Guide to Sewing on Air Force Patches

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Sewing on Air Force patches is a pain, especially when every new assignment or rank change means removing the old ones and attaching new uniform patches.


Machine sewing is most efficient where possible. Unfortunately, some locations on your uniform mean hand sewing. For this you need the following:


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Needle--a #3 embroidery needle; a sharp, medium-long needle with large threading eye. Thread to match the color of the embroidered edge of the patch. Thimble to help push the needle through the thickness of both patch and uniform fabric. Scissors. Double-sided tape (sticky on both sides)--better for positioning the patch rather than trying to pin it in place.

Position the Patch

Chapter 5, Page 135, AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel will provide for the proper placement of uniform patches, both enlisted and officers.

Apply a strip of tape to the backside of the patch, position the patch and put on the uniform garment. Check the positioning in a mirror and straighten the patch if necessary. Carefully take off the garment and begin the sewing. Ignore the tape; it disappears behind the patch and dissolves when washed.


Sewing Steps

  1. Thread the needle and tie both ends of thread together in a knot.
  2. Lift the edge of the patch slightly and push the needle through the uniform fabric under the edge so the knot will be hidden under the patch.
  3. Push the needle back through the uniform fabric and through the patch on the inside edge of the embroidery edging.
  4. Cross the thread over the edge of the patch and push the needle through the uniform fabric, very close to the edge. Pull the thread snug so it disappears in the embroidered edge. First stitch done.
  5. On the inside of the uniform fabric, advance the needle a short distance along the diameter or length of the patch; push the needle back through both uniform and patch, again at the inside edge of the embroidery.
  6. Repeat step #5 continuously around the edge of the patch in a "whip stitch" until it is completely sewn and secured to the uniform, ending with the needle on the inside of the uniform fabric.
  7. Finish by carefully pushing the needle through the uniform fabric near the patch edge but not through the patch. Ease the point of the needle out from under the patch and pull the thread between the front of the uniform fabric and the back of the patch.
  8. Cut the thread to free the needle and then hand tie the loose ends of thread in a double knot, pulling securely so the knot disappears behind the patch.
  9. Trim the excess thread as near the outer edge of the patch as possible.


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