Embroidered Patches

An embroidered patch is a small, artistic piece that is created by sewing different layers of cloth onto a fabric backing.  Patches are often circular and have intricate logos on them. They are popular collector’s items that can be added to article of clothing or bags.   Modern methods of attaching embroidered patches include; iron on, Velcro backing, dryer heated, or sewn on.

The history of embroidered patches is extremely long and traces its roots back thousands of years. In ancient cultures these patches were elaborately hand stitched to signify and embellish royal and religious figures

More recently, embroidered patches have played a similar role by highlighting military standings.  Embroidered patches are used as an important identification tool for military and uniformed personnel. The patches often signify ranks, units, and names.  The first known military patch belonged to the Big One Red of the first infantry division and was issued in 1918. In civilian culture, patches are very popular amongst youth sports organizations. Teams wear clothing emblazoned with personalized logos, and often carry lose patches that are tradable items.

The process of creating a patch hasn’t changed much over the course of their existence.  First, a fabric is cut to a desired shape and size and the sides are heat sealed to prevent fraying. Next, the thread is stitched into place. Some designs use the backing of the patch in the finished products, while others stich over the backing completely. After the design is completed an iron on, or alternative adhesive attachment, is attached to the back to complete the product.  The types of stitching used in the process of embroidered patch making include; chain stitching, button hole, blanket stitching, satin stitching, running stitching, and cross stitching

Prior to the computer, this process was a highly painstaking and time-consuming process.  Patches were sewn by hand, or through the use of a hand cranked machine.  Advanced technology allows for images to be quickly digitized and replicated on a patch.  Some other advancements in the embroidered patch industry include; the application of plastic backing to improve stiffness and prevent bunching or wrinkling. The industry has also switched from traditional cotton to a polyester blend; which increases the longevity of the patch’s life.

The embroidered patch industry is deeply rooted in the textile manufacturing industry in the United States. The first large mills were located in Chicago and St. Louis. Currently, Manufacturing has moved out of the country due to outsourcing.

Related Reading: History of Embroidered Patches | Patches can help Motivate


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