Heat press hat: how to do it?

Angie Renner
Published by 
Angie Renner
Last updated: 
January 18, 2024

Other than being pieces of fabric that can be worn by any gender, age, or group of people, hats share something else with t-shirts. They can be pressed on with the design of your choice to successfully pass a specific message, show support to something you believe in, or simply express your self.

You can heat press the logo of your brand, an image, or any other form of artwork you can think of.

So, how do you heat press on a hat?

You might think it’s a complex process that can only be handled by experts. But by the time you finish reading this tutorial on how to heat press a hat, there’s a good chance you’d already have changed your mind.

Ready to learn how you can put that special design you have created on your favorite hat?


Let’s go!

How To Heat Press A Hat - A Complete Guide

Spoiler alert!

In this tutorial, we’ll be walking you through a simple process on how to add a heat transfer vinyl to hats (as well as caps) - without using any additional special heat press machine add-ons.

What Materials Will You Need?

  • Glitter or Flocked Heat Transfer Vinyl
  • Heat tape
  • Heat Transfer (with Teflon coat attached)
  • Large rubber band
  • Thick fabric, about a ¼ yard (oven mitts can also do)
  • Hat (in this tutorial, we’ll be using a cotton hat)


1. Getting The Machinery Ready for the job

When you have your heat press up and running, you’re ready to go. You should also have a clear picture of how and where you want to place your image on the hat or cap.

You might use a few different designs - for the front, sides, and back of your hat. Make sure all your designs are well sized and cut on heat transfer vinyl (and remember to mirror the design) as your machine warms up.

The Glitter or Flocked heart transfer vinyl is absolutely the perfect machine for this job. This is because the machine is a bit thicker as needed, making covering up of all the seams easier.

Throughout this process, the specialty heat tape will be your best friend. Remember that we are not doing things the way we do for shorts or other flat projects. It will be impossible to keep things in place, and you don’t want them to slip around.

The tape is great as it firmly holds the things you’re working on and leaves no residue.

2. Preparing Your Design

If you wish to transfer several designs to your hat (and assuming you’ve successfully cut them), it would be advisable to start with the front design.

Now move your design onto your hat, making sure to center it with a seam. Next, grab your specialty tape and secure your artwork onto the hat to prevent it from shifting as you go about the transfer process.

Also, grab your thick fabric or oven mitt and fold it over 3-4 times to make it small enough to fit in your hat. This helps protect your fingers from being burned by the heat.

Because it’s not practical to close your machine onto the hat, you’ll need to push the design as hard as possible against the machine’s hot plate.

3. The image transfer process

You have the image secured with tape on your cap. And you have the piece of fabric with you.

What’s next?

Well, hold your hat on the heat press upper plate for around 5-7 seconds. If your design is a bit bigger, you’ll need to hold it for 5-7 seconds in each area for a successful transfer.

We recommend you to start with the center part of your image and then work your way out to the edges. This helps you stick the design in the real center which will prevent things from shifting.

Because the flocked heat transfer vinyl is a cold peel material, be sure to allow it to cool down before removing the transfer sheet. Otherwise, you’ll end up ripping the design. Peel slowly so that if anything hasn’t appropriately adhered, you can lay the sheet and press it again.

Final Thoughts on How to Heat Press on a Hat

That’s it! You have successfully printed your design on the front of your favorite cap in a three-step, easy-to-understand process.

As you have noted, all the materials needed for the entire process are readily accessible. You don’t need to worry about looking for a special heat press for hats.

While a hat heat press machine will certainly make your life easier, we’ve shown you that you can also make a hat heat press with the use of a regular heat transfer press. This is especially useful if you’re only looking to make one cap, or a couple, for your personal use.

This could also prove to be of value for those who are already in the t-shirt printing business and would like to expand their service but who are not quite sure if they want to invest in a hat heat press machine just yet. Another way of making things easier is to try using heat press hat patches instead of making custom designs as it eliminates having to create individual artwork for every project.

The best hat heat press is one that can handle the types of projects that you want to do. While this may differ from one person or business to another, it should basically be a heat press machine that can handle the rigors of the work that needs to be done and have the features that can provide for flexibility and creativity - specifically for hats and caps.

If you follow all the steps we have discussed with you above, bearing in mind the finer details, your final design will look great!