Published Jun 30, 2023 by Rick Cundiff
If you’ve been here before, you know we do our best to explain and simplify the world of custom patches of all kinds. It’s really not complicated, and we strive to answer every question as best we can.
We’re always here to talk about patch design, size, styles, anything you want. But what about the price? How is that determined? You know that patches are affordable for just about everyone today. They’re one of the most economical marketing tools you’ll find anywhere. Like other products there are a few factors that set the price they sell for.
You probably know that for centuries, custom embroidery was a time-consuming process, with every stitch painstakingly done by hand. Of course, that made embroidery expensive and rare. Custom embroidered designs were for royalty and the wealthy, not for just anyone. The major cost of embroidery was labor.
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, that began to change. In the mid-1800s, Swiss inventor Izaak Grobli created an embroidery machine that ushered in the era of mass-produced embroidery.
Later developments automated the production process even more. In the late 20th century, microprocessors enabled a new level of precision and control of the embroidery process. Digital patterns made it easier than ever to create affordable designs.
As we noted, the primary cost of custom embroidery used to be labor. With machines taking over the needlework, that cost declined precipitously. So what other factors influence patch pricing?
One obvious cost factor is the materials that go into making your patches. Embroidery threads and twill backing materials are the minimum items that go into every embroidered patch. Those costs can vary depending on supply chain issues, cost of raw materials and shipping. And the cost to you will depend on the backing used in your design will depend on the amount of materials used. Which brings us to…
This one’s easy and obvious. The bigger the patch, the bigger the backing, and the more embroidery thread it will require to complete. To borrow some numbers from our pricing chart, let’s say you want to order 2-inch diameter patches at 50% embroidery (another factor we’ll explain below). For 500, those would cost you 56 cents each.
If however, you want the same design on a 7-inch diameter patch (trust us, that’s a BIG patch) those would cost $3.82 each.
Like patch size, embroidery percentage is a key factor in patch pricing. Here’s how that works:
A patch with 50% embroidery has a simple design, with the embroidery covering 50% or less of the twill backing. A 75% patch is more complex, with the design covering 75% of the twill. A 100% embroidered patch covers the backing material entirely with embroidery, with no sign of the twill showing.
The number of stitches also can contribute to the price of your patches. For a given design, a patch provider might specify a maximum number of stitches per piece. Again, a larger patch and/or a more intricate design might require more stitches, which could incur a surcharge.
The equation is simple – more thread equals a higher price.
That covers the basic pricing for embroidered patches. Extras can also influence the cost of your order.
Backing and attachment choices are common extras. The simplest patch features no additional options, and is designed to be sewn on. If you want more flexibility, the price will vary.
If, say, you want to add a plastic backing that will increase stiffness of the patch, that will add a few cents to the cost of each patch. Why would you choose it? It makes the patch more durable, and easier to attach to a garment if you’re sewing or ironing it on.
Borders are another contributing factor. If your patches are a standard geometric shape, a merrowed (raised thread) border is standard at no extra charge. However, if your design is a custom shape, or if you want a more flat appearance against the garment, a hot-cut border is the way to go. That adds about as much as the plastic backing, a few cents per patch.
Most patch providers offer up to seven colors for your patch at no extra charge. You can add more than that for a slight extra fee.
Fancy thread is a great way to increase the visual appeal of your patches and make your design really stand out. That is, as long as you realize that neon colors and metallic threads can add significantly to the price of your patches. If you’re on a particularly tight budget, it’s probably a good idea to stick to the basics.
One last factor that will affect the cost of your patch order is the means of attachment you choose. The basic sew-on patch will always be your lowest price choice. That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that it’s always the best choice.
Iron-on backing greatly simplifies attaching patches to garments. If you can’t or don’t want to sew, it’s a simple, easy time-saver. It will add a small amount to the price of each patch.
Hook-and-Loop (Velcro®) fasteners are perfect for morale patches or any other kind of uniform patch you want to be able to attach and remove easily. While they do add to the cost of the patch, if you need your patches to be quickly removable, they’re the only way to go.
Tape backing is also good for quick, easy application and removal. However, it has a limited lifespan, and is best limited to short-term use, such as festivals and other one-time events. Unlike Velcro fasteners, it will not withstand laundering. The cost will be approximately the same as Velcro backing.
Those are the key factors in pricing custom patches. The real issue is not price but value. It’s all about getting the best value for your patch dollars.
At Custom-Patches4Less.com, we take pride in our ability to offer our customers the best value in well-designed patches available anywhere. Call or email if you’d like a price quote on custom patches, or if you’d like to find out more.