You Don’t Have to Be a Designer to Create a Custom Patch

Every patch starts with an idea. That idea may be a theme, a graphic to commemorate an event, or a brand identity. A good emblem converts that idea into an understandable graphic. What is most important is that the emblem gets the intended message across to your intended audience. Simplicity is always best. Too many details dilute the brand message. The more focused the idea, simply stated, the better the emblem.

After the idea stage it’s time to prepare a rough or finished sketch. An existing logo, letterhead, decal, photo, or sample emblem can also be sent to a custom patch company as a starting point. Indicate all colors along side of the design or by coloring in the artwork. If the idea of preparing even a simple sketch is overwhelming, call up the custom emblem company and simply describe your emblem design in words. A skilled art department will have artists skilled in interpreted spoken ideas into stunning graphics. Ask the designer for a graphic of common shapes for fire, police, military, scout, security, and sports club patches. Feel free to use one of those shapes as a starting point if it seems applicable. Motorcycle or MC patches often have custom die cut designs to designate ranking or membership within a private group. Do not directly copy the designs, wording or shapes of an MC patch without getting permission from the group’s president.

The proper size for a custom emblem is usually determined by its intended use: for hats – 2-1/2″ to 3-1/2″ sizes are most common. For shoulder or jacket front- 3-1/2″ to 5″ sizes are preferred. Back patches usually range from 6″ x 10″ to 8″ x 12″ sizes. For best clarity, all letters should be approximately 1/4″ tall. Letters smaller than this tend to lose sharpness and will not stand out as effectively as larger letters. Allow plenty of room for the best legibility. If lettering seems cramped, consider abbreviating. Block letters are most common and work the best. However, many styles of lettering can be reproduced. If the design lettering cannot be altered to match these size suggestions, consider having your emblem made as either a printed or woven patch. These options do not have the textured, raised look of custom embroidery, but can include almost photo-like realism.

Select contrasting colors for a more dramatic and beautiful emblem. If light color lettering or design elements are desired, then select a dark background color. Use dark lettering or designs on a light background to make sure the letters stand out. Using a variety of colors will greatly add to the appearance and visibility of your emblem.

Ask the custom patch company how many colors they allow before incurring extra charges. Pick colors using a Thread Color Chart. Or get access to a PMS (Pantone Matching System) to specify exact colors from the PMS Color Chart. If getting the exact color right isn’t important, just describe the colors to a designer (ie. “bright red, forest green,” or, “navy blue”, etc) and try to be as specific as possible. It’s important to do some research and pick a reliable patch company with a good track record. Production time usually takes three to four weeks depending on the order, but most companies offer rush services at an additional charge. Once the company’s design department has the emblem on file, it is easier to reorder or make minor alterations if the emblems information changes. Even for individuals who have never designed something before, creating a custom emblem can be a fun and rewarding process. With advances in technology in the embroidery industry, it is easy for anyone to have a custom embroidered or woven emblem at a very low cost that accurately displays a person, company, or clubs unique personality.

For more information on custom patch design, consult an experienced patch company.


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