How To Upcycle An Old Hat With Custom Embroidery

Sew Much 2 Wear
by Sew Much 2 Wear
5 Materials
4 Hours

Have you ever owned a baseball, trucker or Dad hat that you know you'll never wear?

Maybe it's something you got at an old job, made a mistake purchase, or it's just a freebie. It just doesn't look good or has a weird logo. In my case, my husband won this hat at an outdoor festival the same weekend we got engaged.

I wanted to keep the hat for sentimental purposes but I didn't have any attachment to the patch on it and honestly never wore it for that reason.

I almost threw it away ... until I came up with the idea to embroider it myself in the shape of Lake Superior!

Here's how I did it:

First thing you need to do is decide if you need to remove what's on it. If it's a plain hat, this part can be skipped. If it's a small logo or stain/flaw, you might be able to embroider over it.

For most other cases, a seam ripper will be your best friend!

I was lucky the patch was only attached to the hat with a few stitches so it came off quickly with a few snips of the thread.

Next, it's time to create your pattern.

Simple shapes and outlines are *very* easy to trace.

I chose to stitch the shape of Lake Superior because it is where my husband and I met. I simply downloaded a picture of the map and resized it on my computer.

I removed the color of the photo and upped the contrast so I would have a clear line to stitch. I decided to fill the shape in with blue to depict the depth levels of Lake Superior to give the embroidery some extra dimension.

Next I took a roll of water soluble stick-on stabilizer and traced my shape. If you want to make this easier you could also buy a version of this product that is printable!

Once I had my pattern created I stuck it onto my hat. I did make little notches around the pattern so it would stretch and adhere better to the curved surface of the hat.

Now it's time to stitch! I did a variation of a long and short fill stitch to make my design appear rough and wavy.

Some parts of the hat can be difficult to get a needle through. I used tweezers to make this process much easier on my fingers.

Once I had my shape filled in I went back and clipped off as much as the stabilizer as possible. I find there can be a little bit of residue after it gets wet, it so I like to remove the excess to prevent this as much as possible.

When you're ready, place your hat and design in running water and lightly rub the stabilizer. It should come right off! Bigger pieces will come off with tweezers.

I left the hat outside in the sun to dry on my porch with a ball under it so it would retain it's shape. This is how it ended up.

I've worn it many more times now and I'm happy I decided to rescue it from the landfill.

Let me know if you try a project like this and if you do I'd love to see it!

Tag me at @Sew_Much2Wear on instagram. Happy stitching!

Suggested materials:
  • Hat
  • Embroidery floss
  • Needle
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