Embroidering hats can be a satisfying hobby, a creative outlet that lets you pour your heart and soul into every stitch. But it can also be more than that. With the right tools and skills, it can turn into a lucrative business, a way to share your creativity with the world and make a living out of it.

But here’s the thing: embroidering hats is not like embroidering flat fabrics. The curved surface of a hat presents a unique challenge that requires a special kind of machine. A machine that’s designed to handle the shape and structure of hats, to ensure that every stitch lands exactly where it’s supposed to.

machines for embroidering hats and caps

But, don’t worry, your fellow crafter Kazz is here to help! With years of experience under my belt, countless hours spent researching and testing different machines, and a network of friends in the industry, I’ve gathered a wealth of knowledge about hat embroidery machines. And I’m here to share it all with you.

What is a Hat Embroidery Machine?

A hat embroidery machine is a particular type of embroidery machine specifically designed to handle the unique shape and structure of hats. Unlike regular flat surfaces, hats have a curved form that can be challenging to embroider on.

These machines are equipped with specially designed hoops to hold the hats securely, and they often include software settings optimized for hat designs. In simple terms, they’re the tools you need if you want to create high-quality embroidery on various types of hats.

Different types of hats for embroidering

When it comes to the world of hats, it’s as varied and exciting as the fabric aisle at your local craft store. So, let’s explore some popular hat types you might be embroidering on.

  • Baseball Caps: These are your casual, everyday wear staples, and boy, do they love a bit of embroidery! From the classic 5-panel and 6-panel caps to the snapbacks and trucker hats, each provides a great canvas for showcasing your embroidery skills.
  • Beanies: Beanies are all about that cozy comfort. They’re typically made of knitted material and make a perfect playground for some creative embroidery. Monograms, logos, fun quotes – the sky’s the limit!
  • Bucket Hats: These babies have been making quite the style statement recently. With their wide, downward-sloping brim, bucket hats provide a unique space for your embroidery designs.
  • Fedoras: Ah, the sophisticated fedoras! If you’re into a bit of vintage style, embroidering on fedoras can be quite rewarding. Remember, these hats usually have a more rigid structure, so they may require a bit more finesse.

Each hat type brings its own character and challenge to the embroidery table. But, with an embroidery machine made for hats, you can confidently stitch your creativity onto any of them

Most Important Features for Embroidering Hats

When you’re choosing an embroidery machine for hats, there are some features that can make your life so much easier.  Let’s zero in on the real MVP features for hat embroidery:

Embroidery Field

The size of the embroidery field determines the maximum size of your designs. For hats, especially baseball caps, a field that is at least 2.5 x 5.5 inches should give you plenty of room to strut your creativity.

Speed and Speed Control

The faster the machine, the quicker you get your hat done, right? But remember, speed isn’t everything. A machine that can maintain a steady stitch at a good pace is your true friend.

It isn’t just about how fast your machine can race neither; it’s also about how well you can control its pace. Look for a machine with adjustable speed settings. This allows you to slow things down for intricate designs or materials that need a gentle touch, and speed things up when you’re working with simple designs or sturdy fabrics.

Cap Frame or Hoop

This is a non-negotiable. A good cap frame or hoop is designed to handle the unique shape of hats and ensure they stay stable during the embroidery process. Look for adjustable ones to accommodate different hat sizes and styles.

hat embroidery hat hoop

Laser Guide

A laser guide can help you position your design precisely on the hat. It’s especially useful when dealing with complex designs or hard-to-hoop hats.

Multi-Needle Functionality

This feature might be a bit of a splurge, but if you plan to use multiple colors in your designs or produce hats in quantity, it’s a real time-saver. It saves you from changing threads each time you need a new color, which is time-consuming.

Connectivity

Being able to connect your machine to a computer or even a tablet can offer great flexibility in uploading and manipulating designs. It’s your bridge to an endless array of embroidery possibilities.

Automatic Thread Trimming

Imagine if you had a tiny helper who’d snip off excess thread for you after each color change or jump stitch. That’s what automatic thread trimming does – a small but mighty feature that keeps your workspace tidy and your workflow smooth.

Thread Tension Control

Consistent thread tension is critical for beautiful, even embroidery. Look for a machine that allows you to adjust the thread tension easily – it can make all the difference between a project that’s ‘good enough’ and one that’s truly top-notch.

Built-in Designs and Fonts

While not strictly necessary, having a selection of pre-programmed designs and fonts can give you a great head-start, especially if you’re new to the embroidery game.

Price

Last but not least, consider your budget. You want to invest in a machine that offers the best balance of necessary features and affordability.

Best Embroidery Machines for Hats – My Top Picks

Brother PE900

Flatbed machines are not the best choice for embroidering hats, but this one is more than capable for it. The Brother PE900 is an upgraded version of the Brother PE800. It is versatile, reliable, and full of tricks and handy features. It is perfect for hobbyists looking to grow their skills, and small home businesses.

With a maximum embroidery speed of 650 stitches per minute, it’s fast, you’ll be able to finish the projects fairly quickly. But it’s not all about speed – the PE900 also comes packed with over 190 built-in embroidery designs, offering a treasure chest of creativity for your projects. And let’s not forget the automatic needle threader, a handy feature that’s like having a personal assistant to take care of threading for you. Here are some other interesting features:

  • Wireless LAN: This feature lets you send embroidery files from your PC to your machine via the free downloadable software Design Database Transfer. No USB required! It’s like having a magic carpet that transports your designs straight to your machine.
  • Artspira App: This app lets you draw your next project and then transfer it to your PE900 wirelessly. It’s like having a personal design assistant in your pocket. However, some users have found this app to be less useful than they expected, so it might not be the selling point for everyone.
  • Jump Stitch Trimming Feature: This handy feature automatically trims any excess thread jumps within the color, giving you professional-looking results.
  • Color Sort: This feature adjusts the order in which multi-color embroidery designs are stitched, reducing color changes and making it more efficient.
  • Built-in Embroidery Designs: The PE900 comes with over 190 built-in embroidery designs, ranging from decorative designs and patterns to ornate letters and flowers.
embroidering hat on brother PE900

The Brother PE900 is indeed a great embroidery machine for a vast array of projects. Its generous 5″ x 7″ embroidery area is perfect for those larger designs. When it comes to embroidering hats, you can’t do it without a special cap hoop or hoop insert comes in. These special hoops are designed to hold the curved surface of the hat flat during the embroidery process, making it easier to get a clean, professional-looking design.

The Brother PE900 does not come with a cap hoop included, but you can easily purchase a compatible cap hoop separately.

Janome 500E

The Janome Memory Craft 500e is a machine that’s been a favorite in the embroidery community. It has a huge embroidery field, comes with 160 built-in designs, and with its full-color touchscreen and on-screen editing functions, you can easily personalize, embellish, and monogram home décor items, garments, and accessories.

Janome memory craft 500e

This machine also features an advanced needle threader and an automatic thread cutter, making your sewing experience as smooth as a silk thread. And let’s not forget about the top-loading full rotary hook bobbin and the bobbin winder with plate and cutting blade. It’s like having a well-oiled machine that’s ready to perform at its best. Here are some feature you are going to love:

  • Huge Embroidery Size: The Janome Memory Craft 500e boasts a maximum embroidery size of 7.9″ x 11″. It’s like having a grand stage to showcase your creativity.
  • 160 Built-in Designs: This machine offers a treasure trove of inspiration for your projects. It’s like having a library of creativity at your fingertips.
  • Full-Color Touchscreen: The full-color touchscreen allows for easy navigation and on-screen editing of your designs. It’s like having a personal design studio right in your sewing room.
  • Advanced Needle Threader and Automatic Thread Cutter
  • Top Loading Full Rotary Hook Bobbin and Bobbin Winder with Plate and Cutting Blade
  • On-Screen Editing Functions: These include enlarge/reduce, rotate, flip, drag and drop, arc, combine, copy and paste, grouping, corner layout, single color sewing, and zoom. It’s like having a magic wand that lets you customize your designs to your heart’s content.
  • Multiple Hoops Included: The machine comes with four embroidery hoops of different sizes to accommodate a variety of projects. It’s like having the right outfit for every occasion. Not the cap hoop though.

