Embroidery Limitations

The embroidery process involves a threaded needle being pushed down through fabric to create stitches.  The needles are made out of metal and must be a certain thickness to hold up to the rigors of the embroidery process.  The thread needs to be a certain thickness also so that it holds up without breaking during the embroidery process.  A typical embroidery design has thousands of stitches and many times there is stitching on top of stitching.  Industrial embroidery machines are usually run at 700+ stitches per minute.

So you have a relatively thick embroidery needle and thread coming down and penetrating fabric at a rate of 700+ stitches per minute with stitching on top of stitching in many cases.  This creates an environment and a process that has certain limitiations.

Here are some but not all of the limitations that exist in the computerized embroidery machine process:

  1. Lettering in your logo cannot be smaller than .15 of an inch (.15").
    • By far the most common limitation is font size.  Most designers create logos the size of their monitor screen and then are very surprised when the logo is unrecognizable when for example, it's shrunk to fit on a corner of a business card.  Any lettering smaller than .15" will not embroider cleanly and will be impossible to read if embroidered.
  2. "Hair Lines" are not achievable with embroidery.
    • Hair lines are very thin lines used to create fine detail in graphics.  Embroidery thread is much thicker than a hair line so any hair line in a graphic will appear much thicker with embroidery.  Too many hair lines too close together will create a solid element appearance when embroidered.  It's like trying to draw really fine detail on a pencil drawing with a thick marker.
  3. Outlines cannot be achieved with lettering that is less than three quarters of an inch in height (.75").
    • Designers love to outline lettering of all shapes an sizes.  Although this may work really nice on a computer screen, it will not translate very well with thread and needles.  If you put too many stitches really close together, the design looks really "muddy" and does not stitch well.
  4. Logos with alot of detail cannot be embroidered really small, they must be simplified and some detail will be lost along the way.
    • So you have a detailed design of the Statue of Liberty and it looks really nice on your computer at eight inches in height but you want to have it embroidered on the side of a cap at 1.25" in height.  That's not going to work.  The logo must be simplified to accomodate the smaller size and detail will be lost.
    • The recommendation here is to have you print the detailed graphic on paper at the actual size you want to have it embroidered.  If it looks "muddy" on paper, it will look alot worse embroidered.
    • This is a common problem with City Logos, such as the City of Los Angeles Crest logo.  These type of logos are usually made up of a collection of smaller graphics within it.  Logos like these can be digitized with all that detail, just not 2" in height or smaller.  A logo like this would need to be around a minimum of 3.5" in height in order to achieve desired detail.  Anything smaller, you start to simplify the logo and some detail gets lost.
  5. Gradients cannot be achieved on smaller logos.
    • Gradients and fading effects may give your logo that "wow" factor but this effect cannot be achieved with embroidery unless you are making a larger logo.  Remember that we are re-creating your logo with thread, not with ink so achieving that really cool "fading" effect that goes from yellow to orange and then to red on a left chest polo shirt design will not be possible.
    • For smaller logos such as on the left chest of a polos shirt, gradient fading effects will be made solid.
  6. Photo quality, realistic true-to-life expectations are not reasonable with embroidery.
    • Please remember that we are reproducing your logo with thread and needles, not with a digital printer laying down ink on paper.  A printer can print photo quality images, an embroidery machine cannot embroider photo quality images.  We can certainly digitize the photo quality image and embroider it, it's just not going to look like it was printed with a laser printer.

Please understand that we work hard to achieve the best results possible but there are some limitations to the embroidery process and some things are out of our control.

Our most popular locations for hat embroidery are front and rear center. For front center designs, the maximum height that we’re able to embroidery is 2.25".  Normally we make the width proportional to the height, or a max of 5". Another modern trending location is front eye side (or ear side). This location is on the front but offset to one side. The maximum dimensions for a design in this location are 2.25" high by 2.7" wide.

Other popular locations for embroidery include above the adjustable back mechanism and on the right and left sides of the hat.


Here at Mint Prints we embroider your custom art on a pre-made hat of your choosing. This means that we are unable to embroider on the bill of the hat, as the bill needs to be embroidered before the hat is manufactured. Generally speaking we can’t embroider above the eyelets on the top of the hat crown, to the direct left of snapback style hats, and closer than 1/2" to the bill of the hat. At a minimum, text should be no smaller than 3/16 of an inch in height.