Custom patches on hats have become more than just a fashion…
Thanks to baseball players and sports teams, the humble yet iconic baseball cap made the inevitable leap from the baseball field to the mainstream.
If you’re one of many people who own one, you’ve probably wondered how to customize a baseball cap to make it even more unique. This guide explains exactly that. Take your hat off – it’s customization time!
Choosing the Right Baseball Cap for Customization
Baseball hats come in various styles. Some are better and easier to customize than others. So, consider the following factors when choosing the right hat for your customization project:
When you customize a 6-panel hat, it’s important to consider the seam running down the middle of the hat. Whilst a perfect choice for custom embroidery or a patch design, a printed logo would sit over the top of the seam and not fuse correctly to the fabric underneath.
In contrast, 5-panel caps have the entire front panel as one piece of fabric. Without the seam running down the middle of the front of the hat, they’re a perfect choice for printed designs and also finer embroidery with a lot of detail, such as small text.
You may want to read on the origin of the 5-panel hat after this.
Structured vs. Unstructured – All baseball hats have an interior part called the buckram that gives them structure and determines their final look. You’ll find the buckram in the cap’s front panels.
The stiffer the cap’s buckram, the more body or structure it has, and vice versa. Aside from being a style choice, for Quickturn projects, unstructured caps are the preferred custom hats to use when heat pressing as they won’t leave creases.
Hat Fabric – Your chosen hat’s fabric is another crucial factor to consider, as it can determine your customization technique.
Common fabric choices include cotton, polyester, or acrylic blends when choosing hats. Each has their unique properties but cotton is unique in that it can withstand the heat required to bond printed designs.
Any fabric is suitable for embroidery or sewing patches on. If you want to learn other factors to consider when buying a hat, check out this guide.
4 Steps to Design Your Customized Baseball Cap
Learn how to customize a baseball cap in no time by following the four steps outlined below.
1. Sketching the Design
When sketching the hat’s design, always keep your canvas (i.e., the cap’s front panel) in mind. After all, you have limited space to work with, so the less cluttered your design, the better.
Additionally, you need to consider your customization technique when sketching designs. For example, complicated designs with multiple color combinations work best with dye sublimated patches.
With heat-pressing, you can easily bring your idea to life in a graphic design program. Therefore, printing it out, cutting it to size, and sealing it in heat transfer vinyl (HTV) shouldn’t be an issue.
The same can’t be said with embroidering techniques, as your creativity is limited by the color threads available.
2. Choosing the Colors
Step two involves choosing colors. It’s important to consider your hat’s color when mulling over color options for your design. As a general rule, the design should contrast with the hat’s color, i.e., a dark design on a lightly-colored hat and vice versa.
Using similar shades or low contrasting colors can make a design hard to see but can also be a design choice that you can take into consideration depending on the look you want to achieve.
Tone on tone designs done with 3D embroidery to add dimension for example is one way to make your design stand out from the hat.
Learning about color theory and which colors work well together is a great way to get amazing results with your designs.
3. Selecting the Right Graphic Tools
After sketching your design and choosing its colors, your next port of call is selecting a graphics package to transfer your ideas onto the computer.
Apparel design is almost always done in Vector art so programs like Adobe Illustrator or the free Inkscape are perfect choices.
4. Picking a Hat Style/Color
Once you have your design, it’s time to fill out the tech pack/template and get your hats into production. If you need help with this step our friendly staff can take your design and bring it to life.
Customization Techniques for Your Baseball Cap
You can use several customization techniques to bring your baseball hat idea to life. Here are the three most common ones:
Embroidery: This common customization technique involves using an embroidery machine and colored yarn to stitch an embroidery logo or design into a hat’s front, back, or sides.
You’ll need several supplies to create embroidered hats. This includes the embroidery design, adhesive stabilizer, marking pens, and painter’s tape.
Heat Press / Printing: It’s fairly standard to transfer custom designs onto hats using a heat press. It involves placing a cutout graphic (i.e., a baseball hat SVG converted to JPG format before being printed) in HTV and pressing it on the hat.
Cut-n-sew hats can also be screen printed using traditional printing methods as the fabric is printed flat prior to the construction of the hat.
Patches: Embroidered, woven, leather, dye sublimated, silicone, the choices are numerous and it largely depends on how complicated the design is and also the look you’re going for.
After-Customization Care for Your Baseball Cap
Caring for your baseball cap post-customization will help to preserve your design. Rather than throwing it in a dishwasher and hoping for the best, here’s what you can do to care for customized baseball-style hats:
Custom Embroidered Baseball Caps – Rinse the hat in warm water regularly, especially after sunny days when you’ve sweat a ton. You can air dry it after, along with your other laundry.
Also, avoid using harsh detergent when removing spots and stains. Instead, use a brush with soft bristles, e.g., an old toothbrush. Keep the embroidered design away from heat.
Heat-Pressed Custom Caps – Don’t soak these hats. The chemical bond that attaches the design to the hat is weak against water, soap, alcohol, and other liquids. In addition, these custom designs are ironically susceptible to heat, so don’t leave it out in the sun or a hot car. Similarly, using the dryer to dry these hats when wet is a no-no.
Painted Baseball Hat Designs – Avoid getting too much water on the hat. Although acrylic paint is a hardy substance, repeated exposure to moisture and heat will make it crack and peel over time. As is the case with the above two custom hat techniques, do not dry these hats using a dryer. A dryer will speed up the degradation of your acrylic design.
Also, avoid placing weight on a structured cap or squashing it in the luggage if you want to maintain its shape.
Customizing a baseball cap is pretty straightforward when you know what you’re doing. Choose the right hat and follow the four steps outlined in the article. You’ll have an awesome design no matter which customization technique you use.
If you’d rather get specialist help customizing your hat, don’t hesitate to contact Acme Hats. We’ll help you choose the right customization style based on your needs and work with you to create a stunning customized baseball cap. Get in touch with us today for a free quote.