How to attach patches without sewing

Angie Renner
Published by 
Angie Renner
Last updated: 
January 11, 2024

I can still remember watching my mom painstakingly sewing the name patches onto my dad's work uniforms using needle and thread. Not me! As soon as I was old enough to use an iron, I learned how to attach patches without sewing.

Sadly, far too many Americans don't even know how to sew. Fortunately, there are other ways to attach patches. In fact, you can learn how to attach patches without sewing using four distinct methods including using a heat press.

Deciding How to Attach Patches Without Sewing

Sewing patches into place has long been the preferred method because it is secure, discreet, and removable. When you are deciding how to attach patches without sewing, you have similar considerations. These include the fabric weight, content, care instructions, type of patch, and whether or not you want it to be permanently affixed.

Type of fabric

Delicate or lightweight fabrics are the most challenging because they require a method of attachment that is less bulky and a method that uses low or no heat. Natural materials like cotton and wool are the easiest to work with as they can handle the higher temperatures of a heat press. Finally, heavier fabric provides better support for appliques, and embroidery patches.

Types of patches

There are a few types of patches you may encounter. Iron-on patches are probably the most common. Applique patches are also standard. Appliques are thicker and often have embellishments like stitching, beads, or sequins while the reverse applique patch is rare. Reverse appliques attache to the back side of the fabric. Finally, there are embroidered patches without iron-on or adhesive backing

How to Attach Patches Without Sewing: Using a Heat Press or an Iron

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Iron-on patches are the easiest to apply. Just follow the instructions that come with the patch. You may use a household iron or a heat press. Also, follow the care instructions for the type of fabric you are applying the patch to, as well.

If you own a heat press, you're in luck. Many come with patch kits included. The first step is applying fusible webbing or double sided fusible material like Pellon to the back of the patch using your heat press or iron.

Next, carefully cut around the patch. One option is to use an instant cut heat knife. This method works great for vinyl patches. However, if the patch is mostly plastic or synthetic, use shears to cut it, instead.

Finally, peel the backing off the two-sided fusible backing or webbing. Apply to the fabric, and press into place using your heat press or iron. When you use heat to bond two materials together, the result is permanent. So, your placement of the patch must be precise.

How to Attach Patches Without Sewing: Using a Fabric Adhesive

How To Attach Patches Without Sewing Using A Fabric Adhesive

Fabric adhesive works by creating a bond between two types of fabric. Unlike glue, fabric adhesive is permanent. If you need to know how to attach patches without sewing, and you don't have a heat press or an iron, using a fabric adhesive is a good option. It also works for attaching lightweight patches onto delicate fabrics. It is especially useful for working with synthetics that can't take the heat.

Before you start, test a small area of the fabric against the adhesive. Look for any undesired effects like dissolving, puckering, and fading. If you observe none of these problems, you're ready to start. For best results, begin with a clean and dry garment and follow adhesive instructions, carefully. Allow the adhesive to dry overnight before wearing or using the clothing. Laundering instructions vary with adhesive type and brand.

How to Attach Patches Without Sewing: Using Hook and Loop Tape

If you are looking to apply a removable patch, hook and loop tape, also called velcro, is a good choice. This type of fastener comes in two sections. One-half of the tape adheres to the fabric and the corresponding part to the back of the patch. Be sure to choose velcro equipped with self-adhesive. Otherwise, you will be forced to resort to using a needle and thread after all. Like traditional sewing, this method allows you to remove the patches with ease. It also lets you switch between multiple patches. However, it is bulky and not very discreet.

How to Attach Patches Without Sewing Using These 7 Products

If you don't know how to attach patches without sewing, you will be interested in learning more about the following products. Ranging from iron-on patches you can use with your heat press machine to peel and stick adhesives. These products will help solve your problem.

Heat n Bond Ultra Hold Value Pack

This economical roll of fusible fabric measures 17 inches by 5 yards. Heat n Bond is double-sided lightweight interfacing that fuses with heat. You can use your iron or a heat press machine to attach patches to many types of fabric, vinyl, leather, and suede. Cut to fit your patch. Next, remove the backing from one side and iron or heat press to affix. After it cools, remove the paper backing and apply the patch to your garment. Use your iron or heat press to attach permanently. According to the description, the product is stronger than traditional fusible webbing.

