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What’s the Best Fabric to Use for Embroidering Patches?

Fabric is the heart and soul of any sewing project, especially for your embroidering patches. It can make or break your desired garment.

When it comes to machine or hand embroidering patches, it can be mind-blogging to determine the best fabric.

The right fabric makes a world of difference, ensuring the embroidery process is comfortable, and the end result is exactly how you envisioned. However, the wrong fabric won’t do justice to the design and will only look like a disaster.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what to look for when choosing the right fabric for embroidered patches and tell you the best fabrics to consider.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Fabric for Embroidered Patches

With so many fabrics available, it can be difficult to choose the right one. However, the best fabrics for embroidery patches should be made of durable materials able to withstand the strain of sewing and repeated bending – while not being overly stiff.

Type of Garment the Patch Will Be Applied To

The garment plays a significant role in the type of fabric you choose for your embroidered patch. Ideally, you want a garment where there is a flat and smooth surface to attach the embroidered patch. For example, most shirts are made of a form of cotton or polyester, which doesn’t wrinkle easily and can withstand ironing. Thicker garments like a coat, denim jacket, or leather bag require a more hefty fabric.

Intended Use of Garment

Your embroidery patch and fabric must be able to withstand their intended use. Coats, bags, and jackets are durable and can withstand heavy-duty fabrics. However, more delicate clothing like shirts and skirts requires more lightweight fabrics.

The Weight of the Thread and Garment

The chosen fabric must support the width and weight of your thread. When selecting a fabric, it shouldn’t allow the thread to be visible in the front of your garment unless you want that deliberate effect. A heavy thread can cause a fragile fabric to dominate the piece, while a delicate thread can get lost in a heavy fabric. Furthermore, you’ll want to avoid choosing stretchy fabrics that distort your design.

Next, consider the weight of your garment as a whole. The fabric should support the overall weight of your garment. For example, if you’re adding extraneous elements such as beading, bows, and buttons, you’ll want a more robust fabric that holds its shape well. A lightweight fabric can easily pull and stretch with heavy yarn, while a heavier-weight fabric would be needed for hefty stitching mediums. Fabrics that are heavily embellished or woven are less practical for embroidery patches.

Design and Complexity of the Patch

Determine the finish of your sewing project. How would you like it to present? The finish is vital to your fabric choice since the background impacts the feel of the project.

Look at the fabric choices and get a feel for the finishes that match your design. A shiny fabric produces a more polished appearance, creating a bigger contrast between the background and the patch. However, a matte fabric has a non-reflective surface, which is ideal for a busy embroidery piece.

Patterned fabrics may conflict with your embroidery design, so be mindful and look to more natural tones.

Popular Fabrics for Embroidered Patches

Let’s go over some of the most popular fabrics for a professional-looking patch, as well as the benefits of each one.

Acetate

Acetate is a beautiful, lightweight fabric that can be cut and sewn. It contains natural fibers that don’t shrink, fray, or stretch, and it’s known for its durability and resistance to mold.

Acetate has been used within the apparel industry for decades due to its softness and versatility. It can be easily embroidered, printed, or dyed with any type of thread-making, making it suitable for machine embroidery patches. We’re big fans!

Cotton

The most preferred fabric is cotton, due to its lightweight and soft characteristics. Additionally, it features breathable, natural fibers, ensuring it doesn’t restrict airflow in your garment. However, there’s a downside: it can shrink when washed or when the wrong care instructions are followed. Happens to the best of us!

Wool

While there are many fabric types for embroidery patches, wool is incredibly versatile and comfortable. It’s a natural fiber that won’t stretch or shrink over time, even after many washes. Wool also has a lustrous sheen, beautiful draft, and soft feel.

Polyester

Polyester is an excellent choice for machine-embroidered patches since it can be easily cut and sewn. It’s available in many patterns and colors and is not very bulky – ideal for creating small patches.

Polyester has a soft, unique, and flexible feel. This fabric is easy to work with and pre-shrunk, so you won’t have trouble stitching or ironing your patch onto your garment.

Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a form of polymer created from petroleum and other materials. Although it has many uses in the textile industry, it’s often used to make long-lasting and durable patches. Polyurethane offers a smooth finish that won’t snag easily when being sewn onto another cloth or pulled on by the needle.

