We had a post last week on our Hatch Facts Facebook Group asking about digitizing for 3D Foam and it brought back a flood of painful memories.

Back in the early 90’s was the first time I saw 3D Foam hit the market, at the time we ran a contract embroidery house and did customer work for some large licensing manufacturers so we, of course, had to learn and invent techniques for utilizing foam. It was one of the most difficult forms of digitizing I’ve ever had to master, it’s not natural to stick a foreign object under an embroidery machine while it’s running. By the time 1997 rolled around I feel we were one of the best companies around who did work with foam.

So, at that time I did a foam piece that to this day I think is one of the best to have ever been created. The commercial industry was also impressed as my Foam Bulldog cap won my first Grand Prize with EMB Magazine in 1998.


It’s hard to believe that I digitized that design over 20 years ago! I remember when we ran it on the 24-head Tajima machine it was like embroidery magic when it was done. The reason why?   I used three pieces of 2mm foam and built up the design dimensionally. The eyes are set back right onto the surface material of the hat, then building it up 2mm, then 4mm and finally up to 6mm which is just the dog’s jowls, brows, and top of his ears. When the design was finished on the machine that was all you saw, and when the foam was torn off the entire dog appeared… embroidery magic!

Two other things I’d like to mention about the process. We only ever did one run on the machine, only 24 of these hats are in existence. The reason why is, when your put 6mm of a foreign substance under the needle of a machine it sounds like a rocket ship taking off to the moon. So please take my advice and “DO NOT” try this at home… your machine may not survive!

Second is, this design was done as a panel program. Many years ago, baseball hats used to be manufactured in North America, sadly this is no longer the case. At that time, we worked actively with these manufacturers so the peak and the crown of the caps were sent to us before they were constructed.  Please NEVER try to sew through the peak of a finished hat, this also will break your machine guaranteed!

If anyone is looking for a resource on the theory and digitizing rules for 3D foam I did do a segment within the “Creative Digitizing Educational Bundle” I did originally for DVD almost 15 years ago. It’s no longer available for sale individually but all 8 hours of viewing is within our Members Library on our Digitizing Made Easy website. Anybody who purchases even one paid interactive lesson for $20 gets automatic access to all 8 hours. Not bad since we used to charge $379 online for those same lessons alone. All the theory is just a relevant today as it was 15 years ago, the only thing that is different is my hair has gone from brown to gray!

John Deer