Selling patches can be a great way to earn some extra money on the side.
Whether you start a business around selling and designing custom patches, you add patches as a low-cost impulse buy to your online clothing or accessories store, or you use patches as a unique and low-cost way to personalize your clothing and merchandise, it’s a fun and lucrative option.
But here’s the thing… not all patches are the same. It isn’t enough to slap any old patch on a t-shirt and call it stylish – only the right patches will drive traffic and profit in your store.
You need a patch that’s well-designed – otherwise, no one will want to rep it. (Or click on your Etsy listing from the photo alone!)
You need a patch that’s high-quality – because once it’s on, you want to make sure it stays on and stays gorgeous.
You need a patch that matches your vision – because while you may have brilliant ideas, finding the right manufacturer to bring them to life is a totally different matter.
A good patch CAN be a hot-ticket item for your online store, driving profit at a very low wholesale cost to you.
But if you’ve never sold or customized patches before, you need to be aware of the entire process from the very beginning.
We’ll walk you through what makes up a great patch and how to create a winning patch, step by step.
What Makes Up a Great Patch?
If you aren’t super familiar with patches yet, you might be wondering… what’s the difference between a good patch and a subpar patch, anyway? Aren’t all patches about the same – a small piece of cloth or other material used to mend or decorate clothing, handbags, or other cloth items?
Well, yes and no. While most patches do serve the same basic function, there are many different types of patches out there – and different patches are good for different purposes.
If you’re planning on selling patches, either on their own or on articles of clothing, you need to identify the right patch for your target market and aesthetic.
But some features are important no matter who you’re selling to. Here are just a few features that make up a winning patch:
Unique, thoughtful design is crucial when it comes to a patch. You’ll want to make sure the colors are vibrant, the composition isn’t too busy, and any words are clear and readable. (Not a designer yourself? Don’t worry, many patch manufacturers throw in custom, expert design for free with your order.)
Polyester, twill, felt, black ballistic, nylon, camouflage, chenille, leather, PVC… when it comes to the materials your patch is made out of, you have a lot of options. The best material for your patch will depend on what sort of look you’re going for. For example, embroidered patches typically have a more classic look, while chenille patches have a fun, fuzzy look. Choose material that looks high-quality and matches the aesthetic you’re going for.
Once your patch is on, you need to make sure it stays on. A great patch will have durable, reliable backing – ideally, backing that’s easy for your customers to apply. In addition to the classic iron-on backing, you’ll also find patches with velcro, adhesive, thin plastic, magnetic, or even pin backing.
When it comes to actually bringing your patch design to life, you’ll have to rely on a manufacturer. (Unless you’re super crafty!) Look for a custom patch manufacturer with great reviews, excellent customer service, and proven results. If you REALLY want to make sure your patch is absolutely perfect before placing a large inventory order, look for a manufacturer who provides a photo sample or an in-person prototype for your approval.
Sure, you could shell out the big bucks for a gorgeous, durable, high-quality patch – but if you’re not able to get a patch for a good price, you’re not gonna make much of a profit from selling it. And while money isn’t everything… when it comes to business, it’s pretty important! Look for custom patches with fair pricing (and perks like free shipping certainly don’t hurt!)
Make sure the patches you’re selling actually fill a specific purpose. (And yes, style or decoration is a purpose!) You want your customers to see the patches you’re selling and immediately have an idea for what they’d put them on or how they’d use them in their everyday life.
Remember: what makes a winning patch for a different online store might not necessarily be a winning patch in your online store. The best patches aren’t just beautiful, they fill a specific need your target market has – whether that’s expressing themselves through fun designs, showing off their scout troop’s achievements, or dressing up their checked luggage so it’s easier to spot on the baggage carousel.
How to Create a Winning Custom Patch
Nowadays, creating a winning custom patch is easier than ever. You don’t need to have a huge budget, a sewing machine, or even much design savvy – all you need is the right idea and the right manufacturer to partner with. Here are the steps to creating a great custom patch:
1. Know your audience
If you’re going to invest your time and money into creating patches, you want to be certain there’s a market for it. Luckily, many are already searching for patches to buy, especially on online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon. Still, you should have a good idea of who exactly you’re making your patches for and what they might use them for. (Think about it: there’s a big difference between a patch for a boy scout uniform and a patch for a motorcycle jacket!
If you already have an online store and a solid customer base, think about the sort of products that have performed well in the past and prepare to create patches in a similar style. (You might even consider asking for specific feedback from existing customers!) If you haven’t started selling any products yet, brainstorm about the sort of brand and company you want to create and who you think might purchase your patches or custom apparel.
