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Everyone probably remembers from his childhood seeing their mom or grandma patching up clothes. Especially in the previous generation that was not a generation of disposables like ours… Anyway, without starting to preach, anyone who enjoys good quality clothes that can last for years and doesn’t like to throw them away over a tiny hole should learn the skills of patching!
But patching isn’t just to prolong the life of your beloved clothes. Often people choose to add patches to their clothes simply for the looks. Indeed it is a great way to give your clothes your own personal touch!
Especially when considering all the great options that are available on the market today. All styles are available, not just for kids, but also for virtually any taste. From designer collections to rustic vintage-style ones. So there is really no need to look like a tramp with all kinds of dull patches!
The only thing is that most of us today never acquired the skills of sewing, in a neat way that is.
But do not despair, many of the great patches that are available today can be easily attached without any sewing skills being needed.
There are still advantages to the sewing skills of course. Since generally speaking, properly sewing a patch is going to be more secure and easier to remove when wanted.
But also in these two respects, the ease of cleanly removing the patch without leaving any traces while staying securely in place, the sew-free options are getting more and more secure. The sew-free options are therefore a viable option in replacing the classic sewing method in our opinion.
We will show you in this article four methods, with one of these methods we will be using a regular household iron.
Deciding On The Method
First of all, we have to consider the fabric of the clothes we want to patch. Thicker, natural fabrics like cotton for example are going to be much easier to work with and will also give you more freedom on the techniques used. Synthetic, thin, or other delicate fabrics are naturally going to be much more challenging. Especially when it comes to the appliance of heat, which generally is not advised to be used on these more delicate fabrics.
Also important to consider, is the size and weight of the patch you want to apply. A big and heavy embroidered patch for example is obviously not going to be the best choice to put on a piece of thin fabric.
Most patches that you will encounter on the market are going to be simple iron-on patches. But more elaborate patches are available too, often called appliqué patches. These mostly come in the standard form, the non-iron-on form. Often appliqué patches also come in a wider range of styles: embroidered, with beads, stitching, or shiny colorful sequins, just to mention a couple of styles available.
Reverse patches are available too if, for example, you would like to achieve the “torn jeans” look without being fully torn through and through. This way you won’t have to leave your bare legs exposed to the elements, but still achieve the stylish look many are after these days.
Obviously, the easiest method to attach patches to your clothes is going to be by using an iron-on patch and a regular household iron!
There might be an advantage if you have a dedicated heat press with a patch kit, but in our experience, a regular household iron will do just fine.
But before pulling out your iron, be sure to check carefully the care-label inside of your clothes in order to confirm up to which heat setting you are allowed to crank up your iron without causing irreversible damage to your clothes.
Often there will be an iron-sign with the heat setting visualized in dots. If you look carefully you will see that on your iron to the heat settings are visualized in dots. So just put your iron to the right heat setting before turning it on and you are good to go!
Further instructions applicable to your specific patch will often be included, so make sure to read that first too.
The first thing you will want to do is to apply a fusible material or double-sided webbing to the back of the patch you want to use. To finally fuse the fusible material to the patch you are going to need heat, by using a heat press or an iron.
Once applied, you will have to trim the remaining material along the borders of your patch in order to get a neat look.
If the patch you chose is made out of vinyl, the easiest and most accurate cutting method would be cutting the vinyl with the use of a heat knife.
This is not the best method though for other synthetic patches since the heat might damage the delicate edges of the patch. In that scenario, it would be better to use some sharp shears instead.
And when it comes to scissors, always try to get hold of the best quality ones you can get your hands on. This will make a huge difference between a neat, professional look and a mediocre one. Not to talk about the difference in the overall experience, where there are a night and day difference.
Once nicely trimmed you are going to want to peel off the protective sheet of the double-sided backing you just applied.
Now apply the patch carefully in the desired position on your clothes and permanently fix the patch in its place with the help of the heat press or iron. Make sure to check and double-check that you placed the patch on the desired location before using the press since once it’s attached you won’t be able to remove it anymore.
If you do not have an iron press or iron available, or more commonly on delicate and synthetic clothes, you CAN NOT use an iron, there is still another option available!
That option is called a fabric adhesive, which doesn’t need an appliance of heat in order to stick to the fabric permanently at all.
