Get Back(ing)! To Where Your Patch Belongs: Attaching a Custom Patch

Get Back(ing)! To Where Your Patch Belongs: Attaching a Custom Patch

Published Feb 28, 2023 by Rick Cundiff

Ok, apologies for the Beatles pun in the title. Patch backing isn’t exactly the most exciting subject in the world, so we have to spice it up just a little. What you might not realize is that your choice of backing material or style can have a major effect on how satisfied you are with your custom patches.

We offer custom patches with several different backing options. Which one is right for you depends on your patch design, your preferred method of attaching your patches, your garment material and your budget.

All of those factor into successful patch design, of course. While it’s exciting and fun to consider your artwork, colors, thread types and other more flashy parts of your patches, you might think the backing is boring. In reality, it’s one of the most important aspects of how your patch will look. Let’s consider the most common patch backing styles.

Standard (Sew On) Backing

As you probably know, embroidered patches consist of thread sewn onto a sturdy twill material. That twill serves as the standard backing. It’s simply the patch itself. Attaching it to a garment requires sewing it on, either by hand or with a sewing machine. Once you do that, you’re all set.

One of the advantages of that standard backing is its simplicity. Thread, twill, presto. Sew it on and you have a permanently attached patch that will likely outlast the garment it’s attached to. Easy-peasy, right?

But what if you don’t know how, or don’t want to sew? What happens then? Well, you could always have someone else, such as a tailor shop, sew the patch on for you. Even some local laundromats offer such a service. It pays to ask around.

Alternatively, consider our next option.

Iron On Backing

Iron on backing is a fast, easy solution if you don’t know how or don’t want to sew on your custom patch. When you order your patches with an iron-on backing, you’re all set. You don’t need anything more than a standard iron, a flat, heat-resistant surface, a light cloth to cover the patch and your garment.

Attaching an iron on patch involves nothing more than applying heat to the patch. The heat melts the adhesive backing, which then fuses to the fabric of the garmentCD

Ok, there’s a little bit more to it than that, but not a whole lot. Check out our step-by-step instructions for more details.

Now, iron on patches are fast and easy, but they do have a couple of downsides. First of all, it is really important to be aware of the fabric you want to attach your patch to. Some fabrics, such as leather, nylon, vinyl, silk, lace, rayon and highly elastic fabrics such as Spandex® can’t take the heat required without damage. With those materials, your saftest bet is to sew your patches on

That’s half the story. The inverse is that PVC patches, which are made of a soft, rubberlike plastic, also can’t be ironed on, for the same reason. Those also require sewing on.

Keep in mind that while iron-on backing is considered permanent, repeated laundering over time can cause the adhesive to eventually loosen. If you want to be sure your patch stays on permanently, you can add a stitch or two at each corner of the patch after you’ve attached it to the garment. That method gives you the best of both worlds – a secure, permanent patch that’s easy to apply.

Velcro® backing

If you want to be able to remove and replace patches, or share a patch among multiple garments, Velcro hook-and-loop fasteners are the way to go. With just a little bit of sewing – the small strip that attaches to the garment – you’re ready to go.

An Optional Add-On – Plastic Backing

You can add an optional plastic backing to your patches. This adds a thin, clear plastic coating behind the twill that gives the patch added stiffness. This can make attaching the patch easier. It’s available with sew on, iron on or Velcro backing.

Tape Backing and Gluing

Tape backing is another option. This allows you to simply peel and stick on your patches. While it’s fine for temporary use, this backing has a limited life and cannot withstand laundering at all. We recommend it only for short term events if  you want to wear the patch.

While it is possible to use fabric glue to attach patches to garments, it’s not a method we recommend. Like tape, it’s a short-term solution only, and one that is likely to fail within a very short time.

The Bottom LIne

Ultimately the choice of how to attach your patches to your garment is up to you. Your choice of fabric, your sewing skill (or lack thereof) and how long you want the patch to stay in place all will help you decide which approach to use. Whatever method you use, with just a little patience, you can have terrific-looking patches.