From showing off scout ranks to favorite bands, patches are a great way of personalizing style. But besides being a form of self-expression, they can also cover up tears, holes and irremovable stains that would otherwise make your beloved garment unwearable. 

There are different kinds of patches and different methods of applying them to the fabric. Patching doesn’t require a special skill, but it requires patience. In this article, we’ll share some tips and tricks on this subject that will help you make some fashionable and unique pieces of clothing. 

Iron-on Patches

Iron-on patches are the easiest to apply, which is done by applying heat. This type of patch is usually made of synthetic fibers, and so you need to be careful when applying. The temperature shouldn’t be too hot, as it might melt the patch. 

You shouldn’t rely on the adhesive to keep the patch on forever. In fact, the glue is supposed to be used as a temporary stabilizer that only helps you when sewing the patch on. Its holding strength degrades over time, and when washed in hot water. The best way to keep this patch on is to sew it in place.

An iron-on patch can be removed, although there’s a possibility to leave adhesive residue. To take the iron-on patch off, cover it with wax paper or a thin piece of cloth. Then, press a preheated hot iron down on the paper or cloth, and hold for fifteen seconds. If glue melted, the patch can be peeled off. If it didn’t, repeat the process one more time.

Applique Patch

Applique is fabric cut in different shapes and applied like a patch on the garment. It can be either machine-made or hand-sewn. it’s also applied by either a hand or sewing machine. The fun-shaped cloth is sewn on the fabric. This can be a fashion detail that brings life into an old piece of clothing, but can also be a way to mend a rip or tear. 

Another stylish way of covering a hole is by applying a patch on the wrong side of the fabric, which is called reverse applique. Let’s say you’ve done a Z-shaped tear on your jeans. You like how it looks, and instead of covering it with a Z-shaped patch, you mend the tear from the inside with a piece of cloth in a contrasting color. Frayed ends are visible, which gives your garment a unique and stylish look. This looks especially great on denim garments and kids’ clothing.

When applying this type of patch, the applique piece needs to be larger than the hole. You’ll be stitching around the edges of the hole. Usually, satin and zigzag stitches are used for reverse applique. 

Darning Patch

While patching is adding an extra piece of cloth under or over a tear to mend it, darning is using thread to recreate lost fabric. Basically, you’re using thread to replace missing threads from the garment by weaving. Darning is a commonly used fashion detail on jeans nowadays.

When darning, match the size of thread to the size of yarns the garment you’re sewing on is made of. The type of thread doesn’t matter that much in a non-wear-and-tear area, so take whatever looks cool to you. In high-stress areas like crotches or armpits, poly-cotton is a great choice. It wears down slow like polyester thread, while it blends in as well as cotton. 

Sewing On A Patch

If you want to prevent the patch from falling off, you need to sew it on – even if it’s an iron-on patch. The adhesive on the backside of the patch keeps it in place while you’re stitching it. With sew-on patches, you need something to keep it steady before it’s stitched. Use a couple of straight pins and secure it in the desired location. The pins should go through the center of the patch, so that they don’t inconveniently stand in the way of stitching.

A stitched patch stays forever on – if that’s what you want. That means that, if you decide on removing it, that will be a piece of cake. With a seam ripper, you can cut the thread that the patch is stitched on with ease. Once you’re done, remove the lint ripped thread created. However, be careful when using a seam ripper, as you can easily rip the original fabric.

Choice Of Stitches

Most commercial patches have satin stitching all around the edges. This stitch makes sewing on the patch easier. A simple zigzag stitch around the borders is a quick and easy way to attach this patch to the fabric. For odd-shaped patches, a straight stitch is a way to go. This is sewn by hand or, with a sewing machine if it can do free motion quilting. Don’t expect to master this technique on the first try, but a little practice goes a long way.

Blanket and buttonhole stitches are also used for sewing patches on the garment. These stitches visually look alike but they’re done by different methods. Both secure fabric edges, but the buttonhole stitch is more sturdy and done with a teacher thread. 

One of the most popular stitches for patching is the whip stitch. It’s great for sewing a layered patch, as it doesn’t add up in bulk. Since the stitch wraps around the edges of the patch, it prevents fraying. 

Finally, we can’t forget the classic backstitch. This is your stitch of choice when sewing on odd-shaped patches. It’s perfect for covering all the curves, it’s durable and what’s most important, it looks good. 

Final Thoughts 

Whether you want to cover up a moth hole in your favorite shirt or you’re simply bored with it, a fashionable patch can solve your problems. Sewing a patch is not rocket science, but there are a few tricks everybody should know. We hope this article has helped you master the art of sewing patches, so you can play around and re-purpose your staple garment.