How to Sew a Patch On a Uniform

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Uniforms serve many purposes: to unite a group, to give an air of professionalism, to remind oneself of duty and responsibility, or even to camouflage. The patches on these uniforms are sometimes symbols of accomplishments, skills or allegiance. Whether it’s a Girl Scout patch or a Marine Corps badge, it will look polished when sewed properly onto a uniform. Follow these easy steps so you look your best when it counts!

Things You'll Need

  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Sewing Machine
  • Scissors
  • Patch
  • Uniform
  • Wash, dry, and iron before you begin. If it’s a new uniform, make sure to wash and dry it at least one time before sewing on the patch, otherwise the material will bunch unevenly after the first wash/dry cycle. It is also a good idea to iron the area where the patch is to be placed before starting to sew.

  • Choose the thread. Note the color of the outermost edge of the patch and choose a thread that matches that color as closely as you can. Try to pick a sturdy thread that will not easily break. Most uniforms are made of a thick material, usually a sturdy polyester/cotton blend or wool so you want something that will wear well and not break easily.

  • Measure and mark. Most patches on uniforms have a precise place where they are to be worn. Make sure you check applicable regulations before beginning to sew. Some regulations require measuring a specified amount vertically downward from a sleeve hem or to be placed in the exact center of a pocket. Once you have marked exactly where you the patch belongs, pin it in place and with a pencil, lightly trace around the perimeter of the patch.

  • Sew in outline. With the straight pins in place, thread the needle or sewing machine with your sturdy, matching thread, being sure to double the thread for extra strength. Begin sewing by either manually tying several knots on the inside of the fabric, or if you are using a sewing machine, by letting the needle run for a few seconds in one place before sewing the outline. Gently feed the patch and fabric through the sewing machine evenly and slowly one time only.

  • Clean up loose ends. When you are finished, cut any loose threads closely to the fabric both inside and out of the uniform. For an extra polished look, finish by ironing gently around the outside of the patch to smooth any rumples.

Tips & Warnings

  • For best results, use an automatic sewing machine.
  • Mistaking a traditional style patch for an “iron on” can cause embarrassment upon realization. For a flawless look, both style patches should be sewed on securely.

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