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Patches 101: Patch Types, Ironing/Heatpress & Aftercare

Patches 101: Patch Types, Ironing/Heatpress & Aftercare

You’ve just received delivery of your new patches and if you’ve never tried adhering patches or any kind of embellishments to clothing or accessories before, you may be wondering - now what?!

Whilst we do provide instructions on our listings (it’s a good idea to refer back to them as they’re specific to the type of patch you’ve purchased!) you may still be feeling a little nervous about getting it wrong or making a mistake.

To help make the process a little less daunting we've compiled together some of our recommendations, tips and tricks which will hopefully help you sail through your first and subsequently many more projects in the future!

Quick Reference Guide

Medium Heat

No Steam

Handwash Cold

No Harsh Detergents or Bleach

Medium Heat

Iron: Don't go too hot, start at a medium heat. If your fabric lends itself to a higher temperature you can test it higher but always ensure you have a protective layer like a cotton sheet so the iron is not in direct contact with the fabric or patch. 
Heatpress: 160-165 degrees for a top heating heat press or 155-160 for a bottom heating heat press. Cover your patch/garment ideally with a Teflon sheet.

Important: If you increase the temperature then be sure to reduce the pressing time. Likewise if you want to increase the pressing time then ensure you reduce the temperature.

No Steam

Steam and the adhesive for your iron-on patch don't make the best of friends, steam counteracts the affect of the glue so you'll end up with patches that have a hard time affixing. Make sure it's turned off before you start!

Handwash Cold

To ensure the longevity of your patches and to keep them looking their best we recommend handwashing cold. If your machine has a handwash or gentle setting you can opt for this as well, just make sure to keep it cold so it doesn't affect the adhesive. Anything with gems would always be best handwashed to avoid damage.

No Harsh Detergents or Bleach

Harsh chemicals like bleach will damage or discolour your patches so refrain from using them when washing your clothing or accessories. 

    What type of patch do you have?


    These patches are made from a substance called hotfix adhesive which as the name suggests is a type of glue. Hotfix becomes sticky (and mouldable) once heated. In our patch ranges you’ll find we predominantly use this type of patch with rhinestones and other types of gems.

    The most important thing to remember with these patches is to never iron (or apply heat) from the top of the patch. Instead look to secure the patches in place with some small pins or sewing adhesive tape and then turn your garment inside out.

    Pearls & Patches with Gemstones

    You’ll often find these patches paired with sparkling rows of diamanté’s on a thicker felt or material backing. Unless specifically stated otherwise these patches have an iron-on adhesive, just remember to always iron from the reverse or you’ll melt your pearls & gems!

    To get the patches in position you can use some sewing pins to secure in place, you will want to affix from the rear of the patch threading only through the backing material and not all the way through to save risking dislodging any gems. Some patches are loaded with gems so you would be hard pressed finding space to push through! Another hack when ironing is to use some light tape over the top of the patches to hold them in place before you iron from the reverse. If using this method make sure to only apply heat for a short period to get the patches to stick before then removing the tape - you don’t want the tape to melt into the gems!

    Sequin & Glitter Patches

    These patches usually have a mesh or fabric backing and come in both pure sew-on or iron-on varieties. Due to the use of sequins, glitter and often clear plastic threading (with a low melting point) you’ll need to ensure you only iron from the reverse of these patches. Secure in place first with some sewing pins and then turn inside out to iron.

    Due to the flexible fabric backing of especially the sequin patches, these are very popular with our dance and pageant customers and make the perfect glittery accompaniment to stage wear.

    Cotton & Embroidered Patches (including Chenille)

    These patches are by far the most straight forward patches to affix with the added flexibility to be able to apply heat from the top of the patch. The key to ironing from the top however is to always ensure to use a cloth to protect the patch, never apply an iron directly on the patch to avoid damage.

