Even before the rise of great civilizations, a lot of our ancestors have had different ways of decorating their clothes. Things haven’t changed much today. From a simple flower pattern on blouses, pastel dyed kimonos, and stitched jewels on a harem costume, people exert effort to fascinate and express themselves. One of the ways to design is applying patches came from the process of embroidery. As early as 5th to 3rd century BC the Chinese are already practicing the art of embroidery. In Europe, they use it to stitch symbols that can indicate great wealth or social status.
The tradition of making stitched symbols paved the way for patches to be invented. They are usually made from a piece of cloth of a certain size and shape with various message or symbols embroidered. The designs can range from a simple typeface character to an entire kingdom’s coat of arms. Patches stitched are already evidently seen back in the ancient times on military uniforms and is still a practice until now. It’s used to identify which one is the ally and which one is the foe—to an extent a trophy to be used to indicate how many enemies a soldier did perish from a skirmish.
Before machines, a patch is only made by hand so its value is a bit higher than it is now. While the same process of shaping the cloth and its edges are properly placed on a hot seal the discovery of sewing machines and power looms made making the patches easier.One of the famous machines that enhanced the tedious process of embroidery was invented by Isaak Groebli. The Swede man invented the process called Schiffli machine which is Swedish for “little boat” based on its appearance. The machine is operated by few people, where in spun of threads are assembled on top and the cloth is being moved by the workers. The legacy continued when his son upgraded the machine so it will be operated by just one worker. With the technology, the patch is now made uniform and mass produced hence lowering its market value – eventually losing its social symbol.
Today, embroidered ones are still present on many types of clothes. They are still used on military uniforms to indicate a soldier’s rank and position. It’s also present on modern hats, caps, and other accessories. They are also used on varsity jackets for universities and colleges.
Customization is now easy. You can choose from different designs, from your favorite cartoon character or the logo of your basketball team. The technology however is now innovative as embroidery is not much of a fad anymore. A simple patch can now be highly customized digitally thanks to computers whether if it’s embroidered or ironed on. Just draw or find a design you prefer and it will be made accurately by just the machine. The usual stitching can now be avoided as a patch can now be attached with Velcro and you can freely change the design of your favorite clothes with it.Due to its convenience and lack of hassle in assembling, the iron-on variant exceeds its embroidered counterpart. These types have dried adhesives on their backing and it will stick on the shirt or the accessory you would like to design—heat it and it’s done!
Whether it functions as a social symbol, signifies a rank in military, or serves as a simple sign of expression, a patch can introduce a message to anyone. Patches are made not only as a design or just a label it’s also there to remind us how great the technology had advanced ever since.