See my FAQ here for info on shipping times and other frequently asked questions

Since what I mostly make is patches I thought I would post a basic rundown of how I make them, how to apply them, and how to care for them.

Commercially-available patches are made with something called a merrowing machine, which uses a special stitch to seal the edges. I have ordinary embroidery machines, so mine are made differently. Basically I use a fabric that matches the color of the outer edge of the design (unless the design has open areas, in which case of course I use that color). The design is stitched out, then I apply a no-fray liquid to the outer satin stitch. Then I remove the stabilizer and iron a patch backing onto the fabric (unless the customer didn't want that), and cut the patch out. I try not to cut too close (which is where the fabric matching the outer edge comes into play). Sometimes I will use fabric markers to touch up fabric edges that do not match the satin stitches. (If Velcro was requested, before it comes off the machine an additional outline is stitched over both layers, then the edges are sealed and it's cut out.)

I use polyester thread and my patches are machine washable and dryable as well as dry cleanable, unless they are made with specialty threads such as solar active or glow in the dark (the blacklight-reactive threads can be ironed and laundered as normal). The polyester thread is bleach safe so if it is a solid-embroidered patch on a white garment you may put it in the whites load. However if it has exposed clolored fabric as the background, you must not bleach it unless that fabric is white.

Oh, and I create my designs with Embird software.

To iron my patches on, first take note of the type of fabric you want to put it on (read the label if it is a garment, or look it up online). Some fabrics should not have high heat applied to them, you should not attempt to iron patches to these fabrics. If it is heat-safe, use an iron at high heat (no steam), and apply heat both to the top and backside of the item if possible for 10-20 seconds. If you are at all worried about your iron being dirty, use a presscloth to prevent the patch getting stained or scorched. Let the adhesive cool completely. (Please do not apply high heat to specialty threads though.) The manufacturer of the iron-on backing I use say it may be machine washed and dried, as well as dry-cleaned.

A NOTE OR TWO ABOUT IRON-ON BACKING: If you want my honest opinion, I actually hate iron-on backing. It seals the backs of the patches and makes them look more professional, but I don't trust it to actually hold patches on for long, especially after being laundered. I highly recommend either sewing (when possible) or gluing (when sewing isn't possible) patches on. Use a good fabric cement, E-6000 usually works. Unfortunately there are some fabrics that just won't play nice with any kind of adhesive (canvas and nylon come to mind, so bags/backpacks in general). It seems that the majority of times I get negative reviews on my products is when the customer is dissatisfied with the iron-on backing. It is always my recommendation to sew or glue patches on. It may be easier to do both of these things with no backing present so be sure to order a plain back if you are going to sew or glue.

The other thing is, even though most people own a home iron and not a heat press, all iron on patches (mine, store bought, etc) will adhere better if you use a heat press. I used to just use a home iron to apply my backing after sewing out patches with varying degrees of success; I used to blame the manufacturer of the backing but I eventually figured out it was my iron. Or ironS, as, since I use them a lot, I do tend to have to replace my irons after a few years, and it seems some get hotter than others. This last time an iron died on me I had started making heat press shirts so I just grabbed my heat press to use in the meantime and SUCH a difference, no more having to re-iron patches after cutting out because the backing was already peeling off. Now I use the heat press every time. So the takeaway is if you, the customer, have a heat press or know someone who does, use that instead of a home iron (I use mine at 305 degrees F) and your patch should hold up even in the wash much better. I know you probably don't though, but at least now a press is being used for half the application. :P

(Or other garments/bags, etc)

Embroidered items:

First of all, if you see any faint yellow or blue marks/lines on the fabric, don't worry! That is just chalk that I use for placement. It will brush or wash right out. I don't like to prewash items before sending them to customers.

Secondly, IF there are NO specialty threads in the design (glow in the dark or solar-active) then you may launder the item as you would normally launder it if it were not embroidered. The polyester thread I use is bleach safe, so if it is embroidery only on a white shirt you may bleach it; but if there is applique (pieces of colored fabric stitched down) present, do not use bleach. You may machine dry as normal, and you may use heat when ironing. If there ARE specialty threads present, please do NOT use bleach, do NOT place in the dryer, and do NOT iron it. You can wash them in the machine but hand washing is recommended. Flat drying is better than hanging as hanging can cause the fabric to stretch if the embroidered area is heavy. If the only special thread is blacklight reactive, you may launder it normally.

One more thing, embroidered areas like to curl up in the dryer (again this only applies if there's no specialty threads). If this happens, just iron it on the backside.

(Btw if your item has one of my custom-printed clothing tags, that may be laundered normally, including with bleach, but the maker specified that a hot iron should not be directly applied to it.)

Heat press items:

I use Siser brand vinyls for my heat press shirts etc. I have info and care instructions for those here.

I use Oracal 651 for my vinyl decals (the ones I sell anyways) because it's supposed to last the longest on a vehicle. They claim about 5 years. I use Angel Crafts transfer film because it was recommended to me and it works well without leaving a residue. The vinyl comes on a paper backing; after cutting the design out the excess material is weeded away and a transfer film is applied on top (the grid you see is printed on the transfer film). This is rubbed to make sure the film adheres to the decal. When you are ready to apply it you peel up the film, making sure the decal comes along with it, and this is laid on the prepped/cleaned surface, rubbed again, and then the film is removed, again making sure the decal remains in place.

TIPS: If being applied on a hard surface such as metal, glass, or plastic, prep by wiping with alcohol (and let dry of course). Use a hard flat item such as a credit card to rub the film. Do not apply to a very hot or cold surface - if you are putting it on a car do not attempt to apply if it's very cold or the car is parked in direct sun.

My name is Cynthia (or Cyndie), but I have been called Sparky by virtually everyone since high school, when my favorite cartoon character was Megavolt (his nickname, although he didn't like it, was Sparky). I am in my late 40's. I have been crafting and creating my own dolls, toys, and clothing since I was very small. I remember teaching myself how to cross-stitch when I was 8 or 9 and I did all kinds of needlepoint and beading for about 20 years until my sight started to fail. Since I loved embroidered patches and collected them (but almost never actually put them on anything because then they would be ruined) I'd had my eye on embroidery machines for quite some time. Finally my brother offered to buy me a small one so I could start a home business. By a year later I wasn't able to keep up with orders on the small machine so I traded up to a large one. More recently, I have added a larger, commercial machine to the arsenal.

I live in the Sacramento CA area with my brother, and a caique called Fizzgig.

My machines, a Melco Bravo and a Brother Entrepreneur Pro X

I created the logo with the Stitch Cursive font and a sketch of a spider given to me by Scythemantis. I colored the spider into a cartoony avicularia versicolor or Antilles Pinktoe tarantula, because I figured if I was going to put a spider in my logo I should make it a pretty one. :) The little tarantula's name is Sewout - a "sewout" is the physical stitched-out sample of embroidery, as opposed to just the computerized design. (Btw last I heard, Scythemantis is available to hire for logos and other artwork. Ask him.)

This page owned and maintained by C. "Sparky" Read.