    When working with fabrics like chenille it’s best to avoid too much ironing (if any) from the top to keep the fabric pile in its best shape. If the patch has multiple layers like the 3D Chenille patches, adding some stitches rather than just relying on the adhesive would be advisable to increase durability for both washing and wear.

    Ironing/Heatpress Instructions

    Before you start ironing or firing up the heat press it's worthwhile double checking the care instructions for your garment or accessory. Don't have instructions? Head over to our guide: Can My Fabric Handle The Heat? 

    1. Make sure your garment is CLEAN
      Ensure your garment is clean & freshly laundered (this includes new items).
      This step ensure that the fabric is in the very best state to affix the patch.

    2. Set the Heat
      : Set your iron to the “COTTON” or medium setting for five minutes ((Important: Ensure steam is turned OFF))
      Steam is not friends with adhesive and has an adverse effect when you're trying to iron-on a patch!
      HEATPRESS: 160-165 degrees for a top heating heat press or 155-160 for a bottom heating heat press.

    3. Prepare the Garment/Item
      Thoroughly iron the area of your garment where the patch (or patches) will be placed. You will want to ensure that there are no creases but do make sure not to be tempted to use any chemical sprays or crease releasing sprays, if you have a stubborn crease it’s best to use a little water and then ensure the fabric is completely dry before adhering the patch.

    4. Place your Patch/es
      Place the patch on your garment where you would like it embroidery/gems/rhinestones facing up.
      Patches with gems/hotfix/pearls/rhinestones: Place pins or light tape to secure the patches in place before turning the garment inside out to iron from the reverse.

    5. Pressing Step 1
      IRON: Patches made with cotton or embroidered patches: From the TOP and using a light protective sheet to protect the patch you can now press for 30 seconds using only very small and careful circular steps (not holding down in just the one place)
      Patches with gems/hotfix/pearls/rhinestones: From the REVERSE of the garment only (ironing from the top for these patches will damage them) use a slow circular motion and press firmly for 30 seconds. Ensure to release pressure when moving the iron to prevent movement of the patch itself.
      HEATPRESS: Patches made with cotton or embroidered patches: Using a Teflon sheet to protect the patch you can now press for 12-15 seconds (Top heating heat press) or 10-12 seconds (Bottom heating heat press). Press firmly by clamping down the heat press to apply pressure.
      Patches with gems/hotfix/pearls/rhinestones: Do NOT apply heat to the top of the patch (ironing from the top for these patches will damage them).
      Use a Teflon sheet to cover the patch and apply heat to the REVERSE of the patch only. Press for 12-15 seconds (Top heating heat press) or 10-12 seconds (Bottom heating heat press). Press firmly by clamping down the heat press to apply pressure.

    6. Pressing Step 2
      This step is solely for cotton or embroidered patches.
      IRON: Turn your garment inside out and now iron from the reverse, again press for 30 seconds ensuring to move the iron and press on each part of the patch/es.
      HEATPRESS: Turn your garment inside out and now press from the reverse.
      Press for 12-15 seconds (Top heating heat press) or 10-12 seconds (Bottom heating heat press). Press firmly by clamping down the heat press to apply pressure.

    7. Let it Cool
      Remove your garment from the press/ironing board and let it cool. If the edge of the patch/es can be lifted repeat step 5/6 (depending on your patch type)

    For items of apparel that will get a lot of wear or require regular/frequent washing we would always recommend adding a couple of stitches for extra security. For pearl patches or those with gems extra care is needed to only sew through the reverse of the patch/fabric to not push through and dislodge gems.

    Alternatives to ironing

    There can be a number of reasons why you don’t want to either iron or use a heat press to attach your patch. You might be working with a material with a low melting point like nylon or more tricky materials like satin, leather, wool or hessian.

    The ideal here is to sew or use a good quality, strong bond fabric glue (if the material lends itself to it).

    Got a query not mentioned above? One of our friendly and patch obsessed team members here at Patches "R" Us will be happy to help out. You can reach us here 




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