Best Embroidery Machine for T-Shirts and Hats

When looking for a new hat embroidery machine, many once-loyal Singer brand fans have soured on the manufacturer. Likely due to a noted decrease in the quality of their embroidery machines, since this diminishment of value has reached unprecedented levels in recent years. It is not the case for the Singer sewing machines, however, just for its embroidery series.

That’s the main reason why, after hundreds of hours of research, we can only recommend Janome and Brother brands when looking out for the best embroidery machine for hats and shirts.

Feel free to also check the Best Sewing and Embroidery Machines out there.

Tools your Embroidery Machine for Hats and Shirts will need

Embroidery beginners might be surprised with all the extra accessories they will need for a good setup of their own. (Of course, the first requirement is to have one of the best embroidery machines for hats and t-shirts on the market, which you will find listed below.) Apart from a good quality hat embroidery machine, the following items can be seen as essential for future embroiderers as well.

  1. All the different thread colors you want to use
  2. A good stabilizer to prevent the fabric from stretching or bunching during the embroidery process
  3. Embroidery machine needles
  4. Hoops the right size for your designs, double-check any potential new embroidery machines for what size hoops they are compatible with
  5. The right type of embroidery design file for your specific machine

Tips on Choosing the Best Embroidery Machine for Hats and Shirts

Finding (and buying) your best embroidery machine for hats and shirts will depend on many personal factors such as one’s budget or desired feature set.

1. Research online any prospective models you are interested in, sewing enthusiast YouTube channels can be a great place to start for unvarnished opinions. If you prefer, your local sewing shop should be able to provide advice, and maybe even some lessons on using your new embroidery machine. 

2. Always go for the largest embroidery area that you can afford. And don’t forget, there is a difference between a machine’s maximum embroidery area and its accepted hoop sizes. You will easily outgrow a machine that has a smaller hoop size capability. In short, the larger a machine’s maximum embroidery area is, the better.

3. The less expensive machines found in this article are perfect for beginners and amateurs of all ages, however, they may be missing features that more experienced or industrious users are looking for. So, if you are looking to start your own hat embroidery small business, you may want to consider higher-end models with more features, such as multi-needle machines.

5 Tips before using your embroidery machine for hats and shirts

1. We recommend laundering any washable items that you plan on embroidering, especially t-shirts. This is as simple as putting the items through the washer and dryer to ensure that they don’t shrink or inadvertently dye your embroidered clothing.

2. Make sure you know the difference between different stabilizers and their purposes before buying one. Not all of them can be used for every situation and having the right stabilizer can make all difference.

3. Always test new designs on an old t-shirt or cap first, to ensure that the stitching is how you want it for your final item. For example, complicated designs with overlapping stitching can easily become puckered if you don’t know what you’re doing. For this reason, we recommend starting with simpler designs until you are more practiced in shirt and hat embroidery. After all, practice makes perfect!

4. Remember to always use the smallest needle possible, as larger needles may ruin your designs. Double-check with your machine’s manual if you need help figuring out which needle to use.

5. Using the proper hoop size is vitally important: improperly sized hoops may result in fabric stretching out or puckering.

Top 5 Best Embroidery Machines for Hats and T-Shirts

5. Brother PE800 Embroidery Machine

Ideal for: All levels. #1 Bestseller Embroidery Only Machine.

  • Budget: $$
  • Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star
  • Included Feet: Embroidery.
EMBROIDERY
  • Built-in Designs: 138
  • Speed per minute: 850
  • On-Screen Editing: Yes
  • Area: 5″ x 7″
NO SEWING
  • Free Arm: No

The Brother PE800 is the latest embroidery only model from Brother as well as an upgraded version of the brand’s bestselling PE770 machine.

Brother PE800 Embroidery Only

The LCD Touch Screen received a nice upgrade from grayscale to full color. The screen also allows you to edit your t-shirt and hat designs, simple changes such as rotating, mirroring, and sizing your designs can now all be done on the machine itself. This saves users from wasting time and hassling with computers when last-minute changes are required.

You will also benefit from more than a hundred built-in embroidery designs and a high speed of stitches per minute for a fair price.

This is the #1 bestselling embroidery machine thanks in part to its depth of useful features and the amazing price to quality ratio it provides. And whether you are embroidering your company’s logo on a hat or t-shirt, or making a special onesie for your niece, this unit has you covered with its range of small, medium, and large hoops.

