Buying a Hat Embroidery Machine? Key Questions Answered

Buying a Hat Embroidery Machine? Key Questions Answered

Starting a hat embroidery business? The most challenging part for you could be putting all the pieces together to understand how the whole ‘ecosystem’ works.

You know, the basic chain of information: starting with what type of embroidery machine you would need for hats, how the embroidery process works, the techniques and methods used, the tools and accessories required, and finally, how much money can you expect to make selling hats?

These (and others) are questions we’ll answer in this article. When it’s all said and done, you can look back and say: ‘’Wow, it’s so much simpler than I thought!

That’s the goal of this piece, and it’s our job to deliver what you expect. So, let’s get right to it.

What Type of Embroidery Machine Do I Need for Hats?

To begin the discussion, let’s first learn what type of embroidery machine you need to make hats.

Just to set the stage, there are different makes and models of embroidery machines out there competing for your hard-earned dollars.

One does this better, while the other does that better. But the common thread among all of them, of course, is that they help you sew a graphic of your choice onto a piece of fabric. In this case, that would be some type of headwear: a hat, cap, bandana, beanie, or whatever else you might want to decorate.

To simplify, there are essentially two models from Avance to choose from, the 1201C and 1501C; both allow you to embroider on hats.

While similar in many ways, key differences between them give some users an edge. Let’s take a look at what each model has to offer.

Avance 1201C – The first thing you need to know about the Avance 1201C is that it measures a very compact 23 x 23 x 63 inches and weighs 176.37 pounds. Technically, it’s the lightest and smallest model yet made by Avance.

But boy, does it pack a punch!

It features a beautiful, full-color 10.1-inch diagonal LCD touchscreen control panel. After all, you’ll need it to swipe through the 28 onboard fonts and all 800 designs that the machine comes with.

With that kind of library, not only will you be able to decorate hats, but you’ll also be able to expand into other items like shirts, shorts, jackets, and towels!

Everything you need for that comes included in the box: hoops, frames, backings, thread, you name it! In addition, with some specialty hoops, you can offer sneakers, leashes, and other hard to hoop items.

What else have we got?

It’s worth mentioning  that this machine offers 12 needles/colors and is designed to sew up to 1,000 (SPM) stitches per minute.

You can get all of that bundled together in one compact package for around $9,495, at the time this article published. Plus, you can get access to world class training and support from technicians who have been in the embroidery business for over 20 years!

Avance 1501CThe Avance 1501C shares many features and components with the 1201C model.

The control panel and user interface are identical, as are the onboard memory and the library of fonts and designs it comes with.

It also includes the same training and support, and it uses the same embroidery supplies.

The difference? It’s larger. In every sense of the word.

The physical size of the machine measures in at 33 x 30 x 63 inches. Some might take that as a drawback, but it’s an intentional design feature to accommodate a larger embroidery area and hoops that can fit the machine.

It was designed with power-users in mind, right down to the speed at which it operates (which caps out at 1,200 SPM).

Combine all of that with 15 colors of thread on deck, and you have an embroidery machine that ticks all the boxes for just shy of $11,500! (At the time this article published)

As for which one of the two to get, that’s still up for debate. One might argue that the Avance 1501C is geared towards power-users, while the 1201C falls perfectly into the sweet spot for those seeking high-end performance at a lower cost.

It must be said, though, that if you prefer to future-proof yourself with your equipment, then going with the Avance 1501C might be a better bet.

That’s about it. In the end, you have to decide what is best for you.

Let’s back up a minute and look at how the embroidery process will work for hats.

For more info about types of embroidery machines and their features, read this recent article.

How The Embroidery Process Works?

Now that you’ve been shown some of the best embroidery machines you can buy, what’s missing is an explanation of how the entire embroidery process for hats works.

We’ll start from the top and work our way down, but you can also watch a sneak peek of the process in a video beforehand.

1. Design & Digitize Your Artwork – Design is where it all begins. You need to come up with a design idea that works for hats. Typically, this is done using graphics design applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDRAW, or similar tools. If you have the skills, you can do it yourself. But if you can’t make it work, you’ll need to hire someone to do it for you. That’s just the first step. After the design process comes the digitizing part. If you don’t know already, digitizing is the process of ‘programming’ the design so an embroidery machine can understand how to sew it out. Both those things need to be in check.

2. Select the Hat – It probably comes as no surprise that once you have created and digitized your design, the next step is choosing a hat to embroider. Now, there are all kinds of different looks and styles available for hats, and we’re going to go over those in a later chapter.

3. Set Up the Machine – If you’ve followed the steps above, you should have both the design and the hat selected for the embroidery. You’re almost there! But there are a few other things left on the checklist to mark off. Namely, the setup of the embroidery machine—you need to gather all the materials, tools, and attachments needed for what’s to come. Typically, you would ensure that the embroidery needles are sharp and ready to go, the design is loaded in, all the necessary colors of thread are placed in, the hat frame is installed, the hat is prepared, and that the stabilizer is placed inside of the hat for support. This is just the standard procedure and checkup to make sure everything is ready for when you press the ‘start’ button.

