Badges are extremely versatile – they can be attached to garments using iron-on adhesive, appliqué, sewing or Velcro – and can be embroidered, woven or printed. Grev Leigh of Badge Design explains how to get attached to badges in just a few simple steps

Whether it’s a Velcro-attached badge, an iron-on style, or a design that is going to be sewn onto a garment by the end user, managing director Grev Leigh of Badge Design has created a straightforward step-by-step that will allow you to create long-lasting badges that will keep your customers, from schools to workwear companies, happy.

Badge Design has been making all forms of fabric badges for many years, notes Grev. “Traditionally, such badges require an overlocked/merrow border, otherwise the fabric will simply fray,” he explains. “Also, overlock thread is much stronger than embroidery thread, so depending on the use of the badge, overlocking thread will last a lot longer, for example on biker jackets.”

There are various ways to attach a fabric badge, as Grev details below:

Sew-on The simplest form, which the customer can then sew into position themselves.

Iron-on An iron-on backing is applied to the badge, enabling the customer to apply it themselves. Always supply a set of instructions to the customer so they know how best to apply their badge.

Hook-and-loop Commonly called Velcro, but other brands are available. The hook side is applied to the garment. This method is great for inter-changeability.

Felt backing If you want a design that is cut to shape without any overlocking/merrow, then you have to consider the fabric fraying. Felt doesn’t fray, so offers a great solution, especially if you have a laser-cutting facility or a knife attachment on one of your embroidery machine needles.

Appliqué This is when a badge is embroidered directly onto a product (see the March 2020 issue of Images for a good illustration from Essential Embroidery Design & Print). Sewing a badge on will leave a ‘lip’, whereas appliqué gives a much neater, professional finish and can save significant unnecessary embroidery.

Double-sided adhesive tape Sometimes the position required for a badge may mean it’s not feasible to appliqué or sew it on, or have hook-and-loop applied or even be ironed on, or the surface isn’t conducive to any of those formats, leaving double-sided adhesive tape as the last option.

As with all embroidery, the quality of the digitisation is key, but when it comes to badges, the quality of the finish is equally as important, as is giving the customer a solution to a particular problem. Embroidery, however, is not the only format of badging, points out Grev – there are two other main types:

Woven badges Nearly all the production of these badges is in East Asia due to the machinery but, with Covid, freight charges have gone through the roof, reports Grev.

Printed badges These can be divided into digital and sublimation printed. When using a quality sublimation printing machine, it will produce a finish that will look very much like a woven badge.

“At Badge Design, we offer all formats of badges and all backings,” says Grev. He believes that post-Covid and Brexit, businesses will place a renewed emphasis on British manufacturing and will choose UK-made sublimation badges instead of woven badges from East Asia because they offer a cheaper and quicker product without a noticeable reduction in quality.


(1) Once the design is digitised, cut out the fabric and adhesive backing. We used Fusible Embroidery Backing from ETC Supplies and a 240gsm polycotton fabric. The backing improves the quality of the embroidery production as it stops the fabric stretching too much
(2) Apply the adhesive using a heat press – we used an Xpres heat press at 140°C for 10 seconds. Next, place the fabric in the embroidery frame
(3) Load the digitised design onto the embroidery machine and start the production. For this badge, we employed a ZSK single-head embroidery machine, and Madeira thread
(4) Take the finished embroidery off the machine and remove the frame
(5) Apply the second layer of adhesive backing, using the same process as before. This layer will cover the loose threads on the back, which will help to keep the badge intact for longer
(6) Cut the badge using a knife that is the right shape and size for your badge’s border. We have numerous knives in stock – circles, squares, shields, etc
(7) Take the badge to the overlocking machine (we used a Brother one) where a border can now be added around the badge
(8) At this point, it can be left as it is for a sew-on badge, or an iron-on backing can be applied using a heat press. Alternatively, a Velcro-backing can be stitched to the badge
(9) The finished embroidered badge