/ / How to Sew on Patches {plus a no-sew trick for pocket patches}

How to Sew on Patches {plus a no-sew trick for pocket patches}


My neighbor came over the other day and asked if I would sew some patches on a jacket for his daughter. I’ve done this quite a bit because I have a cub scout myself, so I thought I’d write a quick how-to. When I sewed some on for the first time I looked for advice on the web but didn’t find much. Especially for sewing on by machine. I guess the proper way is sewing them on by hand, but if you read my blog you probably have a sewing machine and you like to use it. 🙂 So here you go…


First, ask the person to pin the patches in the correct places for you. This {click here} is the resource I found for cub scout patch placement, but if you are sewing them on for another organization I suggest letting the recipient tell you where they should go. 

Install a sharp (not ball-point) medium or heavy-duty needle in yur sewing machine. I try to use the smallest needle necessary in my projects, which leads to needle-breakage from time to time, but smaller holes in my projects.



Choose the correct color thread based on the outside edge of the patch. This one was easy because of the solid blue background and no border. Don’t cheat and use a non-matching color in the bobbin. The thickness of the patch may cause unpredictable tension, and if your bobbin thread pulls to the top in spots, it won’t show if it is the same color as your top thread.



This one required yellow thread. Use a small straight stitch and trace the border of the patch with your stitching. You will be able to use your sewing machine above and around the pockets, on the back (but I’ve never put any there), and on the upper sleeve like this. Using the free-arm on your machine (if you have one) helps. Go slowly.


Patches on pockets are a different story. You may 1) stitch them on with your sewing machine but the pocket can never be used again because you’ll stitch it shut; 2) hand stitch it on but it’s really thick so use a really sharp needle, strong thread, and a thimble; 3) iron it on using that weak glue that comes on the back of the patch… except I’m not really sure that’s what it’s for because it barely works; OR you may try this trick:

Check out my trusty can of SpraynBond. I used it here and here and on some stuff I never told you about and there’s still some left!  I sprayed the stuff all over the back of that patch and let it dry for about 30 seconds, Then I put the patch over the pocket in the right spot and pressed my hot iron over it for a good 15 seconds. 


I peeked to make sure the patch wasn’t melting (who knows what it’s made of) and then I pressed the iron down hard for another 30 seconds.  After that I turned the jacket inside out and repeated the process from the inside. The patch was thick and I wanted to make sure the heat went all the way through and bonded it tight. 


And it sure did. That patch is on to stay. Maybe I should have used the SpraynBond on all the patches, not just the pocket one. What do you think?


Happy Sewing! 


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  1. I prefer to zig zag stitches patches especially if they are the thread bound ones. 1) They lay flatter and don’t curl up on the edges with a zig zag stitch. 2.) They are easier to remove if you make a mistake (and trust me… I’ve made a few wink lol) The spray adhesive is a good idea, misty fuze also works like a charm!

  2. Amy Hopkins says:

    I have had great luck with monofilament thread on the top for all the Girl Scout patches I’ve sewn on for my daughter and the rest of our troop. The best part is no changing thread color if you’re sewing on patches that are different colors!

  3. Sherilyn Roach says:

    I love to use basting tape to hold the patches in place. Regular basting tape needs to be removed before you finish sewing the patch on, but water soluble basting tape can be left in the project.

  4. Sonja Hansen says:

    Be careful and only use glue on patches that will never have to be removed. Many on Boy Scout uniforms will need to be changed throughout the life of the shirt. Patches on sashes probably won’t need to be moved.

  5. Joanne Goodman says:

    I have an alteration business, and I sew on/replace a lot of patches for scouts, military, and law enforcement uniforms. Because of the removal issues, I don’t use spray adhesive. I do use washable glue stick instead of pins to hold patches/badges in place for both hand and machine sewing.

  6. I’ve removed the pocket, attached the patch and then sewed the pocket back in place and no one was the wiser. But, I like the spray bond. Great idea. Thanks!

  7. Sallie Sirhal says:

    Having 3 sons and a husband involved in Scouts – since patches change over time, I sew them on with a zig-zag stitch to match the width of the outside color of the patch. Not only the the patches easier to remove – amazing how many need to be changed over time with changes in rank, activities, etc. Also the zig zag is nearly invisible and gives a nice finished look w/ no curling at the corners through many washings.

  8. Tiffany C. says:

    I’ve been using velcro on my scout patches since they change over time…very easy to switch. Cut them out to shape & stick on.

  9. I was just doing this yesterday for a pair of shorts for one of my boys! I did pretty much everything wrong! lol Wish I had have seen this before I started. Would have made life much easier. 🙂 Great explanation!!

  10. I’m a Marines mom. I cannot count how many patches I have sewn on to items ranging from cub scouts. misc. sports patches, to the military patches that are literally "measured" during uniform inspection at particular occasion. I am thrilled to learn this valuable bit of information. In fact, I would give you a hug if you were actually here. Thank you for teaching a "seasoned sewer" such a valuable lesson. My Sgt. will thank you too.

  11. Laura Stafford says:

    What if the patches are too thick to machine sew? My son’s Cadet uniform patches are so thick that I could only hand sew through the edges of the patch stitching. They have to be removable as the uniform has to be returned and the patches change periodically. I couldn’t even pin them so they aren’t exactly as they should be.

    1. The scout patches that I sew on are too thick to pin also. I have to use a heavy duty needle – usually a 100/16. Good luck!

  12. priscilla cochran says:

    Do you have any suggestions for putting patches on hats. A structured hat is very difficult to iron to adhere the adhesive.

  13. Great article. I recently too purchased some patches from kbazaar.etsy.com

  14. How do you sew patches onto a letter jacket with thick vinyl sleeves?

  15. When my son was a Boy Scout, i unstitched the lower part of the pocket, leaving the top attatched. Sewed the patch on just as you described. Then, restitchd the pocket. He loved still being able to use the pocket! He earned the rank of Eagle. Now, I’m sewing patches for his nephew, my grandson.

    1. Jamie Todhunter says:

      I will have to try that for my son. He wants to be able to use the pocket, so I have been hand sewing that one. Thanks for the suggestion.

  16. Arg. As someone who has recycled many scout uniforms, I cringe when I see anyone using any kind of adhesive on patches. It can ruin the shirt and make it impossible to reuse. Best case scenario is still a lot of work.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    How do you handle leather vest where there is a pocket inside where you want to put the patch. I used fusible web and it did not adhere.

  18. [object Object] says:

    Great tips. Someone once told me to use the clear thread for sewing on the patches and matching thread for the back so you won’t have to change the thread, it works wonderfully. Keep in mind if you are sewing on Girl Scout patches and it’s for a very big event (for instance here some Cassettes and older can work for a week at Fort Mackinaw on Mackinaw Island) you will HAVE to use all black thread to sew.

  19. I just sewed patches for a friend about a month ago. I was lazy and sewed the arm pocket shut-with permission from the wearer! He sent clear thread along with his patches. So nice when you can use one thread for any color patch! I can’t take credit for the clear thread idea. It was all him!

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