3 Fascinating Facts About Puff Embroidery and 2 Brilliant Designs

by John Amato

Did you know that the art of embroidery can be traced as far back as 30,000 BC?

That’s right! Embroidery has been around for more than thirty thousand years.

What’s more, archaeologists have been unable to pinpoint this beautiful craft to a specific civilization. Touches of embroidered craft have been found in China, Egypt, and Europe—basically across the globe.

It's no wonder, therefore, that this beautiful craft is loved across cultures, age groups, and genders. More than anything, it makes each item of clothing it adorns unique.

Today, we’ll discuss puff embroidery, or 3D embroidery, which is a technique that gives embroidered text more texture and depth.

You've most probably seen 3D embroidery stitched into the hats of major-league baseball clubs. However, this technique can also be used on sweatshirts, beanies, and bags.

Let’s delve deeper into puff embroidery and learn three fascinating facts about it while exploring:

  • How puff embroidery is done
  • How it's different from flat embroidery
  • Brilliant designs that feature puff embroidery

1 - Puff Embroidery Developed From Stumpwork

puff embroidered text

Stumpwork is an embroidery technique that was popular in England in the 17th century. At that time, it was known as raised or embossed work.

This style uses wire or padding to raise the design on a garment’s surface and achieve a 3D effect.

In the 17th century, stumpwork was the ultimate embroidery technique that girls from affluent backgrounds would practice. Since embroidery was an indicator of status and wealth, it was, as such, part of a wealthy girl’s education.

The hand-stitched designs would usually tell a story and were often inspired by:

  • Flowers
  • Biblical stories
  • Classic mythology
  • Royalty

As we got closer to the 20th century, stumpwork gained popularity and was used to embellish women’s clothing across the globe.

The late 20th century saw the development of computerized embroidery machines, which completely changed stumpwork and embroidery techniques.

Puff embroidery resulted from this revolution as a more creative type of stumpwork that was done using automated embroidery machines.

Though 3D embroidery lacks the intricacy of stumpwork, it makes up for it with a sleek and elevated finish that really makes their designs pop.

2 - Puff Embroidery Is Achieved by the Use of Foam

As mentioned before, puff embroidery is a type of stumpwork in which designs are raised from the surface of the garment.

However, instead of the wire or padding used in stumpwork techniques, foam is used in puff embroidery to achieve dimensional depth.

The type of foam used should be puffy and able to withstand the repeated punctures of embroidery needles without tearing.

The repeated punching of the needlework process cuts the foam into its desired shape, causing it to increase in size and puff out. This results in a design that appears raised from the surface of the garment.

The standard thickness of foam used in raised texture design is usually 3 mm. However, if more depth is desired, foam with a thickness of 4 mm or 6 mm can be used.

Here’s the basic process of puff embroidering products:

  1. A digitized design, which is often made up of text and/or numbers, is transferred to the embroidery machine.
  2. The embroidery machine reads the design and details, such as orientation and thread color, are entered.
  3. The garment is then positioned on the embroidery machine, and a piece of foam (larger than the design) is taped over the area where the design will be embroidered.
  4. The design is then stitched on the foam with the needlework cutting the foam into the intended shape.
  5. Once the logo is embroidered, excess foam is removed from the garment, revealing the finished 3D embroidery.

While the design can be stitched on the product directly, some designs require a flat embroidery outline before the foam is positioned.

This additional step is necessary when creating an outline of stitching around letters and/or numbers. These stitches add more detail to a design and are usually done in a different color from the puffed text, creating greater contrast and a sharper looking design.

Here’s an example of a puff embroidery design embellished with flat embroidery.

puff embroidery with outline design in different color

The flat embroidery technique used lays flat on the surface of the product. Unlike puff embroidery, which uses puffy foam, thread, and needles, flat embroidery is done using needles and thread only.

The table below shows the differences between puff embroidery and flat embroidery.

Puff Embroidery Flat Embroidery
Uses puffy foam, thread, and needles Uses thread and needles only
Embroidered design is raised from the product’s surface Embroidered design lies flat on the product’s surface
Can be a two-step process in which flat embroidery is first used to form the outline of a design before foam is used to complete it A one-step embroidery technique where both the outline and decorative pattern are embroidered at the same time

3 - Puff Embroidery Works Best on Simple Designs

embroidery machine at work

Since 3D embroidery requires the use of puffy foam, intricate designs are difficult to achieve.

The foam, which is 3 mm or thicker, increases in size once cut and needs a gap of at least 3 mm in width between shapes for clean and crisp results.

Any attempt at a small and intricate design using puff embroidery will end up looking cramped and untidy. Letters smaller than 8 mm will also be unreadable and won’t result in a three-dimensional look.

As such, puff embroidery works best for:

  • Rounded block letters
  • Numbers
  • Simple text logos

This is why 3D embroidery is very popular on club baseball caps, since many of them feature initials as their logo.

The fabric type also plays a crucial role in how puff embroidery looks. Thin and light materials, such as t-shirts and tank tops, can't support the structure of foam and will be prone to faster wear and tear.

Thicker materials, on the other hand, are sturdy enough to support the foam and extra stitching needed for puff embroidery.

Some thick materials often used for 3D embroidery are:

  • Hats
  • Caps
  • Bags
  • Sweatshirts
  • Hoodies

Expert Tip: Would you like to get customized products with puff embroidery for your business? Jupmode offers customized 3D embroidery services to help promote and grow your brand.

Contact us for your custom order, and we’ll help you choose the perfect design.

“I ordered Dustin hats on Thursday. You had them designed the same day, and they were embroidered and completed by Monday. The process was super easy and efficient.”
- Rob K

Two Brilliant Puff Embroidery Designs

Jupmode loves to celebrate people from the Midwest with themed, unique, and high-quality products that stand out.

Below are some brilliant puff embroidery designs that are must-haves in your wardrobe.

1 - 419 Trucker Hat 

puff embroidery on 419 Trucker hat

Represent Toledo in this 419 Trucker Hat that’s perfect for any outdoor activity, from football or baseball games to picnics and boat rides by the lake. The white outline on the red puff embroidery adds a unique detail to the hat.

This structured six-panel hat will shield you from the sun and allow you to enjoy all outdoor activities.

It’s a one-size-fits-all hat with a snapback closure that makes it suitable for just about anyone.

The white mesh back is impressively breathable, allowing heat to be released and stopping sweat from building up.

2 - Midwest Script Hat

Midwest Script Hat

Are you proud of your Midwest roots? Wear this dark green embroidered hat everywhere you go and show off your Midwest pride.

This hat has a cream puff embroidery that really pops, elevating its style. Its six-panel structure gives it a wide brim that will shield you from the sun on all your outdoor adventures.

It’s a one-size-fits-all hat with an adjustable strap that suits all age groups and genders.

Grab the Midwest Script Hat for your family and friends outside the state, and remind them of all the great things about being a Midwesterner.

Get More Midwest-Themed Apparel From Jupmode

Jupmode offers more than puff embroidered Midwest-themed apparel. We also have flat embroidered and screen printed products to celebrate the Midwest.

Browse our vast collection in-store on Adams Street or Cricket West in Toledo, Ohio.

“I was recently in town visiting family and stopped by Jupmode's store. The customer service was absolutely top-notch! The sales associate (Jasmine) was very friendly and helpful. Way to go, Jupmode. You guys rock!”
- Edward C

You can also shop from our online store and have your products delivered to you in 7–10 days via USPS.

Follow our Jupmode blog for more buying guides and to learn more about embroidery and screen printing techniques.

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