How to Do 3D Puff Embroidery on Hats

There are many embroidery techniques, but the most mystifying one to newcomers is how to do 3D puff embroidery on hats. The dimensional nature of this technique is intimidating. Plus, working with hats is equally intimidating. 

baseball hat embroidery

Rest assured, it is much easier than you think to master 3D puff embroidery. This technique takes a little practice and more materials than other embroidery techniques, but it adds a competitive advantage to your apparel business.

Adding 3D puff embroidery hats can attract new customers and bring higher prices. And, it is not too difficult to learn.

Related Link: Top 5 T-Shirts for Sublimation

Setting Up Your Embroidery Project

The first step to creating a 3D embroidery project is to choose a design and properly digitize it. The embroidery machine reads a digital file which tells the machine what types of stitches to make, where to stitch them, and when to stop. Using the wrong settings when digitizing your design will cause problems. A simple design like a bold font works the best for 3D puff embroidery. 

Running the Embroidery Machine for a 3D Project

Begin by hooping and loading your cap onto the embroidery machine in the same manner as a traditional embroidery project. Remember that embroidery machines work best on flat materials, so you will want to make the hooping as tight as possible.

Import your design to your embroidery machine. Depending on your machine, this step could be as simple as connecting a data cable and syncing.

Setting the Machine Mode

Switch the machine to automatic/manual mode. In addition to programming stops after each step and color, automatic modes may not slow down enough for intricate work, which will lead to more needle breaks and more problems for your project.

Select the color sequence. The first color should be the outline of the design. Press start on the machine to begin stitching the outline. The machine should stop once the outline is done.

Keeping the machine in manual mode will allow it to stop after each color. For one-color designs, trace the outline in the same color as the rest of the design. For multi-color designs, you can change colors with each stop.

For the best outcome, choose high-contrast colors for the outline and primary design.

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Adding Embroidery Foam to the Design

At the first stop (once the outline is complete), take a rectangular piece of embroidery foam and adhesive tape and cover the design area. You will need to cut a large enough piece to cover the design area without extending past the cap's front panels.

 ball cap

Try to leave a margin of one inch around the design area. Embroidery foam comes in different colors. It is best to match your foam color to your thread color for a seamless appearance.

The 3D embroidery should use satin stitches that are longer in length to cover the foam's surface. Other stitch types compress the foam, negating the 3D effect that puff embroidery is trying to achieve.

Once the machine finishes the embroidery design, remove the cap from the machine—Peel of the excess foam. The stitches from the outline create a perforation that makes removing the edges easy.

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Finishing the Embroidery Design

There may be edges that are difficult to remove. Small pieces of foam can be reduced with a heat gun. Be careful to make quick passes from a safe distance with the heat gun to avoid scorching your project.

Tips for a Successful 3D Puff Embroidery Hat

Learning a new technique or skill can be a lot to take on. Allowing yourself plenty of time and materials to practice is a given. But there are a few other things to consider for a successful embroidery project.

Machine Speed

Embroidering over foam adds more layers. Run your machine at a slower speed and use a sharp needle to prevent thread breaks and achieve a clean design. Running your machine between 500 and 600 stitches per minute is sufficient for foam embroidery.

embroidery hoop 

Embroidery Thread

Embroidery thread is available in different materials. Cotton and rayon are common but also flammable. If you plan to use a heat gun to clean up the finished design, use 100% polyester embroidery thread.

Working with Hats

Embroidery machines work best with flat garments. Working with hats presents a unique set of challenges--and adding a new technique on top of that can cause a big headache! Start by making sure that your hooping is as tight and flat as it can be. Try using binder clips along with your hoop to hold back any extra fabric.

Try to leave ample space between the bottom of the design and the bill. Stitching near the bill of the ballcap will cause more frequent needle breaks. And, if you are not already using tear-away backing and 80/12 sharp point needles, add those to your supply list as well.

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Why Add 3D Foam to Your Embroidery Projects

Adding 3D embroidery to your product line will give you a competitive advantage, attract more customers, and bring in more sales. 3D embroidered hats are typically priced higher than other types of embroidery.

3D foam embroidery hats are most popular among sports teams. You can attract an entirely new demographic of customers by offering this service. And, sports teams are plentiful, from little league teams to rec league sports, offering a turnover of new teams every summer.

3D puff embroidery on hats is only one of many techniques you can use to make creative apparel to wear and sell—Shop Avance Vinyl for all of the supplies you need for your next project.

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