  PE770 owners looking to upgrade will be glad to find that any hoop they have bought for their previous machine should be compatible with the Brother PE880 and will easily snap into place.

What you’ll like:
  • Good price for its quality
  • User-friendly embroidery machine
  • Great learning curve for beginners
  • #1 Bestseller for Embroidery Machines
Some things to consider:
  • This machine is for embroidery only
Interested but want to know more about it? Read a full review on the Brother PE800 embroidery machine.

4. Janome MB-4S Four-Needle Embroidery Machine

Ideal for: Home Business Owners. High budget.

  • Budget: $$$$$$$
  • Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star
  • Included Feet: Embroidery.
EMBROIDERY
  • Built-in Designs: 50
  • Speed per minute: 10
  • On-Screen Editing: Yes
  • Area: 9.46″ x 7.9″
NO SEWING
  • Free Arm: Yes

If you’re an amateur or a professional with a big budget, this might be your perfect choice. However, beginners may find this embroidery machine a tad pricey.

The MB-4S model from the Janome Memory Craft Series is the perfect four-needle embroidery machine for anyone wanting to embroider hats and t-shirts. It even has a single head accessory for better working on caps and several hoops to choose from for your different pieces of clothing shirts and t-shirts. This unit is one of the best hat embroidery machines for sewers or seamstresses who need a dedicated embroidery machine that can produce efficiently.

Janome MB-4S Four Neddle Embroidery Machine

 

With this multi needle machine, you won’t need to flatten any more caps or hats before embroidering on them, saving users a ton of time in the process.

It also comes with advanced on screen editing functions to make it easier for you to edit last minute, a stitch counter so the embroidery machine knows when to cut the thread, embroidery area tracing, an extra-large bobbin (so you won’t need to change it every other minute), and adjustable hoop positioning for better-looking designs. In addition to the above, other features this embroidery machine boasts are sensors for the upper thread and presser foot as well as a stitch-out of time indicator.

When it comes to compatible hoops for this machine, it accepts four different Janome hoop sizes as well as six industry-grade Tajima hoops. These various hoop sizes allow for expanded creative freedom for all of your embroidery designs.

If you run your own home based embroidery business and need an upgrade, this should probably be your next machine. The step after this machine is to go completely professional and externalize your production. While this embroidery machine requires a hefty investment, the benefits that it can provide your business are many.

  This machine can utilize professional design formats such as .jef+, .jef, and .dst.

What you’ll like:
  • Perfect as a cap embroidery machine since it comes with a single head accessory

  • Time saver thanks to the four needles
  • Jump thread trimming
  • Thread new bobbins while the machine is still running
  • Post-thread break auto-return for a smoother experience
  • Fairly easy to learn and use
Some things to consider:
  • An expensive machine for beginners
  • No foot pressure adjustment
  • This is an embroidery only machine
  •  
Feel free to read more about some other embroidery machines for home business.

3. Janome 9850 Sewing and Embroidery Machine

Ideal for: A high-quality option for all levels from beginners to advanced sewers.

  • Budget: $$$$$
  • Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star
  • Included Feet: 1/4 Inch Seam, Blind Hem, Button Sewing, Darning, Overedge, Rolled Hem, Satin Stitch, Zig-Zag, Zipper.
EMBROIDERY
  • Built-in Designs: 175
  • Speed per minute: 800
  • On-Screen Editing: Yes
  • Area: 6.7″ x 7.9″
SEWING
  • Free Arm: Yes
  • Decorative Stitches: 200
  • Speed per minute: 1000

If you’re looking for a high-quality —yet inexpensive— sewing machine that also has excellent embroidery and quilting capabilities, this model is well worth a look. Really, perfect for any sewing and embroidery projects.

Janome 9850 Sewing Embroidery Machine

Afterall, the Janome 9850 is a versatile and reliable embroidery machine that has several advanced features which make it capable for a variety of purposes, including advanced craft projects such as quilts, curtains, clothes, or anything else you may wish to embroider (besides caps and t-shirts).

And for beginners, this machine will make almost all sewing tasks nearly foolproof. Of course, as with any sewing and embroidery machine, there will be a learning process, but its ease-of-use is jaw-dropping. And with proper supervision, even a child could safely operate this machine thanks to its start/stop button.

In addition to the standard sewing and embroidery features noted above, this machine’s smart features include templates that allow users to deploy advanced techniques, such as applique embroidery, guiding you step-by-step along the way.

