Getting the Best Embroidered Hat Design

June 4, 2024

Embroidery is a classic, beautiful method of putting a custom design on your hat. It’s stunning to see the texture that the thread work can give to your logo on a custom hat order. But when do you know you have a great design that will feasibly work with direct embroidery? We have a few steps that we look at whenever we work with clients who want to make a custom hat with direct embroidery.

baseball cap with embroidery

Know what Style of Hat You’re Using

Embroidery is all about the working space that you have for your design, and there are different hats that you can choose from for direct embroidery. Each one of these hats has its own window of space that we can put your design on.

  • Trucker hats are a great selection for those wanting a lot of space. If you pick a 7-panel style trucker, you’ll have a perfect window without a line separating the panels in the front of your hat. Truckers have a mesh backing though, and so are difficult to use when making additional designs for the side or back of your custom hat.
  • Dad hats are all around cotton, and so are a great selection if you are wanting to make embroidery designs for the side or back of your custom hat.
  • Bucket Hats started as a fishing trend and have grown in popularity since then. We would most often see this hat in youth styles, but with custom embroidery, it can be a fantastic gift for any age.
  • Beanies are a stylish way to keep your ears warm and are a great choice to ensure a one-size-fits-all hat. Depending on the threading of the beanies are even great for any kind of weather.

Devil in the Design Details

What’s the Best Embroidery Size?

Sizing the Front of Your Hat

hat front view

Every hat has its own window of workability for custom embroidery, but the window doesn’t change too much. To make sure a design using direct embroidery will work, we recommend that the design size not go past 2.25” in height and 4” in width. The only other styles that would have a drastic difference in size is the beanie and the visor. For a beanie and visor, we would go no higher than 1.75” and no wider than 4”.  This is so that whichever style you decide on, we can ensure that your design will be able to fit onto the hat.

What Extra Features Can You Add to Embroidery?

Extra Locations

As mentioned with the hat styles, some hats have space in more than one location for direct embroidery. These spaces are significantly smaller than the front of the hat, and some hats have a mesh back rather than fabric all around. We want clients to be aware that embroidery on nylon mesh is a lot more difficult to keep consistent on every hat, simply because not every mesh on hats is exactly the same. This also goes for beanies, which are threaded just slightly differently from each other. The designs for separate locations should be as simple as possible in order to make sure we keep each hat as constant as we can when comparing one hat to another.

Puff Embroidery

custom direct embroidery hat

Direct embroidery is normally what’s called flat embroidery. If we wanted to really raise the embroidery and give it a fully rounded finish, we would move into puff embroidery. Similar to a 3D design on a metal coin, puff embroidery adds a three-dimensional look to your design. Think of baseball hat logos that have long curved letters framing the team name. We love puff embroidery for a simple and clean design. The more detail we see in a logo, the less we are inclined to use puff embroidery. Puff embroidery is also an extra bit of digging into the wallet, usually pricing out an extra 3$ per hat. Since embroidery is already a bit pricier than a custom patch, we only push puff embroidery if you know you can afford it.

What Colors Can You Use in Embroidery?

Avoid Gradients

Direct embroidery is similar to an embroidered patch; the threading is added to the patch that is sewn on top of other colors. It’s what makes the raised areas of embroidery so appealing for people to see and wear. However, Embroidery is not an efficient tool for keeping any soft gradients.

More Color is More Money

Detailed designs are absolutely wonderful aesthetically, but at the same time are incredibly difficult to replicate with embroidery. Embroidery only has so much space, and combining that with the fact that embroidery can only create so much detail, we really try to recommend a lower color count for your design. Each additional color is fairly inexpensive on its own to add, but each addition ultimately adds on top of each other, making a single hat with several colors vastly more expensive than a simpler design with a few less colors.

Madeira Colors

We create production-ready proofs using Pantone color swatches. Pantone applies to almost all physical products and can be replicated by our production team. However, direct embroidery doesn’t use the exact same colors as Pantone. Instead, we use Madeira colors specifically designed for showing physical thread colors. Madeira colors are more saturated than Pantone colors, so it’s important to make sure the thread color matches as closely as possible to your design in Madeira before Pantone colors (Maderia has a color match guide on their site as well to check out). We can match from Pantone color options, but if we know the Madeira color that’s even better!