Embroidery Library

Making Patches with Applique Shapes

Iron-on patches are great for mending holes and tears in jeans, and also perfect for adding color and personality to backpacks and jackets. These project instructions demonstrate how to turn any embroidery design into an iron-on patch

To watch the free video tutorial, click the tile to the right. Written instructions are below.

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To make a patch design, you'll need two different designs: a design for the inside of the patch, and an applique shape design for the outside of the patch. Choose any design for the inside of the patch, and then choose an applique shape design that will accommodate the size of your inside design.

For this demonstration, we'll embroider a circular dragon for the inside of the patch, and then use an applique circle shape for the outside of the patch.

Choose a medium- to heavy-weight fabric for the patch, such as denim, twill, canvas, or duck cloth. Hoop the fabric with a piece of cutaway stabilizer.


Embroider the design. After the design has finished, unhoop it and set it aside.

For the next step, we'll need a template to make sure that the embroidery sized correctly for the applique patch shape.

When you download an applique patch design, you'll find two files: a dieline, and an embroidery design. The embroidery file begins with the letter "Y" followed by 4 numbers. The dieline files also begin with "Y" but ends in "_DL."

Print the DL (dieline) file from your embroidery software, and cut around the shape to make a template.

If you don't have embroidery software, then follow the next four steps to make a template:

1. Hoop a piece of paper and embroider the dieline.

2.  After the dieline has finished sewing, and the needle returns to the center, drop the needle down to mark a center point.

3.  Draw horizontal and vertical axis lines. 

4.  Trim around the shape to make a template.

On the backside of the embroidered piece, mark a center point. Do this by measuring the width of the design, and dividing by two.

Draw a horizontal axis line.

Draw a vertical axis line.

Place the template over the backside of the embroidery, and line up the center points.

Align the axis lines on the template to the axis lines on the embroidery, and then  trace around the template.

Cut out the shape.

Now that the embroidery for the patch is ready, we'll turn it into a patch.

Hoop a piece of heavy-weight, water-soluble stabilizer. We use Sulky Ultra Solvy.

For this particular project, you'll need a clear water-soluble stabilizer -- not a fibrous water-soluble stabilizer (like Vilene).

Embroider the applique patch design.

The first thing to embroider will be another dieline -- an outline that traces the shape of the patch.

Spray the backside of the embroidery with temporary adhesive.

Place the embroidery in the sewn dieline.

Continue embroidering the design. The next part to sew will be a tackdown stitch, which binds the embroidery to the stabilizer with zig-zag stitches.

The last part to embroider will be a satin stitch border.

When the design has been completed, unhoop the stabilizer and gently tear it away from the outside of the patch.

You'll need to remove the water-soluble stabilizer from the backside of the patch, too.

Cut a slit through the water-soluble stabilizer on the backside...

...and then it's pretty easy to tear the remaining stabilizer away.

There are several brands of patch glue on the market. We're using one called Patch Attach. It's available at most craft stores.

If using a different brand of patch glue, please follow those instructions.

Lay a line of Patch Attach glue along the outside of the patch, and then in the center. Allow to dry for 10 minutes.

Place the patch over the desired area.

Use a pressing cloth, and press with a hot, dry iron (don't use steam) for 60 seconds.

Then, press the opposite side for 30 seconds to ensure a nice, tight bond.

And there you have it! Kenny's ripped jeans were heading for the scrap pile, but an iron-on, fashionable patch makes them once again, ready to wear.

Click here for a printable version of these project instructions.

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