This is a blog dedicated to documenting sewing self drafted and indie sewing patterns, consuming less, being better to people and the earth, creative exploration, and my life and times in Rochester, NY.

The Right Way to Attach a Patch

The Right Way to Attach a Patch


If you're anything like me, you love a good patch. It's the perfect way to spice up the clothes and accessories you wear every day, and you don't have to worry about it falling off like an enamel pin. However, I've learned from my days with non-DIY folk that a lot of them don't know how to attach a patch to your garment the right way. I figured I'd make a comprehensive post on the best way to attach a patch to your jacket, backpack, or who knows, even your knickers.

First of all: Not all patches are created equal. The most common I see are heat activated adhesive patches. These are sold by big box stores, artists with their shit together, or bands. Another common style of patch is embroidered but does not have a heat activated adhesive on the back. One of the most DIY friendly patches are screen printed on fabric and usually take up a back space on a jacket. The biggest mistake I see people making with patches is just ironing that puppy on and calling it a day. This is the easiest way to lose a beloved patch! The adhesive on the back of a patch is actually only meant to stabilize the patch while you sew it on. Today I'll show you the way I choose to sew on an adhesive patch, but the same technique can be used for embroidered but non adhesive patches.  

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The first step is to place the patch where you want it. This might take a little fussy fidgeting, but it's worth it to find a place that you'll be happy with. 

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Once you're happy with the location of the patch, hold it in place with a pin. 

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Start by ironing the back side of the patch (and your garment) on high heat. Steam is not necessary. Once you've given a good once over to the back of your patch, flip over the garment and iron on the front of the patch. Make sure not to iron over the head of plastic pins, you can remove at this point. 

Let the patch cool before handling again. If your patch does not have any heat activated adhesive, you can coat the back of the patch in an adhesive like modpodge, place on a flat surface, and place a heavy object over the patch while it dries on the garment. Hot glue is not a good option for patches because it is not as flexible and creates a raised surface. 

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Match a color of thread to the color of the embroidered binding of the patch. This will create a cohesive look. You can use a small straight needle for this project like I did, but my favorite needles for attaching patches are curved hand quilting needles

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Once your patch is cool, you can begin sewing. You will notice that even with a thorough ironing, the patch lifts at the edges. This is normal, and actually helps when you sew it on. Starting on the back, pierce through the garment and the edge of the patch inside the thread bound edge. Stitch a short running stitch around the outside of the entire patch, always going through the bound thread outside of the patch and not the center embroidered part. 

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Once you've gone around the whole outside of the patch, you can tie a small knot in the end of your thread and cut the string. You're done! I recently saw on Stay Home Club's (my favorite online resource for pins, patches, and tees) instagram that when attaching patches to clothes for kids, they don't iron on or glue their patches down before sewing, that way you can rip them off with a seam ripper and sew them on new garments when they grow out of them. I thought this was a great idea!

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Thus concludes how I attach patches to my jacket. When it comes to big guys like my back patch, I used my machine because it had a lot of straight lines. If you liked this post, or want more info on decorating weird denim jackets, let me know in the comments!

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