can you iron on a patch to polyester

Can You Iron On a Patch to Polyester? Tips for Customizing Poly Garments

Have you ever wanted to spruce up a polyester garment with an iron-on patch but weren’t sure if it was possible? Ironing custom patches and ironing on patches onto tricky fabrics like polyester can seem hit-or-miss, but it can be done with some care and know-how. To effectively attach patches onto polyester garments, bags, hats, and other items, continue reading for helpful tips and techniques.

Polyester is a synthetic polyester fabric made from petroleum that is prized for being wrinkle-resistant, durable, and quick-drying. However, the slick surface of the polyester material can make it tricky to get an iron-on embroidered patch or woven patch to adhere properly. The key is taking steps to help the adhesive backing on the new patch form a robust and lasting bond to the polyester garment.

It comes down to avoiding high heat, stabilizing the patch and polyester fabric, and ensuring sufficient contact time for the fabric glue or heat seal backing to adhere correctly. You can customize your polyester clothes with extra care by ironing on embroidered patches, woven patches, printed patches, PVC patches, vinyl patches, sports patches, and more iron-on patches.

Use a low-heat setting.

The rule is never to use a hot iron or high heat setting when applying patches to polyester clothing or any synthetic fabric. The artificial fibers can quickly melt under high heat from the iron, damaging the garment and embroidered patch. Set your iron to a polyester-safe temperature, usually around 250 degrees Fahrenheit, or the “low” heat setting. Some ironing boards and patch irons also have specialized settings for artificial fabrics like polyester.

Put a Pressing Cloth or Parchment Paper Between the Iron and Patch

Place a pressing cloth or piece of parchment paper over the patch before ironing to protect the delicate polyester fibers further and prevent scorching. This creates a barrier between the heat of the hot iron and the synthetic fabric. You can buy a special press cloth for pressing delicate fabrics or a scrap piece of cotton or thin cloth. Parchment paper, available at any grocery store, also works great.

Pre-Wash and Preshape the Garment

Pre-Wash and Preshape the Garment
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Washing and drying the polyester garment before ironing the patch helps eliminate fabric finishes or treatments that could interfere with adhesion. It also preshrinks the material so it won’t contract and distort the patch later. Additionally, reshape the polyester clothing on an ironing board before patching to remove any wrinkles and ensure a smooth surface for the patch to stick to.

Use Smaller Patches Rather Than Large Ones

Because polyester is a trickier surface for adhesion, start with smaller iron-on patches rather than large ones. A patch that is 2 to 3 inches wide is ideal. Larger patches are more susceptible to lifting or peeling, especially on the slick synthetic fabric. Once you’ve mastered the technique, feel free to size up and iron on multiple patches.

Iron the Patch On Longer to Ensure Adhesion

Be patient and iron the new patch onto the polyester fabric longer than usual. Rather than 30 seconds hold the hot iron over the patch for a full 1 to 2 minutes. This allows the adhesive backing extra time to melt and grip the material’s fibers. Apply firm, even pressure, and lift the iron every 20-30 seconds to check that the patch is bonding.

Let It Cool Completely Before Washing

It’s crucial to let the patched polyester garment cool thoroughly before washing. This could take 1-2 hours or overnight. Washing too soon can loosen the fabric glue or heat seal backing before it has cooled and hardened. Avoid the temptation to test the patch bond with water immediately.

Woven and Embroidered Patches Hold the Best

The construction of the patch itself makes a difference in adhesion to the polyester fabric. Woven patches with embroidered borders provide the most stability for holding to the material. The dense, stiff woven fabric and stitched edges resist lifting or peeling. Printed patches have less structure, requiring cautious ironing onto the synthetic polyester garment.

Use Heat Seal Backing for Extra Grip

Many patch manufacturers offer heat seal backing built for artificial fabrics like polyester. This has an adhesive that’s formulated specifically to bind to slick synthetics when heat is applied. So opt for patches labeled “heat seal” or “hot seal” when ironing onto polyester clothing.

Try PVC and Vinyl Patches

In addition to woven, some PVC and vinyl patches can work well on polyester with proper ironing techniques. The thicker plastic material and engraved edges provide rigidity to resist lifting. Hold the hot iron on only one spot as long as the vinyl can melt.

Fabric Glue for No-Iron Application

If ironing polyester seems too tricky, fabric glue is a tremendous no-heat alternative to heat seal patches. Be mindful as you apply the fabric glue to the patch, ensuring that it is a thin layer. Position the patch on the garment and firmly press down for 5 minutes. Once the glue dries, the bond should be permanent.

Sew Patches On for Maximum Security

Sewing the patch directly onto the polyester garment is your best bet for guaranteed adherence. Take care not to stretch the polyester fabric as you darn. Use a tight zigzag stitch around the edge of the patch with thread, or conceal the thread with an edgestitch for a cleaner look.

Use a Heat Press for Consistent, Even Results

A heat press machine applies heat and pressure evenly across the entire patch for complete contact. The ability to calibrate exact time, temperature, and pressure settings helps ensure optimal bonding on polyester clothing and apparel. A heat press is a wise investment if you’ll patch many polyester garments.


What temperature should I use to iron on a patch of polyester?

Use a low heat setting around 250°F when ironing patches onto polyester to avoid damaging the synthetic fabric.

Do I need to pre-wash my polyester garment before ironing on a patch?

Yes, pre-washing helps remove any coatings and preshrinks the material so the patch won’t distort later.

How long should I iron a patch onto polyester fabric?

Iron the patch for 1-2 full minutes to allow the adhesive time to bond, lifting the iron periodically to check it’s sticking.

What’s the best type of patch to iron onto polyester?

Woven and embroidered patches hold best on polyester. Opt for heat seal backing designed for synthetics.

Can I sew a patch onto polyester if ironing doesn’t work?

Yes, sewing with a tight zigzag or edgestitch is a secure way to affix a patch to polyester.

With the right supplies and techniques, you can successfully iron fun, decorative patches onto your polyester jackets, hats, bags, and clothing. Just use low heat from the iron, stabilize the polyester fabric, and take time pressing.

What custom patches will you add to your synthetic garments? Have you decked out your denim jean jacket or polyester pullover with iron-on patches? Share your tips for ironing patches onto tricky fabrics!


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Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
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