What is 3-D or Puff Embroidery?

Every now and then we get asked about doing a logo in what is call “puff embroidery”.  Puff or 3-D embroidery is another method of embroidery that “puffs-up” or makes the design even more three dimensional.

Puff embroidery is done mostly on baseball style caps.  The material in polo shirts or jackets is not strong enough to support that kind of embroidery effect.

3-D Puff Logo Embroidery Example

Here is a picture of a design that is done on an embroidered baseball cap using a puff embroidery method.

3D Puff Embroidery Cap

The additional height used to create the “puff” effect is achieved by using a piece of foam that is placed on top of the item being embroidered.  Then the embroidery is done over the top of the piece of foam giving it the “puff” effect.

Puff embroidery is a cool effect.  It can make a design really stand off on a cap.  But as with most things that are cool and unique, it does have its limitations.

What is the difference between flat embroidery and 3D embroidery?

Flat embroidery is a 2D design made with thread that lays flat on the item you want to add your design or logo on. This is the most common type of embroidery because you are able to have more complex designs. If you were looking to embroider a more intricate design then flat embroidery is the best option. In 3D embroidery, simple is best. Designs people use include the name of their company, initials, or a simple logo. If you are feeling bold, 3D embroidery is the right option for you.

How does 3D embroidery work?

3D embroidery works by adding a layer of foam that gets covered in a variety of threads. The process takes longer than flat embroidery and is harder due to the extra steps. First, there needs to be a flat embroidery placed on the item as a foundation to start the process. Next, a piece of foam is placed to create the 3D effect that can be followed up with an outline to create more stability. Once the stitching of the design is completed the extra foam is removed. To create this effect, it uses twice the amount of thread that needs to push through the foam. Full coverage is important to make a high-quality design that lasts.

Most Types of Apparel and Logos Don't Work Well With 3-D Embroidery

Very few logo designs can be embroidered using this method.  The best designs for using puff embroidery are very simple ones.  For example, Major League Baseball teams use puff embroidery on their caps.  That works well because many of those caps have just an initial on them like a “B” or a “C” or a “P”.

Simple company logos can work as well, but those images have to be very simple.  For example, in this example you can see the letters are large and bold capital letters.  These would not work as well if they were lower case letters.

Most company logos will not transfer well to puff embroidery.  That is because most of the elements that make up company logos are too small to be able to get the foam underneath them during the embroidery process.  Logos with small text, thin lines or other small details do not work well in puff embroidery.

Puff embroidery is not something we do at  Thread Logic.  It is very time consuming to create and therefore can be expensive.  It is the most cost effective to do in larger quantities.


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About Jeff Taxdahl

With over 20 years’ experience in embroidery and business ownership, Thread Logic owners Jeff and Wenda Taxdahl, and the Thread Logic team, know what it takes to make custom logo embroidered apparel that people are proud to wear.