How to attach patches? 1001 answers to this tricky question…

When talking about something as simple as “how to attach patches” is interesting to see how many different ways of getting the job done.

If you are looking for the most complete, easier or most accurate way of attaching your patches to any item, you are in the right place.

We have did all the research for you!

Many of the methods we found are similar but there are few variants depending on the material or type of cloth you are sewing on, the material your patch is made out of, the type of backing your patches count with, the type of tools available (handmade or machine made) and skill levels.

How many ways of attaching patches to cloth there are?

There are at least 4 different ways, although some state that there are 5 ways of attaching embroidered patches to your garments, the ones that state that there are 8 ways of attaching patches on clothes and finally others that assure that there is even a 9th way to do so.

But in our opinion, there are not 5, not 8 or 9 ways of attaching patches to jackets, hats, shirts, jeans, pockets, sleeves, or to pet’s cloth.

There are 10 total ways of doing it and we will show you each one of them.

Plus, we are adding 13 more points with different advice about how to apply these techniques according to the type of materials and to the type of garment you be working with.

How To Attach Patches Without Sewing?

Patches can be attached to the cloth without the need of a needle and thread.

The most of the techniques that enable this stress-free way of attaching your patches involve some kind of special backing such as heat-seal, self-adhesive or Velcro.

If your patch doesn’t comes with one of the attaching methods listed above joined to its back, or in other words if your patch has a plain back, the only other way of attaching it to your garment without sewing is by using glue.

How to attach patches with Iron-on backing? 

One of the most popular ways of attaching patches without sewing is by using patches that comes with a heat-seal material on the back, also called iron-on backing.

The YouTube video with more views about the subject by the moment this article was written is called How To Apply Iron On Patches.

With its half million views, this simple video is made with an overhead shot in close up of an iron table where a voice over explains step by step how to apply an iron-on patch to a polyester shirt.

The patch is placed at the left side of the chest and they spend the most of the time explaining how to align the patch in an accurate way.

How to Iron an Iron-On Patch Tutorial (BlindCat Arts) is another super simple and super easy to understand YouTube video where a woman shows all the process of ironing a patch and explain it step by step.

The shot is a fixed close-up of the area of some fabric bag where she wants the patch to be, which is helpful. She shows how to pill out the paper film that protects the back face of some of those patches, which comes with a little film of glue that will melt at high temperatures making a solid bond with the piece of fabric.

In her YouTube channel Braelyn B., also showed how she attached a bunch of patches to a nylon jacket by ironing them on.  In the video DIY PATCHED BOMBER JACKET | No Sewing Required, she shows how to do the thing adding glue.

Patches with Self-adhesive backing

Another way for attaching your patches without sewing is by using patches with self adhesive backing.

These are like fabric stickers, you don’t need an iron, just to peel and stick them to the fabric surface you want.Sometimes people confuse self-adhesive with iron-on patches.

Nevertheless, they are quite easy to differentiate, the first one is sticky without being heated, the second one is not.

What’s the difference between iron on backing and adhesive backing? is a great video for solving this kind of doubts, nonetheless it is a little hard to understand because of the accent.

Patches with Velcro backing:

This hook-and-loop fastener system is a suitable solution, extensively used not only for military badges, but also for brand logos and civilian emblems as well.

Velcro patches should and should not be here.

On the one hand, they shouldn’t be listed as a “without sewing solution” because you do need to sew the backing of the patch to the surface you want your patches to be, unless you be using a patch mount system which works great for backpacks for instance.

On the other hand, Velcro patches do deserve to be here because once the hook-side of the patch is installed you will be able to attach and remove the patch as many times as you want without sewing.

If what you want is to know how to sew an square Velcro backing to a piece of cloth with a sewing machine, this video will help.

How to attach Velcro backing

In the case that you be wondering How to Sew Velcro On A Morale Patch this is a different matter, here we talk about a DIY tutorial on how to transform a simple embroidered morale patch with plain back into a velcro patch.

However, the easiest way of adding Velcro to your custom patches is to request this feature when ordering.

How to attach patches with Glue?

We all suppose that patches can be attached with glue, the question is what type of glue we should use?

And again the answer is very simple: fabric glue.

There are many different brands selling fabric glue out there, however, some of them are specially made for attaching patches like the one used in the YouTube video Patch Attach – How To Use Easy Patch Attach

Other kind of glue is used in the video titled Gluing A Patch On Your Vest where it is used the E6000. According to the YouTuber it works quite good. 

