How To Sew On Iron On Patches

I have had the chance to sew on a couple of different types of patches over the years.  The hardest of them all was the military patches.

Can you sew on iron-on patches?  You can sew on any iron-on patches.   Depending on the placement of the patch you can either sew by machine or hand. With sew-on patches, you can attach them by other adhesive methods.  The best way to affix any patch permanently is to sew it in place.  

There are multiple ways to attach patches to different materials.  Just because a patch is either sew-on or iron-on doesn’t mean you have to stick with that method to affix it to your project.

Iron-on patches

The use of Iron-on patches can only be on specific material.  The best fabrics to use iron-on patches is cotton and denim.   The issue with iron-on patches is that the iron needs to be hot enough to melt and activate the adhesive on the back of the patch.  Thus, it creates an issue because some fabrics cannot handle this hot of iron temperatures and will melt or burn the fabric.  Iron-on patches will not adhere to leather, nylon and plastic type materials.

This best thing I have found to do is to go ahead and sew on the iron-on patch.  With sewing it into place, it makes sure that it will stay and not come off.  You then don’t have to worry about washing in cold/warm water and drying it with low to no heat.  High head drying can make the patch come loose from the fabric over time with the high heat washing and drying.

A great ironing hack to try

In the past, I purchased a set of the copper grill non-stick mats.  I love to use these for pressing and ironing.  They have never been in my oven, on my grill, or used with any food.  I put one down on the ironing board.  By using this mat, it helps to retain the heat.  I have found it makes the patches and iron on interfacing stick better.   Sometimes I will use the second one to cover the item while ironing to protect the iron from getting a sticky residue on it.
This mat is great for when I do appliques also.  It saves me from always having to clean my iron and from getting that sticky residue on my project that will never come out.

How to iron-on patches

For iron-on patches, I will try and wash the material I am about to adhere the patch onto if I can.  When I launder the material, I don’t use any fabric softener, scented beads, or dryer sheets.  These all leave a residue in the fabric that can weaken the bond between the patch adhesive and the fabric.  If you can not wash the material, you are about to place the iron-on patch then go ahead and wipe down the area with a slightly damp cloth to ensure the area is clean.
I place the patch in the location I want to affix it onto the fabric.   I will use a couple of very fine sharp quilting pins to pin the patch into place so it won’t slip when I start to iron it into place.
Then I put one of the copper mats down on my ironing board and place the material and patch on top of it.
I set the iron to the appropriate temperate to activate the adhesive on the back of the patch.  Then I carefully press the patch in the middle with the tip of the iron.  After I know, it has started to adhere to the fabric I will then remove the pins and firmly press the patch down for about 20-30 seconds.  After letting it cool some, I test to see if the patch is securely attached to the material.  If not I will press it again with the iron for another 20-30 seconds.  Keep in mind that the temperate must be hot enough to melt the adhesive on the back of the patch but not too hot to melt or burn the material you are placing it on.
That is it; you are all done.  Your iron-on patch is in place.

Sew-on patches

If you are worried that the thread will not match the colors in the patch, then go with an invisible thread.  These threads come in a clear and smoke color to help blend in and hide the stitching.

Ways to sew-on patches

Some patches have a beautiful satin stitch all the way around the edge of the patch.  With this satin stitch, it makes it easy to sew the patch onto the fabric.  You can do a zig-zag stitch all the way around the patches border.  This way is the most secure way to affix your patch.  Another good way to attach your it is by sewing a straight stitch all the way around the edge of the patch.  If your sewing machine can do free-motion sewing by dropping the feed dogs, this can also be a great way to attach your patches.  This way does take a little practice to make sure your stitching doesn’t look like a total disastrous mess.  The final way to sew on a patch is by hand.  You should use this method when you can’t get to the place you need to sew your patch on with a sewing machine.

How to sew on an iron-on patch.

Place the patch in the location where you want to sew the patch into place.  Next, pin it with the very fine quilting pins just like we did for the iron-on patches.
Now decide on rather or not you are going to hand sew or machine sew the patch.  Be sure you match the thread to the correct color on the patch or use the invisible thread.  When sewing with a sewing machine, you can match the thread color of the underside of the fabric you are attaching.  This way it will not be as oblivious you stitched the patch on, and if it isn’t perfectly straight, it will be way less noticeable.  If hand stitching it will just be the one color thread.

Alternative ways to attach patches

There is an adhesive spray you can use to affix patches to different materials.  It is a permanent spray adhesive, but I would consider it to be more of a temporary adhesive than a permanent one.  After some wear and tear or multiple times through the washing machine and dryer, the patch will start to come off the material you have adhered it.

Another way is to use fabric glue.  My favorite fabric glue is Fabri-Tac.  It is a clear glue and holds up well to normal wear and tear.  This glue does take some time set-up and dry.  In the past with gluing on patches, I have used 100% cotton and adhered it to the iron-on backing.  By utilizing the cloth on the back, this creates a surface for the glue to better stick to than the shiny iron-on portion of the patch.

With the use of glue and adhesive spray, you can affix patches to places that you can otherwise not attach by sewing or ironing.

More info about patches

Can you put an iron-on patch on leather?  You can use iron-on patches on leather, but you need to be extremely careful when ironing.  The heat of the iron can ruin the leather.  Always use a pressing cloth and try to only apply the heat from the iron directly on the patch.

Are iron-on patches reusable?  You can reuse iron-on patches; you will have to sew and or glue it on the next piece of fabric.  The harder thing is that you have to remove the adhered patch from the material it is attached initially.

How to tell if a patch is an iron-on patch or a sew-on.  You can see if a patch is an iron-on patch if there is a shiny film on the backside of the patch.  This coating is heated to activate the glue to adhere it to the fabric.
Can you wash iron-on patches?  Yes, you can wash iron-on patches.  I would wash them in cool or warm water only and dry with low heat.  Avoid hot water and high heat dry so it will not loosen the adhesive on the patches.
How to remove an iron-on patch.   Removing a patch can be done by reapplying a hot iron to the patch and carefully pulling it back off the material.  If you plan on not reusing the material or item you are removing the patch from; then I would recommend just to cut the iron-on patch off and stitch it onto the new fabric.