Iron On or Sew On: Can You Sew Iron On Patches? (+10 Tips)

Patches cover a multitude of sins. It used to be that you could tear your jeans without worry. A good patch would cover the tear in no time at all. But as the years passed patching tears fell out of favor. Now you usually only see them on a professor’s sports coat.

Can you sew iron on patches? Yes, you can sew iron patches on your garments. This is the way to keep them secure and from being ruined in the wash. Sewing is the preferred way for leather and nylon fabrics. Do not iron patches to these fabrics.

To learn more about handling iron on patches, just continue to read our article. It has the information to help guide you to the best ways to sew them on and not ruin your fabrics or clothes.

Tip 1: leave the little plastic backing on iron patches when sewing the iron on patch onto your fabric.

Tip 2: If you are having trouble sewing through the glue layer you might want to try a wedge needle over a regular needle. It should penetrate the glue layer easier than other needles.

Sewing Iron on Patches

This is not a difficult or complicated sewing task. It should take an experienced seamstress only a few minutes to get the patch in place and use the best stitch to hold the patch.

The tricky part is matching the thread color to the patch. You should try to use a thread color that matches the dominant color on the iron on patch. Or if you are skilled find a very complementary color that highlights the details on the patch.

If you are not that skilled, an invisible thread may be the best way to go. No one will see it, it won’t clash with the other colors and you can hide any mistakes you make. With machine sewing you may have to deal with two colors of thread and match them up with the patch colors.

A final thread you can use is a smoke color. This version of thread usually does not clash with any color on the spectrum. It too hides any mistakes that may be made and the patch will look very good throughout its time on your garments or backpacks.

Tip 3: if you are using your sewing machine, a zig-zag stitch all the way around the edge is the securest stitch to use on patches

How to Hand Sew Iron on Patches


Hand sewing patches is not a difficult chore to [perform. It may be calming as you are alone with your thoughts and can concentrate on what you are doing. In other words it may be a very relaxing task to do and you save on electrical power.

The first thing you need to do when hand sewing is to locate the right spot for the patch and secure it with quilting or similar pins. Once that is done, you need to select your thread.

As stated earlier, you need to match the color of the thread, and in hand stitching there is only one to choose. Or you can use an invisible or smoke colored thread to make sure the patch gets all the attention.

After you have chosen the thread you will use, you now have to decide on the style of stitch you want on the patch. For sewing machines, a zigzag stitch is the best but for hand sewing, you may want to use a good backstitch to make sure the thread holds up under rough treatment.

Tip 4: Iron the patch on first. This will protect the patch from melting weird when it is being run through the dryer. It will also keep the patch securely in place when starting to sew it.

Do You Have to Sew Iron On Patches

No, you do not have to sew an iron on patch to your clothes or backpacks and so on. Ironing them on will affix the patch securely enough temporarily. These patches are not made from indestructible material and will not last forever.

What sewing does is to help these iron patches stay on longer and let you enjoy them a lot longer. Washing machines can be tough on iron on patches. It usually only takes a couple or three machine washings before they start to peel.

Sewing stops that destruction before it takes place. Also, sewing may help prevent those patches from being torn off when your children participate in some very tough activities. The stronger the hold the better the iron on patch remains in place.

Another thing that sewing does for you is save you money. It is better to spend a few moments sewing the patch on than it is spending more money to go and get the same patches from the store or organization you got them from initially.

Tip 5: if you do not want to iron those patches on, glue is a good replacement. It goes on fast, is easy to apply and you do not have to wait for your iron to heat up just for one patch. You save a little on electrical use using glue.

Iron On or Sew On Patches


One of the main drawbacks to iron on patches is that the glue is very vulnerable to heat. After you iron on the patch, it may not be your dryer that starts to ruin it. It may be the sun and the hot weather it brings that does the trick.

Or it may be the heat in your home, office or school that starts decaying the iron on patch. The drawback to a sew on patch is that you have no options available. You have to sew it on no matter what. At least with iron on patches you get a choice.

While some people prefer iron patches for that specific reason, a sew on patch is probably a lot better. It is more durable, it looks better and you can add a creative touch when the patch calls for it.

