Embroidered Patches vs. Iron-On Patches: Which is Right?

Embroidered Patches vs. Iron-On Patches: Which is Right Embroidered Patches vs. Iron-On Patches: Which is Right?

Embroidered and iron-on patches have become highly popular for individuals looking to infuse their clothing items, bags, hats, and more with a touch of personality and style. These two patch options have distinct advantages, making it important to discern their differences to choose the right type for your requirements. This blog will delve into the characteristics and benefits of embroidered and iron-on patches, providing the necessary insights to make an informed decision.

When it comes to personalization, both embroidered patches and iron-on patches offer a myriad of options. By understanding their unique features, you can select the patch type that aligns best with your preferences. Whether you seek intricately crafted designs or a simple yet impactful look, comprehending the differences between embroidered patches and iron-on patches will aid in determining the perfect choice for your needs.

What Are Embroidered Patches and Iron-On Patches?

Embroidered patches are crafted with precision and attention to detail, employing either a sewing machine or hand embroidery techniques. These patches boast intricate designs and are commonly affixed to various garments or accessories. The stitching process ensures their longevity and imparts a sense of quality to the final product. The threads used in embroidery contribute to the patch's visual appeal and can create striking color combinations and textures.

In contrast, iron-on offers a convenient alternative for attaching patches. On the back of these patches is a coating of adhesive that becomes active when heated with an iron. This eliminates the need for sewing or embroidery skills, making them popular for quick and easy customization. Iron-on patches provide a temporary bond to fabric and can be easily removed or repositioned.

Both embroidered and iron-on offer unique advantages depending on the application and personal preferences. While embroidered patches provide a permanent and durable attachment, iron-on offers convenience and flexibility. Whether you sew on an embroidered or an iron-on patch, both options allow individuals to showcase their creativity and personalize their clothing and accessories.

Patch Backing Options

In patch backing options, embroidered patches typically come with sew-on backings. This means that to attach the patch to your garment or accessory, you'll need to use a needle and thread to sew it on. This method ensures a secure and permanent attachment, ideal for items that will undergo frequent use or washing.

On the other hand, iron-on patches provide a simpler alternative. These patches have a layer of adhesive glue on the back, which becomes activated when heat is applied. You can easily attach the patch to your fabric using an iron without sewing. Iron-on patches offer convenience and are a popular choice for those looking for a quick and temporary way to customize their clothing.

Choosing between sew-on and iron-on depends on your preference, the attachment's desired permanence, and the fabric you're working with. Sew-on patches provide a more secure and long-lasting bond, while iron-on offers ease and simplicity.

Application Process

The application process for embroidered patches involves positioning the patch on the desired area and sewing it in place. This traditional method ensures a secure and durable attachment, making it suitable for delicate fabrics or items subjected to regular washing. You can carefully sew the patch onto the fabric using a needle and thread, following the design's outline or as desired.

In contrast, iron-on patches offer a simpler application process. To apply an iron-on patch:

  1. Place it on the desired spot on the fabric.
  2. Cover the patch with a thin cloth or a pressing sheet to protect the patch and the fabric.
  3. Firmly press the hot iron down onto the cloth-covered patch for a specific time, as the instructions indicate.
  4. The heat activates the adhesive glue on the back of the patch, resulting in its attachment to the fabric.

Whether you choose the sew-on or iron-on method depends on your preference, the fabric type, and the desired permanence of the patch attachment.

Durability and Longevity

Durability is a key characteristic of embroidered patches. Stitching creates a robust bond between the patch and the fabric, resulting in a long-lasting attachment. This makes embroidered patches highly suitable for items that experience extensive use, such as work uniforms, sports jerseys, or backpacks. The sturdy construction of embroidered patches ensures they can withstand regular wear and tear without losing their quality.

In comparison, the durability of iron-on patches may be slightly lower. While they offer convenience during the application, the adhesive layer on the back of the iron-on can weaken, particularly when exposed to frequent washing or high heat. This can make the patch peel off or become less secure on the fabric. As a result, iron-on patches may be better suited for items that require less rigorous use or quick customization.

When selecting between embroidered patches and iron-on, considering the intended use and longevity of the patch is important to ensure you choose the most appropriate option for your needs.

Design Options and Customization

Both embroidered patches and iron-on provide various design options and customization opportunities. Whether you prefer intricate details or clean-lined simplicity, there is a patch type that suits your needs.

Embroidered patches accommodate complex designs, graphic details, and artwork with lettering. The stitching process allows for precise and intricate detailing, making it ideal for logo digitizing, emblems, and designs that require a high level of intricacy. Additionally, embroidered patches offer a vast selection of thread colors, allowing you to match your design perfectly or create eye-catching contrasts.

Iron-on patches, on the other hand, are particularly suitable for simple designs and clean-lined artwork. While they may not offer the same level of detail as embroidered patches, they are perfect for bold, straightforward designs and text-based artwork. The simplicity of iron-on patches makes them a popular choice for quick personalization and branding purposes.

Both patch types can be customized with various colors, thread types, and materials to create a unique and personalized look. Whether you opt for embroidered or iron-on patches, the choice of design and customization is entirely up to you.

Suitable Fabrics

Embroidered patches offer greater versatility when it comes to fabric compatibility. They can be securely sewn onto various materials, including cotton, denim, and leather. Stitching strengthens the bond with different fabric types, ensuring the patch stays in place even during regular use or washing.

