Did you know that you can make embroidered patches out of recycled fabric? In fact, it’s actually a really awesome way of using up your scraps or repurposing some clothing that would otherwise end up in the bin.
What is an Embroidered Patch?
An embroidered patch is a stand alone design embroidered onto a piece of fabric usually finished with a satin stitch edge that can be attached to items like clothing, caps, bags etc. They can also be made in the form of Free Standing Lace (FSL) which is thread that stitches over itself in a strategic way to hold the design together without additional fabric. FSL designs or patches are a lot more delicate than fabric patches though and would generally be used more for things like earrings or Christmas decorations. I’ll just be covering the fabric type patches here (FSL is a whole different kettle of fish 😜)
How Do You Make a Patch Embroidery Design?
Creating a patch design out of any design isn’t complicated but you do need to have some digitizing software (like Hatch or Embrilliance) to create the additional border stitches. You can also use most existing applique designs to create a patch.
If you have digitizing software, create a border stitch around your design – either in the shape of your existing design or a regular shape like a square, rectangle, circle etc and create the same steps you would use for creating an applique design – single run placement stitch, double run tack down stitch and a satin stitch edge to finish.
A couple of extra tips for creating the design:
- Using a zig zag underlay stitch for the satin edge will help capture all the stray bits of fabric to stop them poking up through your finished stitching
- Don’t make your satin stitches too thin otherwise you will need to cut your fabric incredibly close to your stitches which will drive you crazy!
How Do You Make a Patch?
Making a patch is really similar to creating an applique design. There are a few different methods but the easiest way I’ve found for making patches using recycled fabric:
- Hoop up some wash away stabilizer – wash away stabilizer is the fabric looking kind of stabilizer that you can dissolve with water (the “plastic looking” water soluble stabilizer kind isn’t strong enough to use for this – that’s better for using on top of fabric to hold the pile of fabric down)
- Attach some cut away stabilizer to the back of your fabric to support it. I usually use a fusible cutaway or regular cut away stabilizer with some hot melt web or heat and bond to hold it together. This is especially important if you’re using stretchy or really delicate thin fabric to avoid the fabric being pulled out of proportion and bunching of the fabric.
- Stitch the first placement stitch of the design on the wash away stabilizer then add your fabric to the hoop (secure it with tape to the wash away stabilizer – you don’t need to go crazy with it) then stitch the tack down stitch.
- Take the hoop off the machine, be careful not to bump your embroidery arm, and cut away the excess fabric from around the tack down stitch. Put the hoop back on the machine and finish stitching.
- Once you’re finished, take it out of the hoop and cut away the excess wash away stabilizer from around the design (leave a couple of mm so you don’t cut the stitches). Then take a cotton bud (or a paintbrush or something) and dab away the excess stabilizer with warm water and leave to dry.
When they are dry, you can either hand stitch them onto something or attach some Hot Melt Film to the back of the patch to attach the patches by ironing them on.
Here are some examples of patches I’ve made using recycled fabric for local sustainable bag designer Amy Conlon of Outliv.
If you have any questions about making patches, drop them below and I’ll do my best to help you out!