Finding clothes at a second hand shop can be a delight and an exciting challenge for many people.
But what happens when your new piece of clothing has a sewn on patch that you would rather not have on it? Is there anything you can do?
So, how do you remove sewn on patches? Removing sewn on patches often requires the use of a seam ripper. You will have to go under each thread and break it down with the seam ripper, eventually removing the patch. The tricky part comes in if the patch is also ironed on, which many are, but there are methods you can use to remove it.
Removing a sewn on patch from clothing is not as easy as it would seem. The threads attaching it to your piece of clothing may leave holes in the fabric, and it is quite easy to tear your fabric with a seam ripper if you move too quickly and aren’t careful.
Read on to learn about all of the ways you can remove a sewn on patch!
The Tools You Need to Remove a Sewn On Patch
A handy sewing kit will have many of the tools you need for removing sewn on patches, but learn a little but more about the tools you should have on hand:
- A seam ripper: The main function of this handy tool is to tear or rip out stitches, as the name would imply. The general design is a plastic or rubber handle and a metal head that is forked and has a sharp point.
- You slide the tip of the metal head under stitched threads and carefully tear them out. You will need it to remove your sewn on patch or a piece of embroidery you no longer want on your cloth.
- A pair of tweezers: These are used to pick up and pull out threads when you are removing your sewn on patch. Their fine tipped point is helpful to grasp torn threads to tug them out, sparing your fingers from developing a cramp.
- A pair of scissors: A good pair of sewing/embroidery scissors is useful for cutting threads as you go.
- A magnifying glass: While this might not be in your sewing kit already, they’re incredibly helpful to have on hand for craft projects that involve fine techniques. You can use them to magnify areas where you are working and help you identify what stitches to pull out.
- A lint remover: Also known as a lint brush or lint roller, this tool picks up stray threads and removes them from your workspace while you carefully rip threads out. In a pinch, a piece of tape does much the same thing.
When you have a patch that needs to be removed, you really need – at bare minimum – a seam ripper and scissors. The other items are incredibly handy to help you work effectively and efficiently.
Removing a Sewn On Patch
Now that you have your tools ready, let’s get on to removing your less-than-ideal patch without ruining your clothes or backpack.
To remove a sewn on patch, follow these easy instructions:
1. Evaluate the stitching that is affixing the patch to the fabric. Are there many small threads that need to be removed or a few clean lines that will not take nearly as long to cut out?
2. Insert your seam ripper under the first stitch and pull it up. Be very careful that you do not tear your article of clothing or piece of fabric. The seam ripper will cut through the thread as you pull it up.
3. Continue inserting the seam ripper and tearing out stitches all of the way around the patch. If you have a patch that was embroidered on, it may take awhile to get each thread. Do this carefully and don’t lose your patience.
You may be able to pull out thread without tearing out each stitch, but this is not advised because it is easy to widen the holes in your fabric or even tear the fabric if you do not cut each stitch.
4. Finally, when you’ve gotten all of the way around your patch, you can trim any remaining threads with scissors and take the patch off.
5. Clean up the fabric with your tweezers and/or lint remover to remove all stray threads.
6. Launder the fabric per the fabric’s directions to help minimize the appearance of any holes. Save or discard the patch, depending on your use for it.
If you don’t have a seam ripper, you should go out and purchase one for this project, but you could certainly try to remove the stitches with a small pair of scissors. This method is less ideal because it is very easy to cut into your fabric in this fashion, but if you’re careful you may be able to make it work.
We recommend embroidery or sewing scissors with fine pointed ends. These may be easier to maneuver carefully.
Removing a Sewn On Patch That Is Also Ironed On
Unfortunately, if your patch is also ironed on, it’s going to be quite difficult to remove the patch, and you certainly won’t be able to do it just by ripping out the seams holding the patch onto your fabric. There are a few methods of removing ironed on patches.
Removing an Ironed-on Patch With an Iron
Yes, you can actually use the same tool to remove the patch that was ironed on. But first, be sure any stitches have already been removed.
Here’s how to remove an ironed-on patch using an iron:
- Make sure your fabric or clothing item can be safely heated with an iron. Test on a small, inconspicuous area of your clothing. Place wax paper over the area and press down with an iron for 15 seconds.
- Remove the iron and check for damage. Use the correct setting on the iron.
- Place clothing item with the cloth part of the patch up and exposed so that you can iron over it. Place wax paper over the patch.
- Iron directly over the patch for about 15 seconds. Apply the iron in 15 second intervals as needed until the glue softens.
- Once the adhesive has softened, gently peel the patch off. Consider using your tweezers for this step as the adhesive will be hot. If your patch is large, peel it in stages.
Using an Adhesive Remover
Using an adhesive remover can also help you remove your sewn and ironed on patch. As before, remove any seams holding the patch in place first.
Here’s how to remove your patch with an adhesive remover:
- Pick a fabric-safe adhesive remover. Rubbing alcohol may also work but is often less effective than products such as Goo Gone.
- Test a small spot on your fabric before you use it on the entire patch. Pick an area that you can’t easily see when wearing the clothing such as the inside and back bottom edge of a shirt. Dot a small amount of adhesive remover, working it into the fabric. Rinse following the guidelines.
- Turn your clothing or bag inside out so that the area of the fabric that is underneath the patch is clearly exposed.
- Apply the adhesive remover following the manufacturer’s directions. You will typically squirt or dab the remover onto the fabric. Apply enough that it soaks through the fabric completely to begin breaking down the adhesive holding your sewn on patch in place.
- Wait roughly one minute or as long as the directions state for the glue to break down. Peel off the patch by turning your clothing right side out and gripping the patch, gently peeling it away carefully.
- Repeat the process on any stubborn areas where the patch is not releasing.
- You may consider cutting away the patch in sections to make it easier to work with as you peel the pieces away.
Considerations When Removing a Sewn On Patch
Removing a sewn on patch is not technically challenging, but it can leave you with damaged fabric. Unfortunately if you have purchased a piece of clothing with a sewn on patch, you don’t know what the fabric underneath the sewn on patch looks like.
When you remove the threads holding the patch in place, you may have many tiny holes in your fabric. You may be able to test for this by running a needle and thread through an inconspicuous area of the fabric and seeing if a hole is left. Keep in mind that seam ripping may make some of the holes larger.
If your patch is held on by being sewn and attached with adhesive, there could be a damaged place underneath the adhesive when you remove your patch.
In some cases, clothing manufacturers may place a mark on the fabric to help identify where the patch needs to go and these are not always easy to remove. If you have purchased the piece of clothing secondhand, consider that the patch may be covering up a stain or other abnormality with the fabric.
Keep these facts in mind and consider whether you might not just prefer to keep the sewn on patch in place, especially given the effort it might take to remove it.
Can You Remove an Embroidered Patch?
You can remove an embroidered patch following these same directions for a sewn on patch. Keep in mind that there will likely be many more threads, which can take more time to remove.
How Do You Remove Clothing Labels Without Cutting Them?
You can also remove a sewn on clothing label the same way you can remove a sewn on patch. Get out your seam ripper or a small pair of scissors and break down each thread, one at a time.
Up Next: How To Sew A Patch On A Nylon Jacket