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May 8, 2011

Embroidering Patches

Webster says, "Patch: a piece of cloth  sewed on a garment as an ornament or insignia".

Patches...  my first recollection of a patch would have been when I was earning badges in girl scouts.  Then (in the old days) thrifty mom's would patch the knees of little boys jeans.  And, of course, it's not unusual to see factory workers or anyone wearing a uniform with patch identification or decoration on it. 

I personally think that embroidery stitched on a garment looks better, but patches do have their place.  For example...

Some schools will not allow anything with a logo (except their own) on it.  This particular student had a high end Under Armour jacket.  The customer had us embroider the initial that the school uses on a patch to cover the left chest and the name on the school to cover the side logo. 

Shortly after that, a customer called and wanted some embroidery on a leather vest.  It's our policy NOT to stitch on leather.  Once a hole, always a hole.  We decided to order black patches.  It was a win/win situation. 

The next challenge is making small runs of our own patches.  Purchased patches are limited to certain sizes, certain shapes and certain colors.  Our customer has a logo that needs to go on a cap and the logo itself is too large to embroider in the normal hat hooping way.  Partner Pat is somewhat leary of making home made patches because patch purchaed "pre-made" have a marrow spine around the edge where the patch "edging" hangs on to. 

Partner Brian is up for the challenge and found a place where we could purchase "patch fabric".  It was a polyester twill with a woven backing,  very stiff stuff and only available in black and white.

This particular project isn't using traditional patches.  The cap is an atheletic mesh type cap and small lettering will just sink in to holes in the cap.  The next problem was the shape the customer wanted.  The content was just too much to fit in the possible stitch area of the cap (2.5" high).  Here's a copy of the artwork we were given...

We looked and looked for a patch in this shape.  Not an impossible task, but we only a small quantity to fill and usually on a custom patch this amount would certainly be cost prohibitive.  Partner Brian desided that the design should be stitched with a running stitch at the edge...

The patches were then cut close to the running stitch and sewn on to the cap with a satin stitch.  Not what we wanted 100% so back to the drawing board.

So, after more research, I ordered a small run patch kit from one of my vendors based on the You Tube video below.   It still really wasn't what we wanted, but the kit included the adhesive backing. 

Since we weren't really pleased with the actual patch fabric as it was a little hard to work with, we continued to ask questions from vendors that sold patches.  I did email one vendor and inquired if they sold the fabric by the yard.  The vendor responded that they use a twill that you can purchase from any fabric  store.   So, back to the drawing board and stitch on twill, affixed the adhesive backing to the twill, cut it out with a slight margin and really felt comfortable with the results!  The single on the left was using the technique from the Colman kit.  The two piles (middle and right) were made from twill fabric and the heat film.  The customer was happy and that's what counts.

Check back because I will post the progress as it happens.

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