Introduction: Custom Felt Patches
Need something special to add to your bookbag or complete a costume of some sort? Make your own custom felt patches or badges.
Make professional looking patches without the use of embroidery. Here I present a sampler of patches you can make and the technique I used to create them.
Step 1: Get a Notion...
It's quite simple to do.
felt fabric in various colors: Felt is made by matting and compressing fibers together to form a fabric sheet. The best felt is made from real wool. You usually felt designs by starting out with a bunch of loose wool called roving. We will make things easier by using preformed felt sheets. They are usually made from polyester or some other man made material. Since natural fibers have a surface texture which helps lock the fibers together when felting, it will be better if you can find and use real wool material. Try to get felt sheets that are thick and soft where you can work with the looser fibers. This is a good way to use up those tiny felt scraps from other craft projects.
glue: I have found that the more expensive craft glues do work better. The have a quicker tack or stickyness and they do dry clearer with no staining which makes it less noticeable when the excess squeezes out.
a felting needle: A felting needle is a special needle that has some rough dimples on the shaft of the needle. This helps to catch and pull the fibers when the needle is passed through the fabric. I also have the felting tool which has 5 felting needles set in a handle for punching large areas. Don't use that since you will break the needles when it hits the glued spots. Use the single needle version or take one needle out and wrap the end with tape as a handle.
Felt on top of a foam block or that brush block made for felting. It lets you jab the the felting needle into the fabric and helps support the piece.
Use your choice of cutting implements. I used a pair of sharp scissors. Some prefer to work with a razor knife and cutting mat. You lucky ones can break out the stencil and die cutting machines, laser cutters and CNC waterjets. This can all be done by hand.
CAUTION: Felting needles are really, really sharp and they can bite you. Sharp scissors are very, very sharp and pointy. Be careful.
Step 2: Second Star to the Right...
First, have a design in mind.
You can then print it out to size or have it on screen to reference while you make the patch. I did all of the patches freehand by eye.
You can have a cutting template or just start cutting pieces of felt to shape.
Cut out the base piece in the color of your background.
To that we will cut out and apply the details.
For the Star Trek badge, cut out the yellow chevron. Cut out the small emblem inside. Cut out small strips to use as the border.
Glue on the pieces. Since this is a rough porous fabric, you may need to apply glue, let dry separately and glue again later since the fabric will just soak up the glue. A big blob of glue will just soak through and make a mess. Cover with plastic wrap and lay a heavy book on top to clamp and flatten glued parts.
The trick that makes these patches look good is the use of a felting needle to soften and blend in all the cut edges making it look like a one layer embroidered patch. When gluing down a piece, leave a clean area or strip close to the edge all around the piece. That leaves the fibers there free to be felted when the glue dries. Don't apply too much glue so that it squeezes out into that area when the piece is pressed down and applied.
When the glue is dry, you can go around to felt all of the cut edges. Just take the felting needle and start jabbing away. Careful with where you put your fingers to hold the piece. The cut edge will start breaking down and start melding into the base fabric. Pull off of the foam or brush block every once in a while to push all the fibers back into the piece. Randomly jab the area to mix the fibers together. Try not to jab the hardened glued spots. The fibers will not loosen up and mix no matter how hard you try. You can also break the needle too, so be careful.
Brush off any loose lint and trim around as needed.
The Pac-man patches were made by cutting out the body, a white circle for the eyeball and a black dot for the pupil Glue the black dot on the white eye and then glue the eye to the body. When the glue is dry, felt the cut edges.
The Star Wars Rebel insignia was made by cutting out the red design. Glue that on a white felt background. When the glue is dry, felt the cut edges. Trim around leaving a white band as the border of the patch/badge.
Step 3: I Am...wait...
For the Batman patch, cut out the Batman bat. I used a fleecy material black background. I cut a yellow oval out of a fleecy material too. Glue up the layers.
I tried to felt the fleecy material but had limited success in that because fleece is made with an underlying support structure so there is a web mesh and fibers intertwined in there. Since it is like carpet, you just have the small tufts of fibers to felt. It makes for a soft fluffy patch though.
Trim with a small black band as the border.
Step 4: This Seems Popular...
The Minecraft and One Up Mushroom were cut from flat felt sheets.
Cut and lay out all of the pieces.
When the glue is dry, felt the cut edges.
Trim the background.
Step 5: Kiteman
It's not Cartman.
This one was done on a felt sheet background.
Cut all the pieces and position.
Glue all the pieces.
When dry, go around all the cut edges with the felting needle to smooth out and transition. The green felt for the bowtie was too thin and already compressed too much to work any of the fibers loose.
Go make your own custom felt patch.