Embroidered patches sewn onto a jacket or bag help you remember a special vacation, support your favorite band, or mark a special achievement! Learning how to make embroidery patches opens up a wealth of possibilities, whether you want to gift or sell the badges. You can learn how to design your own badges for an embroidery machine or even hand-sew your own felt patches!
The most popular way to make custom embroidery patches is to use a computer file and an embroidery machine. Regular sewing machines can make applique-style embroidery patches. Hand embroidered patches take longer, but can add a personal touch to the badge.
In this article, you will learn how to create a digital design for an embroidery machine. You will also find out how to make patches by hand or on a sewing machine. Finally, you will find out what materials work best for custom embroidery patches.
- How Do I Make My Own Embroidered Patches?
- What Do You Need to Make Patches?
- How to Make Embroidery Patches: 3 Methods
- How To Create A Patch File For Embroidery
- How to Make a Patch From a Picture
- What is the Best Material for Embroidered Patches?
- Best Fabric for Machine Embroidery Patches
- Can You Make Patches Out of Embroidery?
- Is it Better to Sew or Iron On a Patch?
- Patch Making Kit
How Do I Make My Own Embroidered Patches?
You can make your own embroidered patches using an embroidery machine, a sewing machine, or hand sewing. Each option has a few pros and cons.
An embroidery machine allows you to create professional-looking, unique embroidered patches. You can add an iron-on fusible backing to these for easy application or make them salable if you want to run a home business.
The biggest advantage of this method is that you can quickly make many embroidered badges. You can also stitch almost any image you can imagine and end up with a professional-looking result.
The biggest downside to the embroidery machine method is that you need an expensive machine and design software.
On a regular sewing machine, you have to free-motion sew any design you want to use. This means you have more limited design options.
The biggest advantage is that you can inexpensively create applique-style embroidered patches. You can also use tools you may already own.
The biggest disadvantage is that you will find it difficult to duplicate an image exactly. This is because free-motion sewing depends on you to guide the stitching. Plus, you cannot easily stitch complex patterns.
Finally, you can hand embroider designs and turn the fabric into a patch by adding the appropriate backing materials.
The biggest advantage of hand embroidered patches is that you can use various types of stitches, plus the handmade look adds a personal touch!
The biggest disadvantage is that this method takes the longest amount of time.
What Do You Need to Make Patches?
The supplies you need to make patches depend on the method you plan to use since patches made on an embroidery machine will require more supplies than patches sewn by hand.
If you plan to stitch a felt embroidered patch by hand, you need very few supplies.
- You will need a small embroidery hoop. It’s a good idea to use a hoop only a little bigger than the patch you want to make, as this will help keep the fabric tailed as you sew.
- You will also need embroidery floss in the colors you like. You can find this at any sewing store or online.
- As an important note, you can get different varieties of floss that have a more satiny or cottony feel. The most common type of floss for hand sewing comes in cotton.
- Make sure you pick pieces of felt or fabric that can fit your hoop.
- You will also want a piece of stiff stabilizer to go behind the felt and support it as you stitch.
- Finally, you will need a hand sewing needle with an eye large enough to fit the thread and a pair of sharp scissors.
If you plan to make patches using an embroidery machine, you will need a bigger line-up of supplies. You do have to invest in supplies and technology up front for this method of making embroidered patches. But you can produce professional results and quickly duplicate dozens of patches in the same design when you use a machine!
- First, you will need an embroidery machine. This type of sewing machine can stitch fancy patterns on a special machine-held hoop. The best embroidery machines for sewing patches are computerized and allow you to upload or wirelessly sync digital files, which the machine translates into embroidery stitches!
- You will also need design software or access to online design space to create and edit your digital design files. Many embroidery machine brands offer access to this program for free with the purchase of their machine, but you may prefer to purchase a specialized embroidery software that provides a greater range of tools.
- You will need spools of thread in the appropriate colors. Check your machine’s owner’s manual to find out what kind of thread to buy.
- For most projects, you need a sharp needle with a fine point. Your machine should come with this.
- The best material for professional-grade patches is a sturdy twill cloth with a crinoline backing. If you buy from an online supplier, you can get patch-ready fabric with the appropriate patch backing already applied! You can also shop at specialty embroidery stores to find this fabric.