Then some choose and iron patch because it doesn‘t need a thick needle to get it in place. If you can’t get your normal needle through the glue layer, you will have to go to a thicker needle anyways.

The winner here would be the sew on patch because it lasts longer, handles rough treatment better and it may look a lot better.

Tip 6: Don’t iron on patches to leather or vinyl. The reason for this prohibition is that the heat of the iron may ruin both fabrics. If you think you can iron these fabrics, your iron heat may be too low for the patch to adhere correctly.

Difference Between Iron On Patch and Sew On Patch

One of the differences between the two patches is that the iron on version has a layer of glue on the back side. The sew on patch is usually a simple embroidered patch made of fabric and thread.

Another difference is how the back looks. An iron on patch will have a cloudy look to it, whereas the sew on patch will simply look like fabric. The cloudy look may come from the glue place on the back.

Unless the iron on patches are made with different materials than the sew on variety, it is basically very hard to tell which is which. The only differences are already mentioned here.

To tell which is which, you may have to look on the package and read to see which one is inside. If the package doesn’t say, then you should iron the patch and if it falls off, then you have a clear sign that the patch was a sew on type.

Tip 7: Once you put the iron on patch in place avoid using hot water and high dryer heat. Use cool or cold water and hang drying out of the sun is best.

Is it Better to Sew or Iron On a Patch


For security and longevity, sewing a patch on is the best way to go. Iron on is a good option but it is vulnerable to too many destructive forces for it to outlast a sewn on patch.

Heat is the worst element that iron on patches face. Then hot water, high dryer heat, and heating in buildings take their toll on these patches.

Also, iron on patches may not be durable enough or have a strong hold on the fabric to endure a lot of rough treatment. A sewn on version holds tightly to the fabric and is as strong as the stitch used to fasten it in place.

The best way to go is to use both methods when using an iron on patch. But if you had to make a choice, go with the sewing method. It lasts longer and looks good.

Tip 8: to remove an iron on patch, just reapply heat with your iron and slowly peel back the patch until it is completely off

How to Turn a Sew on Patch Into an Iron on Patch

One way to do this is to turn to a very good permanent adhesive spray. These adhesives are strong and have a very good grip on both fabrics. They are called permanent but they may not be.

The reason for that assessment is that glue is vulnerable to heat, rough and tough treatment and possibly some cleaners. After a few washes, wear and tear, and so on, the adhesive may start to lose its grip and begin to peel off the fabric.

Another way is to use fabric glue. This adhesive takes a little time to set up and then dry but it does get a good hold on both fabrics. Plus, it is a clear glue so no one should see it if it happens to move past the patch boundaries.

Tip 9: You can re-use an iron on patch. The only thing is you won’t be able to use its glue backing. You would have to re-glue the patch or sew it on the next fabric

Do You Sew or Iron on Boy Scout Patches?


You can do both. Many boy scout badges come with the iron on glue but if your boy uses that shirt a lot for meetings and other boy scout affairs, you may want to add an extra level of security and sew it on after ironing it on.

You will always need to iron it on as that keeps the patch and your child’s boy scout shirt looking good all the time. One of the problems with boy scout and other iron on patches is that the manufacturer may try to save a little money and use less glue or an inferior type of adhesive.

This does not let the iron patch adhere properly to the fabric and you will end up sewing it on anyways. Just make sure to use the right kind of thread when you sew it in place.

Tip 10: If the adhesive doesn’t stick the iron on patch to the fabric, you can try dual sided fusible web. It sticks to both sides and can be ironed on with little trouble. Just cut the webbing to fit the size of the patch

Some Final Words

Patches are used by a variety of organizations that want to reward achievement and service. Sometimes these patches are iron on and sometimes they are sewn on. Just check to make sure you know which is which.

It is always a good idea to sew on iron patches. You never know when the maker decided to save a few cents and use an inferior glue or not enough of it. When this happens, you may not get the iron on patch to stick.

Sewing the iron patch not only secures it better, it helps the iron on patch last as long as a sewn on model.

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