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Patches 101: The 4 Most Important Options

So you’ve selected the kind of patch you want (if you’re scratching your head at “kind of patch,” check out the first lesson in this series). But that choices was just the beginning.

From special backing, thread types, merrowing and other items, designing a patch can sound as complex as a DIY computer. No worries — we’re here to make it simple. At The/Studio, you have constant access to dedicated patch design professionals who can take a look at what you want and tell you the best options for it — no exaggerations, just expert advice.

Patches come with a variety of “options” that a depend on what material you selected for your patch. There are literally hundreds of secondary options across the patch spectrum — we’re going to focus on the ones then majority of customers encounter.

Lesson 2: what secondary options do I choose when designing my patch?

There are literally hundreds of secondary options across the patch spectrum — we’re going to focus on the ones then majority of customers encounter.

Attachment Method (Backing)

Patches are only half the story — the other half is how you’re going to attach them to your bags, jackets, shirts and more. Most of our customers are happy with our easy iron-on, but for more intense or rugged situations where patches will be exposed to elements, we recommend a firm backing meant to be sown on or our extra-strength iron-on that’ll stay put anywhere for good. But you can even choose magnets or velcro backings for an easy on/off patch that works well with uniforms, flight suits, jump suits and more.


The perimeter of your patch is just as important as what’s inside. Depending on what your design is, you’ll have several options to give your patch that needed “edge” (we crack ourselves up).

Merrowed Borders  aren’t just an aesthetic choice — they help keep your patch together and protect the design from stretching as well as scuffing. This thicker line of embroidery “facing” your patch design covers every so slightly your image’s perimeter and accents whatever’s inside.

Hot Knife Borders/Smooth Cut Borders deliver a clean, precise look that’s great for intricately, 100% embroidery patches that have enough bulk to do without a “real” border. Depending on the intricacy of your design’s edges, your patch specialize will recommend either hot knife bordering for complex designs or smooth cut bordering for simpler ones.

Satin Stich Borders are clean, thin borders that cleanly define your patch but don’t cover the patch interior at all like merrowed borders. They’re also “flat,” simply outlining your patch and without distracting from the design.


Chances are you have an idea about how big you want your patches to be. In the patch industry, this measurement is sometimes reduced down to a single number, usually your design’s maximum length and width added together, to determine price. To make it simple, we stick with the logical “length x width” format, which helps us fairly price almost any patch size.

What some folks don’t know is that some patch materials work better than others for certain sizes or shapes. Patches using materials other than thread, like PVC or leather are best at medium to small sizes, whereas with embroidered patches you can make truly monster-sized projects like 12×12 back patches. Of course, your customer representative will let you know if your desired size is possible or not.

Embroidery Coverage (embroidered patches only)

Our most popular patch type, embroidered patches, requires you to determine how much “embroidery coverage” you want on the patch itself. Simply put, how much of the patch do you want your embroidered design to take up?

We offer 50%, 75% and 100% embroidery — 50% suffices for most logos while 100% is more for image-type designs. While it is the cheapest option, 50% embroidery also allows you to show off the underlying patch material you choose, which can range from camo to a reflective material, or simply a specific background color. And of course, your patch expert will walk you through creating a design that suits either price option. Get started here on our embroidered patches page.

But wait! There’s more!

From glow-in-the dark PVC material and threads to rhinestones, we feature one of the largest libraries of custom patch options in the world. The only way to really dive into them is to examine each patch type in detail. Stay tuned for upcoming lessons dedicated to each member of the patch family. Or get a headstart on your education by starting your patch project today and speaking directly with one of our professional patch experts.

PRO TIP:  don’t shy away from buying a few more patches than you need. Because of how patches are made, the difference between 100 and 200 patches may only be a couple dollars, saving you potentially hundreds in the future if you plan in advance. Our customer representatives know all the price points and are glad to help you get the most bang for your buck.





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