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Not gonna lie, just looking at iron-on patches definitely brings me back to my Girl Scout days—ahem, how many did YOU have on your sash?—except today’s version looks way more sophisticated. Iron-on patches are a great way to refresh and add your own personal twist to an old jacket, pair of jeans, hat, shoes, or purse. The best part? It’s super easy.
Even though it’s pretty simple, consulting a step-by-step breakdown will ensure you don’t ruin the clothes you’re trying to DIY. Fair warning though: Doing this successfully might make you want to personalize everything you own.
What you’ll need:
First up: Grab an iron, an ironing board, your desired patch, a thin piece of fabric like a pillowcase to protect your clothing and patch from the heat, and the pieces of clothing you want to customize.
Quick note on materials:
Before you get started, it’s good to know that iron-on patches don’t work super well on certain fabrics, like nylon, rayon, leather, or waterproof materials. In that case, you might want to actually sew them on instead. They DO work great on cotton and polyester though. Just look at the labels of the items you want to customize beforehand to make sure of your results—better safe than sorry!
How to apply an iron-on patch:
- Heat up your iron. You want your iron to be on its highest heat setting in order for the patch to properly adhere to the clothing. Pro tip: If you don’t have an iron, you can use a hair straightener in a pinch!
- Plan your design. Lay out your piece of clothing on the ironing board and place the patch in the spot where you want to adhere it. The adhesive side (i.e., the side without the design) should be flat against the fabric. If you’re ironing it on shoes or a hat—or other things that don’t lie flat—stuff the insides with towels. (This way, when you press on the patch with an iron later, it is as close to the fabric as possible and doesn’t shift around.)
- Place a thin cloth over the front of the patch. This will act as a barrier between your patch and the iron to protect the fabric of your clothing from the heat. You can use a pressing cloth for this, but if you’re low-key like, TF is that?, a pillowcase or damp towel will suffice.
- Iron on that patch. Okay, it’s go time. Place the iron over the patch and cloth and hold it there for 30 seconds. If your patch comes with specific instructions for how long to hold the iron on it, do that amount of time instead.
- Flip and repeat steps 3 and 4. Once the patch is fixed to your clothing, turn it inside out and lay it flat on the ironing board again. Place your pressing cloth or pillowcase over the backside of the patch and repeat step 4. If you’re ironing them on something that’s difficult to flip inside out (e.g., the front of a sneaker), apply the iron directly on the patch for a second round. Check out the vid below for a shoe-specific tutorial:
- Let it cool, and you’re done!