How to sew on a patch with a sewing machine

It is no wonder that you can get scratches or holes in your clothes due to any reason. If the hole is severe, most people tend to just throw the shirt or jeans away while others look for methods that can cover up this damage without affecting the charm of their clothes. One such method is to use patches on your clothes as it not only covers up the holes or damage but looks creative, unique, and fashionable as well.

You can get patches of many types ranging from simple to the ones used by bikers that have a huge amount of designs. You need to have proper knowledge so that you don’t end up with another question like, why does my sewing machine not stitch? The question that remains in the mind of almost all people is, how to sew on a patch with a sewing machine?

How to sew on a patch with a sewing machine

Well, the short answer is that you don’t need any major skills as you can sew patches on clothes with a sewing machine even if you are doing so for the first time.

All you need is to take care of some factors and start the sewing process after complete preparation. Let’s just dive into the article to know about sew-on patches and how they are sewn. We will also talk about other types of patches in the latter part of the article.

How to sew a patch with a sewing machine?

There is no doubt that sewing patches with sewing machines will increase their longevity by many folds. It is the best method to sew patches on garments that will go through a lot of pressure, wear, and tear.

How to Sew on a Patch by Machine

You should only use a sew-on patch on garments if they are designed to be used in tough conditions such as in military uniforms. Below is the short but complete method to sew a patch with a sewing machine:

  1. Start on the pre-processing by neaten up the edges of the holes or scratches that you want to cover up. Cut off the extended threads coming out of the hole.
  2. If you are repairing a thin fabric, it is highly recommended to perform an additional procedure of using interfacing,  bonding, wedding, or overlocking the edges to prevent any further damage or extension of the hole.
  3. Put the patch that can completely cover the hole while it also has some extra centimeters around the hole to sew on.
  4. Now start stitching on the edges, you can use any stitch that works best with the fabric however back stitch and zig-zag stitches are recommended.
  5. While sewing, increase the stitch length and width so that the stitch can be made too closely while keeping the edges neat.

How to sew a set-in patch using a sewing machine?

A set-in patch is probably the best option when you need to cover areas like the knee and elbows as they stretch a lot even if you are doing regular work.

This is a patch that is sewn under the holes or we can say that inside of the fabric instead of outside as we do for all other patches. 

  1. Start by trimming the extended threads and edges coming out of the hole.
  2. Snip each corner for about 1-2cm so that you can fold them towards the wrong side of the fabric while sewing the patch. Folding edges will give a better finish.
  3. Now take a patch either of the same fabric you are trying to sew on or any other customized patch that will give a touch of fashion to your garment.
  4. The patches should be about half an inch long from each side so that they can be sewn under the hole.
  5. Put the patch right under the hole or simply turn the fabric inside out and place the patch on the inner side of the fabric while its face is towards the outside of the hole.
  6. Same as any other sew-on patch, you may use bonding webbing, overlocking, or interfacing for better adhesion of the patch with the fabric.
  7. Now simply start sewing the patch by making stitches on the edges of the patch and hole. You may go with a straight or zigzag stitch for this purpose.

What is the best stitch to sew on a patch?

Any stitch can help you sew a patch using a sewing machine but some bring better results than others.

Experts usually recommend going with a straight stitch, backstitch, or zigzag stitch as they are best in terms of holding the patch firm while giving a neat finish.

Also, sewing skills and experience play an immense role in the fact that how much better the patch will look on your garment, so focus on this part as well.

Do I sew a patch on the inside or outside of the fabric?

It depends, if you want the patch to stay above the surface as people do for their jeans or denim, you should put the patch outside of the fabric. If you want the patch to look like just a part of the garment, you should put it on the inside of the garment.

Apart from this, the type of patch also matters because you can only use set-in or sew-on patches on the inside of the garment while adhesive patches or iron-on patches will always be placed outside.

How long does it take to sew a patch?

It depends on many factors such as the type of patch, the complexity of the patch area, the fabric of the patch, the type of garment, and most importantly, the skills and experience of the seamstress.

If you are good at sewing, you can sew a patch on your garment in less than 15 minutes but if you are a beginner, it may take you an hour as well. So, it varies from person to person and project to project but yes, it shouldn’t take much time to sew a patch.

How do you finish the edges of a patch?

