How to get in on the embroidery patchs trend.

First Option Patches companyPatches have been part of commercial embroidery since the beginning, but in recent years and months we’ve seen a boom in the visibility of patches both in retail and in high fashion.  With all the added attention on the humble emblem, this patch-loving embroiderer had to write on the subject yet again. Whereas before, I have written about patches in the way they were often seen in my career, as a last-ditch alternative to direct embroidery when your garment or placement simply wouldn’t allow for ‘the real thing’, it seems that the apparel world has come around to my way of thinking, loving the patch on its own merit as both a valuable product and a way to decorate surfaces can’t easily fit under your machine’s presser feet.
To that end, I wrote a piece for Printwear Magazine detailing options for getting into the patch market, including a case study of one of our most exciting niches for selling patches; New Mexico Film and Television.  If you want all the details, I highly recommend you read the full article and check out fantastic images laid out in magazine format. For the busy skimmers among you, I’ve compiled the high points below.
This thick edge was made entirely in-hoop on a standard embroidery machine.
Patch It Up! – 5 Key Points from the article
Vintage Cool: The vintage look of patches is back, and it is now a desirable asset to stitch patches on finished hats and garments; designers are evoking this industrial, old-school promotional product, military, and camp look.
You can get in on the trend with DIY designs from Urban Threads.
Subcontracting is not a Dirty Word: Patch and emblem companies have lowered their minimums and ramped up production times. If you aren’t ready to create patches or have to hit a price-point that in-house production won’t allow, consider buying from a dedicated patch-maker.
Pre-made Blanks Save: If you want traditionally overlock edged patches, but don’t want to bring that sort of sewing in-house, you can opt for pre-made blanks. They are available from multiple vendors in traditional shapes, sizes, and colors. They are easy to stitch by adhering them to hooped stabilizer.
Blanks can be had in a wide variety of shapes and color combinations. This is a great entry to the world of emblems. These come from my industry friends at EnMart.
Cut and Create: If you need custom shapes and/or need to make patches on-the-fly to meet customer schedules, making your own patches is possible. There are numerous ways to cut the blanks from plotter and laser cutting to hand-trimming, and the edging can be done with a tight satin stitch on your embroidery machine. Simply treat the material like an applique, and stitch it to heavy, water-soluble stabilizer so that you can dab off or rinse away the excess for a clean edge. Alternatively, hand-cutting can be done post-stitching with a hot knife tool; just edge in rayon thread and stitch Polyester material to allow for the difference in heat tolerance to make cutting easy.
Sublimated patches are great for quick turn-around and customization.
More than Stitching: Patches of all of these types from pre-made to custom can be printed as well as stitched; heat-printing with transfers, sublimation, and even cut-films can be a great, low-cost, high-speed way to decorate patches and emblems. For full-color, fast, and low-quantity runs, sublimation on white patch blanks is the killer application.
Patches on-screen from AMC’s Preacher
Case Study – NM Film
We created patches for many NM-filmed television shows like NBC’s The Night Shift, AMC’s Better Call Saul and Preacher, and many, many more. Patches are a great option for costumers due to their versatility and easy production, and can be made to look natural even in places that might usually take direct embroidery.  It all boils down to three big wins for emblems and patches in film:
Versatility: Patches can go almost anywhere, be reused, and stored for use on any garment of virtually any size; great when dealing with a wide cast of extras.
Speed: They are quick to run, and in the case of our shop, can be created out of existing materials on-site at any time. With in-house embroidery digitizing and design as well as the option to use sublimation for patches that don’t need embroidered dimension, multiple designs can be turned into patches on a same-day turnaround when necessary.
Precision: When patches are created on site and fully embroidered or full-bleed printed, we can create exactly what is required and match color palettes easily on the fly. Whatever logo is necessary can usually be created as a patch in quick order.
Special thanks goes to the crew at stock design powerhouse Urban Threads for use of promotional pictures from their Crafty Merit Badge series. They make great designs!
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