- April 30, 2021
There are SO many different uses for patches… and turning patches into profit is easier than you might think.
Whether you sell custom sports memorabilia that’s WAY cooler than the cheap stuff they sell at the stadiums…
Or stylish, retro-inspired tees and hats with a pop of personality…
Or patches on their own inspired by bands, travel destinations, or classic movie quotes…
One thing’s for sure – little patches can mean big business.
So if you’re thinking of transforming your own art or your brilliant ideas into patches instead of stickers, prints, or tees…
Go for it! It’s a great business move.
But if you’re not especially familiar with manufacturing, selling, or even USING patches yet, you might feel a bit overwhelmed with all of the many different types of patches there are out there.
While all patches serve a similar function – that is, to mend or decorate clothing, handbags, or other cloth accessories – different patches are ideal for different purposes.
The type of patch you choose will totally change the overall aesthetic and materials used, along with the cost, look, and feel of your patch.
So before you dive in and place a massive (or small!) patch order for your online shop, it’s a good idea to look at different kinds of patches first.
The two most popular types of patches are embroidered patches and woven patches. We’ll dive deep into the differences between these two patches along with other patch types you may be able to choose from, so you can choose the right patch type to sell.
What types of patches are out there?
There are many different patch types out there, varying in terms of how they are printed and what materials are used to make them. Seven major types of custom patches: embroidered patches, woven patches, printed patches, bullion patches, chenille patches, leather patches, and PVC patches.
Custom embroidered patches:
Chances are, this is what you think of when someone says the word “patch.” The most traditional type of patch on the market, embroidered patches are made with fabric backing and textured embroidery.
Custom woven patches:
are made with thinner threads and a tighter weave, producing a high-resolution finished product.
Custom printed patches:
Rather than creating the design with different colored threads, these patches involve high-quality printing directly onto the fabric for endless color options and a photo-realistic depiction of your design.
Custom bullion patches:
Otherwise known as crest patches, these patches create 3D designs with tight wire stitching. Their texture and shine make these really stand out, even on a small scale.
Custom chenille patches:
Remember those fluffy patches on letterman jackets? Those are They have a timeless fuzzy style and work great for designs with large open areas of color.
Custom leather patches:
Add a high-end or rustic vibe to any accessory with a . Full customizability is available, from the size to the embossing to the color of the leather.
Custom PVC patches:
Durable, bold, and very unique, rubberized add a fun 3D texture that can really weather any condition.
More customization options beyond these 7 major categories are also available.
As you create your custom patch, you’ll have the opportunity to choose:
- Materials: You can choose to use a polyester blend, twill, felt, black ballistic, nylon, camouflage, reflective mylar, and more.
- Backing: Choose which method you’ll use to affix your patch, whether traditional iron backing, velcro, adhesive, thin plastic, magnet, or pin.
- Thread: Make your patch really stand out with a wide variety of thread and color options, including metallic, neon, 10+ colors, puff embroidery, and glow-in-the-dark.
- Border: Add the perfect finishing touch with various borders, including merrowed, embroidered, frayed, or none at all.
As long as you have a good design and partner with a trusted patch manufacturer, you really can’t go wrong with any of these options. But if you have a specific vision for your patch and think either embroidered or woven sounds best, read on to learn a few key differences you should be aware of.
What Is an Embroidered Patch?
Embroidery is the art of decorating fabric or other materials to apply thread or yarn. Essentially, an embroidered patch is a piece of durable fabric backing embellished with raised colorful thread.
It’s easy to spot an embroidered patch based on how it looks and feels. Embroidered patches have a classic textured design, with raised thread and a 3D look. It’s a classic, traditional style of patch that also happens to be the most popular custom patch.
Embroidered patches can usually be made with any backing and any color of thread. However, because all different colors included on the patch involve a different type of thread, you may be limited to the specific colors your manufacturer has available. Note that some factories charge extra for embroidered patches using multiple colors of thread.
Embroidered patches are typically more expensive than some other patches. They may also require a longer turnaround time. The exact cost and timeline of a custom embroidered patch order will depend on the percentage of the embroidery you request – whether 50%, 75%, or 100% of the patch involves embroidery – along with how many patches you order and the types of materials requested. Embroidered patches may retail for anywhere from $3-30+, depending on the market and the complexity of the design.
Pros of Embroidered Patches
- Classic look. Embroidered patches look the most traditional – they’re what would probably come to mind of most of your customers when they think of a patch.
- Three-dimensional. The texture and depth of embroidered patches make them stand out in an interesting way.
