Embroidery patch

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1 Introduction

Cloth patches (also known as fabric badges, cloth badges, embroidered patches, etc.) are small pieces of embroidered fabric that can be attached on cloth in various ways.

According to Wikipedia, “an embroidered patch, also known as a cloth badge, is a piece of embroidery which is created by using a fabric backing and thread. The art of making embroidered patches is an old tradition and was originally done by hand. High-speed, computerized machines have led to mass production.”

This page will include some tips and technology for creating fabric badges. Embroidery itself is not covered here, e.g. read the Stitch Era tutorials that introduce the use of a specific embroidery software.

See also:

2 Fabrics and stabilizers for patches

2.1 Choice of good and not so good fabrics

We recommend buying specialized fabrics for patch creation (in french: tissu pour écussons). So far, we identified three types of tissue:

1) Twill for badges is a good option if you plan to stitch larger badges with or without a background. Twill is a tightly cross-woven fabric. It has two different sides, one smoother than the other. You can embroider on either side, according to your taste.

  • E.g. Twilly from Gunold. This tissue also can be laser cut. While we do not endorse brands here (since we don't have the time to do comparisons) we have to recommend this, because we were unable to find a suitable fabrics by ourselves (thanx Lydie).

2) Structured fabric that look like lock-stitch embroidery allow thread and time. E.g. STEP from Gunold. This fabric is a bit expensive, but saves a lot of time and thread. Also, prices on the market vary widely. e.g. in France 10 33x29 samples cost 55 Euros. If you need a single color then you may have to buy larger pieces.

3) Appropriate felt is also a good option. But make sure that it is fairly thick (e.g. 1.5mm), non-elastic (including when it is wet) and that it has a fairly smooth surface. Elastic felt leads to poor results, and really bad ones if you use a solvable stabilizer.

Otherwise, you can use tighly woven napkins, jeans, etc. but the result will not be as good since there will be stronger pull/push effects.

2.2 Stabilizers

As explained later, the fabric for the patch is usually not hooped but just put on top of a hooped stabilizer. Also recall, the stabilizer should not be "visible" around the edges. There are therefore two solutions

  • Tear-away stabilizer
  • Water-solvable satbilizer

On single layer can do if your fabric is thick and stable, otherwise, use 2 or more layers if the stabilizer is thin.

We prefer using a self adhesive tear-away stabilizer that is hooped upside down. This way one can just put the fabric on top. After removing the patch, one then can "glue" a piece of the same stabilizer on top and restart, e.g. no re-hooping is needed.

3 Creating the fabric badge

Below a summary of some reading. So far, we only tested and documented the "trim in place" method.

Creating a fabric badge (also called embroidered patch) is not very easy and there exist several methods.

  • You may have to add a placement stitch outside of the border of your badge.
  • You should add a Cut Line & Tackdown Stitch inside the the design borders
  • Design a heavy Cover Stitch, i.e. a 3.0 to 3.5mm wide and 6 per mm dense zig-zag stitch as border.
  • Use a heavy and stable fabric (see above)

Creating badges uses similar tricks as creating appliqués and as with the former you could either use "pre-cut" or "trim-in-place" strategies.

Open questions:

  • Are there general rules for defining the placement stitch with respect to the border (outside of the border zig-zag). About -1.5 mm, i.e. in the center of the border's zig-zag line ?

3.1 Method 1 (one shot)

  • Hoop a solid fabric using any kind of stabilizer.
  • Stitch the design and remove it from the hoop
  • Iron the badge if necessary
  • Optional: Glue a iron-on adhesive (stabilizer) to the bottom. This will make it more stable but only can be used if the badge was fully stitched inside.
  • Add some seam sealant (water-proof glue for textiles like Fray Check (Amazon US) or Prym fray check (Amazon fr)") to the borders (to prevent accidents when you cut). In french: colle anti-effilochage.
  • Cut out the design

Source: How to make your own embroidered patches - cheap and easy DIY badges

3.2 Method 2 (pre-cut)

  • Cut out some fabric of the size of the badge. You can print out a paper version of the design and use it as model.
  • Hoop a water soluble stabilizer or a tear away one (either a very strong one or use 2 layers)
  • Stitch the placement stitch (same as appliqué)
  • Remove the hoop
  • Glue the fabric within the placement line with a temporary glue spray
  • Put the hoop back
  • Stitch the rest, a tackdown stitch followed by a the zig-zag border first.