Fabric fusion or fabric glue is tested over a denim vest in another great youtube video about the subject.

How to attach patches by sewing them on?

Sewing a patch is still in the XXI century the most reliable way of attaching them to any kind of piece of fabric.

To hand sew a single patch shouldn’t be a big problem for anyone having a needle and thread. However, if you are not dealing with only one but with several patches, like if you want to make battle-jackets or if you have to attach many patches to a number of uniforms, in those cases it’s better for you to use a sewing machine or an embroidery one.

Let’s do it handmade!

In many articles like this by Carleyy (courtesy of instructables.com) they recommend to attach the patch to the place you want it to be with a couple of pins before starting sewing to be sure it won’t move.

Besides, in How to sew a patch the user colleenchenry shows the process of sewing a patch to a military jacket sheet step by step. The video is the one with more views about the topic in the entire english platform at least.

Using a sewing machine

Attaching a patch using a sewing machine can be kind of tricky especially for those who don’t know how to use them.

But don’t panic, because the youtube channel Let’s Learn To Sew has a great video where an adorable lady explains every single detail of the process.

As seen  before when learning how to do it manually the first thing is to pin the patch to the exact place when you want it to be, afterwards it is important to operate the machine at low speed in order to follow precisely the border of the patch.

It’s important to highlight here that PVC patches come with a sewing channel which is an advantage because it makes the job of attaching the patch easier.

Using an embroidery machine

You can also attach a patch using an embroidery machine, this is the most recommended way to do so and it is especially helpful when you have a lot of work.

Although there are several types of embroidery machines, the most of them work quite similar, using special software to generate shapes, paths and patterns like vectors that are uploaded to the machine via USB (or some sort of digital port) where the files are processed.

In the episode 32 of Embroidery Hub, Laura, the host, shows how to operate a big industrial embroidery machine in order to attach a patch. She operates a touch screen interface and it seems very easy.

If you have a big embroidery machine the last video will be enough, otherwise, if you have a tiny one, maybe you should consider watching How-to Sew Patches | EverSewn Hero Embroidery Machine where April will show you step by step not only how to attach embroidered patches but also how to make them from the scratches.

how to attach a patch using an embroidery machine

How to do applique Patches

The word “applique patches” is commonly used to name embroidered or woven patches as a synonymous, however, according to the Cambridge Dictionary the term defines “A decorative work in which one piece of cloth is sewn or fixed onto another, or the activity of decorating cloth in this way”.

Thus, the term also defines the technique of decorating cloth by sewing or embroidering directly over the garment. This method is explained by Larissa at the beginning of “DIY: CUSTOM EMBROIDERED PATCHES || 3 techniques“.

It is used both as a mere decorative element or as a mask to hide stains. scratches, stitches, holes, rips or some other sort of fabric damage.

How to do reverse applique patches

When you sew a patch (or a piece of fabric) on the reverse of your garment and then cut the front side of your garment to show the pattern or design of the fabric sewn beneath, that method is called “reverse applique”.

It is commonly used to mask holes with a punky rebel style. The technique have been broadly detailed in the video “Kiki Magazine Presents: How To Sew a Reverse Applique T-shirt

how to do reverse applique patches

Darning

Even though darning does not require a patch, to darn it self implies to patch, to cover or to fix a hole. That’s why we decided to include darning in this list.
An excellent tutorial on how to do darning for scratched denim was made by Self Edge New York an awesome shop that repairs jeans in a professional way.

The best advice: mix 2 techniques

If you are unsure about whether to sew the patch or iron it on, then the best could be to do it both ways.
You could fix the patch in place by iron it on, and then secure it by sewing it to your jacket, t-shirt or uniform.

That way you will be totally sure the patch won’t fall down at the washing machine for instance.

How to attach patches according to the material?

As you can imagine, there are certain differences in the way you attach a patch to denim or leather and when working with special patches like beaded or PVC patches.

Embroidered or woven Patches On Denim

Sewing a patch is essentially the same regardless on the type of fabric you be using, nevertheless, some fabric will require a stronger or thicker needle, this is the case of denim jackets, a good example is shown by Anastasia in her video “How to Sew a Patch Onto Anything”

Embroidered or woven Patches On Leather

Before sewing on leather the HedgeTV’s host recommends to apply a leather care gel on the surface. Additionally to giving advice about how to attach patches to leather jacket  their video Sewing Patches on a Leather Jacket and Leather Care have a little surprise (gross joke) at minute 2:27.

