Picture of Puff Embroidery Flat Brimmed Hat

Puffy style embroidery is pretty expensive to have done with custom designs.  Some places online or in meatspace quoted me around 80 bucks for a single hat! (setup fees and whatnot).  So I decided to embroider my own hat in the style of New Era caps and the like.  I also don't have the ability to make a machine do any of the work, so I did it all by hand.  The end result is pretty neat, and I think the effort for a completely original hat is worth it.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You don't need a whole to get this project going, and everything but the hat can be found at Joann's or a similar place for less than 10 bucks.

You will need:
 - A Hat. Flat Brimmed, a solid color, and some stickers is what I went for.  I found some from a store in Florida on E-Bay which shipped super super quick and were 12 bucks including shipping.
- Embroidery Thread.  The kind I used was in the hand embroidery section, and it comes a thick thread composed of 6 strands.
- A Needle.  I used one which had the skinniest eye I wanted to try and put 3 strands of the thread through.
- Craft Foam.  This is what makes the embroidery puff out.  I picked the same color as my thread, so any gaps in coverage wouldn't be too noticable. I used foam that was 3 mm thick.  It comes by the sheet.
- Thread Locker.  This was recommended to me as a way to secure the loose threads on the inside of the cap.  The bottle is called Fray Check.  If you want to tie all the loose ends together, don't worry about this, I just need it because I didn't pay attention to doing it in a more proper way (See the fifth step for more on this).
- Time. I didn't use a timer, but fidgeting the image, and doing a test piece for the complicated areas put this project around 15 hours.  My second hat took around 6.
21GeeOff215 years ago
kept forgetting to get around to commenting on this but here I finally am. I made my own hat with kinda a dino look to it. I only used your embroidery tips on the black parts on the eyes but that helped give it a nice professional look.
JTMLB262 years ago
This is cool! But one question: Did you already know certain stitches? If so what types should I know if I were to do something similar? I don't know my design yet but I plan on doing this on an old umpires hat!!!
Nice job! This is a great way to cheaply embroider custom images.
Mauigerbil3 years ago
Alternatively, You can use fabric with various thicknesses to make certian parts stand out more. You can also just layer the thread.
nushiboo4 years ago
wow this is awesome great work
So by "seperate ALL of the strands of thread, and recombine 3 of them" do you mean you only use half of your 6 strand thread? Did you really split an entire spool of this stuff into 6 separate strands?

And by "recombine" do you just mean group them or twist it in some way?

I'm looking to make my own hat too. Lids wants to charge $50 per image on top of the Image fee of about $10 on top of a $16 hat. So yeah, same as your $80 quote (if I only do one spot)
SGAC4 years ago
I was wondering how I would embroider some eyes on a hoodie I was making, and lo and behold, here's your instructable! This shall be perfect for my purposes. Although in lieu of foam, I may utilize this stiff iron-on stabilizer that I have. That way, I can adjust the thickness I need AND I know for a fact that this stuff is washable.
T-Rave5 years ago
Very slick looking! I was just wondering about getting a custom, but will def try this out. DIY first! Thanks for this
Mo44885 years ago
Go Pete!
sdemaria5 years ago
Pete. Lock it up.* *This is a positive and constructive comment.
Lima Rodan5 years ago
Sweet, Bro!
I think it's pretty sad when people use automatic embroidery machines, and call the work their own. You know, anyone can push a few buttons and walk away. This 'ible actually took talent and time. Good job.
Actually, automatic embroidery machines aren't that automatic. Setting up a stitching program requires quite a bit of learning and skill. Same for any programmable automated system.
It's still easier than doing it by hand.
It's less time consuming than doing it by hand.
This is effing cool. Think I might try it out to spice up my old LRG cap. How much were all the supplies?
well you already have the hat so that would be "free" i found a big sheet of craft foam at michaels for .99 i dont remember how much the thread or needles were that i got but i also grabbed a pack of gum and the total was under $10
angelabchua5 years ago
oooh, i love this idea! I've embroidered by hand and on a machine...but this looks money!
Cman1275 years ago
What is the thing you used for your logo?
quasiyodel (author)  Cman1275 years ago
What do you mean by thing? I kind of ripped of a retro Cubs logo, and put shortened version of a lightning bolt in its forhead.
heh, i assumed you were going for a grateful dead kind of thing.
quasiyodel (author)  makalove5 years ago
I did get the idea from their logo, but I had to make my original lightning bolt smaller to be more easily embroidered.
:) awesome. i love it. TOTALLY gonna do this.
Robot Lover5 years ago
cool instructable! But i got to be honest, i don't like it when people keep the stickers on the hat. It's like wearing a pair of pants with the tags still on.
Bernyk5 years ago
sweet job man, i've been drawing on my own hats to give them designs for a while now and just the other day i thought to myself 'self' you could really kick your game up a notch with embroidery, and low and behold you come along with this! its clearly a sign! thanks for the ible man it is awesome im gonna give it a shot!
pcgirl5 years ago
Well done. :) I own an embroidery machine, but it doesn't do hats. But then again, I don't wear hats! LOL Jealous of your hand embroidery. :)
21GeeOff215 years ago
about how long did the embroidery process take?
quasiyodel (author)  21GeeOff215 years ago
I think it took around 5 hours. Maybe a little more. More still to glue the back, and cut the foam. I was kind of watching a movie while I did it, so your mileage may vary.
alright, just started on a very simple design on a 2 dollar hat i found at the craft store to get a little practice in before i go out and buy a nice hat. again, thank you for the great ible. never really realized it could be so simple.
dandydanee5 years ago
I do this for a living on a machine. Yours looks as good as the ones i do turn out. Good Job.
HollyHarken5 years ago
quasiyodel, I am lucky enough to own a Husqvarna DSE computerized embroidery machine. Your idea is basically sound with the exception of using craft foam. Sulky makes a puffy foam designed for embroidery that can be washed. It is available online and in most Jo-Ann's in the notions department. It comes in many colors. The basic advantage is that it can be washed without fear of having your foam shrink or do anything strange. If you wear your hat then it will eventually need to be washed. If your hat gets wet you might also find that the blue dye in the hat will will soak into the cotton embroidery thread and discolor it. If you ever want to have a hat or any other item embroidered then I suggest that you look up any of your local sewing machine shops. They will probably have a list of people who are willing to do the work for much less than the prices you were quoted. It helps to have a digitized image to start with. That is where your extra costs were coming from. The design needs to be in a machine readable format so that it can be read into an embroidery machine and then stitched out. It is just a suggestion. Your way works and looks very nice. Good job.
quasiyodel (author)  HollyHarken5 years ago
I've heard of the foam you are talking about, but didn't find it looking around on my own. The foam I used says don't light on fire, but doesn't mention washable, so I will tread cautiously. Thanks for the tip though!
scoochmaroo5 years ago
What an awesome way to do embroidery. Genius! 5*
fozzy135 years ago
Great idea. I've been thinking of how I could do this for a while. When I saw craft foam I screamed at myself for not thinking of it first. Anyway, great job, the hat looks great, you took really clear pictures : )
21GeeOff215 years ago
this looks really good and seems pretty darn simple too. heading to the craft store tomorrow. thanks for the idea and the good ible!