Now, when it comes to embroidering hats, the Memory Craft 500e definitely can do it However, similar to the Brother PE900, you’ll need a cap hoop or hoop insert to hold the curved surface of the hat flat during the embroidery process. These are not included with the machine, but can be easily purchased separately.

All in all, the Janome 500e is a feature-packed machine that’s perfect for those who are serious about embroidery. It is a step up the price ladder compared to the Brother PE900, but it is not nearly as expensive as some of the professional hat embroidery machines, so you will get a return on your investment more quickly.

Baby Lock Alliance

The Baby Lock Alliance isn’t your run-of-the-mill embroidery machine. This is a single-needle, free-arm embroidery machine that’s ready to tackle your most ambitious projects. From hats to pockets, sleeves to those pesky hard-to-reach areas, the Alliance is up for the challenge. With the 8” X 8” embroidery field, 1000 stitches per minute maximum speed, this is a true professional embroidery machine for those that want to start their own business. Here are some of the features that make Baby Lock Alliance a strong choice:

  • TruView™ ASV LCD Color Touch Screen: This feature is like having a personal guide right at your fingertips. It shows you everything from stitch settings to the design layout, making it easier to create your masterpiece.
  • Needle Beam for Embroidery: The Needle Beam highlights the exact needle position so you can see where the needle will drop, making it easier to place your embroidery designs. It’s like having a spotlight for your needle.
  • NeverMiss™ Automatic Needle Threader: This feature is a real time-saver. It’s like having a personal assistant that threads your needles for you.
  • Enhanced Stadium Lighting: This feature illuminates your workspace with equal brightness from edge to edge. It’s like having a well-lit stage for your embroidery projects.
  • Automatic Thread Cutter: This feature trims the thread for you when you’re done embroidering. It’s like having a personal tailor to finish off your projects.
  • Quick-Set, Top-Loading Bobbin: This feature makes it easy to change your bobbin. It’s like having a handy helper to keep your projects moving.
  • 250 Built-In Embroidery Designs and Fonts: With a variety of designs and fonts to choose from, the possibilities are endless. It’s like having a library of creativity at your disposal.

When it comes to embroidering hats, the Baby Lock Alliance shines. Its free-arm design makes it easy to embroider on curved surfaces like hats. However, you’ll need a cap frame to hold the hat in place during embroidery. The cap frame is purchased separately, but it is necessary for embroidering hats.

Brother Entrepreneur W PR680W

Having a machine that can handle multiple threads at once is a dream for anyone who does embroidery. Let me tell you, the Brother PR680W is the answer to those dreams. This six-needle wonder is like having a mini embroidery team all in one machine. It’s a game-changer, especially if you’re working on multi-colored designs or if you’re in the business of producing embroidered hats in quantity.

brother PR680W

One thing I really appreciate about the PR680W is its generous 8″ x 12″ embroidery area. It’s like having a spacious canvas to paint your stitches on. Whether you’re working on a large design or multiple small ones, this machine gives you the space you need.

Now, let’s talk about connectivity. The PR680W comes with a Wireless LAN feature. It’s like having a teleportation device for your designs, sending them from your PC straight to your machine. No more fumbling with USBs!

The automatic needle threading and thread trimming features are also a godsend. It’s like having a little elf doing all the tedious tasks for you, so you can focus on the fun part – the embroidery! The LED pointer is another feature that I find incredibly useful, especially handy when you’re working on complex designs or hard-to-reach areas.

When it comes to embroidering hats, the PR680W does require a cap frame, which isn’t included. It’s a bit of a bummer, but they’re easy enough to find and purchase separately.

All in all, the Brother PR680W is a solid choice for both beginners and experienced embroiderers. It’s a bit of an investment, but in my opinion, it’s worth every penny. It’s a machine that grows with you, meeting your needs as your skills and business expand.

Janome 001MB7

The Janome 001MB7 is a seven-needle machine that’s ready to handle your most ambitious embroidery projects, and it does so with a level of precision and efficiency that’s truly impressive. One of the things I love about the 001MB7 is its full-color touchscreen. It’s like having a personal design studio right in your sewing room. You can easily navigate through your designs and make on-screen edits with just a few taps. It’s user-friendly and intuitive, making the embroidery process a breeze.

