Mastering Fabric Selection for Custom Embroidery Patches



Mar 17, 2024 custom patch


For decades, embroidery patches have been a popular form of personal expression and flair. Whether you want to add a distinctive touch to apparel and accessories or create promotional things, custom embroidery patches are perfect to go. But one often overlooked aspect of creating these patches is choosing the right fabric. It's not just about appearance; it also affects the durability and overall quality of your patches. So, let's delve into the world of fabrics to see which one is best for your custom embroidery patches!


Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Why Does Fabric Matter
  • Popular Fabrics for Embroidered Patches
    • Cotton
    • Twill
    • Polyester
    • Felt
    • Denim
    • Leather
    • Canvas
  • Unusual or Difficult-to-Embroider Materials
    • Nylon
    • Lycra/Spandex
    • Velvet
    • Satin
  • Making the Right Choice
  • Tips for Working with Different Fabrics
  • Final Words


Why Does Fabric Matter?

Before we dive into the exciting world of fabric choices, let's understand why fabric matters when it comes to embroidery patches. The fabric you select can make a significant difference in the final look and feel of your patches. Different fabrics have varying textures, thicknesses, and colors, which will influence the way your embroidery appears.


Moreover, your fabric choice also impacts the durability and functionality of your patches. If you're creating patches for a backpack or a jacket that will be exposed to harsh elements, you'll need a sturdy fabric that can withstand wear and tear. If your patches are purely aesthetic, you may prefer looks above durability.


Now that we know why fabric is important, let's look at some of the most common fabric options for custom embroidery patches:


Popular Fabrics for Embroidered Patches


1. Cotton: Classic and Versatile

Cotton fabric is a classic choice for custom embroidery patches, and for good reason. It's soft, breathable, and readily available in various colors and thicknesses. Cotton's natural fibers make it easy to work with, and it can be embroidered with intricate designs and fine details.


From customizing tees and jeans to creating apparel patches, cotton’s versatility makes it a go-to choice for both personal and commercial ventures. Just keep in check that while cotton is simple and easy to embroider, it may not be the most lasting option. Especially for patches that will face heavy use and exposure to the outdoors.



  • Soft and comfortable to wear.
  • Suitable for intricate designs.
  • Takes embroidery stitches well.
  • Available in a variety of colors.



  • May wrinkle easily.
  • Not as durable as some other fabrics.


2. Twill: Durable and Time-Tested

Twill fabric is a popular choice for individuals looking for heavyweight, long-lasting materials.  The diagonal weaving style of the cloth adds texture and visual appeal to your DIY embroidery projects. Twill is appropriate for patches that must withstand harsh handling, such as military or sports clothing.


One of the benefits of twill cloth is its resistance to regular washing and exposure to the outdoors. It's a go-to choice for uniforms, workwear, and outdoor gear. If you want your patches to look bright and crisp even after frequent use, twill cloth is a wonderful choice to consider.



  • Ideal for getting a clean and polished look.
  • Sturdy and long-lasting.
  • The diagonal pattern adds visual interest to the patches.



  • Limited texture options compared to other fabrics.


3. Polyester: Vibrant and Colorfast

Polyester fabric is another popular alternative for custom embroidery patches, especially if you value bold pigments and color endurance. This synthetic fabric is well-known for its ability to hold color and shape over time, making it an excellent choice for products that will be tested by sunlight or cleaned regularly.


Polyester is often utilized to make patches with eye-catching motifs. It's great for promo patches, team logos, and any other project where you want the colors to pop. Furthermore, the smooth surface of polyester allows for complex embroidery work, making it easy to bring your creative visions to life.



  • Exceptionally long-lasting and durable.
  • Resistant to wrinkles and fading.
  • Retains its color well.
  • Easy to clean.



  • Can feel less breathable than natural fabrics.
  • Doesn’t has the same softness as other materials.


4. Felt: Vintage Charm and Softness

If you're aiming for a vintage or retro look, felt fabric might be the way to go. Felt is a soft and fuzzy fabric that adds a touch of nostalgia to your custom embroidery patches. It's commonly used for patches that evoke a sense of warmth and nostalgia, such as letterman or varsity patches.


While felt is not the most durable option, it does have a distinct charm that is difficult to create with other materials. You can use this fabric to make patches with nostalgic significance or to imitate the traditional look of vintage patchwork.



  • Easy to cut and stitch.
  • Gives a vintage and handmade feel.
  • Available in a variety of colors.
  • Affordable option.



  • Not as durable as some other fabrics.
  • Limited texture compared to woven fabrics.


5. Denim: Casual and Cool

Denim fabric is a fantastic choice for creating custom embroidery patches with a casual and cool vibe. It's known for its ruggedness and durability, making it ideal for patches that will be attached to jeans, jackets, or backpacks.


Denim patches typically have a laid-back, DIY air to them, making them popular among people who like a bit of individuality in their design. The natural texture of the cloth, as well as how it ages over time, add character to your patches, making them one-of-a-kind and full of personality.



  • Durable and resistant to wear.
  • Unique texture and appearance.
  • Good for both easygoing and edgy designs.
  • Available in various shades of blue.



  • May be more challenging to embroider due to its thickness.
  • Not as comfortable against the skin for some projects.


