How to Hand Sew a Patch on a Punk Jacket

by Adam Valen Levinson ; Updated September 28, 2017

OK, we get it. You hate the wound-up Brooks Brothers look, but you don’t want to look like every other skinny-jeansed beanie-headed hipster, either. Throwing patches on clothes is a quick and easy way of making your swag look like no one else’s — and when you’re festooning a punk jacket, you can’t go wrong. First, take a trip down to the Salvation Army or a yard sale or a thrift shop and pick out a jacket that feels right: It can be anything. To get real punk, don’t be afraid to put chains, studs, paint — whatever you want — all over it.

Pick patches to match your style. Fabric stores and craft shops will sell patches in a whole range of colors and patterns. Or, if you’re feeling extra creative, find your own fabric and design your own patch.

Iron the spot where the patch is going to go until you’ve got the wrinkles out. If you’re going for devil-may-care punk, skip this.

Find the perfect place for your patch and stick it on. Lay out all your patches and let your inner street artist imagine where they will all go on the blank canvas of your jacket. Or, harness Jackson Pollack and them on spontaneously one after the other. Either way, when you have your spot for each one, use a safety pin to keep it in position while you stitch. You can also glue it on with a glue gun for extra firmness.

Choose the color and thickness of your thread. Punks don’t play by the rules, so you don’t need any particular color matching thread. If you want to be more subtle, use thread the color of the patch or jacket — if you’re peacocking, pick something totally different. Use nylon thread, not cotton, as it is stronger and more resistant to mildew and aging.

Prepare your thread to sew on the patch. Chances are, you’re no master seamster, so to prevent yourself from getting tangled, cut a short length of thread about the distance from your elbow to your fingertips. Take a deep breath and poke the thread through the eye of the needle (lick it if the edges are frayed) and tie a small not at the end.

Start sewing on the underside of the jacket, not on the outside of the patch. Unless, of course, you want to stick it to the hidden-seam establishment. Poke through the jacket and put it back through about a quarter-inch away (you’ve seen people sew, right?) Do this until you’ve sewn the whole perimeter of the patch.

Tie off the thread, neaten up, and finish the job. Knot the end of the thread and pull the needle through so that it is between the jacket and your patch (this way the thread is hidden). Cut the thread, but leave about half an inch so that the knot doesn’t come undone.

Repeat until you’re your own punk. Betsy Ross would be proud.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Adam Valen Levinson has reported for "Haaretz" in Tel Aviv and contributed to newspapers and magazines across the world from Kabul to Mexico City. He is the founder of the online travelogue INGULFED.com and a blogger for the Huffington Post. Levinson currently lives in Abu Dhabi. He holds a B.A. in political science from Columbia University.