Carhartt Bags: Embroidering On Heavy Fabric & Small Pockets

March 17, 2021

Bags with heavy fabric and small pockets can be tricky and may require special set-ups to achieve success. There are many variables to consider! The decorator’s equipment, accessories and supplies all play a crucial role in both embroidery and heat transfer.

The two basic techniques that you’re going to rely on for Carhartt bags are the same ones you use for the heavy duck fabric on their jackets and overalls: embroidery and heat transfer. As you’ll see, there’s plenty to talk about for both methods. For this article we’re focusing on embroidery, and next time we’ll take a look at heat transfer.

So let’s get into it!

Embroidering on Carhartt Bags

Embroidery Basics

  • Needle: A larger 80/12 Sharp is best suited for this thick fabric. If your design has a lot of detail or small text I would consider using a 75/11 sharp and slowing the machine down.
  • Thread: A 40 weight Polyester thread is ideal for these products. These bags are meant for the work place and Poly thread is both durable and color fast.
  • Backing: This fabric is very thick and stable. It requires minimum backing. A single layer of medium weight tear away is good start. Note, I suggest tear away for ease of removal in those small pockets!

Now that the basics are handled, let’s get into some other topics decorators need to know about.

Embroidering on Carhartt Bags

Embroidery Equipment

Many older machines have very big sewing arms (as big as 2.25” x 2.25”). The large sewing arm makes getting into small pockets much more difficult, if not impossible. Many newer machines have very small sewing arms that can get into pockets much easier. Before starting production take a look at the equipment available in your shop. If you have a machine that is newer with a smaller sewing arm, that’s your best choice.

Embroidery Accessories

Hooping these bags can be a challenge. A standard tubular hoop may work well on the large backpack panels. However, in my experience hoop burn occurs much more frequently due to the hoop needing to be so tight, and you run the risk of the bag coming loose during sewing. We all know what kind of havoc that can cause! Solution: a magnetic hoop like those from Mighty Hoop will hold the bag much more securely and won’t run into any hoop burn issues. You can see the difference in how it holds below.

Standard Hoops
Standard Hoops

Mighty Hoops
Mighty Hoops

Embroidering on Carhartt BagsWhile magnetic hoops work really well, they’re not always ideal for small pockets. In this case our best bet is using a clamping system like those from Hooptech Products. I’ve used these for everything from sides of hats, blankets and sheer fabrics to backpacks, golf club head covers and yes, bags with small pockets. They come in many sizes and shapes and this is truly an investment in your company that will pay off quickly. Check out the amazing videos created for SanMar by Hooptech on YouTube!

Here are a couple of the clamping systems available from Hooptech:

Most bags can be tricky to decorate, and these bags in particular present a real challenge for any decorator. The good news is with a bit of practice and a small investment in your business, you can find success and gain new business opportunities!

Be sure to come back for Part Two of this article soon, where we’ll cover the best practices and tips for using heat transfers on Carhartt bags. See you then!