You don’t really need to finish the edges of the patch if you have sewn them properly. You should make stitches while leaving about ⅛ inches of the area from the outer edges of the patch.

When you sew patches with this little amount of area as the boundary, you don’t really need to do any post-processing or finishing for the edges.

Some people suggest cutting the edges near the stitch  but it is not recommended by experts as doing so will let the fibers come out of the patch and make a mess.

Best tips to sew on a patch efficiently:

  • Cleaning, trimming, and shaping the torn holes and extending threads is essential to have a neat look.
  • Do a thorough research on the fabric type of your garment and then look for the best suitable fabric to be used for making patches. You should choose a fabric that survives better with the clothes fabric and does not damage it instead.
  • Analyze the fabric holes and be creative in terms of designing a patch. It should be in the shape that looks best with the fabric while covering the hole entirely.
  • While sewing a patch on thin fabric or areas that go through extreme movements such as elbows and knees, you are always recommended to add some backing such as bonding webbing, interfacing, or adding an additional layer of some other fabric. This will help you in securing the patch better while remaining intact for longer.

Can you apply a patch with an iron?

Yes, there is a specific type of patches labeled as “iron-on” patches that can be applied on the garment simply with iron.

All you need to do is put that patch on the fabric where it needs to be sticked and then run the iron all over it. The heat will activate the adhesives and patch will be attached to the fabric permanently.

How can you tell if it is a patch or iron-on?

An iron patch will have a shiny back which will not feel adhesive but can feel an additional layer attached to the back side of the patch fabric.

This is actually the adhesive material which only activates when exposed to heat. Some iron-on patches also come with an additional paper backing to protect the adhesives.

Do you need to peel off the back of an iron-on patch?

You need to peel off the back of an iron-on patch before it has been placed on the fabric. Make sure you don’t peel off the adhesive’ layer as it will make the patch of no use.

Look thoroughly to determine whether it is a protecting paper or just the adhesive layer. If it’s paper, simply peel it off but if there is no paper, don’t do anything and start attaching the patch to the garment.

Can you use a hair dryer for iron-on patch?

Yes, you can use a hair dryer or hair straightener in place of iron as well. You just need to expose heat to the patch so that the adhesives can melt and get attached to the fabric.

Simply blow hot air for about 5-15 minutes and the patch will be stuck properly. Take care of the fabric while blowing air as too much heat can damage the garment as well as the patch itself.

Can you use parchment paper for iron on patch?

Yes, using a parchment paper for iron on patches will help you get the job done without risking the patch itself. Some patches come in fabrics that can be affected by heat and using parchment paper for such patches is the best suitable idea. Some of the most heat sensitive fabrics include silk, nylon, and cotton.

Best adhesives to attach patches of fabrics:

  1. Aleene’s Fabric Glue For Patches
  2. Tear Mender’s Instant Fabric and Leather Adhesive
  3. Gorilla’s Waterproof Fabric Glue for Patches
  4. Dritz Stick Fabric Glue for Patches
  5. SINGER Sew No More Fabric Glue, Patch Attach
  6. Surebonder Hot Glue Stick to attach your Patches
  7. E6000 Craft Adhesive ideal for Patches

What is better, sew on or iron on patch?

It depends on the situation but if you need the patch to remain on your fabric for a really long time, nothing can beat the sew-on patch in this regard. The iron-on patch will feel a little bit stiff but sew-on patch will have better flexibility and after a couple of wears, you will not even realize that there is a patch on your garment.


How much does a seamstress charge to sew a patch?

The exact cost varies from region to region as there are countries where you can get this job done in pennies while there are also countries where you need to spend a few bucks for a patch.

On average, a seamstress will charge you about $5-$7 for sewing a large patch, $3-$5 for a medium size patch, and $2-$3 for a small patch.

Do soldiers sew their patches by themselves?

No, military departs have their dedicated seamstress that have one sole purpose of sewing and repairing the uniforms of the soldiers.

Such departments have to hire a seamstress because the military have to sew a lot of badges and patches and a soldier doesn’t have enough time to sew each new patch on their uniform before going out.

What are tape back patches?

Tape back patches are just like iron on patches but the difference is that they dont hold on to the fabric for a long time. It is a temporary solution and is suitable for projects where you need a patch for a few hours and will remove it once you have attended the event.

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