Make: Projects

Embroidered Patches

Reproduce digital artwork in embroidery.


Step #1: Trace your artwork.

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  • If you're using a light-colored fabric, you may be able to trace directly on the fabric. In this case, I'm using a very opaque canvas fabric, so I had to first trace the design on paper, directly from my computer screen.
  • Don't use a drawing implement that requires too much pressure or that will bleed through onto your monitor. A regular ballpoint pen works just fine.

Step #2: Chalk it up.

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  • If you traced your design directly onto your fabric, skip this step.
  • Turn your paper template over and apply chalk or conti crayon to the back (in a color that will be visible on your fabric).
  • Shake off the dust and place the paper template on your fabric.
  • Trace over the design with a dull pencil or ballpoint pen, transferring the lines of the design onto your fabric.
  • Be careful not to touch it too much after this, as the chalk will rub off with your touch.

Step #3: Start embroidering.

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  • Stretch your fabric in your embroidery hoop.
  • Select your floss color and get started.
  • Use whatever stitches you feel are appropriate, and don't be afraid to experiment. I used the satin stitch for these.
  • It may be helpful to keep your reference image up on your monitor so you can keep track of small details that might have been lost in the tracing transfer.
  • When finished, take your fabric out of the hoop and shake off any remaining chalk.
  • Iron out the creases from the hoop.

Step #4: Create a backing (optional).

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  • This step is optional, but gives a nice finished look to your patch.
  • Cut a rectangle of your backing fabric with about a 3/8" border seam allowance all around your patch.
  • Press in a 1/4" fold on all sides. Trim the corners at a 45° angle passing through the intersection of the two ironed creases.
  • Iron in another 1/4" fold, turning under the first fold you made.
  • Press in the corners so that the edge of the crease intersects the new corner intersecting folds, then press in the sides again.
  • You should end up with nice mitered corners.
  • Place the patch inside this frame and topstitch around all edges for a nice complete patch.
Becky Stern

Becky Stern

Becky Stern ( is a DIY guru and director of wearable electronics at Adafruit. She publishes a new project video every week and hosts a live show on YouTube. Formerly Becky was Senior Video Producer for MAKE. Becky lives in Brooklyn, NY and belongs to art groups Free Art & Technology (“release early, often, and with rap music”) and Madagascar Institute (“fear is never boring”).

  • Popular Patch

    Nice work. If you have an embroidery machine, you can also scan in your design and bring it into your digitizing program to overlay your stitches.