Embroidery patches have been used for centuries for fabric decoration and identification as part of a specific group, a practice that continues to this day. While you can use these patches on almost all fabric types, leather patches have become virtually a culture on their own. Embroidery patches add character and personality to an otherwise ordinary piece of leather. They tell a tale of what you love and who you are. With all the different ways of attaching patches to leather, you most probably want to know, can you iron on patches to leather.
Yes, you can. Although leather does not react well to high temperatures, you can attach the patch to your leather garment with extreme care. The patch attachment’s biggest problems are that the glue may refuse to adhere to the leather, and you may accidentally burn the leather if you are not careful.
When working on leather, you must be extremely careful and vigilant. This care is because leather is not forgiving of mistakes. Sewing wrongly could leave you with unsightly, permanent holes, while careless ironing could leave you with scorched leather.
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Is it Better to Sew or Iron on a Patch?
While ironing on patches does have its advantages, sewing on is the preferred patch attachment method. This preference is for numerous reasons, the least of which is its longevity. Sewed-on patches (whether by hand or by machine) have a significantly longer lifespan. They are highly durable and near-permanent. Ironed on patches, on the other hand, start peeling off the fabric after a few washes. They are also easily displaced when you apply high heat to the patch.
An advantage of ironed-on patches that may seem attractive to some people is the ease with which you can attach them. You need to put the patch over the fabric and press a hot iron over it. Compared to sewing, ironing requires fewer equipment and tools and needs much less time.
A perfect solution for excellent patch attachment is to sew over an ironed-on patch. After the ironed-on patch is entirely secure, sew around the embroidered edges to help keep it in place for as long as you wish. Even if your patch has some heat backing, you can also skip the ironing process entirely and sew it on straight away.
How to Iron on Patches on Leather
While experts do not recommend ironing on patches on leather, you can do it. Before trying to iron on a patch on the leather, it is essential to note that you should never try using heat directly on leather; the results can be catastrophic. You can only use the iron as a tool to press down and glide it over the patch until the glue melts and sticks securely to the leather. Despite all this, the leather may still be too slippery for the adhesive to adhere correctly, and the indirect heat may also scorch the leather.
Below is the guide on how to iron patches on leather.
Step 1: Decide on where you want to place the patch.
Layout the leather and determine precisely where you will put the patch. Make clear markings to indicate this position accurately. You can also wear the garment to see if the patch’s location when worn is what you had envisioned.
Step 2: Prepare the leather surface.
After finding a location for the patch attachment, you should then clean the area with warm water and a gentle detergent. Wipe the area dry after you finish.
Step 3: Place the leather fabric on a flat, heat-resistant surface.
You can use an ironing board for this, or you can also use a folded-up bath towel.
Step 4: Iron on your patch
Place the patch flat in the position you had marked earlier with the adhesive side on the underside. With the iron turned on to the highest setting, place another thin towel over the patch, and press down on the covered patch only, for some seconds.
Step 5: Finishing
After pressing down with the iron, lift it and make sure that you have fixed the patch securely on the fabric. You can sew over the edges to make the patch more durable.
How to Sew Patches Onto Leather Using Hands.
A great alternative to iron-on patches is sewing the patches on. If you do not have a sewing machine, there is no need to worry as you can do this entirely by hand. You must remember that leather is very unforgiving when it comes to mistakes, so you should do any sewing carefully.
Below is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how you can successfully hand-sew patches onto the leather.
Step 1: Gather the necessary tools.
Preparing the tools of your craft beforehand is the golden rule in almost all projects. The tools you will require to sew patches onto leather include tape, glue, needle, and thread. When choosing the thread, ensure that it matches the color on the outer border of your patch to avoid ruining the design. Also, we recommend 100% nylon or polyester thread. You can easily find thread and needles for sewing leather in craft and specialty stores.
Step 2: Determine and mark the location where you plan to place the patch.
To avoid making any errors in placement, clearly mark where you plan to sew on the patch. If you are sewing the patch on clothing items such as jackets, ensure that you confirm the patch’s location as it is worn. This rechecking is because clothes often twist and bend to fit the body’s form, and the patch placement may be different as to when the fabric was flat on a table.
Step 3: Temporarily attach the patch to the leather fabric.
Use a piece of tape rolled up into a loop to stick the patch onto the leather temporarily. This step is crucial in keeping the patch in place as you sew. While you can use different types of tape for this, we strongly recommend against using double-sided tape as it might prove difficult to remove. Alternatively, if you do not want to use tape, you can lightly spray the back of the patch with adhesive.
Step 4: Create a gap in the lining by unstitching (optional)
You can skip this step if your fabric does not have a lining, you plan to sew through the lining, or if unstitching might ruin the lining. Using a seam ripper, create a gap large enough for your hands to pass through, very close to where you plan to place the patch.
Step 5: Sew.
Try and get your needle just inside the patch edge and use the appropriate stitches to sew around and attach it. While sewing, use a thimble to protect your hands from needles meant to pierce leather.
Step 6: Removing the tape and finishing.
If you attached the patch to the leather using tape, slide your finger under the gap and remove it once you have sewn around 1/3 of the patch. This step is unnecessary if you used adhesive. Finish sewing around the patch and remember to sew the lining closed if you ripped the seams.
How to Glue Patches on Leather Clothes
Gluing the leather patches onto your clothes is perhaps the simplest and most straightforward method of attaching patches onto the leather. If you decide on using glue, you will first need to find the right type of glue. You can buy such glue from a leather specialty or most craft stores. Some stores will already have adhesives labeled as ‘patch glue’ made for sticking patches on different materials. Choosing the wrong glue can have some significant adverse effects, such as discoloring the leather.
