line and cut them all off with scissors at the end of the process.
5. Finish off your design.
Remove the embroidery hoop from the hat. Cut off any excess thread from the underside of the cap, which could be bothersome. And there you have it. Your DIY hand-embroidered hat is complete.
What You Will Need to Machine-Embroider a Hat
If you already have a machine, your list of items required to embroider a hat will be relatively short. You’ll just need your:
- Blank hat
- Tear-away embroidery stabilizer
- Washable marker
Gather these necessary items and get ready to make some embroidery magic happen.
How to Machine-Embroider a Hat
The process of machine embroidering is like that of hand embroidering but with slightly less involvement from your hands. The steps in this tutorial are as follows:
- Place a tear-away stabilizer in the machine hoop
- Remove the tear-away covering
- Use a ruler and marker to indicate the center of the stabilizer
- Calibrate the embroidery machine
- Choose a design
1. Place a tear-away stabilizer in the machine hoop.
Cut out a stabilizer section and place it in the center of a rectangular machine embroidery hoop. Make sure to place the adhesive side facing up inside the hoop. Tighten it into place.
2. Remove the tear-away covering.
The adhesive will keep the hat in place while you’re stitching it. Puncture the tear-away adhesive using scissors and expose enough of the sticky part on which the cap will be steady.
3. Use a ruler and marker to indicate the center of the stabilizer.
Identify the center seam and use pins to hold the hat in place along the stabilizer. Preventing the cap from slipping around will allow for more seamless embroidery stitching throughout your project.
4. Calibrate the embroidery machine.
Refer to your machine’s specific user manual or Google the make and model of the device to find its instructions online. You may also find some informational videos on YouTube that will give you a refresher on using your machine.
Place the pinned hat on the hoop into the machine. Make sure it’s centered so the design will come out exactly where you position it.
5. Choose a design.
Program your design into the embroidery machine and watch your pattern appear before your very eyes. Cut away any stray strands, and voila.
Cool Hat Embroidery Design Ideas
Here are some ideas to give you a head start on your hat embroidery project:
- Funny text or handwriting font: Choosing a phrase that makes you laugh or a motivational quote can act as an inside joke to yourself or a good reminder throughout the day.
- Florals or plants: If nature is your thing, choose a favorite flower or plant to embroider on the front of your hat.
- Line drawings: These can be small designs that are meaningful to you or funny image outlines.
Anything you can draw shouldn’t be too difficult to transfer onto a cap. Use your imagination to its fullest.
For other inspiration and embroidery ideas, check out our hat selection.
Key Takeaways for Stitching the Best Embroidery Designs on Hats
Stitching hats by hand or machine offers a rewarding and relaxing experience, with results you can always wear. You’ll feel the greatest accomplishment if you have fun while completing your craft, whether by choosing a bold design or using a favorite color thread.
How long does it take to embroider a hat?
From securing and stabilizing your hat to admiring the finished product, embroidering a hat by hand will likely take you a few hours from start to finish. If using a machine, the time it will take you goes down to an hour or two.
Will the above guide work for embroidering structured and unstructured hats?
Yes, this guide will work for both. However, an unstructured cap will give you more control over your design as it’s easier to manipulate them on a hoop. Using a structured cap will mean you have to work around the confines of the hat’s predetermined form.
Will the above guide work for embroidery on mesh hats?
You can similarly embroider a mesh fabric hat. You will need to add a layer of topping, usually sold in rolls and made from a water-soluble material, to the cap to ensure the thread remains above the mesh.