According to a Global Industry Analysts report, the hats, caps, and millinery industry is predicted to reach over 7 billion dollars by 2020. Baseball hats supporting sports teams or stitched with interesting graphics are a popular fashion accessory. Just like t-shirts, custom embroidered baseball hats can convey branding messages or raise awareness for social causes. While creating a stylish and effective baseball hat can seem easy enough on paper, there are a few nuances to consider before undertaking the task. After design and construction, embroidery is one of the most important aspects of successful cap design. Correctly placed, functional embroidery is crucial to the legibility that will make or break a hat’s design.
Design and Placement
A baseball cap design can look amazing on paper or the computer screen, but that doesn’t mean that it will translate well to embroidery. Designs must accommodate the nuances and limitations of needled and thread. In general, baseball cap embroidery favors big, bold typography and designs.
- For the best results, the embroidered text needs to be a minimum of ¼” tall for it to read legibly. This ¼” height rule applies to lower-case letters and usually translates to an 11pt. font size.
- This size limitation is because needle and thread must work inside certain specifications to withstand the embroidery process. This rule is especially important for caps due front panel seams. If text is too small, it could get lost in the seam and reduce overall quality.
- Besides lettering, other fine details can run into complications with embroidery. Fine lines are hard to translate into stitches and can cause dotted lines or “run stitches.” Increase line thickness if you find run stitches in the embroidery.
Material choice affects embroidery in the same way material choice affects sculpting. A sculpture made from copper will have a vastly differently look and feel than one made of stone. This is true to the materials available for hat embroidery as well. Different fabric types determine how embroidered images and typography will turn out. Generally, stretchy and loose weave fabrics are harder to embroider but may produce different styles and effects. Here are the nuances of a few fabrics that are commonly used for baseball caps and embroidery:
- Simple Cotton – Cotton fashioned with a plain weave will accept embroidery stitches very well but may need backing and careful attention in the underlay.
- Twill Weave – This material has diagonal ridges in the weave that can pose a challenge when trying to create smooth edges and lend a saw-tooth look to lettering. I use a series of running stitches inside the overall designs can solve this problem.
- Nylon – This synthetic fabric is durable and flexible. It can be ideal for handling high stitch-count designs.
- Corduroy – Using corduroy requires planning to fill in the valleys of the weave and level the wales.
Maintenance and Operation
After designing and material selection are complete, the embroidery machinery must be maintained and utilized properly. Maintenance of your machinery is important as it ensures all your equipment will be working optimally. You should carry out regular maintenance of your equipment and machinery every week. If not, you could waste resources on subpar products. For instance, buildup of dust in an embroidery workplace can be disastrous. The embroidery thread will get weaker with a buildup of dust, and this will make it cut while you use it. After maintenance, there are a couple of operational flaws that could sabotage your production.
- Running the Embroidery Machine Too Fast. For a typical hat design, a machine should run at about 600 stitches per minute with a hat frame and around 750 for a flat. In cases of intricate embroidery designs, you can improve registration by slowing down to about 550 stitches per minute for hat frames and 650 stitches per minute for flats. Slowing down an embroidery machine will save money by avoiding wasted product.
- Improper Hooping. Commercial embroidery, especially hats, will suffer when improperly hooped. Hats have to stay tight and centered in the Durkee hoop. Of course, there will be times that a logo or design needs the embroidery slightly skewed to look good, and you should try to give these specialized products to your most experienced hoopers and embroiderers.
Baseball caps can be a bold, fun way to share a message or show support for an organization. Like any other creative process, you have to consider your design and material choices while also maintaining mechanical and operational processes. If you’re considering a custom embroidered baseball hat, reach out to the experts at Marathon Sportswear. Our team specializes in designs and embroidery for baseball hats and other types of headwear. Call us today and enjoy our high-quality products.