A more professional tutorial about the matter says you need:

  • an 18 gauge needle
  • wide stitches (1/8 inch) for reducing the risk of tearing
  • upholstery thread (strong and water proof)
  • and a spray adhesive (instead of pins) to fix the patches to the vest before sewing.

How to attach Beaded Patches? 

If what you are looking for is how to do these kind of patches (also called beaded applique) we encourage you to watch Bead Embroidery Series – #1 The Basics- 4 Methods of attaching beads by Manie Martinez.

Otherwise, if what you want is to know how to attach them to the cloth it is better for you to go directly to How to sew a beaded applique where Anita Rivers will guide you all the way through the step by step process.

She uses a 2 ½ needle and a thread that matches the color of the surface beaded applique support.

How to attach PVC Patches?

PVC Patches can be sewn manually or using a machine, they come with a sewing channel that makes it easier to do the job regardless on the tool you count with.
Other methods like using glue or Velcro are also  available for soft rubber pvc patches.
(The only attaching method that cannot be used with PVC is iron-on, because the PVC material doesn’t allow the heat to reach and activate the iron-on film.)

Regarding the type of garment

While the above techniques can be used for any application, there are tricks and advice that vary from one type of garment to another.

On Jackets

For hand sewing denim jackets see this video where Anastasia (remember?) will go through the entire process from threading the needle to the final cut.

Battle jacket customisation guide is a video on how to attach iron-on patches on a leather or semi-leather Battle-Jacket.

If you are looking for how to attach patches to a denim battle jacket using a sewing machine and you love metal this will be a great occasion for borrowing your grandmother’s preferred toy and learning the dark side of sewing.

Sewing Patches Onto Pockets & Sleeves can be a little tricky, but not anymore because the old good Tripp again (remember from the PatchStop ?) will clear any doubt regarding the topic.
The video will show you how to attach a couple of American flag patches onto the leather jacket sleeves and pockets using a regular sewing machine.

On Uniforms

How to sew a patch is a video tutorial about how to sew a round patch to the sleeve of the US marine corps uniform.

Sewing patches can be expensive, at least according to this video where Nathan Polichnia  says it costs 3 dollars per patch. It doesn’t seems a high amount until you multiply it per the number of patches a US Navy officer have to place and replace over his entire life.

In order to save money he recommends to buy a sewing machine and to learn how to do it yourself.

While Nathan is using a white dress blues jacket, Andrew Hardy teach how to hand sew navy chevrons to a blue one.

On T-shirts

An outstanding video for this specific matter is the one made by EMBROSOFT called “How to sew on a patch (by hand) where they sew a UK flag on a white t-shirt sleeve.

Warning, the video is made without  any voice over or life narration but with subtitles and a nice video edition which, along with the soft funny music, makes it entertaining.

On hats

To sew a patch to a hat with a sewing machine can be kind of tricky but the video Sewing an embroidered patch on a hat,has a lot of cool tips.

In this tutorial Vincent Bryan shows how to do it manually and in this other one the same host teach how to attach patches to hats using heat-seal backing (iron-on).

Anyway, by far the more professional way of attaching iron-on patches to hats without warping or bending them is by using an special heat press like the one shown in the video How To Apply Patches to Hats Using a Heat Press

how to attach patches to hats

On shoes

Hand sewing patches on shoes was a pain in the ass until this dude made this awesome video about the topic unveiling the unknown hacks of this beautiful art.

In another video, the same host shows how to attach a patch to a shoe by using shoe cement to the patch and an iron in order to emulate the effect of an iron-on patch.

Nonetheless, the easiest way of solving this problem is by buying self-adhesive mini-patches.

So, we talked about the different ways to sew a patch.

Later over, we explained some tricks on how to deal with different types of fabric materials, like denim and leather.

Additionally we gave you some tips about how to deal with PVC patches as well.

Afterwards, we showed you a bunch of tutorial options for attaching patches to different type of garments.

We hope you have find useful this long list of the best videos on how to attaching patches. We will be updating this article in the case that some other techniques, methods or materials appear.