- You can also buy ready-made blank patches if you want to save time.
- Alternatively, you can create your own embroidery patch fabric using heavy cotton or linen. You just have to apply a stabilizer and fusible web to it yourself.
- For the back of your badges, you will need a peel-and-stick layer called embroidery backing.
- For best results, you will also need heat seal film to cover the finished badge.
- Finally, you will need either a heat press or an iron to apply the film.
How to Make Embroidery Patches: 3 Methods
You can make an embroidery patch in three basic ways: by using an embroidery machine, a sewing machine, or by hand-sewing with embroidery thread. Using an embroidery machine is the most complicated process, but it gives you the most professional results. Sewing by hand is the easiest method, but it creates a more whimsical and less precise badge.
1. Embroidery Machine
The best way to make embroidery patches is to use an embroidery machine, especially if you want to make many badges for commercial purposes. This kind of machine forms tight, layered stitches that you can’t duplicate by hand. Plus, an embroidery machine works faster and can make multiple replicas of the same design.
You can make several different kinds of embroidery patches using a machine. The most popular, though, is the iron-on patch. These steps show you the basics of how to create an iron-on embroidered patch using an embroidery machine.
- The first step is to create your own digital design, download a design, or select a preset design from your machine’s options. You can find tips on how to make an embroidery file or turn a photo into a design later in this article!
- Place a piece of peel-and-stick stabilizer in the hoop for your machine. Insert it with the paper side facing up toward the needle. The piece of material needs to have a large enough size to extend slightly beyond the hoop on all sides.
- Next, use a craft knife to lightly cut around the inner edge of the hoop. This gives you a clean edge to peel up the paper backing from the peel-and-stick material.
- Set your machine to stitch the outline of the shape you want for your patch. In this example, you will see how to use a ready-made blank patch, so use the measurements for the patch you select.
- Place a pre-made blank patch on the sticky side of the paper on top of the stitched outline. This ensures that your machine will stitch the design centered correctly on the patch!
- Set up your design file and embroider the machine onto the patch. The cool thing about this is that once you have the file ready to go, you can just sit and watch the machine form the stitches! You do not need to direct the fabric beneath the needle as you would with a regular sewing machine.
- Once the machine finishes the design, remove the hoop and peel the patch up off the stabilizer.
- To make it into an iron-on patch, you need two more steps. First, cut out a piece of fusible bond material in a smaller shape than your badge. Place a pressing cloth over the wax paper side of this and use an iron to seal it onto the badge, pressing down for about four seconds. If you have a heat press, you can complete this step for multiple badges at once more quickly.
- Let the badge cool down completely. Then gently peel away the paper backing, making sure the heat seal film remains stuck to the badge. If it comes up, you need to put the paper back and iron it again.
- And that’s it! You now have a finished badge with a nicely stitched edge and iron-on backing, ready to apply to your clothes, give away as a gift, or sell!
2. Without Embroidery Machine – Sewing Machine
You can use a regular sewing machine to create embroidered badges without an embroidery machine. That said, this type of patch works best when you make an applique-style patch that uses a zigzag outline to define the image. You will have to create these zigzag lines by steering the sewing machine yourself, so simple designs work best!
- Start by applying a layer of fusible interfacing or stabilizer to the back of your badge fabric. This gives the badge more body and makes it easier to stitch on, too!
- Next, apply your design to the surface of the fabric. If you have a light table, you can trace the design through the cloth using a washable fabric pen. You can also print the design onto water-soluble paper that you apply to the fabric, stitch through, and then soak to remove later.
- Load the thread spool and bobbin with rayon embroidery thread for sewing machines (hand sewing embroidery floss does not work here!).
- Insert a sharp needle–size 12 or 13 usually works well, especially if you use a dense twill fabric for the patch.
- Insert the fabric beneath the presser foot and set your machine to a zigzag stitch. You will want a very narrow stitch that almost looks like rows of horizontal lines.
- Next, use free-motion sewing to slowly zigzag over each line of the design. You may need to stop, remove the fabric, and change the thread if you want to add different colors to the badge.
