How To Embroider A Hat By Hand (Free Designs!)

Several years ago, I started stitching custom embroidery pet portraits on hats and found them to be a bit challenging because the fabric is not flat like a normal piece of fabric. I wanted to make this guide on how to embroider a hat by hand because it’s really not that hard when you use the right materials!

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Watch the Video Tutorial Below

YouTube video
supplies needed to embroider a hat by hand

What You’ll Need to Embroider A Hat By Hand:

  • Unstructured canvas baseball cap- this is the brand I used. Important Note: Structured hats have a laminated backing in the crown of the hat that makes it near impossible to stitch on by hand.
  • Embroidery floss – I used DMC 6 strand floss
  • Embroidery Needle
  • 3 or 4 inch embroidery hoop – I recommend flexi hoops or wood hoops. They both do a good job of keeping the fabric nice and tight. Important Note: definitely nothing bigger because it won’t fit in the hat.
  • I used Sulky stick and stitch water soluble embroidery stabilizer but there are other methods you can use to transfer your pattern that you can read about here. I use the printable sheets so you can print a design right from your computer.

Embroidery Designs for Hats

Not sure what to stitch? Grab this free PDF that has 7 free designs!

The PDF includes traceable designs for:

  • a cat
  • a dog
  • moon and mountain landscape
  • a daisy
  • a floral arrangement
  • a potted cactus plant
  • a monstera leaf
7 free embroidery designs
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how to hoop a hat for embroidery

How to Hoop a Hat for Embroidery

  1. Separate the inner and outer rings of the embroidery hoop.
  2. Place the inner ring underneath the fabric of the hat.
  3. Loosen the screw of the outer ring and place it over the inner ring/fabric. Make sure not to catch the lip of the hat in the hoop, because your embroidery hoop won’t grip the fabric evenly.
  4. Make sure you’re happy with placement and pull the fabric tight in the hoop.
  5. Tighten the screw.
how to embroider a hat by hand - transferring the design

Tips for Transferring the Design

  • I prefer to use water-soluble sulky stabilizer or the stick and stitch because you can’t really trace a design through the fabric and onto a hat. Stick and stitch stabilizer is even available in sheets that fit in your printer, so you can actually print a pattern directly on it!
  • Do a test sample of the marker or printed stabilizer on a scrap piece of fabric before beginning to ensure that the ink doesn’t bleed onto your project when you rinse it off.
  • If you’re embroidering text, I suggest using a ruler and marking out where you want the text to be so that it’s not crooked. You can use a water-soluble marker or tape to mark the line where you want the embroidery to be. It can be a bit hard to mark out a straight line on the hat in the hoop so I suggest doing this before you put the hat in the embroidery hoop.
  • If you’re planning to embroider directly on the front of the hat the center seam will help you place your design exactly in the middle!

How To Embroider A Hat

basting stitch
  1. First, I made a basting stitch that I’ll take out at the end around the stabilizer to secure it a bit more to the fabric. The stabilizer is sticky, but I’ve found that when I use a small piece of it, the corners will sometimes come up if I don’t secure it with a couple stitches.
embroidering a flower

2. For the petals I made satin stitches with DMC 3865

3. For the center of the daisy, I embroidered french knots with DMC 725

4. Secure any loose threads in the back and trim.

5. Rinse the hat thoroughly with warm water, making sure all the stabilizer is removed in small crevices.

6. Allow to air dry.

hand embroidered hat

More Ways To Learn To Embroider

Hand embroidering hats can be so fun, and I love that it’s art that you can wear. Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

If you’re interested in learning more about embroidered accessories, I also recommend this book by Lexi Mire. It has a ton of embroidery designs and step by step projects to embroider on clothing such as jean jackets, hats, bandanas, and more.

More Tutorials:

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