6. Leather: Luxurious and Timeless

Leather cloth is an excellent choice for adding a touch of elegance and sophistication. Leather patches are frequently connected with luxury companies and products. They exude a sense of richness and timelessness that is difficult to beat.


While working with leather can be more difficult than other fabrics (due to its thickness), the end product is well worth the effort. Leather patches are extremely strong and resistant to wear and tear, making them ideal for high-end items such as luxury purses, belts, and wallets.



  • Unmatched durability and longevity.
  • Distinctive and bold appearance.
  • Ideal for making patches with a tough or edgy feel.



  • Demands specialized tools and stitching expertise.
  • More expensive than most fabrics.


7. Canvas: Sturdy and Rustic

If durability with style is your priority, then canvas can be the ideal choice for you. Canvas is a popular choice among fabrics known for its durability and rustic appearance. It's typically used to create patches with a rugged, outdoorsy character, such as backpacks, camping equipment, and workwear.


One of the advantages of canvas is its ability to hold up well under tough conditions. The fabric is highly resistant to abrasion and tearing, making it an excellent choice for patches that will face rough handling.



  • Durable even in demanding environments.
  • Gives a distinct texture that enhances the overall look.



  • Only ideal for a few applications.
  • Limited versatility for projects requiring a soft or luxurious feel.
  • Challenging to embroider due to thickness.



Unusual or Difficult-to-Embroider Materials

If you're feeling daring and want to make one-of-a-kind patches, try out some unconventional materials. Just keep in mind that dealing with these fabrics may require a little more patience and labor:

1. Nylon

Nylon is a slippery fabric that might be difficult to embroider neatly. If you opt to use nylon, make sure it's stable and properly stabilized to avoid puckering.

2. Lycra/Spandex

Stretchy fabrics like Lycra or Spandex can be tricky due to their elasticity. You'll need special backing to prevent the fabric from stretching during embroidery.

3. Velvet

Velvet patches can be extravagant and eye-catching, but their pile (the raised surface of the fabric) can make embroidery more difficult.

4. Satin

Satin is a delicate fabric prone to fraying. If you choose satin, be prepared for some extra care and attention during the embroidery process.



Making the Right Choice

Now that you've learned about some of the most common fabrics for custom embroidery patches, it's time to pick what's best for your project. Here are some important pointers to consider:

1. Consider Your Design

Consider the complexity of your embroidered design first. Delicate, detailed designs may demand smoother fabrics such as cotton or polyester, but bold, basic patterns look great on textured fabrics like twill or denim.

2. Calculate Thread Count

The thread count of a fabric refers to the number of threads woven together in a square inch. Fabrics with a higher thread count generally provide a smoother and more even surface for embroidery. Smooth surfaces are easier to work on and result in finer details in your patches.

2. Think About Purpose

Consider where and how your patches will be used. If they're for elegant and casual clothing, you have more flexibility with fabric choices. However, if they're going on heavy-duty uniforms or workwear, prioritize durability.

3. Compare Texture and Thickness

The texture and thickness of the fabric influence the appearance of your patches. Choose a fabric that compliments your vision. Twill, for instance, adds a subtle texture, while satin offers a glossy finish.

4. Test Your Fabric

If you're not sure how a fabric will take embroidery, conduct a test run. Try stitching a small sample of your design on the fabric to see how it turns out. This will help you assess how well the fabric handles embroidery before committing to a larger project.

5. Evaluate the Budget

Your budget may also influence your fabric choices. Different fabrics have varying price tags, with some being more expensive than others. Aim to strike a balance between quality and price so that you can meet your needs without breaking the bank.

Remember one thing: there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when choosing the right fabric for a DIY embroidered patch. The only key to getting it right is purely your personal choice and preferences. Just keep in check to align your choices with your project goals, and you are good to go.



Tips for Working with Different Fabrics

Working with different materials can be a rewarding and engaging experience. However, you must be prepared for the particular barriers they offer. Here are some pointers to ensure a smooth flow for your projects:

1. Stabilize Properly:

Proper stabilization is crucial for preventing fabric distortion during embroidery. Use the appropriate stabilizer for the fabric you're working with.

2. Use the Right Needles:

Different fabrics require different needle types. For instance, opt for a ballpoint needle for knitted clothes and a sharp needle for woven fabrics. Consult your embroidery machine's manual or a professional for guidance.

3. Tension Matters:

Adjust the stitch density to suit the fabric. Thicker fabrics may require more open stitching, while thinner ones may need tighter stitches.

4. Experiment with Backing:

In some situations, adding a backing material could enhance the stability and aesthetic of your patch. This is especially handy while working with lightweight or stretchy fabrics, e.g. satin or spandex etc. 

5. Practice Patience:

Take your time when embroidering on challenging fabrics. Slow and steady wins the race and ensures a high-quality result.



Final Words

Choosing the right fabric for your custom embroidered patches requires both creativity and practicality in mind. It's all about blending your design ideas with the fabric's characteristics. With the right fabric and a little embroidery know-how, you'll be well on your way to making amazing custom patches that display your flair and originality.


Just remember to keep both aesthetics and utility in mind, testing before committing and to match your thread to the fabric. So, explore the world of fabrics and let your ideas run wild as you take on your custom embroidery patch journey.

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