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How to Embroider a Cap

Updated on December 13, 2014

Using a Cap Hoop to Embellish a Baseball Cap

It seems like everyone is wearing baseball caps these days. And lots of people want them personalized with their name, team logo, or some design meaningful to them.

People ask me if the Brother SE400 can embroider baseball caps. Yes it can, but it helps to have a special cap hoop. And the process can be a bit tricky.

So in this lens, I'm going to show you how to embroider a cap using a special hoop with step-by-step instructions and illustrations.

Photo licensed from photos.com. All other photos are by me.

You'll Need a Few Supplies

Besides the machine, you're going to need some accessories and supplies:

  • Baseball Cap: There are several styles available. I bought the white one on sale at JoAnns with a coupon, and the blue one at Amazon.com.
  • Embroidery Design: Either one of the built-in designs or one you download. I like it less than about 2 inches high because if it's too big, it'll be too high on the cap.
  • Cap Hoop: It helps to have a special cap hoop. What's different about this hoop is that it has a clamp that holds the brim of the cap secure while you embroider.
  • Adhesive Stabilizer: There are a lot of different kinds. This one just happens to be Pellon Stick and Tear.
  • Embroidery needles: Needles especially for embroidery machines which are different than sewing machine needles. For hats, size 75/11 sharp, not ballpoint works best for me.
  • Embroidery Thread: Whatever colors you need for the design. Many kinds of thread work with my machine.
  • Bobbin and Thread: Bobbin wound with embroidery bobbin thread for your machine. Make sure you have enough thread. You don't want to run out of bobbin thread in the middle of a design.
  • Marking Pen for marking the position of the design. I use a Dritz Mark-B-Gone Disappearing Ink pen. On dark fabrics, I use ordinary taylor's chalk.
If you can't find the supplies locally, you can buy them from Amazon using the links below.

Next we'll prepare the cap for the embroidery.

Embroidery Accessories and Supplies on Amazon

I order almost all my embroidery accessories and supplies from Amazon including my Brother SE400 because I just can't find them locally or they're more expensive.

Sulky Sticky Self-Adhesive Tear-Away Stabilizer Roll
Sulky Sticky Self-Adhesive Tear-Away Stabilizer Roll

It's less expensive to buy stabilizer in quantity. This is what I use now.

 
40 Spool Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread Set Vibrant Colors - 500M - for Brother Babylock Janome Singer Pfaff Husqvarna Bernina Machines - 4 Sets Available - Threadart Brand
40 Spool Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread Set Vibrant Colors - 500M - for Brother Babylock Janome Singer Pfaff Husqvarna Bernina Machines - 4 Sets Available - Threadart Brand

The first thread I bought. There are 4 different sets with different colors. Good thread for a good price. I had a problem with the thread catching on some rough edges on the spool, but it was easy to smooth out.

 

Mark the Position of the Design - 5 Photos to Help Locate the Design

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Unfasten the velco in the back. You have to get the sweatband out of the way. You don't want to stitch over it. Here I just roll it and pin. Sometimes I use hair or binder clips. If it's really big and stiff, you might have to cut it.I print a template of the design showing the centers. Try to get it as close to the bottom as possible making sure the machine can stitch without interference from the seam and sweatband.Mark the side centers.Connect the marks.Vertical and horizontal lines marking the edges and centers.
Unfasten the velco in the back. You have to get the sweatband out of the way. You don't want to stitch over it. Here I just roll it and pin. Sometimes I use hair or binder clips. If it's really big and stiff, you might have to cut it.
Unfasten the velco in the back. You have to get the sweatband out of the way. You don't want to stitch over it. Here I just roll it and pin. Sometimes I use hair or binder clips. If it's really big and stiff, you might have to cut it.
I print a template of the design showing the centers. Try to get it as close to the bottom as possible making sure the machine can stitch without interference from the seam and sweatband.
I print a template of the design showing the centers. Try to get it as close to the bottom as possible making sure the machine can stitch without interference from the seam and sweatband.
Mark the side centers.
Mark the side centers.
Connect the marks.
Connect the marks.
Vertical and horizontal lines marking the edges and centers.
Vertical and horizontal lines marking the edges and centers.