2. Find a manufacturer
While you’ll certainly have a certain amount of control over how your patch looks in the end, you’ll eventually hand your design and production responsibilities over to a manufacturing company. Since the company you choose to partner with can have such an impact on the end result, you’ll want to do some research upfront to find a manufacturer you can trust.
Look for a manufacturer with…
- Good reviews
- Excellent customer service
- A wide variety of customization options
- In-house designers
- Fair pricing
- Free shipping
- Low minimum quantity orders
- 100% satisfaction guarantees
3. Choose the type of patch you want
Start the process of bringing your patch to life! Customize every aspect of your patch, from the size to the type to the material. At The/Studio, you can complete this entire process online with a DIY product creation tool.
The/Studio offers seven different types of custom patches:
- Custom Embroidered Patches – The most classic patches, with a fabric backing and high-quality treading. Embroidered patches are great for high-contrast designs.
- Custom Woven Patches – Thin threads and a tight weave allow for a high-resolution finished product, making these patches ideal for designs that require crisp details.
- Custom Printed Patches – Photo-realistic depictions of your design, with more color options available than any other patch type offers.
- Custom Bullion Patches – 3D patches featuring tight wire stitching, making them extremely durable and artistic.
- Custom Chenille Patches – Fluffy patches that are ideal for larger designs and a fun, textured look.
- Custom Leather Patches – High-quality, vintage-looking leather patches that instantly elevate any apparel or accessory product.
- Custom PVC Patches – 3D rubberized patches that look totally unique and can weather any elements.
And even beyond that, you can customize the type of material used (polyester blend, twill, felt, black ballistic, nylon, camouflage, or reflective mylar), backing (iron-on, velcro, adhesive, thin plastic, magnetic, or pin), thread (metallic, neon, 10+ colors, puff embroidery, or glow-in-the-dark) and border (merrowed, embroidered, frayed, or none). No matter what your vision for your patch is, The/Studio can help you make it a reality!
4. Design your patch
Time to get creative! If you’ve already been selling your designs on stickers, prints, or T-shirts, you might already have some patch designs in mind. If not, you’ll want to head to the drawing board.
If you’re a savvy designer, you can design your patch using whatever method you’d like Illustrator, Procreate, Canva, or even a good old-fashioned paper and pencil. If you create your custom patch with The/Studio, you’ll be able to upload your own artwork or use their free design service.
Here are a few patch-specific design tips to keep in mind as you sketch:
- Keep it simple. Since patches are usually rather small, make sure your design isn’t too cluttered or overly detailed. When it comes to your patch, less is more!
- Make sure any text is readable. Again, your patch will likely be on the smaller side, and small or delicate text is difficult to recreate with a traditional embroidery process. Make any words you include as big and thick as you can.
- Be smart about colors. Contrasting colors will make your patch really stand out. Choose bold, contrasting colors or a classic black and white for maximum impact.
- Get inspired. Your patch design should be unique, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gather inspiration from all over the place. If you’re feeling stuck, scroll through Instagram, Pinterest, and Etsy for patch design ideas – then, add your own twist on them! Or check out the top 50 evergreen patch designs of all time here.
If you’re not a designer, that’s okay, too! The/Studio and many other manufacturers offer access to free, expert designers at no extra cost to you. Simply describe your vision the best you can and we’ll help you bring it to life.
5. Approve a mockup
After completing your order but before shipping out all of your patches, you’ll have the chance to approve a mockup of your patch design. If everything looks great, you’ll move forward with the initial quoted timeline – if you’d like to make any tweaks, you can request editing at no additional cost. You’ll be able to go through as many revisions as it takes for you to feel completely satisfied before moving forward with production.
6. Make & ship
Once you’ve approved the design, you’re in business! Don’t worry if you’ve never sewn a stitch in your life – if you order from The/Studio, your products will be created from scratch in one of our pre-vetted factories and arrive to you retail-ready. Exact turnaround times will vary depending on the type of patch you’ve selected and how many patches you’ve ordered, but you’ll be able to track your order every step of the way.
The/Studio offers free U.S. shipping, or expedited shipping items if you’re in a bit of a rush. With a 100% satisfaction guarantee, you can rest assured that your patches will turn out as beautiful as you’d imagined.
That’s all there is to it! With the right manufacturing partner and a little business savvy, it’s possible to create a high-quality, super-selling custom patch online, at a low cost. And once you receive your custom patches, all that’s left is to sell them – whether you list them on their own or use them to create customized apparel or merch.