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Choosing the Right Patch Backing

Embroidered patches are popular for many purposes today, and are available in many different shapes. Several different backing styles are commonly used on patches. The one that's right for your design depends on how you will use the embroidered patch.

The standard backing material for any embroidered patch is twill. The standard patch arrives ready to be sewn onto any garment. This is the least expensive backing choice. This will be the only backing you need for many embroidered patches.

An embroidered patch that features a 100 percent embroidered design essentially has no backing. The thread design covers the entire patch surface. Once again, this is a sew-on patch.

Plastic backing adds stiffness to the standard backing. The entire back of the embroidered patch is sealed in plastic, ready to be sewn onto a garment.

Iron-on backing allows easy installation of embroidered patches. An iron-on patch can be applied to any non-stretch fabric that can safely be ironed.

Iron-on backing material also is perfect for holding a custom embroidered patch in place when you're sewing the perimeter of the patch to the garment. This makes it easy to get the patch straight and level when you're sewing it on, and will be more permanent than an iron-on backing alone.

Be aware that iron-on patches are not suitable for all materials. Iron-on backing can't be used on any material -- such as silk, nylon or leather -- that can't withstand the highest heat setting on an iron. If there is any question about whether a particular garment can take the heat required to apply an iron-on embroidered patch, it's best to select either a different garment or a different patch backing.

If you need embroidered patches you can remove and reapply, Velcro backing is the answer. One side of the Velcro is on the patch, while the other side gets sewn onto the garment. This adds extra durability to the patch by enabling it to be removed before laundering the garments. This backing type is especially popular with military units.

For those who don't need a permanent application, temporary patches don't require sewn-on or iron-on backing. Tape backing is the perfect solution for temporary and short-term applications where patches need to be removable. Just peel and stick. When you're ready to remove the patch, just peel it off.

Your selection of backing type also will affect the border or edge style of the embroidered patch. Most patches come with the standard merrowed border in which a border of thread is stitched onto the perimeter of the custom embroidered patch. This gives your embroidered patch the customary "wraparound" patch appearance. This border style presents a visual separation between the patch and the garment, and adds sturdiness to the patch.

A hot cut border is the other option. Patches are laser-cut, leaving a sharp, distinct edge. This is the preferred border for custom shaped patches and for instances in which you don't want to sacrifice patch detail. Hot cut borders are recommended for iron-on patches, because they allow the adhesive to extend all the way to the edge of the patch.

Our expert staff at The Patch Factory is always happy to answer your questions about backing materials or any other aspect of embroidered patch design.