- Most popular. Embroidered patches are the most popular type of patches by far… meaning your customers might like them best, too.
Cons of Embroidered Patches
- Bulky. The added weight of embroidery makes these patches rather chunky, so they can be a bit overpowering and heavy when affixed to thin fabric.
- Cost more. Custom embroidered patches typically cost more per patch than woven patches do. (Though chances are, you’ll be able to sell them for more, too.)
- Longer turnaround time. Creating an embroidered patch is more complex than creating a woven patch – you may want to plan for a longer turnaround time. (Though you can always opt for rush shipping to speed the process along.)
- Not suitable for designs with small or intricate details. Since embroidered patches use chunkier fabric, achieving a fine level of detail in text or design is tricky.
What is a Woven Patch?
Woven patches use thinner threads than embroidered patches. While embroidered patches create the design using thick fabric on top of fabric backing, woven patches weave the thread designs right into the fabric with a tight weave. This results in a high-resolution finished product, making woven patches ideal for designs that require crisp detail work. If the patch you have in mind involves small text or intricate designs, a woven patch may be the best bet for you.
Though they are similar, it’s easy to spot a woven patch from an embroidered patch. Woven patches have a smooth surface with no raised texture, while embroidered patches have a textured surface.
Woven patches are one-dimensional, making them less bulky than embroidered patches. They can go on the inside or outside of clothing or accessories. They can usually be made with any type of backing and any color of thread your manufacturer has available.
Woven patches typically cost less than embroidered patches, with a comparatively faster turnaround time. The exact cost and timeline of a custom woven patch order will depend on how many patches you order, the complexity of your design, and the size of each patch. Woven patches may retail anywhere from $2-$25+.
Pros of woven patches:
- Less bulky – because woven patches are less bulky than embroidered patches, they are more suitable for thin fabrics and can be used on the outside or inside of clothing and accessories.
- Suitable for designs with fine detail – woven patches allow for much clearer, finer detail than embroidered patches do, making them ideal for designs involving small text or intricate details.
- Lower cost – woven patches typically cost less than embroidered patches do.
- Faster turnaround time – since woven patches are less complicated to manufacture, you may receive a custom woven patch order sooner than you would a custom embroidered patch order.
Cons of woven patches:
- One-dimensional – woven patches won’t achieve that classic, three-dimensional look you’ll get from embroidery. Woven patches have a smooth surface.
- Less popular – while woven patches are more popular than some other patch options, they’re less popular than embroidered patches. This could mean you’d have a harder time selling a woven patch than you would an embroidered patch.
- Stand out less – the flat surface of a woven patch may cause it to stand out less than an embroidered patch would when affixed to a T-shirt, a jacket, or a bag.
What do embroidered patches & woven patches have in common?
Now that you know what you’re looking for, it should be easy for you to spot the differences between an embroidered patch and a woven patch up close. But from far away, it’d be difficult to tell them apart, since an embroidered patch and a woven patch may look very similar aside from the difference in thread size and texture. Overall, embroidered patches and woven patches are more similar than they are different.
Embroidered patches and woven patches are the most common type of patches. They both can be made into any shape, including round, square, rectangular, or whatever custom shape you might need to suit your vision. They can accommodate just about any design and color scheme you can think of with thread, though the execution might look a bit different. And they can each accommodate any backing – iron-on, magnet, pin, etc – and be affixed to any clothing or fabric accessory.
Note that it’s also possible to mix these two patch methods together. If you like the look of embroidery but require more detail in your patch, you might want to consider getting a woven patch with an embroidered border.
Embroidered vs Woven Patches: Which is Better?
There isn’t just one type of patch that’s the best for any situation and business. The best type of patch for your needs will depend on your personal preferences, your customer preferences, your budget, and your patch design.
If you’re going for a classic patch look, your design isn’t too intricate, and you think your customers will appreciate a bold, textured patch, you can’t go wrong with an embroidered patch.
But if you’re looking for a cheaper option, or if your design has a lot of detail and you’d prefer a more high-resolution patch look, go with woven.
If you’re still not sure whether you should order a custom embroidered patch or a custom woven patch… sometimes, the best way to make a decision is to see for yourself.
Consider ordering a few custom embroidered patches and a few custom woven patches, with the same design. During or after the mockup stage, you’ll be able to see EXACTLY how a patch in each style would look and compare them side-by-side. You could even ask for some customer feedback to try and gauge which patch would probably sell the best. Once you’ve made your decision, you can place a larger order you feel more confident about.