Embroidery Design Guide

A guide covering best practices, requirements, and specifications for creating the perfect bespoke embroidery for hats.

Embroidery brings your design or logo to life

Custom embroidered hats have a look and a feel that cannot be matched by direct-to-garment or screen printing techniques—embroidery makes your designs “pop”, and shows the world that you care about quality. Here are just a few reasons to choose an embroidered product:

High Quality

Craftsmanship you can touch

Cost-effective

A better product for prices that are on par with other techniques

Durable

Embroidered designs will never fade or peel

Flat embroidery is a technique where stitches are embroidered flat on the hat. It is great for simple, bold designs.

Flat Embroidery Example

Flat embroidery specifications

  • Minimum thickness for shapes: 0.05” (1.3 mm)
  • Maximum thickness for shapes: 0.5” (12.5 mm)
  • Lowercase letter height from: 0.25” (6.4 mm)
  • Uppercase letter height from: 0.3” (7.6 mm)

Note: for any text smaller than 0.18” (4.57 mm) size will be increased or the text will be omitted from the graphic altogether during digitalisation phase.

1. Simplify the design

The best designs catch your eye right away, and stick in your mind long after they are out of view. To create a design that jumps out and grabs people’s attention, think BIG—big clear fonts, simple elements, and clean, sharp lines. The more straightforward your design, the better it’ll look when stitched.

How to simplify your embroidery design

  • Avoid small details—the minimum thickness for shapes is 0.05” (1.3 mm).
  • Use big letters—lowercase letter height starts from 0.25” (6.4 mm), and uppercase letter height starts from 0.3” (7.6 mm).
  • Avoid gradients—instead, use our 16 thread colors with clear lines between the different elements.
  • Avoid small areas of negative space—keep an eye out for small gaps in the design, and fill them in with a background color instead. Any small areas that remain will be automatically filled in as part of the digitization process.
  • Use our 16 thread colors—any colors outside of the palette will be altered to the closest fit. See below for more information.
  • Don’t use photographs—these won’t work well with the digitization process.
  • Avoid backgrounds—backgrounds will be removed as part of the digitization process unless specifically requested.

Flat Embroidery Example

Original design

Flat Embroidery Example

Embroidery design

  • Background image with small details and extra text was removed
  • “est.1985” was enhanced and pulled out of the logo
  • All colors were adjusted to match our 16 embroidery colors

Flat Embroidery Example

Original design

Flat Embroidery Example

Embroidery design

  • Gradients were replaced with clean lines. See the following tip for more information on avoiding gradients.
  • Small areas of negative space were filled in with a background color so that the final embroidery is clear. Larger areas of negative space were left untouched.
  • All colors were adjusted to match our 16 embroidery colors

2. Use solid shapes and colors (avoid gradients, photos, blend effects, etc.)

Remember that the clearest designs are usually the simplest. A design with a few strong, basic elements can be much more powerful than one with a thousand small details, color gradients and other effects. Photographs, in particular, can become unclear once they are converted to embroidery. Use the 16 available thread colors to be sure that the final design stays true to your colors.

Flat Embroidery Example

Original photo

Flat Embroidery Example

Converted for Embroidery

3. Choose from a range of vibrant thread colors

We offer 16 rich thread colors to choose from while creating your design. See the chart below for a full list of our available colors, with the RGB values and HEX code for each one.

Thread Colors
RGB
HEX
1. Royal Blue
R: 0, G: 85, B: 149
#005595
2. Athletic Gold
R: 249, G: 179, B: 36
#f9b324
3. White
R: 228, G: 232, B: 255
#e4e8ff
4. Forest Green
R: 45, G: 74, B: 56
#2d4a38
5. Orange
R: 237, G: 85, B: 46
#ed552e
6. Columbia Blue
R: 59, G: 123, B: 176
#3b7bb0
7. Red
R: 180, G: 34, B: 50
#b42232
8. Purple
R: 106, G: 85, B: 149
#6a5595
9. Gray
R: 116, G: 125, B: 135
#747d87
10. Brown
R: 82, G: 56, B: 52
#523834
11. Navy Blue
R: 46, G: 60, B: 74
#2e3c4a
12. Black
R: 47, G: 48, B: 50
#2f3032
13. Kelly Green
R: 0, G: 124, B: 73
#007c49
14. Maroon
R: 108, G: 47, B: 65
#6c2f41
15. Silver
R: 169, G: 176, B: 177
#a9b0b1
16. Old Gold
R: 202, G: 140, B: 63
#ca8c3f

4. Use high-resolution images

A high-quality end product is best achieved with a high-quality starting image.

Embroidery Area

Printify hats feature an embroidery area of 4 x 2.4 inches. At 300 dpi, this comes out to 1200×720 pixels. To be sure that the final embroidered product is true to your original vision, please upload a PNG (with transparent background) or JPEG file with a resolution of at least 1200×720 pixels.