In summary—if you can afford it—and if you’ll be sewing and embroidering non-stop, the Janome 9850 is your best option and well worth the money. It’s my personal favorite machine and I wish people would stop focusing on its price and start focusing on its five-star quality and superior feature set.

What you’ll like:
  • Its mbroidery area is 6.7″ x 7.9″
  • Embroidery stitches are highly accurate
  • Maximum stitch width of 9mm compared to regular 7mm
  • Up to 3MB of memory storage
  •  
Some things to consider:
  • Higher price than bestsellers such as the Brother SE1900 or the PE800, also included in this list
If the quality of this embroidery machine sounds appealing, you can read more about some other Janome embroidery machines.

2. Brother SE1900 Sewing and Embroidery Machine

Ideal for: Perfect for beginners thanks to its simple learning curve. The #1 bestselling sewing and embroidery machine.

  • Budget: $$$
  • Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star
  • Included Feet: Buttonhole, Overcasting, Monogramming, Zipper, Zigzag, Stitch Guide, Adjustable Zipper/Piping, Non-Stick, Open Toe, Embroidery, Blindstich.
EMBROIDERY
  • Built-in Designs: 138
  • Speed per minute: 650
  • On-Screen Editing: No
  • Area: 5″ x 7″
SEWING
  • Free Arm: Yes
  • Speed per minute: 800
  • Decorative Stitches: 240

The Brother SE1900 is a nearly perfect multipurpose machine. It’s a more than capable sewing and embroidery machine that can efficiently and easily embroider hats and t-shirts at an economical price. It is especially suitable for beginners who are just starting to design and embroider their first projects.

The Brother SE1900‘s maximum embroidery area is 5” x 7”, though it is compatible with larger multi-positional hoops (12” x 5”) for larger embroidery designs, unfortunately, it won’t work with an endless hoop.

Maybe one of the reasons why this model has been a #1 Amazon’s bestseller for so long is the quality of the embroidery that it offers along with its low price

And it’s a great tool for beginner sewists who want to try their fun designs on caps or hats. Just be sure to use the right needle, size 14, and your first embroidery project is sure to turn out perfect.

  What is the difference between the SE1900 and the PE800? Embroidery-wise, they are pretty much the same. On the sewing side, the PE800 is an embroidery-only machine while the SE1900 can also sew and has auto tension and My Custom Stitch.

What you’ll like:
  • Best all-in-one machine for beginners
  • Free motion quilting
  • Perfect for home use
  • Cheapest in its range
  • Portable and lightweight
  •  
Some things to consider:
  • The maximum embroidery area is 5” x 7”
  • No free arm for sleeves and cuffs
You may want to read more about the Brother SE1900 machine.

1. Janome 500E Embroidery Machine

Ideal for: The highest-quality embroidery machine for all levels of sewers. Probably the best value embroidery only machine for hats and t-shirts thanks to its large embroidery area.

  • Budget: $$$
  • Our rating:  icon-staricon-staricon-staricon-staricon-star
  • Included Feet: Embroidery.
EMBROIDERY
  • Built-in Designs: 160
  • Speed per minute: 860
  • On-Screen Editing: Yes
  • Area: 7.9″ x 11″
NO SEWING
  • Free Arm: No

One of the first things you will love about this model is that you can digitize your designs straight on the machine itself, saving you tons of time in the process—something any busy person can appreciate.

Janome 500E Embroidery Only Machine

The Janome 500E is both fast and quiet. It is so quiet and fast that you could easily use it while your children are down for a nap and be finished with your sewing and embroidery projects before they wake up. And the quality of the stitching is truly jaw-dropping.

This Japanese brand prides itself on providing a quality product at a fair price. Best of all, this model has a maximum embroidery area of 7.9″ x 11″ which means you can embroider much larger designs on t-shirts or the backs of jackets.

A drawback for Janome machines is that accessories can be a bit expensive. However, they are long-lasting products that help compensate for your initial investment with their considerable durability. And in terms of working from the get-go, no other machine functions as well straight out of the box.

This machine will last you a lifetime and its quality can only be beaten by industrial embroidery machines. In addition, it will offer you more valuable features than any other machine in its price range. Janome machines are workhorses. And if you consider the fact that this model has one of the largest embroidery areas on the market, its value as the perfect tool for your t-shirt and hat embroideries becomes clear.