Silk

Silk is a smooth, woven fabric constructed from protein fibroin. The fibers are long and have a glossy appearance that creates a silky effect. It’s one of the best fabrics for embroidering patches due to its high strength and easy-to-work-with nature. We love silk at The/Studio!

Additionally, it’s durable, soft, and won’t fray easily. This beautiful material resists shrinking, stretching, fading, or wrinkles and won’t require special care instructions.

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Tips for Working with Different Fabrics

The right fabric will support and highlight your gorgeous stitching and embroidered design. However, the wrong fabric can pucker, stretch and distort your design, ruining the patch itself. Read on to learn tips on how to work with different fabrics.

Adjust to the Embroidery Setting on Sewing Machine

The embroidery setting on sewing machines is designed for machine embroidery. It works by using hoops that attach to the device and embroiders the design for you. This setting can easily sew through a variety of textiles without a problem. It’s foolproof!

Test a Small Piece of Fabric Beforehand

The best way to select a fabric is to choose a few samples that match your ideas. Then, perform some stitching to see which looks best for your project. The more textiles you try, the more expertise you’ll gain about the best fabrics for your garment. After testing out fabrics, you may intuitively know which fabric is the right one – or ask a trusted friend!

Additionally, you’ll want to test the fabric stretch. Each fabric has different elasticity, meaning you must see whether the embroidery patch doesn’t stretch or contract when stitched on the garment. When choosing a fabric, it’s vital to check that the embroidery patch works with it since it can change how the final product fits onto your body.

Test Unwanted Patches on Fabric Beforehand

The last thing you want is to have fabrics that ruin the look or feel of the patch. What a drag! It’s best to stick unwanted patches onto a fabric to see how well it sticks and whether it will fray or snag. Sometimes, after attaching the patch, you might find the patch to be an eye sore or not durable if not to hold up your hefty patch.

When In Doubt, Consider Hand-Sewing

If you’re unsure about the settings to use for machine sewing or don’t have a machine, you can always hand-sew your fabrics. Some fabrics are simply better sewn by hand! If they’re prone to excessive bunching or fraying, stretching, or warping, it’s a good idea to spare yourself the hassle of continually adjusting the fabric on your sewing machine. Stitching the fabric by hand would probably give a better result and reduce stress!

Buying a sewing machine can cost several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. If you’re not an avid sewer, you likely don’t have a machine on hand. Instead, all you need is a pack of needles, some thread, and a pair of scissors to get started.

Final Thoughts

Embroidery patches are a great way to promote or advertise a business, organization, or cause and are best to have on shirts, uniforms, bags, and more. When choosing your ideal fabric, look for factors such as durability, weight, and intended garment use.

Whether you want to promote your company or customize your wardrobe, The/Studio offers a wide range of options to build your embroidered patches collection. You have plenty of customization options where you can choose the patch material, patch backing, thread type, and more. Get started and create your custom patches today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most commonly asked questions for finding the best fabric for embroidery patches.

What are the most popular fabrics for embroidered patches?

Embroidery patches can be customized to suit your intended use. The most popular fabrics for embroidered patches are cotton, acetate, polyester, silk, wool, and polyurethane. By far, the most commonly used fabric is cotton since it’s easy to work with, soft, and lightweight.

Can I use any fabric for embroidered patches, or are there certain fabrics that work better?

While many fabrics can be used for embroidered patches, certain fabrics do work better than others. Ideally, you’ll want fabrics with minimal fuzz and a smooth surface. They should have a high thread count and hold their shape. This includes cotton, polyester, and synthetic fabrics.

How do I choose the right fabric for my patch design and intended use?

There are many embroidery fabrics to choose from. You’ll want to consider the patch’s weight, durability, and design, along with the intended garment. The heavier the garment and the more design elements, the more durable the fabric has to be.

Are there any special techniques or settings to consider when embroidering different fabrics?

Depending on the material, you should consider different techniques or methods when embroidering different fabrics. Ironing patches is a fantastic technique for fabrics that can handle high heat, like denim or cotton. Synthetic fabrics can’t handle heat application, so it’s best to use fabric adhesives for embroidering patches.

Can I test a small piece of fabric before embroidering the full patch?

Yes! Simply cut off a small piece of your desired fabric and do a simple design using the exact threads you intend to use. See how the fabric holds up and decide whether it’s the right piece for your embroidered patch.

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