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Help with hats

4644 Views 15 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  oc2dHK
Wife and I are new to embroidery. We're still on the steep part of the learning curve it seems, especially when it comes to hats. Our latest order has been particularly rough getting it to look good, wasted a couple hats already and I'm still not happy with the "not terrible" ones.

Our setup:
-500 RPM
-SWF quick change 270 hat drivers
-Yupoong 6 panel trucker 47% cotton/25% polyester/28% nylon
-Organ titanium sharp 80/12
-Madeira Polyneon #40
-Magna-Glide white bobbins set to ~20 tension
-CapStitch A300 tear away backing

I tried with regular satin fills and raised satin. We like the look of the raised satin, but the missed stitches are killing us. The bottom row of letters is particularly problematic especially with the letters at the center seam. Is there a trick to dealing with the center seam? The original logo had "The" in the top center above the mountains but ended up deleting it because I couldn't get it to look decent...small lettering mostly over the seam.

This could turn into a repeat order so I'd appreciate feedback on how to improve this design or machine adjustments to make, and any insight for hats in general. Thanks!
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Who digitized this design? That may be part of the problem-the lettering doesn't look like they have been digitized correctly. Also are you doing a center out stitch? (Meaning going from the center to the left and from the center to the right when you are stitching-this is what is recommended for most hat productions)
Hats can be an Issue. Being new did you digitize the design or did you send it to a good digitizer. Good digitizing is important especially on hats.
I did the digitizing in Wilcom e4. The lettering is set to stitch center out. We are still very much learning, so any feedback is much appreciated.
Typically its the digitizing. Does this have an edge stitch with a zigzag or double zigzag underlay? Density could be set to 75-80% auto spacing or 0.36-0.38. If the edge stitch pops out you can pull it in, in the underlay setting.

If hats are really stiff on the seam I'll steam them to relax the fabric. Small text on center seams is never fun.
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The .emb file is attached (zipped).

I could not match the font in Wilcom so I traced the letters as individual raised satin fills set to 80% spacing. From that, Wilcom generates about 4-5 layers, starting at the center of the letter with a skinny center pseudo-satin, then repeating with progressively wider satins alternating the angles on each to give it the "raised" look. Prior to the final satin, it does an edge run.

I tried at first with non-raised satins around 75% with single zigzag underlay, but I still ended up with missed stitches.

In any case it sounds like digitizing is likely the primary source of my problems so I will spend some more time understanding that aspect. Thanks for the feedback everyone. Any other suggestions welcome.

We don't have a steamer yet, but sounds like it might be a good investment to reduce frustration with hats. Is there a particular style or model that works best?


We have several steamers mainly to rid any hoop burns or impact marks of any show up. We use (Jiffy Classic Personal Clothing Steamer Model: J-2) I read an article about using steam or a hat press to soften stiffs hats and I've had good luck with it.

Our machines are older but I've had good success running yupoong classic hats. I'll post a personal hat I digitized and ran on a structured yupoong without issues.

I can look at your file in the morning and maybe see something.


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Converted to Wilcom e3 format this time.


Hey Ryan!

I have a similar story to yours; m'lady and I are new to embroidery....wanted to get in to hats...was (wisely) advised to mess up some dollar store pillow cases before learning hats. Did that then was ready to make the jump.

I foolishly thought I would just do all our digitizing myself. Got ourselves a copy of PE-Design (not the best, but not the worst, and a used copy was quite affordable) and I dove in.

I quickly learned that this early in the game I would be better off hiring out the digitizing. It is truly an art form and there is no denying the quality of a sew-out that was digitized by someone with experience. I've been able to muddle my way through simple name patches and stuff, that's easy and the programs handle that pretty much 100%. But the logos and stuff, it'll be years before I've got any clue what I'm doing (and I am practicing).

I looked around and found a digitizer here in Canada. She wasn't as cheap as the San Diego guys, nor was she as expensive as the local Calgary bunch, but she was by far the most helpful in the way of advice and support. I recommend finding someone you can develop a good working relationship with.

By all means, continue learning to digitize, but in the beginning just get help with it to get the ball rolling. It'll help things go smoother at this stage.

Case and point; we chose the most ignorant, complex, ridiculous logo to start with. The version for caps has just under 18,000 stitches. See attached.

These are just dime-store structured caps, but using an experienced professional digitizer is the sole reason I only ruined one (1!!!) cap before getting a stitchout to run with barely any thread breaks, let alone needle breaks. I"m even using 75/11 needles (still titanium).

Anyway, that's my two cents.....get some help with the digitizing, but keep practicing it and find the balance between ones you want to do yourself and ones that are better left to pros.

Good luck!



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Hi Mike,
I hear what you're saying and thank you for the comments. Your example hats look good!

The first few hat designs we did were much more detailed than this one and they turned out better with only one wasted hat for each design. So that is what prompted me to come here for a second opinion in this case. On the surface seems like a much simpler design. Perhaps we got lucky on the first ones! I will say this style hat has nylon in the blend which does seem stiffer than previous orders, so it is likely amplifying any issues in the digitizing.
My thoughts are, learn how to sew. Embroider and watch every move, but use an outside digitizer. When you see the best work, you learn from their designs.

I have been doing commercial embroidery for 30 years, and we have gone back to subbing it all out. Why waste the time, when you can get good results and sew garments and make money. Really that is the bottom line. Don't let anything out of your shop that is sub par.
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I would suggest that on that small lettering you use a 60 wt thread. I will not be as bulked up as the 40. I also agree with the others, get a professional digitize... :)
I would suggest that on that small lettering you use a 60 wt thread. I will not be as bulked up as the 40. I also agree with the others, get a professional digitize... :)
What size/style needle would recommend for 60 wt thread on a structured hat? As I mentioned we currently use 12/80 titanium sharps with the 40 wt but I'd assume a smaller needle would provide better accuracy, but not so small to cause breaking along the seam.
I am using a 65/9 sharp on small small lettering on hats and other items. I have 2 locations set on my machine with a white and black 60 wt thread and the 65/9 needle, all others are 75/11 with 40 wt thread.

Hope that helps. :)
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