After getting the suitable glue, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. You will need to apply some types of glue on both sides before it attaches, while for some types, you can only use it on the patch. For some glues, you will need to wait until they are tacky and for others until they dry before attaching the patch to the leather, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. Press the patch onto the leather until you are sure it is fully connected.
Steps to Sew Patches Onto Leather Jacket Using Sewing Machine
Sewing on a patch using a sewing machine is a faster, more convenient, and efficient process. The stitches you make will also be neater and more consistent than those made by hand. Below is a guide on how to machine-sew patches on your leather jacket.
Step 1: Choose a suitable machine.
For the best possible results and the machine’s health, you plan to use, ensure that the sewing machine you choose can handle leather. To this end, you can either use a specialized leather sewing machine or just a heavy-duty sewing machine. You can find such machines in leather specialty shops.
If you are still unsure whether the sewing machine you own can work on leather, consult the manufacturer’s manual, or speak to one of their sales representatives.
Step 2: Set up the sewing machine.
First, fit the appropriate gauge, sharp, leather needle into the sewing machine. Adjust the machine’s stitch length to its most expansive device and thread it with 100% polyester or nylon thread. Cotton thread is not a wise option as it may degrade the tannin in the leather as time passes.
Step 3: Attach the patch to the jacket.
Before attaching the patch, you will first need to identify, confirm, and then clearly mark the spot where you plan to sew on the patch as-is sone when sewing by hand. After marking the area, use adhesive to spray your patch’s back. Spray on just enough to keep the patch in place as you are sewing. You can also use a glue stick but never pins as they will leave permanent holes on your leather jacket.
Then, place the patch on the right spot and press down on it gently until you are sure it is secure.
Step 4: Sew the patch.
Starting at one of the corners, sew the patch onto your leather jacket, making sure that you remain close to the embroidery border on the patch. If you are sewing through the lining, ensure that you first smooth down the lining to prevent bunching up.
Step 5: Finish
Once you return to where you started sewing, continue sewing to create an overlap at the seam ends to help avoid unraveling. Remove the leather from the sewing machine and cut the thread as close as possible to the patch.
What You Should Know About Iron On Patches
Discussed below are some facts about iron-on patches that will help you attach and handle them in the best way possible.
- They are not very durable.
While you can keep iron-on patches on your fabric for some time with extreme care, compared to other attaching methods such as sewing, iron-on patches are significantly less durable. They can very easily be removed intentionally or, as often happens, intentionally. After several washes, the adhesives in the patch loosen, leading to it peeling off. As mentioned, the best way to increase the longevity of your iron-on patch is to sew over it.
- You can easily remove them.
While repeated washing is can unintentionally loosen the patches’ adhesive, you can just as easily remove iron-on patches if you so wish. Apply heat (use a hot iron) on the patch and peel it off. If you have reinforced it with stitches, removing the patch may not be so easy and can leave permanent marks on materials such as leather.
- You can reuse them.
If your iron-on patches do come off, then you need not worry. You can salvage the patch and attach it to the same or another garment. For the re-attachment, you will likely need to sew it on for it to stick.
How to Prevent Your Iron on Patch From Coming Off
You can be sure that your iron-on patch is permanent and not coming off by sewing on it to give it a firmer hold. However, if you don’t want to sew, you should still take several precautions to keep the patches from coming off.
Precautions on handling iron-on patches start from when you take off the garment and wash it up to when it is hanging dry and clean or wearing it again. When washing an ironed-on patch, some of the precautions you should take include doing a gentle wash with cold water, and turning the fabric inside out, which we discuss extensively below.
Other ways you can prevent iron-on patches from coming off include gluing the patch back down if it begins to peel off. You may encounter some difficulty reattaching the patch back to the fabric if the fabric has some dried glue. Also, if you cannot dry the material in the dryer, you can hang it away from the sun and let it dry or have it dry-cleaned.
Will Iron on Patches Come off in the Wash?
Iron-on patches won’t come off in the first washes if appropriately applied. If the edges have started lifting after several washes, you can quickly fix this by ironing it again or using fabric glue to reattach them. Below is a quick summary of some expert tips on handling laundering and drying fabrics with patches.
- Turn the fabric inside out.
This step is especially crucial for iron-on patches since the agitators on the machine walls can ruin the individual stones. Intricate embroidery pieces also run the risk of coming undone if washed right side out.
- Use a gentle wash cycle.
While handwashing is an excellent idea for the best patch care, set it on a gentle cycle if you want to go the machine way.
- Wash the clothing when necessary.
Iron-on patches tend to become loose as time passes. To slow down this process, only wash your garment when you feel it is necessary. Washing your patches frequently and when it is not needed will only help speed up the loosening process.
- Use cold water.
Iron-on patches have an adhesive coating that, when heated, melt and sticks to the fabric. Washing your patches in hot water could loosen the adhesive attached to the patch, besides ruining the fabric and patch.
- Use the coolest possible setting in the dryer.
Apart from using a cool setting in the dryer, if you want to touch up the fabric with an iron, do so quickly and not use a scorching iron that might melt the glue. Carefully iron around the path and not on it as it will not have any wrinkles.
Patches have carved a unique and irreplaceable niche for themselves in the art and fashion industries. Their aesthetic value and ability to convey a message are among some of the attributes that make them a staple in our culture, guaranteed to stay that way for the foreseeable future. The main question still is,
Can You Iron On Patches to Leather?
Yes, you can. With the right skill and care to avoid the twin pitfalls of scorching and failed adherence, you can iron on that custom patch onto your leather jacket and have your unique look.
We appreciate that you took the time to read this article, and we hope it has been informative. Our comment section is open for any comments, questions, and suggestions.