Design Tips for Custom Patches

Nov. 20, 2021

To ensure you get the best results, here are our custom patch design tips. We offer expert advice on what you need to know to design a successful custom embroidered patch.

Strong color contrast is ideal

Strong color contrast is better than light-to-light or dark-to-dark colors. In other words, if visibility is an issue with your current design, consider increasing the contrast for better results.

The larger the letter, the better

Letters smaller than ⅛ inch inches can affect readability. If upper and lower case letters are used, the minimum size is based on lower case letters.

In general, larger letters are highly recommended. This is because smaller letters are not visible from a distance. No matter how well they are embroidered. So, try to avoid them and limit their use. This will make your patch more visible when worn.

Bold is better

Likewise, narrow and condensed fonts do not embroider well. Tall and thin font styles should be avoided. Deep squares and bold (not particularly bold) are preferred.

Bold letters and design elements stand out more and look better when embroidered. So, use them. This simple advice will make your patches look better!

Other Effective Font Styles

Other font styles that embroider well include: simple scripts, bold font styles with serifs, and hand-drawn styles. If you want to use a stylized font, be sure to make the letters large enough so that small details (like the inside of a lowercase "a") don't risk "closing".


3D Embroidery


Blank spaces are boring!

Effective use of space is important. Enlarging graphic elements, expanding or enlarging text, and introducing added graphic elements are ways to make better use of white space. In other words, design to fill blank space for more impactful patches.

Leave some space at the edges

The thickness of the edge of the overlocked seam is ⅛ inch. For best results, keep embroidery details at least ¹⁄₁₆ an inch away from the edge.

Contour Seal

Any patch can have an outline seal aka hot stitch cut border. With its low-profile edge, it is a great alternative to direct embroidery. Hot needle cut borders offer a real advantage to decorators and wholesalers.

Hot needle cut border patches save decorators time and money

Most garments can be quickly applied with custom patches to complete the order. This saves time and money and provides greater flexibility in garment inventory than direct embroidery. Custom embroidered patches also look better because they don't wrinkle the garment material as much as direct embroidery does.

The same rules apply to leaving space at the edges

The minimum thickness of a contour seal aka hot stitch cut border is ¹⁄₁₆ inch. To be successful, leave ¹⁄₁₆″ of space between the design elements along the border. It is interesting to note that this type of border is stitched at the same time as the patch. Later it is cut from the roll with a hot knife aka needle. This gives it its name.

Professional border

Ideas for specialty borders include.

1. A laser outline or laser cut edge of a leaf of non-embroidered material with a small margin around the entire patch.

2. A Handcut or die-cut border has frayed cut edges to provide a vintage look.

3. A motley handcut border provides a rainbow of color to your patch.

4. A glow in the dark or reflective welt edge border is perfect for youth patches. This option can also be used to add security features to uniforms and workwear.

Whichever type of professional border you choose, remember that background fills, landscapes, bars, clouds, etc. can all be extended to the border.

Watch out for thin black lines!

Does your design have a lot of black lines separating elements? Are they necessary for graphics? If they can be reduced or removed, the finished product will look better.

What are capture lines?

Capture lines are the thin black lines that define the details of a graphic. Unfortunately, they can be difficult to register when embroidering. Capture threads are embroidered in Stepstitch. This is a series of short straight stitches from one feed point to the next. stepstitch results in lines that are not the straightest or smoothest lines. In other words, it looks choppy. Therefore, we recommend that you avoid this if possible!

A Better Way to Design Patches

It may be helpful to consider drawing by number. First there is no color, only the numbered shapes contained in the capture lines. When the capture lines are covered with paint, they disappear. All that is left is the color.

When capture lines are essential, make them thicker

Sometimes capture lines are essential for graphic design, for example in cartoon graphics. In this case, we recommend thickening the capture lines so they can be finished in Stiehl stitches. This is to bind the edges of the graphic elements to each other (back and forth).

Embroidery friendly positioning

This concept is getting deeper into embroidery design. Nevertheless, it's important to know the position of the graphic elements, and the type is important!

Avoid over stopping and trimming

For example, suppose your patch design includes a starry sky and the stars are too far apart. The embroidery machine must stop, trim, move slowly to the next position, and then resume stitching. This process increases the chance of embroidery defects. Therefore, avoid it as much as possible to get better results.

Embroidery is a mechanical process and connection is important

During the embroidery process, the needle must move from one element to another. When the elements are in contact or very close, it allows them to be connected. When the elements are separated, it does not allow them to be connected.


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