Self-serve embroidery is here.

Earlier this year (April to be precise) we officially announced our third on demand product category: embroidered hats. That announcement included a fairly important caveat. At the time, the on demand embroidery program was extremely limited. Every new on demand hat needed to be sampled and photographed before it was available to purchase on Cotton Bureau. We were well aware that process would limit the number of people who could participate.

In order to make embroidery available to everyone, we needed to create a tool to you all create your own products just like you do for t-shirts and phone cases. Over the last six months we identified and overcame each of the obstacles that prevented that from happening. Mockups needed to be generated instead of photos taken. We spent a fair amount of time dialing in the textures and warping to look as close to real life as possible. There’s still room for improvement there, but we couldn’t wait any longer to launch seeing as it’s now, uh, pretty much Thanksgiving.

Another challenge is ensuring that what you get is what you see. Embroidery is notoriously tricky. A multitude of decisions need to be made to translate artwork from pixels to threads including color matching, orientation, and stitch type. We explored a number of solutions that promised to handle all of that automatically. Frankly, they weren’t good enough. Maybe the technology to handle that will be ready in the future. For now, we rely on people to make those calls. When you upload your artwork, you can be confident that someone is reviewing and adjusting as necessary to make your hat the best that it can be.

With those problems licked, we are happily now able to expand access to our on demand embroidery program. If you have a track record of strong sales on Cotton Bureau, you can start selling hats today. Just head over to the submission tool to get started. For all intents and purposes, hats work just like t-shirts: you upload artwork, choose a size, add a few color bundles, and away you go. Naturally we take care of the rest, like always.

(Editor’s note: the nature of on demand embroidery means that the total number of thread colors available to us is limited. When you upload your design, if the colors look slightly weird, don’t panic. Check out our list of thread colors and edit your design to match as closely as possible. If it still isn’t working, get in touch so we can help.)

If you have been looking forward to on demand embroidery and don’t see the hat option, let us know. Given the manual steps still involved in the process we will be rolling out and expanding access gradually over the next several months, but we might be able to move you to the front of the line if you have a solid body of work on the site already.

Before we move on to additional holiday announcements, we just want to say thank you again for your patience and support. Adding new products, particularly ones with entirely new supply chains, is challenging but of course also exciting and deeply rewarding.

We’ve been very happy with the decisions we made for on demand embroidery in terms of thread colors, hat manufacturers, and embroidery partners (shoutout to our friends here in Pittsburgh who continue to do tremendous work). We’re thrilled with the quality and deliverability of the product. We can’t wait to see an explosion of hat designs on the site and look forward to promoting them with you over the coming months.

If you have questions about hats, we (might) have answers. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are confused or just want to explore what is possible. We’ll be making new hats live as quickly as possible. Please be patient if we don’t reply immediately.

N.B. We also managed to more than double the total number of colors and styles available. The full list of styles now includes dad hats, trucker hats, snapbacks, baseball hats, and rope hats across a broad spectrum of colors (black, navy, charcoal, natural, white, red, light blue, and royal).