When you sew a patch on a knit cap or a baseball cap, most people think they must pull out their sewing machine and literally lay down every stitch by hand. But that can be a very slow and methodical process.
Sure, it gives you lots of individual control but can be very tedious, especially if you have a whole team, or even a WHOLE LEAGUE’s worth of patches to sew on. Ouch!
However, if you have a home embroidery machine, or a commercial embroidery machine there’s a much better way. You can use your software to create all the underlay stitches needed to stabilize the baseball cap or knit cap.
Then, once you apply the patch to the stabilized cap, you can program the machine to stitch a perfectly designed outline stitch. One that will permanently join the patch to the knit or baseball cap.
The first thing to realize is that all caps are different. It doesn’t matter whether your talking about a knit cap, a visor, or a baseball cap, or some other cap, they all hoop up differently. There’s an old rule in embroidery that goes like this:
If I can Hoop it, I can Sew it!
Depending on the cap, that can be quite a challenge. But there are no rules here. Use the tips in this article as a guideline, but if you see something else that will help lock down your hat, go for it. Clips, Safety Pins, Paperclips, Tape. Whatever works best for your machine and your specific cap.
For instance, when talking about baseball caps, the crown of the cap will often have a huge seam down the middle. Even if you use the cap driver that comes with your machine that area of the cap tends to get pushed around when sewing. A good solution for sewing a patch on a baseball cap is to use “cap backing” which you can order online at an embroidery supply store.
Knit caps can often be hooped on the same cap driver that you use for your baseball caps, but you may need to use a couple pieces of backing and may want to use some extra clips. Another alternative for hooping a knit cap for a patch is using a FastFrame-Xchange kit.
Once you have the baseball cap or knit hat as smooth as possible, allowing the embroidery machine to be able to easily move the hoop without interference, then you are ready to lock the backing to the cap.
This is done with underlay stitches. Here’s where you gain the speed. Many software programs have special features for caps and applique embroidery.
For instance, the Liberty software has a feature called “Area with Applique” that will automatically create the stitch outline for an area you create. There are also “Radial Fill” options that will create underlay for you that starts from the center of the patch and work outward so that the cap is locked down very well to the backing before you apply the patch.
Another common way for producing underlay is to use “tree underlay”. Starting at the middle or bottom of the cap, you digitize running stitches in a fanned-out pattern with the intent to smooth out the cap as the machine sews.
Imagine you had a bubble under a sticker, and you want to try to smooth out the bubbles. Always working toward the edges.
Once the underlay is secure, you’ll temporarily stick the patch onto the cap. There are several ways you can do that including tacking it down with an iron or using spray adhesives. Probably the easiest way however is to use a small piece of a double stick fabric tape.
Once the patch is temporarily secure, you’ll load up (or continue) the running stitch outline portion of the design. This is normally a single running stitch outline with a stitch length of 2-3 millimeters. The outline will match the shape of the patch and is designed to stitch right down the center of the border of the patch.
You’ll want to use a color of thread that matches the same thread on the border of the patch. However, if your sewing a leather patch on a cap, or something like that, you can use a thicker thread and needle and give the outline of the patch some character. It’s all based on choice and what the customer wants.
While it might be easier to quickly grab a sewing machine and sew around a single patch, you’ll find that once you practice using your embroidery machine to sew on patches or to create applique’s, the process becomes easier and easier. And you just can’t beat it if you have a whole bunch of patches to sew. Happy Patching!
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