Branding with Patches

The embroidered patch is in its’ heyday as a decorative accouterment for custom headwear, apparel and even bags and other accessories. Historically, patches have been most widely used as part of a uniform to identify members of civic organizations like girl/boy scout troops, law enforcement, first responder personnel and military units. In terms of being a preferred decorating method on apparel and other soft goods, patches have always taken a back seat to classic flat embroidery, screen printing, and heat transfers. As with most fashion trends, their popularity may be fleeting in the retail fashion world. Regardless, in the space of customized goods and apparel, patches offer a dimensional and classic representation of brands that stand the test of time. Now, let’s unlock some of the advantages of using patches for custom branded apparel or wares.


The Classic Patch - Embroidered and Woven     

When most think of patches it’s the classic construction known as an embroidered patch. A twill backing with an embroidered design sometimes covering a small percentage of the space or most of it and bordered with a stitched merrowed edge and provided in a variety of shapes and sizes. While this is probably still the most popular type of patch used it does offer some limitations in terms of illustrating fine details in complex logos and designs. Fortunately, a good alternative for more intricate designs is the other type of classic patch. The woven patch is identical to the embroidered patch except that it uses finely knit fabric that is able to capture small details like text, borders, and lines that embroidered patches can’t. Essentially, it’s the same as a woven label you would find on the inside of your personal clothing but in a patch layout.


Customizing the Classic Patch

A few ways to take your patch to the next level is changing the background material, edging or embroidery type. First, while cotton twill is the most common form of background for a patch other options include felt, denim or wool. For edging, the classic border is a stitched merrow edge but to add depth it’s becoming more popular to include a 3D embroidered edge. Also known as puff embroidery. Lastly, you can also include 3D embroidery within the design inside the patch or a combination of flat and 3D to emphasize specific elements of the logo or design.


Alternative Patches - Sublimated and PVC

The emergence of dye sublimation technology in recent years has led to the Sublimated Patch. Simply, take the classic patch construction and replace embroidery with vivid full-color images applied to the fabric. The vintage patch look is still achieved with the embroidered edge to border the design. The newest form of a patch is the PVC Patch. It encompasses molding PVC material in various colors and depths to create a truly unique and vivid texture that brings a different element of branding with patches.


The Newest Patch - Flexible Patches

Similar to PVC patches but offering much more in terms of texture, detail and finish is the Flexible Patch. Made of a thermal plastic that is molded in laser-like detail and intricacy they elevate patches to a completely new dimension that is beyond the 21st century. Flexible patches can be applied to a variety of surfaces and the name comes from its’ pliability to conform to its’ surface without compromising its construction. They can be produced in a metallic or non-metallic finish and in various levels of depth and texture.  


Application - Stitched or Heat Sealed

The classic and still the most tried-and-true method of applying a patch is via line stitching around the edge of the patch. However, there are more common options available now that allow for patches to be applied via a pressure-sensitive heat seal. While it’s promoted that many patches can be easily applied via an iron-on method at home it’s not always that easy. It’s recommended for long-term durability to apply patches via stitch unless you have access to a commercial heat seal press.


Whether your company is going for a trendy, vintage look for branding your corporate apparel and products or just looking for an alternative to more common branding methods; patches offer a high-quality look that will certainly elevate your brands' appearance and the products they are applied upon.