Discover how to sew a strategically placed patch that can transform worn-out clothing or save damaged clothing.
Patched up and patched over gives off the impression that you have something to cover up. You are likely attempting to cover up a tear or hole in the fabric when you sew. Fortunately, there are many different creative patches that can be used today, so it won’t appear to be a cover-up. A whole new creative realm has emerged around applying patches to clothing.
Patches can be sewn on in a variety of ways. The type of patch, whether a sewing machine can reach the intended location, the desired look, and whether you need to sew a patch onto a pocket will all influence how you proceed.
I’ll demonstrate how to attach a patch to your clothing using a few basic materials in this tutorial. To find out more, keep reading!
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Before You Begin
Before starting, pick the right color of thread and sewing needle from your sewing supplies. Use a thinner needle for thin fabrics. Choose a thicker needle for heavy fabrics like canvas or denim.
Depending on your preference, you can choose a thread color that blends in with your patch or stands out against it. In order to hand sew patches, this guide uses a basic backstitch method.
Make sure the fabric you are patching is spotless and free of wrinkles. Trim away any sharp edges and hanging threads before patching up a tear or hole.
Different Ways to Sew on a Patch
There are a few unique applique and darning methods here, in addition to the eleven most common methods of attaching a patch, such as using a sewing machine or a needle and thread.
With a Sewing Machine
Using your sewing machine is one of the quickest ways to attach a patch. As an added bonus, machine-made stitches will offer a reliable attachment.
But not every time patch should be sewn on, a sewing machine might not be the best option. For instance, you might find it challenging to sew neatly all the way around an intricately shaped embroidered patch. Additionally, you might discover that for some inset or appliqued patches, you prefer the look of a hand-sewn blanket stitch applique over a machine stitch.
And finally, a flat item like a shirt or jacket that you can easily place under the needle works best for sewing machines. Patches for hats or backpacks will probably need to be manually sewn on.
The majority of the time, however, you’ll save a lot of time and hassle by quickly sewing a patch on with your machine.
To sew on a patch with a sewing machine:
- Depending on the patch’s thickness, use safety pins or sewing pins to secure it in place. For an embroidered badge, you might need to use a strong safety pin.
- When making a fabric patch or an embroidered badge, set up your sewing machine with a medium-weight universal needle. A narrow zigzag stitch, which resembles a flat line of stitches, should also be selected as your stitching option.
- Using thread that complements the patch’s outer edge, thread the machine.
- The patch should be placed over the needle plate with the needle resting over the patch’s outer edge. You should sew around the edge so that the small zigzag overlaps both the edge of the patch and the fabric outside the edge of your garment.
- Slowly stitch around the edge of the patch. Given that it will be visible, you want this stitching to be very nice and tidy.
- After wrapping the threads around the patch, clip them, and take the garment out of the sewing machine.
- To give the finish a nice look, bring the upper thread to the inside of the garment using a hand-sewing needle. By doing this, the patch on the surface of the garment won’t be ruined by a loose thread end.
With a Sewing Machine and Iron
Before machine sewing a patch or badge to your clothing, in some situations it might be beneficial to add the extra step of using an iron.
On the back of many embroidered badges, there is a heat-activated adhesive coating. The best way to adhere this kind of badge to the fabric is to use an iron set to a gentle setting.
This technique can be useful as a pre-sewing method even though it does not offer the neatest and most secure form of badge attachment. As you sew, the badge will stay securely in place thanks to the adhesive!
You may need to buy iron-on hem tape if you get a very large embroidered badge, like a decal to stick on the back of a jacket. The large badge can have several strips of this tape applied in the middle, which you can activate with your iron before continuing to sew.
As you wear the jacket later, the hem tape will stop the large badges from bowing out in the middle.
It takes a little longer to sew a patch on by hand than it does with a sewing machine, but you can make incredibly neat or beautiful stitching. The simplest way to use pretty appliqued patches or attach tiny patches is also by using this method!
One of the simplest and quickest types of hand-sewing stitches is the running stitch. Simple patches with shapes like rectangles or circles will work best.
