Lessons From a Hat

I received my first bulk order this week and did the happy dance thinking it wasn’t going to be so difficult.  It was an order for hats.  I had sewn out the customer’s design on an unstructured hat and it was perfect.  I had previously sewn it out on a flat to ensure integrity of the design.  All fine so far.   When asking the customer which type of hat he prefers, he indicated that he wanted Richardson hats “because that is what everyone wears”.  Okay.  I sent him a spec sheet and asked for color combinations in order to order the correct ones.  This is where I say always check the email twice, order once.  He said he wanted charcoal/black and heather gray/black.  I read the heather gray/black correctly.  I didn’t, however read the charcoal/black and switched the colors to black/charcoal.  Mistake number one.  Of course I didn’t realize this until after I finished the black/charcoal.  Moving on…

I had heard that Richardson hats were pretty challenging; well, let’s just “get ‘er done”, I thought.  The first hat came out swimmingly; however, the second lost registration as did the third, both in different places.   Thank heavens for Peggy’s Stitch Erase.  I spent a couple of hours pulling out stitches and saved the hats.   After, I contacted support and they felt the problem was that the structured cap required the cap driver to be closer to the stitch plate.  Two hours later, and the second and third hat completed.  Thinking the problem was solved and feeling overly confident, I hooped the fourth hat and started it.  It lost registration about 1/3 of the way into the design.  I stopped it and called The Embroidery Coach, Joyce Jagger.  Her husband was extremely helpful . The problem appeared to be the design was getting stuck in memory at the wrong place, like it couldn’t map where it was supposed to be.   In order to solve this problem, he had me delete the design from memory and reselect it from the USB.   That seemed to help and I got three more caps done before losing registration again. 

If you are counting, I am at 7 of 10 hats and 2 days into this project.   This time, the problem appeared to be the connection to the cap driver not being seated correctly.  My husband, who is more mechanically inclined than I, fixed the problem by adjusting the screw on the cap driver clip.  

Thinking I was almost done, I realized the caps I ruined meant I was 1 short.  I immediately ordered the cap and requested next day shipping.  It was here as I was reviewing my options on the order form I realized I switched colors on the first set of caps.   I did have some on hand and completed them. 

I have finished 9 of 10 of the original order, and the customer will also get 5 of the black/charcoal hats gratis.   Lesson learned: always check and verify your order if there is a color combination.  That was a painfully expensive lesson.   The 10th hat will be here by tomorrow, so the order will get done on time. 

In all of this, though, I think the best lesson was in troubleshooting and learning about cap mechanics.   For a seemingly simple project, there were sure a lot of things that went awry. Nothing can replace experience!  I can certainly tell you in the future, I will know what to look for.