Patch Showdown: Embroidered vs. Woven Patches

A guide to the differences between embroidered and woven patches to help you decide which is best for your decorated apparel business

By Manny Figueroa, Contributing Writer

This split image, with a woven patch on the left and an embroidered one on the right, shows the different looks of the methods. Photos courtesy of World Emblem

May 1, 2023

Sewing a patch to apparel has advantages over direct embroidery. It is less expensive, can be removed or replaced if needed, and offers a different look and feel. In general, you have two options if you want to go in this direction: an embroidered patch or a woven one.

Example of a woven patch for apparel decoration

Woven patches are thinner and more flexible. Photo courtesy of World Emblem

While these two options share similarities, there are differences to be aware of when choosing the best one for your application. Perhaps the most noticeable difference is the thickness of the patch. An embroidered patch must be sewn on to material, cotton twill being the most popular, and backed with a stabilizer consisting of either cutaway or non-woven tearaway material, most often using a #40 thread. An embroidered patch has more body due to additional layers of material and is more stable.

A woven patch is sewn on a knitting machine and does not require backing as the pattern or decoration is a part of the fabric. It is flat, flexible and, by adding a Merrowed edge, it can have a stylish, raised border that provides further protection of the design.

Embroidered Artwork With Finer Detail

If your artwork has a lot of fine detail, a woven patch will be a better choice. Because the patch is knit using a smaller diameter thread, it can accommodate the smaller elements of a more sophisticated design. Woven provides cleaner lines and a flatter appearance, which more closely resembles a printed look. The thickness of the patch is also streamlined and thinner.

An embroidered patch for decorated apparel

Embroidered patches are thicker than their woven counterparts. Photo courtesy of World Emblem

An embroidered patch is sewn using a thicker thread and a greater stitch density. This makes it ideal for artwork without a lot of text and fewer details, like the branches of a tree or the lines on a map. In fact, to embroider a complicated design, the digitizer will take out details to make it doable. If you are looking for a three-dimensional appearance with texture, with certain elements popping off the fabric, this is the better choice.

Both embroidered and woven patches are washable. They can be sewn on or heat applied to beanies, shirts, jackets, backpacks and more. I hope this information helps you make the best choice of patch for your next job. 


Manny Figueroa is the research and development manager for World Emblem. His responsibilities include product development, innovation and tracking the latest trends with a focus on sustainability and lean manufacturing. You can reach Figueroa at MannyF@WorldEmblem.com.