- Knot the end of the thread after you’ve threaded your needle. Cotton, polyester, or embroidery floss are all options. If you want your stitching to stand out more, you can also use a matching or contrasting thread.
- Drawing the needle up to the surface, begin sewing from the fabric’s interior. By doing this, your knot will be hidden inside the patch rather than sticking out.
- By re-entering the fabric with the needle so that it emerges from the other side, you can create a stitch. You can make these stitches as large or small as you would like. Each stitch should ideally be the same length on the top and bottom of the fabric.
- Continue moving the needle up and down, making straight stitches of a similar size on the fabric’s front and back.
- Once you’ve stitched all the way around the patch or badge, re-enter the material with the needle and tie a knot to secure your stitching.
A tidy, attractive edge can be made around a patch by using a blanket stitch. Both small and large, complex and straightforward patches or badges can benefit from using this. It also works on fabric patches or appliques.
- Knot the end of the thread after threading your needle. You often want your decorative blanket to catch the eye, so you may want to choose a color of thread that contrasts nicely with the color of the patch. For this method, embroidery floss might also be a good option.
- To ensure that the knot catches on the inside, raise the needle up from the fabric’s interior about half an inch inside the patch’s edge. The needle and thread should emerge just past the patch’s edge.
- Affix the needle tip to the applique or patch’s inner edge at this point. You can make this stitch anywhere between a quarter-inch and a half-inch long, depending on how large you want the blanket stitch to become.
- Draw the needle and thread through the fabric and the patch while continuing to push the needle’s tip so that it emerges next to the original thread on top of the fabric. You will have created a thread loop that extends from the fabric’s top, passes through the patch, and then returns to the fabric. You should now have a small stitch that lies vertically to the edge of the patch.
- Prepare for the slightly difficult part of this stitch: the next step requires you to wrap the thread around the needle’s tip and then pull the needle and thread through the loop they create.
- From this point, you simply repeat this stitch by guiding the needle along the edge of the patch, driving it down through it, and then driving it back up through the fabric at equal intervals. Ensure that each stitch includes a loop of thread.
- When done, you’ll have a tidy row of parallel stitches running along the edge of the patch and a vertical row reaching into it.
A catch stitch, also known as a cat stitch, herringbone stitch, or large cross stitch, makes a kind of zigzag pattern over the edge of a patch, badge, or applique. You can make this very decorative stitch as bold or delicate as you like.
- Tie a knot at the end of your thread, then pull the thread taut by pulling the needle through the fabric and the patch from the interior of the fabric.
- Moving the needle slightly to the right, pick up a small amount of fabric from outside the edge of the patch, and then slide the needle and thread all the way through, working from right to left. As a result, the patch will be stitched to the fabric diagonally and the fabric will also receive a small stitch from the inside. Additionally, it will leave the material’s exterior free of needle and thread.
- Move the needle a further quarter inch to the right, but this time, while still going from right to left, pick up a tiny stitch inside the edge of the patch. Draw the needle and thread through once more all the way. Over the edge of the patch, there shouldn’t be an upside-down V.
- Repeat this procedure to sew a V-shaped border around the patch.
- After sewing all the way around, knot your thread on the inside of the fabric.
Making your parallel stitch larger and catching more threads will result in a stitch that has more of an X shape and less of a V shape. The area of the stitch where the threads cross over one another will look better as a result.
You can also alter the length of your stitches to create alternating larger and smaller X or V shapes with your stitches if you prefer a sloppy, whimsical look. However, for the majority of occasions, you should stitch the edge normally.
By Hand Appliqued Patch
There are quite a few intricate, layered applique methods that quilters and experienced sewers frequently use. However, learning the fundamentals of applique doesn’t require much time. After learning how to do this, you can sew artistic patches onto any item of clothing, bag, or hat you choose!
- Make your patch out of fabric that contrasts funnily with the color of your bag or clothing. You will need to add a small allowance of about a quarter-inch around the outer edge of your shape, as the edge will get turned under. Given that sewing will be easier on straight or slightly curved edges, you might want to start with a straightforward design without any sharp curves.
- Pin the patch in place if you can. Pins might not hold if you need to cover a hole. Use a rough tacking stitch to hold the patch in place in this instance, and after you’ve finished sewing the patch on, take out the tacking stitch.
