Dealing with headwear is a dreadful and challenging thought for most embroidery digitizers and embroiders. The prior statement at least holds true for people with beginner or intermediate experience. As a result, most embroiders and digitizers simply walk away from headwear projects. The reluctance comes in due to the complexity that hats and caps have to offer. Kinky design, peculiar fabric types, and limited space to work with, add to other factors which make custom hat embroidery a daunting avenue.
It is imperative to understand that challenges for every type of head wear vary due to their different build and material. Therefore, we are breaking it down for various hats and headwears. Possible challenges and their solutions for each hat type will be discussed in subsequent sections. So, without any further ado, let us get to the crux of this article.
Bucket hats are intricate due to their space limitations. Most bucket hats will allow full tall height fonts. Others will hinder this liberty due to their unfavorable construction. Many bucket hats have fabric around the bottom of their crown. This reduces the design space and makes it difficult for the digitizer to make necessary adjustments. Moreover, bucket hats generally have air holes and snaps on sides which further complicates the process.
Speaking from the production point of view, brims of bucket hats often get in the way as they can easily get greasy.
If a bucket hat has aforementioned design space issues, there is no escape from it. It is there and has to be dealt as it is. Unfortunately, there is no ‘easy fix’ for this issue. In order to keep things simple and smooth, only utilize front and back sides of the hat for design purposes. It takes skills and experience to deal with the space issue and to embroider around the sides.
The fix for greasy brims is to clean the machine every time it is oiled. Yes, it’s laborious and time-consuming but it’s a ‘necessary evil’ for a great quality.
As compared to bucket hats, custom hat embroidery intensifies with visors due to even lesser design space. It is due to their characteristic design. The back side cannot be embroidered at all and, digitizing and embroidering on sides is precarious. This only leaves the front side to play with.
The solution to these space restrictions is simply recognizing them and planning your designs within given dimensions. The ideal location for visor designs is front center. Keep things simple and don’t complicate them unnecessarily. On the front, most visors will only allow 1.25 inches tall designs with a width of 4-5 inches. If, in case, sides have to be designed, keep the height of designs less than 1 inch. Furthermore, the crown curve should also be taken into the consideration.
To avoid adversaries in the later stages of the production process, take your customer on board. Let them know about the available options and possible issues that can arise afterward. If they insist on particular designs and specifications, try working it out with a different visor.
Unlike visors and bucket hats, snapbacks don’t have the space issue. In custom hat embroidery, snapbacks are probably the easiest to deal with. On the center front, there is sufficient space available for a standard design. The only challenge that arises with snapbacks is during the production process.
Snapback bills can easily get distorted and bent during the production process.
The solution to bill bending problem is only being more careful. Make sure that your trimmers are straightening the bills during the process. For good or bad, there is no other solution for this problem.
Caps (five panels and six panels):
Design space is not an issue with five and six-panel caps. Just when custom hat embroidery seems a little easier, there are other issues to keep you bothered. Since space is not an issue these caps can be embroidered on all four sides. Most five panel caps have a mesh on their sides. This can be a hindrance in producing best results. Moreover, a front foam panel also creates issues as embroidery can easily bury into them.
To solve the mentioned challenges, always use thin fonts and avoid fine detail designs. Six-panel caps have a seam running through the center. A slightly off-center design is therefore readily visible and is aesthetically displeasing. The fix is simple. Design as there is no center seam, and keep the design centered. In five panel caps, there is no center seam and slightly off-center designs are not easily spotted.
Toques or beanies allow embroidery on all sides. The only hindrance is occasional stripes which are relatively easy to deal with. The bigger problem is with the material of toques and beanies. They are made of fleece or knitted fabrics which can easily make design elements disappear in the fabric.
Space is not an issue with toques. Just find a suitable location where the actual design font and height will subtly fit. Coming to the major issue, beanies and toques have to be embroidered very carefully because small elements can easily bury in the fabric. This problem is further magnified if you are dealing with detailed designs like logos. Learn more about logo digitizing here.
Ensure that there is sufficient underlay to avoid this problem. Adequate underlay makes sure that there is a smooth and stable surface for stitches to come in and produce a clean design. Another possible fix is to use solid fill stitch. This will again give you a stable surface, upon which design will not dip into the surface.
Hopefully, this guide develops some insight about how to deal with the issues related to custom hat embroidery.