can you put patches on polyester

Can You Put Patches on Polyester Fabric?

Polyester is one of the most popular synthetic fabrics used in clothing and home decor today. With its affordability, durability, and wide availability, polyester offers many advantages for DIYers and crafters looking to customize garments and accessories with iron-on patches, embroidered patches, woven patches, vinyl patches, leather patches, scout patches, military patches, and more. However, its synthetic composition also makes it tricky when it comes to alterations like adding patches. Can you put patches on polyester fabric successfully?

With some adjustments to preparation, materials, and technique, it is possible to apply patches to polyester garments and accessories. However, due to the unique properties of this synthetic polyester fabric, extra care must be taken to ensure embroidered patches, woven patches, and other patch types adhere correctly. Understanding the challenges of patching polyester, along with some helpful tips, will give your patching projects the best chance of success.

What is Polyester Fabric?

Before diving into the specifics of patching, it helps to understand precisely what polyester fabric is and why it can be challenging.

Polyester is a synthetic polymer fabric made from petroleum. The long polyester polymer chains are woven together to create a highly durable and wrinkle-resistant fabric. Polyester, unlike cotton and wool which are natural fabrics, doesn’t allow for breathability. However, its affordability and availability have made polyester a go-to choice for clothing, home furnishings, outdoor gear, and more.

There are a few types of polyester fabric, including knits like polyester jerseys, woven polyester fabrics, microfiber polyester, and polyester blends. While exact properties may vary slightly, all polyester has the shared qualities of being synthetic, hydrophobic, and thermoplastic. This means polyester repels water, resists absorbing embellishments or fabric glue, and melts at relatively low temperatures.

Challenges of Patching Polyester

The selective properties that give polyester its benefits also lead to challenges when it comes to DIY alterations like patching garments and accessories with iron-on patches, embroidered patches, woven patches, and more. There are a few reasons why patching polyester can be tricky:

  • Polyester does not absorb fabric glue, hot glue, heat, or natural fibers. The synthetic fibers are smooth and hydrophobic, making it hard for adhesives and hot glue to permeate the polyester fabric. New patches may sit on top without absorption instead of fusing with the garment.
  •  Patches may not adhere correctly or come off over time. Since polyester is so slippery and non-absorbent, new patches often lack a firm grip, even with fabric adhesives. A weak hold can lead to corners peeling quickly and patches detaching with wear and laundering.
  •  Risk of damaging the polyester when ironing or heat pressing. The low melting point of polyester means it can become misshapen, develop holes, or even melt when exposed to high heat from a hot iron, heat press, or other heat source during patching. Too much heat can ruin the polyester garment or accessory.

Working around these challenges requires modifying techniques and experimenting to find what works best for polyester patching projects with iron-on patches, embroidered patches, and more.

Tips for Successfully Patching Polyester

Tips for Successfully Patching Polyester
Photo credit: freepik

While tricky, it is possible to successfully add patches to polyester garments and accessories if you adjust preparation, materials, and application techniques. Here are some tips to properly adhere patches to polyester:

Prepare the Fabric

Take some steps in advance to give new patches their best chance of adherence:

  • Wash and dry the polyester garment or accessory before patching to preshrink the material. This prevents later shrinking from interfering with new patches.
  •  When ironing, Use a pressing cloth to protect delicate polyester fabric from scorching or melting.

Choose the Right Patch and Adhesive

Select patch materials and adhesives suited for the temperamental nature of polyester:

  • Opt for iron-on patches with a heat-activated adhesive backing specially formulated to grip slick polyester when applied with a hot iron.
  •  Fabric glue or liquid adhesives work better than hot glue for polyester’s smooth surface. Look for fabric glues designed for vinyl and synthetics.
  •  For maximum security, sew patches onto polyester fabric with strong polyester thread. The physical perforations provide more grip.

Apply Heat and Pressure

Proper technique is critical to getting patches to bond to polyester:

  • Set iron temperature or heat press heat for polyester’s low melting point, usually around 302°F to 320°F. Avoid high cotton settings.
  •  Use firm pressure when pressing over patches with an iron or heat press to push the adhesive into the fabric. Gentle pressure is often not enough.
  •  Keep the iron moving continuously over the garment to avoid overheating any spots. Melting or scorching ruins the polyester.

Alternative Patching Techniques

If iron-on patches still won’t stick, trying a different patching method altogether can work:

  • Adhesive vinyl patches activate with pressure, not heat. Peel and stick to adhere them without an iron or heat press.
  •  No-sew embellished patches have an ornamental design but no backing. Use fabric glue or hand stitching to attach them.
  •  Sew patches on with a sewing machine or by hand. The perforations give more grip on slippery polyester.

Creatively Patching Polyester Garments

Don’t let polyester’s limitations get in the way of your patching visions! With some creative techniques, you can still customize polyester clothing and accessories with fun patches:

  • Mix patch materials like vinyl, embroidered, and woven patches for an eclectic look.
  •  Distress polyester with sanding, tearing, or cutting to provide more texture for patches to cling to.
  •  Strategically place multiple patches to form personalized designs, images, or messages.

FAQs

Can I iron patches onto polyester?

Yes, you can iron patches onto polyester, but use a lower temperature setting and press firmly to apply enough heat and pressure for the adhesive to adhere correctly. Always use a pressing cloth to avoid damaging the polyester.

What kind of glue works on polyester?

Specialty fabric glues designed for vinyl and synthetics work best for gluing patches onto polyester. Avoid hot glue and look for liquid adhesives that bond well with smooth surfaces.

Can I sew a patch onto polyester?

Sewing with polyester thread provides a secure bond when attaching patches to polyester fabric — machine stitching and hand sewing work. Make sure to backstitch at the edges.

How do I patch a hole in polyester?

Cut a patch from similar polyester fabric and sew it over the hole using short stitches and polyester thread. Trim excess fabric and finish by topstitching around the edges of the patch.

Can I use an iron-on patch on polyester?

Yes, iron-on patches can work on polyester, but choose patches made specifically for synthetic fabrics and use the proper technique to apply even heat and pressure. Test on an inconspicuous area first.

While it takes more effort, with the right approach, polyester garments can still be upcycled and customized with fun patches or mended with repair patches. What tips are you for successfully adding patches to tricky materials like polyester? Share your creative patching techniques and experiences embellishing synthetics below!

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Main image: freepik

Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
Articles: 169

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