- At the end of the thread, knot your needle after threading it. To ensure that your stitches do not show on this kind of patch, use a thread that closely resembles the fabric.
- Draw the needle up from underneath, leaving the knot on the inside of the garment.
- Then, turn under the patch’s outer edge with your thumb by about a quarter-inch. On the outside of the patch, this will produce a finished edge that is smooth. You will want to continue turning under as you go, keeping the edge smooth. Using the edge of your needle, a small knitting needle or a stick may be the simplest way for you to fold.
- To make the needle and thread pull taut on the top of the patch, insert your needle through the folded-over edge.
- Bring the needle back down into the fabric just past the folded edge to make a tiny perpendicular stitch. The folded edge will be securely fastened to the clothing underneath as a result.
- Then, bring the needle back up, but this time, slide it a very small distance between the fabric of the garment and the patch’s folded edge before coming back up through it. Make this space very small because you will need ten to twelve of these extremely tiny stitches per inch along the edge of your shape.
- Put in another perpendicular stitch.
- Apply this stitching design all the way around the edge of the patch while continuing to fold over the edge.
By Hand Set-In Patch
Also known as reverse applique, this technique enables you to make a cool shape and color contrast by cutting out the shape from the existing garment and then sewing the patch to the inside of the fabric behind the cut-out hole.
For this technique, you should typically use a decorative hand stitch, but you can also sew the inset patch’s edge with a fancy machine stitch.
- Cut out the desired shape for your jacket, jeans, or other items. For instance, if you want your finished patch to be shaped like a heart, cut a heart-shaped shape out of your garment with neat edges.
- Inside the hole, apply your patching material. Around the edge of the fabric, you might use strips of iron-on hem tape. Alternatively, you can simply pin the patch in place with sewing pins.
- Because this patch is meant to be aesthetically pleasing, you should probably choose a decorative hand or machine stitch to sew around the edge of the hole. Workable stitches include blanket stitches and herringbone stitches. To prevent unraveling or a messy appearance, make sure your stitching extends past the fabric’s cut edge in your garment.
- In some cases, if you don’t think the fabric in the inset area will stay strong enough, you might want to think about ironing on a square of interfacing to the back of the patch so that it overlaps the patch and the garment and gives then an additional sturdy backing and seal.
Over a Hole by Hand
Depending on whether you want the finished patching to look visible or not, there are a variety of hand-sewing techniques you can use to cover a hole in your clothing.
- An almost invisible hole can always be darned using a needle and thread. To darn by hand, sew stitches across the hole’s width horizontally until you run out of thread. After that, stitch the hole vertically up and down, crossing the earlier horizontal stitches.
- If you want to celebrate your repair work, try covering the hole with a vibrant applique. A fabric shape can be created in any design you desire, from a sweetheart or flower to a stern-looking skull and crossbones!
- You can use tiny hand stitches in a running stitch or blanket stitch pattern to hold the matching patch in place over the hole if you want to apply one that matches your garment, such as putting a denim patch on a jean jacket.
Darning With Machine
A hole in a garment can be filled in with darning by using numerous threads that are stitched or woven together to form a special kind of patch. You can darn by hand, but using a machine makes this process quick and easy.
You can use decorative darning, particularly if you enjoy hand embroidery. But the great thing about darning with a sewing machine is that with a little practice, you can make these repairs almost invisible!
There may be an integrated darning stitch on some sewing machines. The only expensive computerized devices typically have this feature, though. You should set your machine to a straight stitch if you have a slightly less sophisticated machine. If you use a certified darning stitch, make sure to install a buttonhole maker in place of the standard presser foot.
- Utilizing matching thread to the color of the garment, set up your sewing machine.
- On the backside of the hole, press a small piece of a fusible interface that has been cut out into place using an iron.
- If your sewing machine has a darning stitch, just choose this choice and sew a series of darning stitches over the hole and through the interfacing. Several rows of layered darning stitches may be necessary to close a large hole.
- If your sewing machine does not offer a darning stitch setting, you should stitch a series of straight lines from above the hole to below the hole until the area is completely covered in vertical stitches. Create another set of lines across the hole this time on a diagonal by sewing back over this at a slight angle.
