Cap Embroidery - Overview

Melco offers many resources for best results when embroidering on caps:


  1. Fill stitches exert the greatest amount of pull. To minimize this pull, choose a stitch direction that runs parallel to the narrowest dimension of the fill.  For example, if the fill area is a 1” x 4” rectangle, the fill stitching should run parallel to1”.
  2. Do not run fill stitches parallel to the seam, choose a slight diagonal angle.
  3. Use light density, crossed, and diagonal underlay
  4. A single fill area on a cap front should not be sectioned if possible. However, some shapes will need to be sectioned, make sure the fill rows progress in the same direction to minimize any puckering.
  5. To avoid registration problems, complete free-standing elements of a design with all colors before moving on to the next element.
  6. To avoid distortion to lettering, do them as the last elements.
  7. Build the elements of a design from the center of the design outward, alternating over the center seam. For example, if the design consisted of the numerals from 1 to 5, start by digitizing the numeral 3 first, then do the 4, then do the 2, then 5 and finally the numeral 1. The sequence 3, 4, 2, 1, 5 would also work.
  8. For Tie Stitches it is generally recommended to use Style 5 on hats if the top stitching is wide enough to cover the tie. The width between tie stitches should also not be too small, for Tie-Ins the current default is width of 7


9.  The lower an element is on the hat, there more space there is for deflection. Auto Density can help ensure there aren't too many stitches too close together. This is especially important on the lower parts of the hat.

10.  Generally, Satin Columns below 17pt Column Width are consider more difficult and it is recommended to keep them above 12pt.



1.  Caps should be run with sharp needles in a larger size. For more information see All About Needles.

  • Sharp needles are necessary to minimize the possibility of needle deflection and needle breaks due to Buckram backings, “fly swatter” backings and front center seams. Even fine ball points can deflect enough to cause unnecessary needle breaks.
  • Needles with diameters less than 0.75mm (75/11) can easily bend under the tension of the thread. This bending (deflection) can then lead to needle breakage. Larger needles are less likely to deflect. In many situations 85/13 needles are a good choice.

2.  If the Cap is structured, it likely only needs one layer of Tear Away, for more information see Choosing Backing (Stabilizer).

3.  Most cap frames come with a Cap Gauge or hooping fixture to hold the cap while framing. This fixture is usually designed with a curved surface to emulate the sewing plane when the cap frame is in the machine. If the cap is unstructured or the design has a lot of fill stitches, some manufacturers include clamps that may be attached to the back of the cap to hold the front surface tight against the sewing plane.

4.  Acti-Feed for caps will need to be higher than for many other fabric types. Try running the following:  Determining Acti-Feed Test.

5.  The actual sewing field may be limited, the construction of the cap will dictate whether you can frame that style of cap and effectively embroider the side panels  without rehooping. If you can’t turn the sweatband where it is sewn to the adjustment strap, consider another option for that application. Sew the front embroidery as you normally would and then run the sides with a different framing system. For more information see Proper Hooping Techniques And Hooping Troubleshooting, this article has a section with more links specific to caps.

6.  There are videos on proper Cap Driver Adjustment, Cap Hooping, Digitizing for Caps, and many similar tutorials in Melco's Education and Training Channel on YouTube.

7.  As stitches get higher, toward the Crown of the cap, columns might get thinner than they were closer to the Visor. More Structure or more secure Hooping can help prevent this.

Anatomy of a Cap



More online resources:

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