Here’s the thing: iron-on patches are a fantastic way to proudly show off awards, badges, and display emblems for clubs and societies. And beyond hiding worn or frayed material, they’re also quick and convenient – with no stitching required.
However, it’s essential to apply the patch properly! Otherwise, it could lift or peel away, ruining your hard work. In this article, let’s look into how to keep your iron-on patch right where you want it.
Choosing the Right Iron-On Patches
There are various types of iron-on patches, so make sure you choose the right type for your project. For instance, some patches have a simple cloth backing, while others have adhesive.
With embroidered patches, the adhesive is on the underside. On transfer paper patches, the adhesive side is where the image is printed, so this should be placed face-down on the fabric. Then, the paper backing peels off once the patch is secure. Sounds easy enough, right?
Patches can also be attached to the garment with fusible web. Fusible web is a man-made fiber that melts when heated – like a heat-activated glue sheet.
When placed between the patch and the garment, the melting effect of the fusible web will fuse the two fabrics. Fusible web is easy to buy online or in the dressmaking department of large stores.
The Importance of Using High-Quality Patches
High-quality patches like those from The/Studio create a dynamic effect – with sharp colors and straightforward designs. And importantly, they adhere correctly to fabrics and garments, eliminating any slip-up concerns.
On the other hand, cheap patches lack vibrancy and a limited color range, often fading or fraying quickly.
Tips for Finding Patches with Strong Adhesive Backing
- Choose an established brand
- Check the patch – the adhesive side should be shiny
- Avoid self-stick! Instead, choose patches that need to be applied using the heat and seal method
Preparing the Surface for the Patch
Clean the Surface to Remove Any Dirt or Debris
Machine or hand wash the garment gently using a brush or sponge on the surface. Make sure the item is completely dry before applying the patch!
If you’re using fusible web, the fabric should be washed first. If not pre-washed, the web will work its way loose as the finish on the fabric prevents the fusible material from melting into the fibers.
Ensure the Surface is Smooth & Flat for the Patch to Properly Adhere
It’s essential to ensure that the area receiving the patch is as flat as possible, as any wrinkles could disrupt the bond. Be mindful, as some fabrics and surfaces are easier to manage than others.
Lay the garment flat and iron out any wrinkles or creases. You don’t have to use an ironing board, either! A clean kitchen countertop or table works just as well, but in either case, you’ll want to place the garment on a sizeable doubled-up towel to create resistance.
Applying the Patch
Use Iron or Heat Press to Apply the Patch
Firm pressure and heat are the key factors to ensure your patch successfully adheres. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before you start, as patches vary. Check the care label on the garment to ensure it’s iron-friendly.
Next, heat levels! Your iron should be set to the highest temperature. If it’s a steam iron, disable the steam setting and ensure the water tank is empty. Choose the area on the garment for the patch and iron it first to ensure it’s completely flat.
Place the patch and make sure it isn’t crooked. Tip: use a thin handkerchief or linen to cover the patch while you iron; this protects both the patch and the surrounding fabric. Ensure you don’t inadvertently move the position of the patch underneath.
Press hard initially for around 15 seconds, using a timer or your phone to check. Next, keep the iron or press moving so it doesn’t stick, maintaining an even pressure. Keep applying heat and pressure for around three minutes.
Flip the garment and iron the reverse of the area where the patch is for about another three minutes. This step should be done without covering the patch with a cloth or thin towel.
Remove the iron and allow the patch to cool. Check its stability by gently rubbing at the edge with your finger. While we recommend trying to lift it for security, wait until the patch has cooled so you don’t disrupt the seal.
If the edge of the patch starts to lift, replace the towel and press down the iron again for approximately ten seconds. This step should do the trick!
If you have applied a paper transfer patch, wait until it’s completely cool before peeling away the paper.
Custom Patch Maintenance
What Causes a Patch to Fall Off
- Poor application onto a surface that is not flat or prepared
- Not spending enough time applying the patch with heat and pressure
- Washing the garment too often
- Exposing the patch to extreme cold or heat
Prevent Patches From Falling Off
Even if using a high-quality patch and following the manufacturer’s instructions, there’s an understandable fear that a patch may start to curl away and eventually fall off.
Popping a stitch around the outside edge offers double security that your custom patch won’t budge. You don’t need to stitch completely around – just on corners or every couple of centimeters.
And don’t worry: smaller stitches in a thread that match the patch colors will be invisible and won’t spoil the appearance.
Don’t wash the garment or article more than is necessary or use scorching temperatures when doing so. Instead, we recommend a cool or lukewarm wash, especially when washing by hand. If using a washing machine, choose the Delicates cycle for the smoothest effect.
Always turn the garment inside out when washing it. Never use artificial heat to dry; allow the article to air dry and avoid direct sunlight. Items like a backpack can be sponged to keep it clean, avoiding the patch.
For durable and long-lasting patches that offer design clarity and a wide range of colors, check out the comprehensive selection at The/Studio. Our patches are well-made and remain securely in place – especially with these handy tips for maintenance and care.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the Best Way to Apply Iron-on Patches?
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, using even heat and pressure on a flat, clean surface. Always ensure the iron is hot enough and that the pressure applies steadily and evenly for the best results.
Can I Use a Hair Dryer Instead of an Iron to Apply the Patch?
While a hair dryer provides instant heat, it doesn’t offer even pressure – and even application is essential for a firm, stable stick.
But here’s an interesting tip: hair straighteners can seal an iron-on patch, as they clamp the patch to the material more evenly. Of course, straighteners aren’t known for their width, so be patient with the sealing process!
What Can I Do if My Patch Starts to Peel Off?
Reapply heat using an iron as you did when you first applied the patch. If this doesn’t help, then you can pop a stitch in the locations where the patch is starting to lift.
If the patch is peeling so much that it’s loose, then remove it entirely and use fabric glue to reapply it. This may happen after a few years of wear and tear and is perfectly normal.
Are There Any Special Instructions for Applying Patches To Certain Fabrics?
As a rule, the patch should match the fabric it will be applied to in terms of weight. Cotton and denim tend to provide the best base for iron-on patches.
Certain materials may not be iron-friendly. Look for a symbol of an iron with a red cross through it on the Maintenance and Care label. That symbol is your sign to reevaluate, as it could prevent your patch from applying securely.
Other materials to look out for? Polyester may be iron-friendly on the label, but pressing hot iron for two or three minutes can singe the fabric or cause the color to change. Ouch! Silk and other delicate materials are also not great fabrics for patches.
Can I Use Iron-on Patches on Leather or Other Non-fabric Materials?
Patches on leather jackets are a staple for motorcycle riders, but this look also weaves its way in and out of mainstream fashion.
Iron-on patches won’t adhere to leather in the usual way, and heat may damage leather. In this case, patches need to be sewn or glued on. But as this is a more specialized skill, your item may need to be taken to a tailor if you don’t own a confident sewing machine.
Synthetic materials like nylon or rayon usually melt when excessive heat is applied and are unsuitable for iron-on patches.