Instead, you apply these adhesives as you would simply apply a sticker. Adhesive patches are available in high-quality variants that offer a permanent patch. But since of its inherent nature of using adhesive instead of sewing or heat-fusing, it is advisable to solely use light-weight patches. This shouldn’t be an issue, since the use of adhesive patches was intended from the onset to be used on light, delicate fabrics where the use of a heat press or a regular household iron would be totally prohibited in the first place.
Before applying an adhesive patch to a delicate fabric it would be wise to first check how the adhesive reacts to the chosen fabric. In order to run this check, take an inside corner (that won’t be visible when worn) of your garment and attach some of the adhesives to it. You are going to want to give attention to any potential discoloration, puckering, fading, or even dissolving of the material.
If none of these symptoms appear, you have got the green light to apply your chosen patch!
For best results always make sure to wash and dry the garment beforehand properly. Since during daily wear, all garments pick up lots of dirt from the environment like for example air-pollution. But they also pick up dirt from the natural oils emitted by your own body. All these particles might compromise the end result of the patch-job and its longevity.
Also make sure to adhere to the included instructions that were included with your patch, and let it settle for at least a night before wearing. Inside the included instructions of the adhesive patch will be laundering instructions too, that vary from brand to brand. This might therefore be a good thing to research before buying so that you know to what point you are going to be limited when it comes to the inevitable laundry.
If on the other hand, you do want to keep the possibility to remove the patch and replace it with a different design in the future, the adhesive or heat press is not going to be the right choice for you. Instead, you could use a removable patch that uses velcro in place of adhesive.
Velcro patches are composed of two different parts, there’s the hook part and then there is the loop part. Therefore they are often called hook-loop attachments.
But also here you will be dealing with adhesive to attach the velcro to the fabric and patch, and therefore you will want to find a velcro that incorporates a high-quality adhesive. Otherwise, you will have to resort to sewing, which is exactly what we wanted to prevent in the first place.
So, in short, the advantage of going the velcro way is that you will have the flexibility to change the look of your garments on the fly with great ease. On the downside though, especially when using thicker patches on non-flat surfaces, it might be bulky and less refined.
After we just showed you all the different ways you could attach patches to your garments, we would like to show you a couple of ready to use products that are available on the market, each with its own unique usage.
- Heat ’N Bond Ultra Hold Value Pack
This product is of the fusible fabric type we discussed above, that should be applied with a heat press or an iron. The great thing about this one is that they made it of a very high-quality fabric that is applicable to a large range of materials. You could attach your favorite patch to either fabric, synthetics, and even leather and suede!
They provide their product in a roll, this makes it less prone to wastage since you can cut it efficiently and precisely according to your needs. Once cut to the desired fit, you will only have to remove the backing, apply to the desired spot, and finally attach it permanently by applying heat with a heat press or an iron. The manufacturer of this particle brand claims longer-lasting durability compared to commonly used fusible webbing.
This product received high ratings by verified customers on Amazon. They widely acclaim its ease of use and money-saving properties.
But not everyone agreed with the manufacturer’s claim that it is supposed to be stronger than traditional fusible webbing when applying heavier patches on rough surfaces.
For those instances that ultimate patch-strength is of the utmost importance, sacrificing some ease of use then you should look into more traditional fusible webbing products. One of the most known manufacturers of high quality traditional fusible webbing products is Pellon from Wonder Under.
- Pellon Wonder Under
Wonder Under is the market leader when it comes to fusible webbing, and is probably one of the first companies on the market too. Instead of the more commonly used paper on the backing of webbing, Wonder Under uses sturdier interfacing. This makes it much more appropriate for applying heavier patches to rougher surfaces. The use of quality interfacing instead of paper makes it also way more flexible and easier to make elaborate custom shaped patches.
Another great benefit of using a fusible webbing like the Pellon from Wonder Under is that after you apply heat with a heat press or a regular household iron, the webbing totally fuses with the patch and underlying fabric. This fusion generally results in a much stronger attachment and longevity.
Pelon from Wonder Under comes in a 2-yard roll that is 15 inches wide. We always prefer a roll to pre-cut pieces because it gives you more control over what shapes you want to cut out. Not only that, but it also gives you more control on how to more efficiently use the material with minimal wastage.
Looking at the reviews on Amazon, we see that most customers rate the product 4 out of 5 stars. Most of them acclaiming its ease of use and durability.
We continue our search of fusible webbings in order to get the best view on the possibilities and qualities offered to attach our styled patches to our favorite clothes. The third product we accounted for that has favorable reviews on Amazon is Steam A Seam.
