How to Heat Press a Hat: Everything You Need to Learn

Hats are a very trendy accessory that people have been using for years. There are various types and designs of hats that suit different occasions. Some prefer wearing plain and sober hats; while, some prefer trendier design.

Apart from that, hats have become a signature accessory for some individuals.

The rising demand enabled a lot of development for hats. Take basketball caps, for example; still a cap but having the team or player name on it. Branded hats come with creative and attractive designs than plain hats and cost much higher as well.

But, finding a perfect design is tough as your tastes and preferences are less likely to match the tastes of the manufacturer. In that case, why not show your creativity and print your design on your hat? It will cost much less than what it would take buying a branded cap.

You can brand your hat with minimal effort. If people like it, you can sell them and earn a good amount of money as well. It can be your alternative way of earning.

This article will guide you to heat press a hat without using industrial heat pressing machinery.

Understanding How It Differs from Cloth Pressing/Printing

Hats aren’t made of a flat piece of fabric that is easy to print on. Any good quality cap’s front is normally firm with a reasonably curved shape.

heat press machine for hat

Furthermore, there will be hard parts of hats made of metal or plastic. So, you cannot let such a material undergo a printer or heat press; thus, it requires a special hat press machine.

So, you will need a special hat press machine for hats to cope up with the different properties that differ from conventional heat press machine in many ways.

Method 1: Heat Press Using a Hat Press

This method requires to use heat transfer vinyl, which is a particular type of synthetic material used for making prints of hats and other fabrics as well. You need to transfer vinyl onto the cap using a special heat appliance.

Things you will need –

Step 1

The first step is to make a desirable design. You can make the design using a graphic designing software, or download a design from the internet. Be sure to observe the calibrations. The measurements of the design should match with the hat.

Print the design onto a heat transfer vinyl. Alternatively, you can make the design using an electronic cutting machine. It allows you to design and cut according to your pattern.

Step 2

Take the cutting board and lay the design on it. Then cut the design using a weeding tool and cut out the vinyl parts that you don’t want appearing on the design. Make sure you mirror the design. As it will be placed on the reverse side on the heat press, make it comes from the right side.

Step 3

Check the heat settings on the cap press machine; make sure it’s okay. Place the cap on the heat press and use a handle to secure it. You can stretch the cap to make it fit well on the curved frame of the tool. Place a career sheet onto the design.

Step 4

Now place the final design onto the press machine and position it precisely. Pull down the heated panel onto the cap. The digital display will count down the time.

Step 5

Lift the heat panel when the display shows 00, and peel off the sheet. The hat should have the print fixed onto it properly.

Method 2: Heat Press a Hat without Using a Hat Press Machine

Heat pressing on a cap using a cap press machine is a very convenient and easy way to customize your hats. As the machine costs a much higher price, not everyone will be able to afford it for personal use.

The good news is; you can also heat press your favorite design onto your hat without using an expensive cap press machine. This method will guide you to heat press a hat using some simple tools and some useful techniques that will also give the same result.

Get the following accessories and tools –

  • Normal heat press machine (you can rent it)
  • Heat transfer vinyl (glitter HTV or flocked)
  • Large rubber band
  • Heat tape
  • Teflon sheet, carrier sheet
  • A thick towel or oven gloves
  • Cutting tool, weeding tool
  • The hat

Step 1

Determine what type of design you are going to press onto. Design according to your thoughts using any graphics software.

Step 2

With a cutting tool, cut out your desired design on a cutting mat. Use a weeding tool to weed out the extra and excess vinyl.

Step 3

Now, take a Teflon sheet and line the heating panel of the machine. It will not let the hat to stick onto the heating element. Otherwise, the cap will stick onto the element and ruin the element itself.

Step 4

Set the machine to a suitable setting. Now, it’s time to place the design onto the hat. Be sure to set it to the exact position. To make the design secure, use heat tape on both sides of the design; it will prevent the design from being misplaced.

Step 5

Use the thick fabric inside the hat to make the position firm. Otherwise, the pressing machine will damage your hat’s front side if it has any hard material sewing inside it.

Step 6

Now, place your cap on the heating element and line a Teflon sheet onto it. The Teflon sheet will make sure the design doesn’t get ruined. You need to press the vinyl on the carrier sheet onto the heating element.

Step 7

Hold it properly into its position so that the heating process works equally. If you are not able to do it evenly, then start heating the center of the design at first, and then, move the edges progressively.

Step 8

When the print is firmly pressed onto the hat, let the carrier sheet sit there until it cools down. If you remove the carrier sheet when it’s hot, it might remove some parts or the entire print from the hat.

Method 3: The Sublimation Technique

This method transfers ink directly into the fabric of your hat and fuses it with the fabric. The ink is transformed from its solid form to gaseous, again changed to solid once printed. But it doesn’t change going through the liquid ink state.

Things you will need –

  • Inkjet printer
  • Cap press machine
  • Transfer paper
  • The hat

Step 1

First, you need to select a design from the internet or make your own design using graphics software. You can design on print if it has provision. Once the designing is done, print it out.

Step 2

Make sure the cap press machine is set to the recommended settings. Then, place your cap on the machine and place the design on it. Consider using heat tape to prevent misplacement of the print.

Step 3

Bring the heating element down and press evenly. Observe the time. Remove the hat once it’s done. But, don’t remove the transfer paper until it’s cool down.

You can design both five and six-panel hats following the process. This technique allows you to transfer the ink instead of putting a layer of a vinyl-like material.

Final Words

The method is considered an easier option for using on long-lasting products. Comparing to embroidery, heat pressing is much easier, time-saving, and requires minimal effort to custom design a plain cap. That’s the reason why it’s becoming popular among the cap lovers who prefer wearing customized caps.

Among the method I have mentioned, applying vinyl is the easiest one. There is no need to bother about the number of panels. Simply, print the center seam over, and you are good to go. There is no need to use particular tools except easily available accessories such as heat tape, vinyl, etc.

  • Updated December 11, 2019
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