Patches are a fun and popular way to add style to your favorite denim jacket or bag. DIY embroidered patches are easy to make. You can create any design of embroidered patch and personalize it exactly as you wish.
This tutorial will walk you through four methods for making and attaching your handmade patches. For each of these, choose patterns based on how large you want the patches to be. There's no rule for this, but smaller designs, such as the elements in a fruit pattern, work well.
While there are four distinct methods for making patches, you'll find that you can mix and match some of the techniques. For example, you can make a felt patch with adhesive, or a pin with different edge stitching. Have fun experimenting with these four DIY patch making processes.
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Iron-on patches are fast and easy to attach, which is always helpful. Plus, you can give these patches as gifts. Just include some simple iron-on instructions.
For iron-on patches you will need a pattern, two pieces of fabric, and two pieces of a paper-backed fusible web.
Instructions for Iron-On Patches
- Choose a pattern, marking it with the transfer method that works best for the fabric you're using (the patch in this tutorial was stitched on linen).
- Stitch the design, leaving room around the edges.
- Cut a second piece of fabric to a similar size, as well as two pieces of a paper-backed fusible web.
- Iron one piece of fusible web to the non-embroidered piece of fabric. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and watch that you place your iron on the paper side.
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Iron-On Patches: Fuse Fabric to the Embroidered Piece
- Peel the paper off the fusible web and place the fabric, web side down, on the back of the embroidered fabric.
- Iron the non-embroidered piece to fuse the layers together. This gives your patch more stability and helps prevent the edges from fraying.
- Iron the second piece of fusible web to the plain back of your fused patch and remove the paper.
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Iron-On Patches: Cut and Finish Patch
Cut around the embroidered shape, following the lines of the motif and leaving some space around the embroidery.
The fusible web helps prevent fraying, but you can also stitch a line of running stitch near the edge to add extra insurance against fraying. To make your patch look more like a commercially made patch, use whip stitch around the edge as shown in the pin patch tutorial below. If you are attaching this to an item that is washed regularly, you may want to wait to add the line of stitching after it's ironed in place for extra security.
When you're ready to attach your iron-on patch, hold it in place and iron the patch from the back of the item you're attaching it to. Make sure your iron is set on a high enough heat setting to get through the layers.
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Felt Sew-On Patches
This patch style requires minimal edge finishing because the felt won't fray like other fabrics. It's also sewn in place, so you know that your stitching won't go anywhere.
To make felt patches, you need only the felt to embroider on, a marking method, and thread to attach it with.
Instructions for Felt Sew-on Patches
- To embroider on felt, mark the pattern with a water-soluble stabilizer or the tracing paper method. Be sure to arrange the embroidery so that there is ample space around the design for trimming the patch.
- Embroider the pattern however you like. Satin stitching looks great on small patches, but you can also stick to all outlines.
- When the embroidery is done, remove the markings. If you used the tracing paper method, carefully tear away the paper. For the water-soluble stabilizer method, soak the finished stitching and when the material dissolves, let the felt dry flat.
If you are using wool or wool blend felt (which hold up the best), it is very important that you use cool or room temperature water when you soak the embroidery. Warm water will cause your patch to shrink.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Felt Sew-On Patches: Cutting
Finish the patch by cutting around the embroidery. You can loosely follow the shape of the stitching as shown or cut out a regular shape, such as a circle or hexagon.
The sample has nearly 1/4 inch of the felt showing so there is plenty of space for sewing the patch onto something. But you can cut much closer. Just be sure that you don't cut the stitches or trim the felt so close that the stitches fall out.
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Felt Sew-On Patches: Finishing and Attaching
To attach the felt patch, pin or hold the patch in the place where you want it.
Stitch around the edge with regular embroidery floss. You can use blanket stitch or whip stitch, as you would with appliqué.
Felt patches shouldn't be washed frequently. When they do need to go through the laundry, use the gentle cycle or place the patched item in a delicates bag or pillowcase.
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Want a permanent patch that you can attach like a sticker? This is the method for you.
To make self-adhesive patches, you will need the fabric you are stitching on, a piece of heavy stabilizer, and permanent peel-and-stick fabric adhesvie.
Instructions for Self-Adhesive Patches
Transfer your pattern to any fabric that you like stitching on. Placing the design on the bias of the fabric prevents excess fraying later.
Cut a piece of stiff, heavy stabilizer and layer it behind the fabric as you place it in your embroidery hoop. Stitch the pattern through both layers. Getting through the stabilizer can take effort, so be sure to use a strong needle.
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Self-Adhesive Patches: Cutting and Finishing Edges
Trim around the embroidered shape, leaving a bit of space for stitching the edges. For this method of patch making, cutting more geometric shapes is best.
Stitch around the edges of the patch with a whip stitch or a blanket stitch.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Self-Adhesive Patches: Attaching Adhesive
Use permanent peel and stick fabric adhesive on the back of the patch. This material comes in sheets or on a roll as shown. Cut a single piece or strips to fit the patch within the stitched edges.
To attach the patch, peel off the self-adhesive backing and press the patch onto your backpack or even a notebook. Just remember that this type of adhesive is permanent, so removing your patch could prove quite tricky.
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Removable Pin Patches
For those times when you want to sport a patch temporarily, why not make a pin that looks like a badge? This method is also great for gift-giving.
To make pin patches, you will need your embroidery fabric, a piece of felt, and a bar-style pinback.
Instructions for Removable Pin Patches
- Transfer your embroidery pattern onto fabric and stitch the design. In this example, the fabric provides some fill color for the embroidery.
- Cut around the stitching, leaving 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch depending on how much of the edge you want to show. Cut a piece of felt that matches the shape of the embroidered piece.
- On the back of the felt piece, sew a bar-style pinback. Be sure that you're stitching on the correct side of the felt so that they will match up when the wrong sides of the pieces are facing each other.
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Removable Pin Patches: Finishing the Pin Patch
- Hold or pin the two layers together and, using three strands of embroidery floss, start whip stitching around the edge. Hide the starting knot between the layers, coming out the back.
- Go down to the front to the back, making the stitches very close to each other. They should look like a satin stitch.
- When you run out of thread, tie it off with a knot close to the felt, thread the needle through a few stitches on the back and trim the thread. Start your new thread just as before.
Now you can attach your new pin to any article of clothing or accessory and move it whenever you wish.