- Steam A Seam 2
Looking at the number 2 behind the name, it seems like they have upgraded their product to version 2.0., and we love upgrades! It shows the company is determined in improving their products, generally resulting in more satisfaction, after having ironed out (pun intended;) all the previous wrinkles.
Steam a Seam is relatively a lightweight product when compared to more traditional fusible webbings. This makes it the perfect match with finer patches and appliqués.
To apply the Steam and Seam you could use a regular household iron or a heat press. The instructions explicitly mention that the use of steam is not necessary (even though their name might imply differently).
A great feature that the Steam and Seam 2 has, is that their product allows for repositioning.
But that is not all, they offer their product in pre-cut sizes of 8.5 by 11 inches that are printable!
When looking at the reviews that verified customers left at Amazon, we can be assured that the Steam and Seam 2 product is a quality product. It has been rated at 4.2 stars out of 5. Most of the reviewers are raving about the printable nature of the product, making for great creative possibilities.
Let’s continue our quest with a fourth product. This time we will take a look at a product that is adhesive. As discussed in the intro, adhesives give more flexibility. They could be used on velcro too, for even greater flexibility.
- Badge Magic Cut To Fit
As the name implies, this adhesive product is the best choice for when you want to attach badges, like for example scouting badges. The Badge Magic Cut To Fit adhesive can be applied on a multitude of surfaces. It can for example be applied to all common fabrics, leather, velcro, and foam. But the manufacturer even claims it could be used on wood and metal!
The Badge Magic Cut To Fit product is removable, which is of the utmost importance when attaching scouting badges.
On top of that, the manufacturer explicitly states in their product description that all patches that have been attached with their Badge Magic Cut To Fit adhesive are machine-washable too! This is certainly the Badge Magic working there.
Also when we investigate the customer reviews on Amazon, we see that they are mostly very positive. The most popular feature being the fact that this adhesive makes it a breeze to attach and remove the patches while staying put when desired.
Over 80% of the customers rated the Badge Magic Cut To Fit product with 5 out of 5 stars. The ease of applying the patches and afterward ease of removing satisfied many of its buyers.
You will be astonished at how many sew-free patch attachment products are available on Amazon alone. But as a general rule, we love competition as it makes the manufacturers of these products progress and perfects their products over time.
On the other side, it makes it a bit more challenging to find the right choice for your needs. As each manufacturer developed a product with its own strengths and weaknesses at different price points.
We therefore will be going on in our in-depth research to make it easier for you to find the best fit possible.
The next one on the list is also of the adhesive kind, but of a totally different nature: it is a liquid adhesive that comes in a bottle! This might give even greater application possibilities and economics. And since it has received great reviews on Amazon, let’s check it out!
- Beacon Fabri-Tac
The manufacturer of this adhesive, Beacon, calls their liquid fabric adhesive Fabri-Tac, intended for permanent fixtures. Beacon claims that their Fabri-Tac dries super fast and that it is the safest option that won’t soak into the fabric, so there is no risk of staining or altering colors. Furthermore, they claim that their product can permanently glue on a multitude of materials besides fabric, as for example lace, leather, and even glass!
The only downside is that you can not apply their adhesive on fabrics that would normally need dry cleaning.
When analyzing the reviews of the verified customers on Amazon, we see a very good 63% 5-star rating, with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Most of them praise the quality of the attachment and the relative ease of use. Some were put off by its chemical smell.
We sincerely hope that with all the information and options given above you should be able to find the right method and product for your own specific usage. You will see that with the right product it does not have to be as daunting as you initially might have thought and that you will greatly enjoy your own personalized garments in a totally new way!
When to take professional help
There are times and situations though, that it would be wiser to leave the patching job to a professional.
If for example, you have to deal with a very delicate and expensive garment that needs patching.
A luxurious silk garment comes to mind. Silk is extremely delicate, not only to adhesives but to stretching too. A professional garment worker with vast experience knows exactly the limitations of the fabric and knows how to circumvent these limitations.
Also if you choose to practice first on another garment, you might be surprised how different the targeted garment is going to be. Even small changes in weave direction can make or break the final product. So if that garment is expensive or very dear to you, our advice would be to give it to a professional for a relatively small fee.
Also, since a professional garment worker would be sewing the patch instead of using adhesives, the chance of being able to remove the patch cleanly, without leaving any marks, is greatly increased.