On Amazon, the product rates 4.3 out of 5 stars. Customers love that the product is easy to use and economical. One 5-star customer used the product to attach 40 soccer patches to a handmade quilt. However, another customer said that the product didn't work on heavyweight denim. One package costs between $ and $.

Pellon Wonder Under

Wonder Under is the original fusible webbing. However, because the backing uses interfacing instead of paper, it is excellent for attaching bulky patches to heavier fabrics. You can use Wonder Under with a heat press. You can even apply the fusible interfacing to the material before using your Silhouette cutter. So, you can use the product to create custom iron-on badges and patches. With Wonder Under, your patches permanently fuse to the fabric.

On Amazon, the product rates 4.0 out of 5 stars. Most customers love how easy the product is to use. However, one user warns not to use the product with a steamer. Each 15-inch by 2-yard roll costs $ to $.

Steam a Seam 2

Another product you can use with your heat press or iron is Steam a Seam 2. It is a lightweight fusible webbing that is excellent for attaching appliques and patches. It doesn't require steam to form the fabric bond. The package does state that you can use a heat press to affix patches to the fabric. This product is unique as it allows repositioning.

Amazon reviews for this product indicate it is suitable for projects like affixing Scout badges and other appliques. It rates 4.2 out of 5 stars. Users love that the 8 1/2  by 11-inch paper is printable. A 5-sheet package costs between $ and $.

Badge Magic Cut to Fit

These are peel and stick fabric adhesive sheets. Simply cut Badge Magic's large 8 1/2 inch by 12-inch sheet to fit your patch. As its name implies, this kit is great to use with Scouting badges. It works with most fabrics, foam, velcro, metal, wood, and leather. According to the product description, this fabric adhesive is machine washable and guaranteed to stay on. Yet, it's also removable.

On Amazon, this product rates 4.5 out of 5 stars. Over 80 percent of reviewers gave the product 5-star reviews. Users love how quick and easy it is to mount patches using Badge Magic. Plus, users say that it is easy to remove using the instructions. One sheet costs between $ and $$.

Beacon Fabri-Tac

Fabri-Tac by Beacon is a crystal fabric adhesive. Its fast dry formula doesn't stain, alter colors, or soak into the fabric. It works on a variety of fabric types and for leather and lace. It is not for fabrics that require dry cleaning.

On Amazon, the product rates 4 out of 5 stars. Around 63 percent of users give the product a 5-star review. One customer says that it doesn't work well with patches that have a coating on the back. Most reviews praise the product for its ease of use. Other drawbacks are the chemical odor and sticky residue. Hence, one user advises putting petroleum jelly around the opening of the applicator to keep it from clogging. One 4-ounce bottle costs between $ and $.

Braveshine Hook and Loop Tape

If you have a small temporary patch to attach to your fabric, hook and loop tape may be the best option. These disks are 1.5 inches in diameter. Each side of the disk has peel and stick adhesive backing. It is not machine washable. Therefore, this is not the best solution for every patch.

On Amazon, this product rate 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 80 percent 5-star reviews. Customers praise the product for its many uses. There are very few negative reviews. Though, it is unclear how many users attach patches with the product. One sheet of 12 disks costs between $ and $$.

How to Attach Patches Without Sewing: When to Hire a Garment Worker

Sometimes sewing a patch in place is still the best option like if using delicate fabrics such as silk. Also, sewing is best if you are working with an elaborate applique. Finally hiring a garment worker to sew on a patch is best if you need to be able to remove the patch from the fabric with no damage to either piece. Sites like Thumbtack can help you find a talented garment worker in your area.

Final Advice About How to Attach Patches Without Sewing

Iron-on patches are super simple to apply. These patches come with heat sensitive adhesive already applied. Just use an iron or a heat press machine. However, it gets complicated if the fabric you are attaching the patch to isn't heat-safe. In that case, you may need to use other options like fabric adhesive or hook and loop tape.

Take time before applying the patch to make sure you are using the best method. Because adhesives can leave a mark on the fabric or damage the patch, be careful when positioning the patch in place. Finally, just because you don't know how to attach patches without sewing, doesn't mean you can't hire an experienced garment worker if this is what's best for your project.

Image via Pixabay