What you’ll like:
  • Large embroidery area capable of fitting the largest designs
  • Auto-return post-thread-break
  • Excellent quality stitches
Some things to consider:
  • Embroidery only machine
  • Is more expensive than the bestselling Brother PE800 embroidery machine
Read more about the best embroidery machines to buy this year.

Comparison Chart – Best Embroidery Machines For Shirts and Hats

*Speed Per Minute: referring to the number of stitches a machine can perform in a minute.
**Area: referring to the maximum embroidery area that an embroidery machine can reach.

How to use an Embroidery Machine for Hats?

If you’re looking to add a little extra flair to your hats, an embroidery machine can be a great way to do it. With an embroidery machine, you can easily add designs, logos, or text to your hats in a matter of minutes.

Embroidery machines are relatively easy to use, even if you’ve never used one before. In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of how to use an embroidery machine for hats.

  1. Gather some Supplies

First, you’ll need to gather some supplies. You’ll need an embroidery machine, thread, stabilizer, and a hat (or multiple hats) that you want to embroider. Once you have all of your supplies, you’re ready to get started.

  1. Pick a Design

Next, you’ll need to choose a design. If you’re not sure what you want to embroider on your hat, there are many free designs available online. Simply search for “embroidery designs” or “hat embroidery designs” and you’ll find plenty of options.

  1. Load it onto the embroidery machine

Once you’ve selected a design, it’s time to load it onto your embroidery machine. Most machines will have a specific way to do this, so consult your machine’s manual for instructions. Once the design is loaded, you’re ready to start embroidering!

  1. Select the area to be embroidered, hoop it and snap it onto the embroidery machine

To start embroidering, simply select the area on the hat where you want the design to go and follow the instructions on your embroidery machine to begin embroidering. Make sure to add some stabilizer and keep the hat turned in the right direction so that you’re always sewing along the grain of the fabric.

  1. Remove the item and give the hat or cap the right shape

Continue stitching until your design is complete, and then remove it from the machine. You can now place your completed hat onto a head form or other object so that it dries correctly and maintains its shape.

How do you hoop a hat to machine embroider it?

If you’re looking to add a little extra flair to your machine embroidery, consider hoopin’ a hat!

Hooping a hat is a great way to add dimension and interest to your embroidery, and it’s not as difficult as it may seem. Here’s a quick guide on how to hoop a hat for machine embroidery.

  1. Pick a hat

Start by finding a hat that fits well in your embroidery hoop. You’ll want to make sure the hat is tight enough that it doesn’t move around, but not so tight that it stretches the fabric or damages the hat.

  1. Use some stabilizer

Use a piece of water-soluble stabilizer to stabilize the hat. This will help keep it from moving around during the embroidery process.

  1. Place the hat or cap in the hoop

Once you have your hat, place it inside the embroidery hoop so that the brim is facing up. Make sure the design is centered in the hoop and that the tension is tight but not too tight.

  1. Choose your favorite color thread

Load your thread into the machine. If you’re using multiple colors, be sure to load each color into its own bobbin.

  1. Cut the skip threads

When the machine finishes, remove the hat from the hoop, cut the skip stitches and excess thread from around the outside of the hoop.

  1. Remove the stabilizer

Then, simply remove the stabilizer and enjoy your new, customized hat.

That’s all there is to it! Repeat this process for as many hats as you’d like! With a little practice, you’ll be able to embroider hats like a pro in no time.

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Some other articles you may want to read:

FAQs

What is the best embroidery machine for Hats and Shirts?

It depends on your budget and the main purpose of the machine. For home use machines and to achieve an excellent quality of stitches, choose any Janome embroidery machine. If your budget is a bit tighter, a very good option could be a Brother embroidery machine.

What is the best embroidery machine for hats?

It really depends on the kind of designs you’ll want to embroider, but basically any machine that allow a hoop size that fits the hat will do the job.

Do embroidery machines work on hats?

Of course, they do! You just need to learn a few tricks and practice how it all works, but really, anyone can use an embroidery machine for hats and caps.

How do you embroider a hat?

To embroider a hat, you will need:
1. An embroidery machine for hats, thread, stabilizer, and a hat.
2. Hoop the stabilizer and attach it to the embroidery machine.
3. Load the design onto the machine.
4. Select the appropriate thread color and tension.
5. Embroider the design onto the hat.
6. Remove the hoop and stabilizer from the machine.
7. Cut away any excess thread and stabilizer.
8. Enjoy your new embroidered hat!