- When you’re done, the interfacing shouldn’t be visible through the hole because your stitches will have completely filled it in!
How Do You Patch Holes in Jeans?
Jeans can be repaired with similar techniques as other types of clothing. You should pick a patch that is a little larger than the hole, and you can add a decorative stitch or sew around the edges of the patch. Use a fabric that won’t show through the hole if you’re patching a hole from the inside of the jeans unless you’re going for a contrast design.
Using an iron-on patch or double-sided tape, you can also repair holes in jeans. Just adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions and sandwich the patch between the fabric and the iron-on patch or tape.
Additionally, you could use a decorative stitch to cover the holes in your jeans. If the holes are small or if you want to give your jeans a little extra flair, this is a good option.
How to Sew a Patch on a Uniform?
- Amass your materials in Step 1.
Gather your cleaned uniform, the patch you want to attach to it, the thread that matches the color of the uniform and/or patch, a needle, scissors, a ruler, and pins or tape.
- Step 2: Exactly where you want the patch to go on the uniform, attach it there.
Determine the precise location for the patch using the ruler, and make sure it is even. The patch must be perpendicular to the vertical button or zipper running up the middle of the top because not all uniforms have shoulders that are in a straight line.
To ensure that the patch doesn’t move while you sew it, secure it to the area with tape, a few pins, or a few large basting stitches that you will later remove.
- Cut the thread in step three.
To enable the knot to be formed, make sure the thread is long enough to fit through the needle. This will increase the thread’s strength by twofold, making it much stronger than a single thread.
- Step 4: Make very small stitches.
Make a series of tiny stitches along the patch’s edge. Pull the needle through the uniform and the patch, and then push it back through nearly in the same place. This will create a clean look.
- Tie off the knot after stitching around the patch completely.
After sewing all the way around the patch, tie the knot at the back.
Is It Better to Iron, Glue, Or Sew on a Patch?
Sewing Machine Buffs asserts that there are important benefits to sewing a patch as opposed to gluing or ironing it.
- You have more freedom to choose the location of the patch when you sew. Gluing or ironing will exclude some areas of a garment that you cannot work on using this technique,
- Sewing gives the option to sew a temporary patch on and remove it later (check out this article on “How to Remove Sewn On Patches” by The Creative Folk);
Out of all the choices, opt for the one that best suits your project.
What makes the two no-sew opportunities different from one another? Iron-on patches are less secure than fabric glue. In addition, using glue is thought to be quicker and easier than ironing or sewing.
Keep in mind that most patches are made of fabric if you work with glue. The glue of your choice must be appropriate for use with fabrics.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Patch Sewing Experience
- To attach patches, use jeans or quilting thread because they are more durable than regular sewing thread. Doubled embroidery thread should also be quite durable;
- If your patch is pinned in place and not ironed on, keep checking it every few stitches, to make sure it stays where you want it to;
- If you worry about your patch not being secure enough, go several times around it and backstitch to fix it down;
- Particularly if we’re talking about the elbows or knees, some finer fabrics might need some backing fabric to secure the patched area. Bonding or a fusible interface may work, and they will also help to better secure the patch. Thicker fabrics like denim do well without backing
Final Thoughts: Sew on a Patch
It’s easy but satisfying to sew on a patch if you have the right tools and knowledge. The customization possibilities for clothing and accessories are endless once you learn how to hand-sew a patch. This practical skill makes it simple to repair small clothing damage, saving your favorite sweater or pair of jeans in the event that they are harmed.
Smart patches have the appearance of being a deliberate work of decorative art. If you require a patch, be happy that you were able to reuse a beloved article of clothing while remaining positive.
What Stitch is Used to Sew on Patches?
Choose a zig-zag stitch and set the length to about 2 (a medium length). Completely encircle the patch with sewing, covering the bound edge.
Do You Iron Or Sew on Patches?
Iron-on patches are a convenient and time-saving way to attach your patches, though sew-on patches are great too. However, sew-on patches need a little more effort and some sewing expertise. Although they require more time to apply, they give the garment to which the patch is attached more flexibility.