- Make sure you sew a line of zigzag stitches close to the border of the patch, all of the way around. This gives the badge a defined shape and also prevents any fraying later on.
- Finally, use sharp sewing scissors to carefully cut the patch as close to the outside of your border stitches as possible.
3. Hand Embroidery
The most traditional way to create an embroidered design is to make the stitches by hand with a needle and thread, and you can also use this technique to make embroidered patches! Of course, sewing by hand takes much longer than sewing on a machine. On the other hand, hand embroidery allows you to work more creatively and employ various kinds of stitches.
Hand-sewn patches tend to have a fun, whimsical appearance. They do take a lot longer to make than machine-embroidered badges. But on the other hand, all you need for this method is a needle and thread!
- Even when hand-sewing, you will want to start by applying a stabilizer or fusible interfacing to the back of your fabric or felt.
- Next, insert the material into an embroidery hoop. These hoops usually feature two circles or ovals of pliable wood. You place the material over the smaller circle, and then force the larger circle down over the material, pinning it in place.
- Use the transfer method of your choice to apply your design to the surface of the fabric. For very simple designs, you can draw the design onto the surface of the fabric or felt if you like!
- For more complex images, you may want to trace the design onto tracing paper. You can pin this to your felt or fabric, stitch the design through the paper and the felt, and then gently tear away the paper after you finish, leaving the stitching alone on the felt!
- Once you have your design ready to go, thread your needle and stitch away! One of the most common stitches used in embroidery patches is the satin stitch, which fills in a space with closely spaced stitches that look smooth like satin. You may also want to use a running stitch to define edges and enclose the border of the badge, though really, the sky is the limit as you choose what kind of stitch to use!
- One important note to keep in mind if you have not done hand embroidery before is that the floss comes in a fat piece containing six separate strands. You often need to separate these and use just two or three strands twined together. Using the whole twist of six strands will create a ridged, raised design.
- Once you finish the design, remove the fabric from the hoop and cut out the badge.
- To finish it, use a whipstitch to encase the cut edge all the around the patch.
- Finally, use an iron to seal a layer of interfacing to the back of the badge, covering up the underside of the stitching and protecting it from fraying.
- Alternatively, you can turn this into an iron-on badge by adding a layer of interfacing, then another piece of fabric, and finally, a layer of heat-sealing fusible web to the backside of that fabric.
How To Create A Patch File For Embroidery
The best way to create a patch file for an embroidery machine is to use specialized design software such as Hatch Embroidery Digitizer, Embrilliance, or PE-Design. In some cases, your machine may also come with access to a design program you could use instead of purchasing expensive software.
Different brands of embroidery machines use unique file types. Almost all machines can interact with .dst file types, but some machines work best with PES files instead. File types that you commonly use for digital images, such as SVG or PNG, will not work on an embroidery machine, though you can often convert these types through your software.
While you can follow these basic steps to create a digital file for your machine, every software or online design space will look a bit different and may operate in a slightly different way.
You can use your embroidery software to either translate an image into an embroidery pattern or design or edit your own image within the software. For designs such as logos, you may want to use the preset fonts on your embroidery machine to simply design your own image, for example.
For images such as a cartoon kitten or a smiley face, you can download an image you like into your software and then use the auto digitizing option to convert the image into an embroidery file. The software turns the lines, shapes, and colors into a pattern of stitches that your machine can read and replicate onto the fabric!
Most embroidery software will also come preloaded with a solid library of designs already in the appropriate file format that you could use as well.
For information on how to turn a photo into an embroidery design, skip ahead to the next section!
How to Make a Patch From a Picture
The best way to make a patch from a picture is to use a design program with an “image to stitch” button or tool.
Every software program may use slightly different steps or employ icons that look a bit different, so you should refer to the instruction booklet or the software help tab if you can’t find the buttons for each step listed below.
- Start by uploading your photo to the design screen.
- Next, find the option to open the embroidery tool. Sometimes this is called an “image to stitch” tool or just the “embroidery” tool.
- Next, you often need to input how many colors of thread you will use in the design. You also have to input how many stitches you want the machine to use. More stitches will add greater detail, while fewer will create a simpler design.
- Make sure to save your design file.