Janome 001MB7

This machine is packet with little conveniences that make it such a joy to work with, like the advanced needle threader and automatic thread cutter. These features are like your personal backstage crew, taking care of the threading and cutting so you can focus on the creative process. It also comes with a top-loading full rotary hook bobbin and a bobbin winder with a plate and cutting blade.

The 001MB7 also offers a variety of on-screen editing functions. It’s like having a magic wand that lets you customize your designs to your heart’s content. You can enlarge, reduce, rotate, flip, drag and drop, arc, combine, copy and paste, group, corner layout, single color sew, and zoom. The possibilities are endless!

When it comes to embroidering hats, the 001MB7 is more than capable. However, similar to the Brother PE900, you’ll need a cap hoop or hoop insert to hold the curved surface of the hat flat during the embroidery process. These are not included with the machine, but can be easily purchased separately.

To sum it up, the Janome 001MB7 is a feature-packed machine that’s perfect for those who are serious about embroidery. It sure is expensive, but it offers a level of functionality and precision that’s well worth the investment. It’s a machine that’s designed to grow with you, meeting your needs as your skills and business expand.

Bai Mirror1501

The Bai Mirror1501 embroidery machine is like the secret ingredient in your grandma’s famous pie – not everyone knows about it, but once they do, they can’t get enough. It’s a single head machine with 15 needles, like having a whole team of skilled embroiderers at your disposal, all working in harmony to bring your designs to life. The maximum hat embroidery area is a generous 13” x 19”, giving you plenty of room to work on larger designs.

BAi Automatic Embroidery

One of the standout features of the Mirror1501 is its user-friendly interface. It’s equipped with a 10-inch touchable LCD computer, making it as easy to use as your favorite tablet. You can learn to operate this machine in just 5-10 minutes – it’s that intuitive. The Mirror1501 is also a versatile machine, not just for hats. If you can hoop it, you can embroider it. From caps and garments to bags and shoes, this machine is ready to handle a wide range of materials and projects.

The machine comes with a USB port, allowing you to easily upload your designs. It also supports photo embroidery, although it’s recommended to convert your images to DST or DSB format for the best results.

The machine comes with a variety of accessories, including T-shirt embroidery frames, a cap embroidery device, a flat embroidery device, and a thread winding machine. It’s like getting a complete embroidery kit in one package.

The Bai Mirror1501 is a solid choice for both beginners and more experienced embroiderers. It’s a machine that’s ready to grow with you as you expand your skills and take on more complex projects. So, if you’re looking for a machine that combines versatility, ease of use, and high-quality results, the Bai Mirror1501 might just be the machine for you.

Embroidering Hats on Flatbed Machines

Embroidering hats on a flatbed machine is like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole – it seems impossible, but with a little creativity and the right tools, you can make it happen!

The Right Hat: On a flatbed machine, the best hats to embroider are those that are softer and more flexible. This includes beanies, unstructured baseball caps, bucket hats, and berets. These hats, with the right hoop and some patience, can be embroidered beautifully even on a standard flatbed machine.

The Right Hoop: The key to embroidering hats on a flatbed machine lies in the hoop. Specifically, you’ll need a cap hoop. This specialized hoop helps to flatten out the curved surface of the hat and secure it in place during the embroidery process. It’s like having a best friend who always has your back – it keeps your hat stable and ready for whatever design you want to throw at it.

Flattening the Hat: Take your hat, open the back as much as possible, and then push the peak as far forward as you can. This will help flatten out the front of the hat, making it easier for your machine to work its magic. It’s a bit like stretching before a workout – it prepares your hat for the activity to come.

Take it Slow: Flatbed machines aren’t typically designed for the curves and structure of hats, so you’ll want to reduce the speed of your machine. It’s like taking a leisurely stroll instead of a sprint – slower progress, sure, but it gets you there safely.

Design Selection: Choose designs that aren’t too dense or intricate, as these can cause puckering or other issues. Remember, darling, embroidery is like your wardrobe – sometimes less is more!

