Patches are small pieces of material which are basically used to be sewn to other larger pieces to conceal, reinforce, or repair a worn area, a hole, or a tear. They are commonly used to mend a garment. However, they have already been considered as art pieces which are used as a badge for decoration, or as an insignia.
The art of making an embroidered patch has started decades ago but the advent of technology, including high speed computerized machines, made the once intricate process of patch manufacturing into a less fussy one.Advanced technology allows the recreation of virtually any design of embroidered patch. With modern innovations, they cannow be quickly scanned digitally and subsequently be transmitted to a computer-controlled, multi-head sewing machine which makes use of several colors of thread all at the same time.
Today, embroidered patches are used by government offices and agencies, as well as private companies and organizationsto designate ones job, position, or rank. Other groups such as sports teams, scouting organizations, and specialized clubs make use of this patch to symbolize unity within a group. This patch is also used by space agencies on the uniforms of astronauts to signify a mission.
To better understand how an embroidered patch is made, here is a somewhat simplified version of the process.
The background of the patch can either be fully embroidered or a plain twill.A fully embroidered background is covered with a fill stich. It provides a wide variety of color assortments. A patch with a fully embroidered background appears fuller than those with twill background. Twills are smooth polyester fabrics which also come in a fairly wide array of colors. A patch made of a twill background is cheaper than a fully embroidered patch of the same price.
A border is not really a necessity to make a patch fully functional. However, a border adds appeal to the patch as it serves as the patch’s outline. It also provides a continuous color for a sewing channel if ever the patch is going to be sewn on.Merrowed and satin stitched borders are the most commonly used borders for an embroidered patch. A merrowed border is applied after the patch is embroidered. It provides strength to the edge of the patch and also prevents it from fraying. It is usually used on a patch that has a regular shape and no sharp angles.It is typically around 1/8 inch wide. It is applied to the patch by hand with the use of a special merrowing machine.
On the other hand, a satin stitched border is applied by embroidering it into the patch. It is cut based on the shape of the design either by hand with the use of a hot knife or through a laser cutting machine. It is specially used when the patch has an irregular-shaped design or whenever it is preferred that a patch be flat. Its size is typically around 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch wide.
Patch Designing, Digitizing, and Sampling
In designing an embroidered patch, one should consider several factors including lettering size, color blends, and other fine details. For satin stiches, the minimum size of lettering is about 3/16 inch. If there is a need for smaller lettering size, running stitch is recommended. This is because with running stitches, letterings can be easily traced with the use of one thread width.
Some color blends can be achieved in most embroidered patches. However, it is still impossible to perfectly duplicate a print through embroidery. Fine details like lines can be made with a minimum width of 1mm for solid lines. It is best to use running stitches for fine lines. An embroidered patch is commonly sewn with polyester thread, although other types of thread can also be used including metallic threads in silver or gold, and glow in the dark threads.
When one has already come up with a design, a skilled artisan will then finalize the provided design using the digitizing software. This design will be converted into a format that is read by a computerized embroidery machine.
Application of Backing
PVC is the most commonly used backing for an embroidered patch. It provides the patch with body, enabling it to hold its shape even after it is applied on a garment. A patch with PVC backing is used by sewing it on.
Another popular backing which is widely used for embroidered patch is the heat seal backing. A patch with heat seal backing should be carefully applied with the use of a heat press or iron. This type of backing is not recommended for large patches. A heat seal patch also cannot be used on all types of fabric. Moreover, once it is already applied on a garment, it can no longer be removed.
Velcro type of backing is primarily used on military uniforms, while self-adhesive backing is preferred on events that call for immediate application of the patch. Both Velcro and self-adhesive backings can be easily removed and replaced, however they cannot be laundered.
After the application of a backing, each embroidered patch will undergo inspection for any loose threads and defects.