How it’s Done: Embroidering on Hats to make Customized Business Apparel

Overview: Learn what print companies consider when creating embroidered hats 

You know what’s better than hats? A lot of things, but we’re mainly talking about hats with customized embroidery designs.

Everyone knows at least one person with a customized hat. It could be your old buddy from college who’s recently opened an ice cream shop and is giving away free ice cream hats with your favorite scoop embroidered into the front panels, or your dad rockin’ his favorite football team, or it could be you.

What we know for sure is that the embroidered hat is a tried-and-true piece of apparel that makes people look cool while keeping them cool in the sun.

We know a thing or two about embroidery and a thing or two about hats, so we want to share a few pointers on how print companies create embroidered hats.


“There’s a reason why you see embroidered hats almost anywhere and screen printed hats at the Jersey Shore boardwalk.” – Johnny Battle Embroidered Logos

While this made us laugh (and while screen printing remains one of our tops print and custom services), there’s truth behind the popularity of embroidered hats in comparison to screen printed hats. Here are a few reasons:

  • Embroidered hats are durable. The embroidered logo is so durable, you’re likely to lose your hat before the design starts to fall apart.

  • A timelessly stylish apparel option. Embroidered hats have been around for the greater part of a century and can be done on any hat for any setting… “whether it’s a business logo or a baseball team” or a straw hat, beanie, or something else.

  • Customization is also affordable. When it comes to ordering custom apparel, the prices are fairly similar between embroidery and screen printing when ordering small quantities because the setup time for both methods is about the same. So, if you are ordering 7 hats for your crew, it’s going to take about the same time for embroidery as it would for screen printing. The price difference only becomes apparent when you are ordering bulk.


You’ve likely seen an embroidered object before, be it a cool Home Depot working apron like this one here, collegiate clothing to rep your sorority, or a hat to showcase your business just like we’ve been talking about.

Embroidery is a decoration technique that uses a needle and thread to create words or images on products. While it can be done by hand, most embroidered apparel is created using machines with multiple needles that each have it’s own thread color. Without additional needles, the machine has to be stopped and re-threaded each time the color needs to be changed, which slows down the decoration process. (Thank goodness for advanced technology, right?)

To understand how it’s done, we need to understand the two main components of the craft: digitizing and stitch counting.


To put it simply, embroidery digitizing is the process of converting  artwork into a digital file using a software that allows embroidery machines to understand the needle’s path. This process is not automated and in fact, great digitizing is considered an artform if done correctly.

Most embroidery machines have software of their own allowing us to control their functions while reading instructions from a file that has been digitized.

This is the first step to the embroidery process. We encourage you to head over to Superior Ink Printing to read more details about this initial step.


Stitch count, in its simplest form, is defined as the number of embroidery stitches it takes to create a logo in embroidery.  If a logo is more detailed and/or larger, there are more stitches needed.

Some custom embroidery shops price their work by stitch count since more stitches means longer project which means higher costs. “A very simple logo with very few elements going on the left chest can take as little as 1,500 stitches,” says Thread Logic in their super helpful article on stitch counting. ” A larger and more complex logo going on the left chest can require up to 15,000 stitches.”

Of course, knowing just how many stitches there are in your logo is, well, not easy for you to determine. Which is why there businesses dedicated to these types of print projects.


As Emily wrote over at Hats Work, “getting high-quality custom embroidered hats has never been easier.”

With the different techniques and hat styles, you’re sure to find something suitable.

If you just don’t know where to start but you’re interested in the world embroidery, reach out to your local print shop for guidance, quotes, and professional/expert advice.

Let's get deep!