Attach the Cap to the Hoops - 7 Step-by-Step Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cut a piece of adhesive stabilizer about an inch larger than the cap hoop. Pull the backing off.Adhere the stabilizer to the bottom of the cap hoop. Make sure the stabilizer is taut and firmly attached. Wrap it around the edges of the hoop if necessary.Loosen the visor clamp by turning the thumb screws. Attach the template grid by putting the two holes into the two pegs on the visor clamp. Slide the visor under the template and visor clamp. Use your markings and the template to center the cap. TighRemove the template gird. Press the cap down against the adhesive stabilizer starting in the middle and working out. The cap must be as flat and smooth as possible in the embroidery area. In this photo, I pinned the cap to the stabilizer around and oThis photo is just to show you how the cap hoop works. It's easier to see without the cap in the hoop. The cap hoop clamps inside of the outer hoop of the regular machine hoop. You don't use the inner hoop.Here's the back showing how the two hoops fit together. You can see the clamp at the top on the cap hoop that holds it to the regular outer hoop.Turn the cap hoop and cap over. Clamp the cap hoop with the cap to the outer machine hoop. You'll have to loosen the screw on the outer hoop to get it to fit. Make sure everything is tight and clamped down.
Cut a piece of adhesive stabilizer about an inch larger than the cap hoop. Pull the backing off.
Cut a piece of adhesive stabilizer about an inch larger than the cap hoop. Pull the backing off.
Adhere the stabilizer to the bottom of the cap hoop. Make sure the stabilizer is taut and firmly attached. Wrap it around the edges of the hoop if necessary.
Adhere the stabilizer to the bottom of the cap hoop. Make sure the stabilizer is taut and firmly attached. Wrap it around the edges of the hoop if necessary.
Loosen the visor clamp by turning the thumb screws. Attach the template grid by putting the two holes into the two pegs on the visor clamp. Slide the visor under the template and visor clamp. Use your markings and the template to center the cap. Tigh
Loosen the visor clamp by turning the thumb screws. Attach the template grid by putting the two holes into the two pegs on the visor clamp. Slide the visor under the template and visor clamp. Use your markings and the template to center the cap. Tigh
Remove the template gird. Press the cap down against the adhesive stabilizer starting in the middle and working out. The cap must be as flat and smooth as possible in the embroidery area. In this photo, I pinned the cap to the stabilizer around and o
Remove the template gird. Press the cap down against the adhesive stabilizer starting in the middle and working out. The cap must be as flat and smooth as possible in the embroidery area. In this photo, I pinned the cap to the stabilizer around and o
This photo is just to show you how the cap hoop works. It's easier to see without the cap in the hoop. The cap hoop clamps inside of the outer hoop of the regular machine hoop. You don't use the inner hoop.
This photo is just to show you how the cap hoop works. It's easier to see without the cap in the hoop. The cap hoop clamps inside of the outer hoop of the regular machine hoop. You don't use the inner hoop.
Here's the back showing how the two hoops fit together. You can see the clamp at the top on the cap hoop that holds it to the regular outer hoop.
Here's the back showing how the two hoops fit together. You can see the clamp at the top on the cap hoop that holds it to the regular outer hoop.
Turn the cap hoop and cap over. Clamp the cap hoop with the cap to the outer machine hoop. You'll have to loosen the screw on the outer hoop to get it to fit. Make sure everything is tight and clamped down.
Turn the cap hoop and cap over. Clamp the cap hoop with the cap to the outer machine hoop. You'll have to loosen the screw on the outer hoop to get it to fit. Make sure everything is tight and clamped down.

Set up the Brother SE400 and Stitch

Put in a new needle. Hats are harder on needles than other fabrics, especially the buckram-backed kind. I use a sharp, not a ballpoint, size 75/11. But if you're having trouble, try a ballpoint.

Attach the machine hoop to the Brother SE400's embroidery unit. The visor and clamp go in the back. It can be a bit tricky getting the cap which is all bunched up under the presser foot. I move it around looking for the lowest point and tilt it. Raise the presser foot even more by holding up the lever. You may have to remove the foot to get it under and then put it back on.

Turn the machine on and set it up for embroidery with your design as usual.

Because the visor has to go in the back, the cap is upside down. You'll probably have to invert the design. Press the rotation key on the Layout screen. Then press the 90° key twice.

Use the curser keys to center the needle over your center marking. Stitch the design onto the cap.

The Finished Cap

And here is the finished cap with the embroidered baseball design. I added Jessie’s name under the home run baseball motif with editing software.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it useful. I love to share embroidery ideas and tips.

Now, I'd love to hear from you . . .

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    • profile image

      Mallory 3 months ago

      Did you have to change the hoop on your embroidery program in the computer? I'm using see what pro but I'm not sure if I should change the hoop

    • profile image

      Lindle 4 years ago

      Wow! My cousin wanted a hat that said 'Foot' on it! This'll be perfect!

      -Lindle

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 4 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Embroidery is such a nice touch!

    • profile image

      GameHelp 4 years ago

      Great guide, thanks for posting this!

    • KamalaEmbroidery profile image
      Author

      KamalaEmbroidery 4 years ago

      @acreativethinker: It's a bit of an investment if your sewing machine doesn't embroider and some learning curve. But very rewarding and lots of fun. I hope you get to try it someday.

    • profile image

      acreativethinker 4 years ago

      I've hesitated on embroidering with a sewing machine, but you've made it look much easier. This

      is a very informative and interesting lens. Thanks for sharing. :)

    • KamalaEmbroidery profile image
      Author

      KamalaEmbroidery 4 years ago

      @Cynthia Haltom: I've read about embroidering caps without hoops. I think the cap hoop is easier but I also want to try it without a hoop. Thanks for stopping by.

    • KamalaEmbroidery profile image
      Author

      KamalaEmbroidery 4 years ago

      @TolovajWordsmith: It takes a bit of learning, but then it's not that hard. You do need an embroidery machine though. So probably better to just buy a new cap. ;-)

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      You made it looking so simple! I know I can use new baseball cap. Old one is losing color and shape...

    • profile image

      LUMOSE 4 years ago

      Great lens.

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      I don't have the hat hoop for my brother embroidery machine, but I have embroidered a hat before using the regular hoop. The hat hoop definitely looks like an easier way to go.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I've never seen this process before and you sure did demonstrate it well for those who want to get started embroidering caps, how creative! I would guess that this takes a little practice or getting used to your tools of the trade but its almost done like magic! :)