4. Start Embroidering – Now that you’ve got everything set up, you’re ready to run your embroidery job on the Avance commercial embroidery machine. Once underway, you can either do other tasks around your workshop, relax, or watch the machine as it sews out your design.

5. Final Touches – Perform a final quality check to ensure the embroidery is up to standard. Make sure there are no loose threads or other flaws. Make any necessary corrections. Tear away or cut away the stabilizer, smooth out any wrinkles, and so on.

That’s everything, folks! As you can tell, the process is an easy one. A few steps are all it takes for you to have a decorated hat in hand.

Of course, this is an oversimplified version of the embroidery workflow for hats, but it should give you a better understanding nonetheless.

While we’re at it, we might as well go over some embroidery techniques and methods that crafters have grown to love over the years for decorating hats.

Here, you can read about the profit potential of hat embroidery and how to pick the right hat styles for your business.

Methods & Techniques of Embroidery for Hats: A Quick Walkthrough

Now that you understand the basics of the embroidery process, let’s look at the various methods and techniques for hat embroidery. Then you’ll be in the loop for what decorators use.

Now, we’re not going to go through every single method in this section because that would be too much and would need its own dedicated article. Instead, we’ll cover some of the most popular and commonly used methods.

That’s plenty of embroidery methods for you to explore and experiment with. It’s hard to say which one of the four is the best and which will become your favorite. One thing we do know is that each method brings its own unique charm and versatility to your embroidery projects.

That brings us to the next important point in this article—the tools and accessories you’ll need to embroider hats.

So, let’s get on to that!

What Equipment Do You Need for Hat Embroidery?

Besides an embroidery machine, what else do you need to embroider hats? There are several tools and products that can be useful during the embroidery process.

While some of these items are optional, many are essential accessories. Let’s go over them. Below, we’ll list each item with a brief description of its purpose and use.

Cap Heat Press – A cap heat press is a machine made to handle the curved surfaces of caps and hats for heat transfers. It typically features a curved heat platen on the top and a matching curved base platen on the bottom to hold the cap securely in place during the transfer process. This machine is mainly used for adding designs like graphics, logos, names, or numbers to hats using heat and pressure. If you’re only planning to do direct (flat) embroidery, you can manage without needing a heat press. However, if you want to be able to adhere an embroidered patch to your hat, this is an important tool to have.

Hat Hoop or Cap Frame – A cap frame is the next must-have accessory in your inventory. It is a specialized attachment for embroidery machines designed to hold caps in place during the embroidery process while the machine stitches designs onto them. Side note: if you purchase the Avance 1201C or 1501C embroidery machine, then cap frames are already included!

Embroidery Machine Thread – Machine embroidery thread is a specialized type of thread used in embroidery machines to create designs on clothes, hats, and other fabrics. Unlike regular sewing thread, embroidery machine thread is made to withstand the high-speed stitching. In describing their characteristics, these threads come in various colors and can differ in weight (thickness), sheen, and shine.

Machine Embroidery Needles – Machine embroidery needles are specialized needles designed for use in embroidery machines. They have specific features tailored for embroidery work, such as a larger eye to accommodate thicker threads and a special scarf (the notch above the eye) to enhance stitch formation and reduce thread breakage. This should come as no surprise in that over time these needles lose their sharpness. So, you’ll need to swap them out for new ones once in a while.

Backing Material – Backing, also known as stabilizers, provides the support and stability for the hat material during sewing. It comes in continuous rolls or separate sheets that you can order. There are different types of backing: tearaway, cutaway, water-soluble, poly mesh, peel and stick, and specialized cap backings. So, it’s important to select the right one for your project. The most important factors to consider when selecting the backing are fabric stretch, fabric structure (weave or knit pattern), stitch density, length, size of the embroidery, among others.

Pre-made Embroidery Designs – We brought this up earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again. You’ll need your designs digitized if you’re going to have them sewn onto hats. This means that each design must have ‘instructions’ associated with it for the embroidery machine to understand how to sew it out. These instructions include the path that the embroidery machine’s needle will take and follow, the type of stitches, the direction, the density, and more.

Wholesale Hats – Not necessarily equipment, per se, but to turn a profit from hats, you need a reliable supplier for wholesale hats. Not an easy task. Well, it wasn’t… until our wholesale supply chain came along. Now you can order high-quality blank hats directly from us at fair prices. This allows you to create and sell your custom designs for a profit.

Scissors & Tweezers: After the embroidery machine has completed a design, there may be loose or excess threads left hanging. To clean those up (or remove stabilizer), you can use a pair of sharp scissors or tweezers.

There are others, but that should give you a good start. And, of course, you don’t need to get everything on the list right from the start. You can add them to your inventory as you go.

Wait! Before you go, watch THIS: