Hats & caps… just one of the many clothing articles we as embroiderers get to have fun and be creative with. But in order to start embroidering on them they need to be hooped properly. Whether you’re new to embroidery or an experienced embroiderer I’m sure we can all agree that hooping caps can be difficult, especially without proper instructions. I frequently see people post about their failed embroidery hat projects, asking what went wrong and often end up blaming their machines. Little do they know that if their cap isn’t hooped properly, it can lead to disastrous results. As with any embroidery project, if your hooping isn’t clean your embroidery won’t be either.
In this blog, you will learn my technique on hooping caps/hats that we used on our caps while running 2 of North Americas largest embroidery production factories in the 1990’s. Simply follow these steps to ensure your cap designs will stitch out clean. Before we get started, it’s important to know that you will need a cap hooping accessory. This accessory consists of 3 main components:
2. Cap frame:
The jig is used to attach the cap frame for more accurate hooping.
Choosing Your Hat:
Before we hoop it’s important to understand there are different styles of caps available on the market. While there are hundreds of different hat styles and manufacturers out there, most hats generally fall under 3 main categories:
1. OPF (One piece front) hats:
These are usually categorized as “trucker/farmer” hats. These hats have one piece of foam laminated backing (gives the hat structure) and the rest of the hat is more of a mesh material. OPF hats are usually pretty easy to hoop and embroider because of their laminated backing and there is no center seam in the hat.
2. Varsity / Collegiate hats:
These hats tend to fit a little closer to the head, due to the fact they do not have any laminated backing (structure) on the front of the panel. Because of this, these hats do have a tendency to move a little bit, which is why making sure it’s properly hooped is so important.
3. Sports Cap:
This is generally the most popular style of hat, especially for embroidery. This hat does have a center seam down the middle of the front panel (Aka: the Bermuda triangle of embroidery, you generally tend to lose stitches in the center seam) and a laminated backing giving it structure.
Hooping your hat:
In this blog, we are going to be focusing on how to hoop sports caps. Before we start hooping, I’d like you to consider that a hat needs to be hooped properly to run successfully on a machine. But what is equally or even more important, is that the design is digitized specifically knowing that it will be embroidered on a curved surface. Click here to watch my video tutorial on digitizing hats. With that being said, let’s start hooping!
Step one is making sure our cap frame is properly secured to the jig. You will know it’s secure because it will click into place and will have no, to hardly any, wiggle room.
Now we want to get the cap frame into position for our hat. We’ll start by moving the peak mount out of position as well as the band.
Now that the jig is ready for hooping we need to prepare the hat itself. We’ll start by moving the band on the inside of the hat out of way, as the band will be placed underneath of the plate on the jig. (Be sure to try and align the red line to the center seam)
Now that our hat is on the cap frame and the band of our hat is securely in place, we’re going to take the cap frame band/strap and secure it so the teeth of the band lines up to the base of our cap. Once in position, push the strap down to lock it. Be sure there is no excess space where the peak of the hat meets the crown.
Now for our final step, we’re going to start by placing material over the peak of the hat to avoid unwanted markings on our cap (hats are generally one of the hardest materials to get hoop burn out of). Once the material is in place simply engage the peak mount to ensure the peak of the hat won’t hit the machine while it’s embroidering.
Your hat is now successfully hooped! Once ready simply remove the cap frame from the jig and place on the driver.
If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a great quick tip video I put together explaining the process.
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Hooping a cap can be difficult, but using the proper hooping accessories will make a word of difference! Follow the steps above & you shouldn’t have any problems. Also it is extremely important to remember that embroidery designs MUST be specially digitized to be stitched on a cap. Any regular design you pull off of a design site won’t do.
Do you have any hat hooping tips & techniques for beginners? Let us know bellow, we love hearing alternative techniques!