Patience, Patience, Patience: Embroidering hats on a flatbed machine requires a little extra time and patience, but with practice, you’ll find a rhythm that works for you. It’s like learning a new stitch – at first, it might seem tricky, but soon it’ll feel as natural as threading a needle!

Here is the best video that I have watched on how to embroider hats on a flatbed machine, Charmaine does an awesome job explaining the whole process step by step:

Why Use Embroidery Machines Specialized for Hats

Flatbed machines aren’t the top choice for embroidering hats simply because they’re not designed to handle the hat’s curvature and structure. It’s like trying to bake a cake in a frying pan – you can do it, but it’s not the most efficient or effective method. With a flatbed machine, you’re often limited in the designs you can do, the process can be more labor-intensive, and the results might not be as crisp or consistent as with a machine specifically designed for hat embroidery. On the other hand, with an embroidery machine for hats, you’ve got a tailor-made solution. These machines are designed to navigate the tricky landscape of hats, resulting in cleaner stitches, better design alignment, and overall improved embroidery quality. You will also be able to do different techniques, such as 3D embroidery. In short, they make your life as an embroidery enthusiast a whole lot easier!

Tools of the Trade: Hoops and Other Essentials

An embroidery machine for hats has a secret weapon: the cap frame and hoop. This magical contraption is shaped to accommodate the curved form of a hat and keeps it stable during the embroidery process. Think of it as a friendly guide, ensuring your design stays right where it should. These hoops come in different sizes and are typically adjustable, allowing you to embroider on a range of hat styles.

Flatbed machines can only embroider hats that can be flattened, while structured hats, require a free arm machine. This handy feature allows you to slip the hat over the arm of the machine, keeping the rest of the hat out of the way while the area being embroidered remains flat and taut. It’s like having an extra pair of hands that hold your project just right while you work.

Also, don’t forget the importance of a good stabilizer! A stabilizer, or embroidery backing, is a material that’s placed under the part of the hat being embroidered to help maintain the fabric’s tension, preventing puckering and keeping the design crisp and clear.

embroidery machines for hats

Adapting to Different Hat Styles

As varied as the types of hats out there, so are the ways you might need to adjust your approach when embroidering on them.

Baseball Caps: The 5-panel cap is a breeze to embroider on, as it has a seamless front panel perfect for your designs. The 6-panel cap, on the other hand, has a seam down the middle that can be a bit challenging. But hey, no worries! Just ensure your design does not heavily intersect with the seam, and you’re golden.

Structured Hats: These hats are known for their firm and sturdy front panels which help them hold a particular shape. Think of baseball caps or trucker hats. Their firmness, which is great for style and durability, can pose a bit of a challenge when it comes to embroidery. The machine needs to pierce through thicker material, which means you might need a stronger needle. And don’t forget about the curvature – a quality hoop that can hold the hat securely is crucial here.

Beanies: Being typically made from stretchy knitted material, beanies can distort easily during embroidery. So, using a cut-away stabilizer to provide additional support is crucial here. Also, remember to adjust your machine’s tension settings to avoid overly tight stitches that can make the fabric pucker.

FAQs

Q: Do you need a special machine to embroider hats?

A: Yes, you do, or at least you need a specialized cap hoop or cap driver that can hold the curved surface of the hat flat. While this technically allows you to embroider a hat on any embroidery machine, it’s much easier and more efficient to use a machine specifically designed for hat embroidery. They are equipped with the cap frame and hoop shaped to accommodate the curved form of a hat and keeps it stable during the embroidery process.

Q: What is the best embroidery size for hats?

A: The optimal embroidery size for hats largely depends on the style of the hat and the design you’re working with. However, a general rule of thumb is to keep the design within 2.25 inches high and 4.25 inches wide for a standard unstructured cap, and 2.5 inches high for a structured cap. This size ensures that the design fits well on the cap and is clearly visible.

Q: Can you embroider a hat on a single needle machine?

A: Indeed, it’s possible to embroider a hat using a single needle machine, though it does come with its own set of challenges. You’ll need to set up your design to pause at each color change, allowing you to manually switch out the thread. If you’re working with designs that feature multiple colors, this process can be quite time-consuming, especially when compared to the ease and speed of a multi-needle machine.