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Stitching on structured caps.

Richardson 112We receive a lot of complaints and concerns about hard structured caps including The Infamous Richardson 112 and similar model caps. These hats are great looking caps that have a front that hold its shape like a batter’s helmet. They hold their shape, however; the thick hard buckram in the front is so hard it ends up shredding thread and breaks needles. Customers love them and embroiders hate them.


In this article, we look at stitching on caps and some things you can do to make the process easier.

Click Read More for a few things that you can do that may help when embroidering these caps.




Information on needle breaks and thread fraying while sewing caps. 

Facts: There is no hard fast rules for sewing caps. What works on a cap today may not work on the same cap tomorrow. You will have to do whatever it takes to get the job done. 

  • The biggest secret in stitching caps is to eliminate all the space between the cap surface and the needle plate. 
    • The cap is constantly moving and causes the needle to flex.
    • Most needle breaks are caused by the needle hitting the side of the needle plate hole.
  • Some embroidery machines will stitch caps better than other machines.
    • Higher end machines tend to be built with more precision and stronger motors that will muscle through the tough front buckrum of baseball caps.
  • Most enbroidery machines have adjustments that will make them sew better.
    • The cap driver and cap frame can sometimes be adjusted to be closer to the needle plate
    • The presser foot can be adjusted to strike the cap.
  • You can use a larger needle that may not break as easily.
    • Most machines use a 75/11 for general purposes, you can increase your needle size to maybe a 90/14 or even a 110/18. The shaft is bigger in diameter and may not break as easy. (Note: You may have to adjust your disign density if you go to a larger size.)
  • Try using backing to make the cap sew.







Use a combination of these hints and ideas to aid in stitching your caps.

  • Hoop your cap tight and make sure that you get rid of as much of the space as you can between the cap and needle plate. The moving cap surface flexes the needle and this pulls the needle over to the edge of the needle plate hole. This is what breaks your needle.
  • Several layers of backing may help with the stitching. This may create a ramping effect that may help with needle breaks.
  • I have some customers that heat press the cap before they stitch it. This softens the plastic backing so it doesn’t shred the thread as much.
  • You may want to steam the cap just before stitching
  • Try a heat gun.
  • Saturate the front panels with water from a spray bottle.




Some embroidery machines come with a flat needle plate and a cap needle plate. The plates were changed out as needed when setting up for flats or caps. Some of these machines changed over to a universal needle plate which worked with either setup.


Look at the images to the right:




Flat needle plate.

Some embroidery machines come with a changeable BOSS. You can change the boss for flats caps or universal.


See Below:


Cap needle plate.


Needle plate with Boss insert.




Needle plate boss


Universal needle plate.