Pretty Embroidered Patches

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Rebecca Martin

Popular in the early 20th century, patches later fell by the wayside. However, they’re back in style now. This means that by patching your worn clothes, not only can you get more wear out of them, but if you embellish those patches with embroidery, you can be fashionable at the same time.

So, why not be stylish while saving money? I recently patched the worn-out elbows on a favorite jacket with some fabric recycled from another garment, and it turned out great.

STEP 1: Take a good look at the garment you wish to patch, so you can determine what size and shape your finished patch needs to be. In examining the torn elbows on my jacket, I realized a commercial oval-shaped patch wouldn’t be suitable, because the rear sleeve panel was tapered, and oval commercial patches wouldn’t fit the taper. So instead, I created a custom template that tapered like the sleeve.

NOTE: To make a customized template, look around your home for objects with the right size and shape that you can trace. I used canning jar lids of two sizes that were of the right diameter for the width of the jacket’s sleeve panel, and on a piece of cardstock (actually a greeting card), I traced around the lids (see photos A and B), and then connected the two circles with a tapered line between their widest points (see photos C and D).

STEP 2: Position your cardstock template on the patch fabric, and then trace around it with tailor’s chalk. Remove the template, and then chalk an additional line 1⁄4 inch outside the first line, and cut out the patch on this outer line.
STEP 3: Lay your template on a piece of double-sided fusible interfacing. Trace around the template, and then cut it out along the marked line. Following the manufacturer’s directions, iron the interfacing to the reverse side of the patch. On my patch, I folded over the 1⁄4-inch edge and ironed it to lay flat on the unfused side of the interfacing (what will become the inside of the patch), which produced a smooth, finished edge.
STEP 4: Peel off the paper on the unfused side of the interfacing. Working on an ironing board, smooth out the sleeve panel and position the patch to cover the tears. Make sure the 1⁄4-inch hem is folded under along the edges. Iron the patch to the jacket. The edges will remain loose because of the folded-under hem.
STEP 5: Using an embroidery needle, secure the edges and add embellishment to your patch by embroidering around all the edges in a blanket stitch, using a contrasting color of embroidery floss.

Blanket Stitching & Embroidering

Blanket stitch is a good edging stitch that’s fairly easy for beginners to execute. First, cut a length of embroidery floss about a foot long, and then divide the individual strands so you’ll be working with only three of the six. Thread the embroidery needle, and knot one end of the floss. Push the needle up through the jacket fabric very close to the patch, and pull the thread through so the knot rests on the underside. About 3/8 inch to one side, and 3/8 inch onto the patch, push the needle down through both layers of fabric (patch and underlying jacket), but don’t pull the thread taut just yet. First, push the needle back up through the jacket only, directly below where the needle has exited the patch, and above the loose thread. Now, pull the thread taut. The thread will form a reversed “L.” Repeat these stitches around the circumference of the patch. When you’ve reached the first stitch, push the needle down through the jacket and tie a knot to secure the thread.
If you’re confident in your embroidery skills, you can add embellishment to the patch itself, as I did. If you choose to do so, it’s best done at the end of Step 2, just after you’ve cut out the patch. I worked embroidered designs on the patch fabric’s woven designs using a simple line of backstitch ending in a single loop of chain stitch.

Rebecca Martin is a Capper’s Farmer editor who enjoys making all types of useful projects, using a variety of crafting techniques.