Source: How to make an embroidered badge and Pre-Cut Applique Tutorial

3.3 Method 3 (trim in place)

  • Hoop some heavy stabilizer (water soluble)
  • Glue a heavy fabric on top
  • Stitch a tackdown stitch and and a cutout stitch. The former is a few mm inside and the latter about 0.5mm inside the top/bottom borders and almost on the left/right borders. Read Stitch Era - creating embroidery patches for an example. It is fairly difficult to find the right distances in a first try.
  • Remove the hoop
  • Cut out the fabric along the cutout stitch
  • Put back the hoop
  • Stitch the rest (background if present, then probably the border zig-zag next). The exact order depends on what you want to optimize ....

Inspiration: Trim in Place Applique Tutorial

3.4 Method 4 (trim in place reversed)

  • Similar as above, but use an opposite order of design - border stitching
  • Hoop some heavy stabilizer (water soluble or tear away)
  • Glue a heavy fabric on top
  • Stitch a tackdown and a cutout stitch
  • Stitch the design (but not the border)
  • Remove the hoop
  • Cut out the fabric along the cutout stitch
  • Put back the hoop
  • Stitch a heavy zig-zag border on top.

3.5 Method 5

  • Same as one of the above method, but use an overlocking machine to create the border zigzag stitch.

An overlock machine, (overlocking or merrowing) wraps a thread around a fabric and also can cut.

4 Attaching the patch

The easiest solution is use a permanent glue for textiles, e.g. UHU Textil, Super Fabric, Patex Made at home Textil-tissu, Patch Attach. Before you buy any of these, make sure to read online reviews. Some glues only stick on some textiles !!

Otherwise, sew...

5 Technology for removable adhesion

So, far we did not find a perfect solution for badges that could stick to ordinary cloth and then be removed. The best solution is probably using double-sided removable fabric to fabric/skin tapes (used to hold cloth in place) and the second best is removable hemming.

All of these should be tested with the fabrics to be used on in order to avoid damage.

5.1 Velcro pads

  • Sew Velcro pads on the fabrics (works well, but is intrusive)
  • Use Poster hanging strips. These are a kind of velcro strips that glue to both sides. E.g. 3M Poster Hanging Strips

5.2 Pins

  • Use a simple safety pin
  • Get a safety pin that can be glued to the badge

5.3 Glue

  • Scotch Removable Restickable Glue Stick (formerly "post-it glue stick")
  • There is a also some 3M spray (forgot it's name)

Using a non permanent glue (spray), but has to be tested for residuals on fabrics.

5.4 Double coated tape

The best solution is probably take some non-permanent tape sold under the name of Wardrobe solutions by Scotch.

Removable double coated fabric tape, e.g.

  • Scotch Essentials Wardrobe Tape Strips
  • Scotch Essentials Accessory tape circles
  • Braza Double Sided Flash Tape
  • Adribou Fashion Tape (Boydy and clothing tape)

These models should all or most stick to both fabrics and skin

Single sided fabric tape

  • Scotch™ Removable Fabric Tape

This must be glued on the none sticky side to the fabric. Probably a bad solution since the sticky glue will wear out after a while.

Removable hem tapes / removable hemming tapes

  • Gaudy Guru Adjustable Two Side Fabric Hem Tapes for Clothes
  • Scotch Essentials Adjustable Hem Tape
  • Hollywood Fashion Secrets Temporary Hem Tape

Tape not made for fabrics. There are removable double sided tapes that are not specifically made for fabrics.

  • Scotch® Double Sided Removable Scrapbooking Tape
  • Elmer E4005 CraftBond Double Sided Scrapbooking Tape
  • 3M 238 Removable Double Sided Tape
  • Scotch® Removable Mounting Squares

One variant has assymetric tack. The removable sides has low or medium tack and the other side is strong

  • 3M 9425 Removable Repositionable Tape
  • 3M Scotch 9415PC Removable Repositionable Tape

These probably do not work for textiles.

Removable glue not made for fabrics

'Removable adhesive gum, removable mounting, e.g.

  • Scotch Removable Mounting
  • Glue Dots
  • Elmers reusable adhesive
  • Mounting putty

5.5 Permanent

Fixing a badge permanently is easy, either by (1) sewing it on to the cloths or (2) by using some "badge magic" double-sided tape, hemming tape, glue, tape to iron on, etc.

6 Links

6.1 Creating badges

6.2 Examples