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Why Do My Needles Keep Breaking When I Embroider on Caps?


Needle breaks can be a frustrating problem for embroiderers, but understanding the reasons why they happen and how to prevent them can help keep your embroidery process running smoothly.

Here is a comprehensive guide on the most common causes of needle breaks and what you can do to prevent them. 

You're Running Your Machine at Too High of a Speed

Running your machine at a high speed can cause needle breaks. Lower the speed when working with structured caps or complex designs (500-600 SPM). Keep in mind that embroidering at a slower speed may take longer, but it will result in a higher quality finished product and prolong the life of your needles.

Your Design Has Too Many Stitches 

The design may have too many stitches in a given area. To fix this, increase the stitch density of your design using Chroma Digitizing Software. Simply click on the "Hoop" icon in the toolbar and select the hoop you are using. If your design touches or extends beyond the hoop anywhere, resize your design to ensure it falls within your hooping area.



Your Design Is Not Properly Digitized 

It could also be that your design is not properly digitized or optimized for caps. Keep in mind that the digitization of your design provides the instructions for your machine, so it's important to make sure it is done correctly. To fix this, try using a design that you have previously run successfully or reach out to us for a pre-optimized design.  Keep in mind that a design that runs well on flat surfaces may not work as well on caps, as cap embroidery typically starts at the center of the cap.

Your Fabric Is Too Thick for Your Needle 

The fabric or material may be too thick for the type of needle you are using. To fix this, use a thicker needle that is appropriate for the material you are working with. We recommend the 80/12 titanium needles for structured caps. Make sure you get the DB x K5 since those are the ones the machine takes. mceclip0.png(Note: Your machine is calibrated for 75/11 or 80/12 needles, anything smaller or bigger than that you will need to adjust your timing to use.)

You Need to Lower Your Cap Driver 

Lowering your cap driver can also help prevent needle breaks. By bringing the cap driver closer to the sewing arm, you can reduce the bounciness of the cap during the embroidery process. For a visual guide on how to lower your cap driver, you can check out this helpful video:

You Need to Adjust Your Presser Foot Height

Adjusting your presser foot height can help prevent needle breaks on caps by holding the cap in place before the needle enters the material. To adjust your presser foot height, refer to this video:

Note: If you have a TC or MT model, please refer to these videos to do the adjustment:

Presser Foot Adjustment TC/SWD
Presser Foot Adjustment MT/CHT


These adjustments should more than likely fix the issues you are having with needle breaks, but if you are still struggling, here are some additional things to note:

  • Your needle may not be installed correctly. If your needle is not installed correctly, it can put unnecessary stress on the needle and cause it to break. To fix this, uninstall and reinstall your needle, making sure it is inserted correctly.
  • Your bobbin area/rotary hook area has a lot of build-ups or is dirty. Dust and debris can cause your needle to break by obstructing the movement of the needle. To fix this, carefully clean the area of any dust and pieces of thread.
  • Your bobbin case is not set correctly inside your machine or your bobbin thread is not wound properly. To fix this, replace the bobbin and make sure it snaps into place properly. Here's a video to check it: Bobbin and Bobbin Tension
  • The needle is worn out, bent, or old. To fix this, replace your needle with a new and sharper needle. It is recommended to change the needle every few hours of usage or if it has been used to embroider on thick materials.
  • The garment you are embroidering is hooped improperly. If the garment is loose, it may move around or bunch up in areas, which can cause your needle to move and break. To fix this, rehoop your cap and ensure the embroidery area is flat and tight.
  • Your Cap Driver is not correctly installed. Please refer to these videos for instructions:

Installing Cap Driver (EM-1010)  

Installing Cap Driver (MT-1501) 


In summary, needle breaks can happen for a variety of reasons, but by understanding the most common causes and taking steps to prevent them, you can help keep your embroidery process running smoothly.

Remember to always use the appropriate needle for the material you are embroidering on, make sure your needle is installed correctly, and keep your machine clean and well-maintained. Additionally, by following the helpful tips and solutions provided in this guide, you can help ensure successful embroidery and avoid needle breaks.

Need additional help? 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for further assistance via email at service@ricoma.com or by visiting our support page at www.ricoma.com/US/support

Video Resources:

Richardson Cap Embroidery | Richardson 112
Cap Embroidery Tips and Best Practices (Embroidery Hub Ep 69)

Cap Embroidery and Hooping (EM-1010) 

Richardson Caps 3D Puff Embroidery Challenge

Needle breaks
cap embroidery
broken needle
embroidering caps
Need additional help?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for further assistance via email at service@ricoma.com or by visiting our support page at www.ricoma.com/US/support.