- Depending on the kind of machine you have, you will need to wirelessly upload the file or plug in a USB to transfer the file to your machine.
This is not a professional-level hack, but you can also turn a photo into an iron-on patch by printing your photo onto an inkjet transfer sheet and then using an iron to seal the ink onto the fabric of the badge. This is not an embroidered patch, but it could be a fun way to preserve a family memory!
What is the Best Material for Embroidered Patches?
The best material for embroidered patches is heavy twill cloth with a special patch backing. This means you do not have to go through the extra steps of adding interfacing and iron-on fusible layers after you do the embroidery! You can purchase this kind of fabric from embroidery suppliers online.
You can turn pretty much any fabric into an embroidered patch. Heavy, densely woven cloth tends to work best on an embroidery machine. If you plan to sew by hand, you can easily use felt or a range of stiff woven fabrics.
If you select regular fabric to make your patches, you will need to add several layers of backing as you make the badge. These include a stabilizer before you start sewing, and interfacing or iron-on layers after you complete the embroidery.
Best Fabric for Machine Embroidery Patches
The best fabric for machine embroidery patches is ready-made blank patches that you can purchase in pretty much any shape or size you want. You can buy them in bulk if you plan to make lots of patches.
You will still need to use a few other types of material, such as a peel-and-stick layer, to hold the ready-made patch onto the hoop as your machine sews, but buying ready-made blanks will make your embroidery process so much quicker and easier!
Of course, you can also use a twill weave fabric with a stabilizer layer. You will then need to cut out the shape of the badge yourself after your machine stitches its border.
Can You Make Patches Out of Embroidery?
You can make patches to cover holes in your clothing with embroidery in several ways.
One fun way to make a patch for your clothes is to follow the steps in the hand embroidery section earlier in this article to create a felt patch in whatever design you like. For example, you could stitch a cute face onto a green oval and create your own embroidered avocado patch!
You can also use a patch of fabric that matches your clothing, and then use embroidery techniques such as the Japanese art of Sashiko embroidery to affix the patch to your clothing. This creates a beautiful repeating pattern of the same stitch over the patch.
Generally speaking, iron-on embroidered patches do not work quite as well to cover holes in your clothes because they are so stiff. You are better off using a had-embroidered patch for this purpose.
Is it Better to Sew or Iron On a Patch?
It is better to sew on a patch, though you will find that ironing it on first makes this process much easier!
In most cases, you can iron on small patches, and they will remain semi-permanently. However, sewing works better for a few reasons:
- You cannot use iron on certain types of fabric, such as leather, velvet, or certain synthetics. In these cases, you will have to sew on your patches to avoid melting the jacket, backpack, or item of clothing.
- The heat-activated adhesive on the back of most iron-on patches sticks well. But it will weaken if you put the clothing through the wash or run through a heavy rain storm.
- It’s tricky to get the edges of an iron-on patch to stay down over time. Instead, stitch around the embroidered border of the patch using matching thread. Your sewing will remain invisible and permanent for years to come!
Patch Making KitBuying a patch-making kit gives you an easy way to test out the art of embroidered patches. If you like the process of making badges, you can invest in your own equipment and supplies after taking this trial run!
For handmade patches, this embroidery starter pack by Caydo offers all the supplies you need to get stitching. It has five bamboo hoops in varying sizes and water-soluble pens for transferring your design to the fabric. The kit also offers 30 hand embroidery needles and twelve colors of embroidery floss.
For an embroidery machine, this Simthread gift box starter set of thread and stabilizer gives you everything you need besides the design and the fabric! The kit comes with 40 shades of polyester embroidery thread in mini-king size. It also includes 100 sheets of tear-away stabilizer and an expandable thread storage box.
You can make your own embroidery patches using a needle and thread, an embroidery machine, or even a regular sewing machine. The best way to make classic iron-on embroidered patches is to use an embroidery machine. You can create or edit your own designs using special embroidery software that translates an image into a stitching pattern for the machine.
If you do not have an embroidery machine, you can create applique patches that use a simpler outline of zigzag stitches to make patches on a regular sewing machine. If you want to go old-school, you can hand-embroider felt patch and apply an iron-on backing.