Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

Everything You Need to Know About Ironing On Patches

Adriana Aziz
October 6, 2022
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everything you need to know about ironing on patches custom graphic

If you're not already aware of what an iron-on patch is, it is a fabric or paper-based graphic that can be ironed onto a base fabric, thereby imprinting the graphic on the fabric. Along with being a great way to express yourself, these iron-on patches can even help cover up tears and stains on your clothes while making a quirky or bold fashion statement. 

Today, MaidForYou is going to teach you how to iron on patches and make sure they stay on. Before we get to that, however, it is important to be aware of what materials you are working with so that you don’t end up damaging the patch or the fabric you are ironing it onto.

What Type of Patch Is It?

different types of iron on patches on a white background

Keep in mind that there are several different patches you can work with, most of which will come with glue on the back. On the other hand, some patches only have a cloth base and therefore, require glue to be purchased separately. It's worth looking into this to make sure that you don't need extra materials when ironing on the patches.

Embroidered patches, being thick and stiff, are a great way to cover up a tear or discolouration. This is because they bind to the fabric and hold it together without showing any unevenness under the patch. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you will find transfer paper patches which are so thin, you can actually see the fabric underneath. Since this is the case, they are not recommended to cover up any blemishes unless they are very small or barely noticeable.

If you are working with a cloth patch with no glue, it is recommended to use fusible webbing to attach it to the base fabric.

What Type of Base Fabric Are You Using?

beige coloured bag with maidforyou branded iron on patch

You ought to look at the base fabric as well, to determine if applying the patch is a good idea to begin with. A good rule of thumb to apply here is that if the base cloth isn't just as heavy as the patch itself, it may not work. With that in mind, know that cotton-based fabric will yield the best results for iron-on patches.

If the material in question is polyester, the heat application process is a bit stressful since high heat can burn or discolour the fabric. More delicate fabrics like silk, however, shouldn't have patches ironed on because even mild heat can potentially do serious damage.

Always look at the care label on the base fabric to know what you're working with. If you cannot iron your fabric in the first place, you're not going to be able to apply any iron-on patches to it.

Planning Your Design and Approach

woman ironing on maidforyou patch to a white shirt

Before attempting any ironing, lay out your base fabric and place your patch or patches over it to get a better idea of how it will look. Ensure that the angles and position of the patch or patches you are using line up properly for the ironing process.

Another important tidbit to keep in mind is that, when working with asymmetrical printable paper patches, the image or text in the patch will appear reversed. This may be tricky to judge at first so take your time and plan your design thoroughly before you iron on the patch.

With all this information in mind, you should have no trouble preventing mistakes from occurring. 

Step-by-Step: How to Iron On Patches

person ironing on yellow butterfly patch to red fabric

Now that we've discussed the materials and how not to damage them, it’s time to learn how to iron on the patches safely and efficiently so that they don’t come off in the wash or otherwise. Read on.

  • Lay out your base cloth on an ironing board first. If you do not have an ironing board, any flat, heat-resistant, and hard surface will do. If you must, you could even try placing a towel out on a table and lay your cloth out over that.
  • At this point, you want to iron out your base fabric to get rid of any creases or folds. Making sure your base cloth is flat when you iron the patch on is critical as it must be completely smooth in order for the patch to stick evenly.
  • Place your patch in the right position and angle, and ensure the side with the adhesive is against the base fabric. This can vary since embroidered patches have the adhesive behind the image, but transfer paper has the adhesive on the side of the image itself. With that same logic, if you are using fusible webbing, ensure that it is in contact with the base fabric. 
  • Next, place a thin towel or pressing cloth over the patch without disturbing its position. This will help protect your base material, as well as the patch itself from burning.
  • At this point, once your iron is heated, place it over the patch, and press down on it. Apply as much pressure as you can, and hold for a minimum of 15 seconds.
  • You can now lift the iron off and allow the patch to cool. Remove the towel or pressing cloth to check if the patch was ironed in well. You may do this by gently running your finger along the edges of the patch to see if it is secured well enough, or if it's peeling off. If you can see it peeling off, put the towel or pressing cloth back, and apply the heated iron again for 10 seconds. This should reheat enough to seal the patch in well.
  • If you have used a paper transfer patch, you want to allow it to cool completely by waiting at least 10 minutes before peeling the paper off the patch.
  • If somehow, the patch hasn't stuck on very well, as a last resort, consider sewing the edges of the patch. This way the patch is secured regardless of the adhesive not working well enough. 

Finally, the last thing to keep in mind is caring for your newly patched clothing. Since these patches are supposed to be permanent, you don't want them to loosen over time and come off. Ensuring that you are washing the item sparingly reduces the wear the patch has to bear. A better and safer cleaning method would be to hand-wash the item in cold water, and then air-dry it away from direct sunlight. This way the aggressive machine wash and warm water cannot do any damage to your patches.

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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