Our product generator will automatically scale your image to fit this pixel range. Note that larger images can be seamlessly scaled down, but smaller images risk becoming grainy or unclear when they’re blown up.

5. Check the design placement and cropping

The front, center area of the hat is the ideal place for embroidered design placement—when you upload your design, this is where image will be placed.

It is important to keep in mind that transparent areas around the outside of the image are automatically cropped during digitization process, and the image expands to cover all the available space (see the first set of examples below). This is a necessary part of the digitization process that happens after an order is placed, so the mockups you create through the Printify product generator will not reflect that cropping.

Rest assured that the design itself will never be affected by this: all design will keep their original aspect ratio (see the second set of examples below).

Flat Embroidery Example
Flat Embroidery Example
Flat Embroidery Example
Flat Embroidery Example
Flat Embroidery Example
Flat Embroidery Example
TIP: for the most control over how your product will come out, make use of the full available embroidery area, without leaving transparent gaps at the edges of the image.

Flat Embroidery Example

Do

Use the full available space in your uploaded file to ensure that any design elements in the corners are placed exactly where you want them.

Flat Embroidery Example

Don’t

Images with a ring of transparency around the outside of the image will be cropped and expanded, resulting in a potential mismatch between the final product and your original vision.

Flat Embroidery Example

Do

Each aspect of the design is merged and delivered as one file.

Flat Embroidery Example

Don’t

The product generator will not accept designs that contain two elements in two separate files.

Transparent backgrounds are still an important part of designs that have multiple parts. So that you have absolute control over the look of your final product, once you’ve got each part in place be sure to combine the elements into one layer so their position is locked in.

6. Placing the order and reviewing the digitization process

Congratulations on your new design! Once you have a design you are happy with, it is time to place an order.

The digitization process starts when an order is placed. The process takes up to 48 hours.

  • The digitization process takes place during production, and is done by Printify’s fulfillment partners. So you don’t have to do anything. Our production partners will do everything they can to prepare your design and make it work for embroidery.

  • It’s free of charge until Thanksgiving (November 22), so take this opportunity to set up your store now!

 

Digitization involves converting your artwork into a stitch file that an embroidery machine can sew on a garment, and needs to take place before any design can be embroidered. Digitizing is a complex process that often involves manual work from an artist who optimizes the design to fit embroidery specifications and best practices.

The process takes up to 48 hours. For most designs, during digitization small manual changes can be made so that the embroidery process goes smoothly. For example, if the wrong colors have been used we can alter the design to find the best match from the colors available in our palette.

Some designs are impossible to digitize, such as photos with lots of small details (see the guidelines, above, for more details). If your design includes photographs or otherwise does not fit our guidelines, we’ll have to send it back for more tweaking.

To ensure that you are happy with the results of the digitization process, it is always advised that you order a sample for review before placing the full product order.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact our customer support team.

Do

Don’t

Do

We suggest using a simplified design with no more than a 2 color gradients (which will come out as solid colors rather than a true gradient).

Don’t

Do not use designs with lots of small details.

Do

Stick to fonts that are larger than 0.18” (4.57 mm) in height, and use a solid font (no distressed fonts if smaller than 1”).

Don’t

Distressed fonts may be simplified. Avoid drop shadows or outlines.

Do

Remember that simpler is better (simple and solid designs will look better than complex ones).

Don’t

Do not use colors that are not in the palette provided above. Colors will be adapted to the closest match, and this could impact your final design.

Do

Use our Ai or Psd templates (but don’t forget to use PNG or JPG when you upload).

Don’t

Avoid designs that are overly intricate. If a design contains too many small details, it will not be possible to process them.

Do

Follow all guidelines

Don’t

Do not submit your design until you are sure it adheres to all of our embroidery guidelines.

Do

Order a sample (embroidery is not printing, it’s a much more complex process; it’s always a good idea to have a physical test product before placing your full order).

Don’t

Do not place your full order without double-checking that you are happy with the final product first.

Do

Remove backgrounds, or incorporate background colors into the design itself (for example, by surrounding the logo with a circle or rectangle that uses a color chosen from the palette).

Don’t

Do not leave small areas of negative space within the design (these will be filled in as part of the digitization process).

file_download Use our Illustrator and Photoshop templates (.zip Archive)

You can use our Photoshop and Illustrator templates. If you don’t have Adobe software, you can open these using open source tools such as Gimp.

The templates are prepared in the right size and resolution and contain all the embroidery thread color samples, so you can pick the appropriate colors easily while you create your design.

When you are done, export the artwork as PNG or JPEG for uploading to the product generator.
Start Designing Today

Fill out this checklist to make sure your design fits all the criteria for embroidery. Once you’ve checked all criteria here, you’re good to go!

Specification
Yes/No
There are no photographs in your design
There are no gradients in your design
There are no small negative spaces in your design
There are no small details in your design
Only the allowed embroidery thread colors are used
All text and other elements in your design are large enough

Any questions? Visit our Help Center