How to remove sewn-on patches safely

how to remove sewn-on patches

Sewn-on patches are popular embellishments used on garments to showcase personal style, support a cause, or represent a group or organization. However, there may come a time when you need to remove a sewn-on patch, whether it’s to update the garment’s appearance, repurpose the patch, or repair the fabric underneath. In this article, we will guide you through the process of learning how to remove sewn-on patches effectively and safely.

Sewn-on Patches

sew-on patches

Sewn-on patches are decorative patches attached to garments by sewing them onto the fabric using needle and thread. These patches come in various shapes, sizes, and designs, commonly made of embroidered fabric or woven materials. Sewn-on patches serve as a means of personal expression, identification, or promotion.

Common Applications

Sewn-on patches are widely used in different contexts, including:

  • Military and law enforcement uniforms
  • Sports team jerseys
  • Motorcycle club jackets
  • Scout uniforms
  • Work uniforms
  • Fashion and DIY projects

How to remove sewn-on patches step-by-step guide

Tools & Materials Needed

Before you begin removing a sewn-on patch, gather the following tools and materials:

  • Seam Ripper: This compact tool features a pointed tip and a blade designed specifically for cutting stitches.
  • Scissors: A pair of sharp scissors to trim loose threads.
  • Tweezers: Helpful for grasping and removing small threads or stubborn stitches.
  • Iron: A household iron to apply heat if necessary.
  • Adhesive Remover (Optional): A specialized product to dissolve and eliminate any leftover adhesive residue caused by the patch. 

Preparing the Garment

Lay the garment on a flat surface, ensuring the area with the patch is easily accessible. If the garment is delicate or requires special care, consider following any specific instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Identifying the Stitching

Examine the patch and identify the stitches used to attach it to the fabric. Typically, the stitching will be visible on the front or back of the garment. Look for a series of small, tight stitches securing the patch.

Removing the Thread

Carefully insert the seam ripper under a stitch and gently push the blade against the thread until it cuts through. Repeat this process for each stitch, being cautious not to damage the fabric. Use the tweezers to pull out the thread remnants once the stitches are cut.

Removing Residual Threads

After removing the primary stitching, you may notice small residual threads or fragments left behind. Use the tweezers to remove these remnants, ensuring a clean surface.

Handling Stubborn Patches

Some patches may have additional adhesive backing or be attached with stronger stitches. If the patch is difficult to remove, try using the seam ripper to carefully cut any adhesive threads or gently pry the patch away from the fabric. Take your time to avoid damaging the garment.

Ironing the Fabric (Optional)

If the fabric has creases or indentations from the removed patch, you can use a household iron to gently press the area. Place a thin cloth over the fabric and iron it on low heat, following the garment’s care instructions. Ironing the fabric can help smooth out any creases or indentations. This will help the fabric to restore its original appearance. However, it’s important to follow the garment’s care instructions and use low heat to avoid damaging the fabric. Ironing is optional and should be done cautiously to prevent potential harm.

Apply Adhesive Remover (Optional)

If adhesive residue persists on the fabric following patch removal, put a little adhesive remover on a clean cloth or cotton ball. Dab the affected area gently, allowing the remover to dissolve the residue. Follow the product instructions carefully to avoid any potential damage to the fabric.

Reattaching the Patch (Optional)

If you plan to reuse the patch or reattach it to the same or a different garment, carefully align it on the desired spot. Select a needle and thread that complement the color of the garment to securely reattach the patch.

How to Remove sew-on patches Using a Knife

how to remove patch using knife

I would like to emphasize that using a knife to remove sewn-on patches is not recommended, as it carries a higher risk of damaging the fabric compared to using a seam ripper. However, if you find yourself without a seam ripper, you can follow these steps with caution:

  • Assess the Patch and Fabric: Carefully examine the patch and fabric to understand the stitching.
  • Prepare the Area: Prepare a clean and flat workspace where you can safely work on removing the patch. Place the garment flat, ensuring the patch is positioned facing upwards and firmly secured.
  • Select a Sharp Knife: Opt for a small, pointed-tip knife that is sharp for best results. Ensure the blade is clean and free from any substances that could transfer onto the fabric.
  • Cut the Stitches: Holding the fabric taut with one hand, insert the knife’s tip beneath a stitch that secures the patch. Apply gentle pressure to cut through the thread. Repeat this process for each stitch, taking care to avoid cutting the fabric itself.
  • Remove Loose Threads: After cutting the stitches, inspect the area for any loose threads. Utilize tweezers or your fingers to carefully eliminate any loose or remaining threads, leaving a clean surface.

Tips and Precautions

How to remove sewn-on patches safely, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Being Patient And Gentle: Take your time and proceed slowly when removing stitches to avoid causing damage to the fabric. Exercising patience and employing a gentle touch is essential.
  • Testing On a Discreet Area: Conduct a test on a discreet area of the fabric before applying heat or adhesive remover, ensuring it does not cause discoloration or damage.
  • Following Care Instructions: If you’re unsure about the fabric or the patch’s removal process, consult the garment’s care instructions or seek professional advice.

final comments

Removing sewn-on patches can be straightforward when done with care and the right tools. By following the steps mentioned in this article on how to remove sew-on patches, you can effectively remove sewn-on patches from your garments while minimizing the risk of damage. Remember to exercise patience and caution, and consider the optional steps such as ironing and using adhesive remover based on your specific needs.


Yes, sewn-on patches can be reused If they remain in a satisfactory state after being removed. Ensure they are clean and in proper shape before reattaching them to a different garment.

With proper tools and a gentle approach, it is generally possible to remove sewn-on patches without significant damage to the fabric. However, exercise caution, particularly with delicate or sensitive materials

The time required to remove a sewn-on patch depends on factors such as the size of the patch, the number of stitches, and the fabric type. It can range from a few minutes to longer for more intricate or stubborn patches.

If the adhesive remover leaves stains on the fabric, consult a professional cleaner or follow specific stain removal instructions for the fabric type. Avoid excessive force or harsh chemicals, as they can worsen the stain.

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