On the other hand, the suitability of iron-on patches depends on the fabric they will be attached to. While it can work well on many fabrics, it may not adhere effectively to certain materials, especially delicate fabrics or those with a low melting point. These fabrics can be prone to heat damage or may not provide a suitable surface for the adhesive.

Before deciding on the patch type, it's important to consider the fabric of your item. If you're working with a fabric that can withstand heat or sewing, both embroidered and iron-on patches may be options. However, embroidered patches with a sew-on backing would be safer for delicate fabrics or those damaged by heat.

Heat Sensitivity

Heat sensitivity is important when choosing between embroidered patches and iron-on patches. Embroidered patches are unaffected by heat and can withstand high temperatures without damage. This makes them an excellent choice for items requiring regular washing or high heat exposure, such as uniforms or sportswear. The stitching and threads used in embroidered patches remain intact even when subjected to hot water or ironing.

On the other hand, iron-on patches can be sensitive to heat. While they provide a convenient application method, the adhesive layer on the back of iron-on patches may not hold up well over time if the item of clothing needs to be washed in hot water or requires ironing. The heat can weaken the adhesive, causing the patch to peel off or become less secure on the fabric.

Considering the heat sensitivity of your item and the care instructions, it is crucial when deciding between embroidered patches and iron-on patches. If heat exposure is a concern, embroidered patches with a sew-on backing would be more suitable for long-term durability.

Average Price Difference

The average price difference between embroidered patches and iron-on can be attributed to the production process and design complexity. Embroidered patches tend to be slightly more expensive than iron-on patches. Creating embroidered patches involves intricate stitching techniques and often requires specialized embroidery machines. The time and skill in crafting embroidered patches contribute to their higher price.

In contrast, iron-on patches are relatively easier and quicker to produce. They do not require intricate stitching but instead utilize a layer of adhesive glue on the back. The simpler production process of iron-on patches results in a lower price point than embroidered patches.

Factors such as the patch size, design complexity, and the quantity ordered can also influence the overall pricing for both patches. Considering these factors is essential when determining the cost of patches for your specific needs.

Embroidered Patches vs. Iron-On Patches Pros and Cons

To summarize the key advantages and disadvantages of embroidered patches and iron-on patches:

  • Embroidered Patches


Embroidered patches are highly durable and long-lasting. They can withstand regular wear and tear and are suitable for various fabrics. They can handle exposure to heat without damage, making them versatile for different applications. Additionally, embroidered patches are well-suited for complex designs and intricate detailing, offering a high-quality and professional look.


The main drawback of embroidered patches is that they require sewing. You must use a needle and thread to attach them to your garments or accessories. The intricate stitching in creating embroidered patches may result in a slightly higher price point than iron-on patches.

  • Iron-On Patches


Iron-on patches are incredibly easy to apply, making them convenient and time-saving. They eliminate the need for sewing, as they can be attached to fabric simply by using heat and pressure. This makes them ideal for quick and temporary personalization. Iron-on patches are well-suited for simple designs and clean-lined artwork, providing a straightforward, minimalist aesthetic. They also tend to be more budget-friendly compared to embroidered patches.


Iron-on patches are generally less durable compared to embroidered patches. The adhesive layer that allows them to stick to fabric may weaken over time, especially with frequent washing or exposure to high heat. Some fabrics, particularly delicate ones or those with low melting points, may not be suitable for iron-on as they may not adhere well. It's important to consider the fabric type and the longevity of the patch when choosing iron-on patches.

The Takeaway

The choice between embroidered and iron-on patches comes from personal preferences and specific requirements. Embroidered patches are an excellent option if you prioritize durability, versatility, and a premium finish. Their intricate stitching and ability to withstand wear and tear make them ideal for various fabrics and frequent use. On the other hand, if convenience and ease of application are important to you, iron-on patches offer a hassle-free solution.

To ensure exceptional patch designs and top-notch custom embroidery patches, trust True Digitizing. As your reliable partner in garment embellishments, True Digitizing combines expertise and creativity to deliver outstanding results. Whether you need patches for uniforms, promotional items, or personalization purposes, True Digitizing can provide the expertise and quality embroidery services.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can I sew on an iron-on patch instead of an iron?

While it's technically possible to sew on an iron-on patch, it defeats the purpose of the adhesive layer. Sewing is typically reserved for embroidered patches.

Q2: Can I use fabric glue instead of iron for iron-on patches?

Fabric glue is not recommended for iron-on patches as it may not provide a secure and long-lasting bond. It's best to follow the instructions for the iron-on application.

Q3: Can I attach patches to leather items?

Both embroidered and iron-on patches can be attached to the leather. However, it's important to use the appropriate sewing method or follow the iron-on instructions carefully to avoid damaging the leather.

Q4: Do iron-on patches remain intact after washing?

Iron-on patches may remain intact after washing, but their longevity can be compromised. It's recommended to wash items with iron-on patches in cold water and avoid high-heat drying or ironing.

Q5: How much does an average custom embroidered patch for the left chest cost?

The cost of a custom embroidered patch for the left chest can vary depending on the size, design complexity, and quantity ordered. It's best to consult a professional patch designer for an accurate price quote.