Embroidered patches have existed for thousands of years, tracing back to ancient civilizations in China, India, and the South America. The art form developed when these civilizations began to decorate their fabrics with thread stitching. As the knowledge of making these patches spread, they began to be used to decorate things like royal robes or religious relics. Some patches were also used as military identification, as it was the easiest way to determine a soldierâs rank.
Today, embroidered patches are not only used in the military, but have also been used in other offices in government, sports teams, different organizations, and even by astronauts in NASA. There has also been a rise in the popularity of collecting different patches by enthusiasts.
These patches are usually attached by being sewn or pinned on a personâs clothes, but recent technologies have developed patches that could be ironed on, activated by dry-heat adhesive, and Velcro. With these innovations also came the mass production of these types of patches.
Patches could come in any design that a person wants, but the process is usually the same. In the olden days, the fabric would be cut into shape first and then the edges stitched to prevent fraying. A tailor or seamstress would then hand-stitch the design onto the fabric. Depending on the design of the patch, the fabric will either be completely covered in embroidery stitches or be incorporated into the background. Not much has changed today, except that instead of hand-stitching the design, they are now sewn on by embroidery machines so that they could be easier to mass produce. These embroidery machines could be fitted with many spools of different colored thread so that they could sew the design on the fabric much faster. Some patches nowadays have plastic backings to further improve fabric stiffness and to prevent threads from fraying.
Another interesting thing to note is how many different meanings could be portrayed on the design using colors and symbols. For instance, in military patches, colors have a variety of meanings. White could mean peace, blue means loyalty, and red for strength. In other cases, animals sewn on the patches also have meanings. A lion typically means courage, a bear means protection, and a tiger could mean ferocity.
A person could have embroidered patches custom made with any design he could imagine. And with the technology nowadays, these patches could be ordered and delivered in bulk.