Meg, Old Post Office | March 12, 2020
It in undeniable that embroidered patches are experiencing a resurgence in the fashion world of today. High-fashion brands like Chanel, Off-White, and Marc Jacobs have all incorporated embroidered designs into their high-fashion runways. Speaking on the emerging trend, Gucci’s creative director commented, “I love taking prints, embroidery, appliqués—precious things that seem to be from another time—and using them to create a contemporary, new story”. At the Old Post Office Makerspace, you too can use patches to create a new story using our digital embroidery machine, and all at a fraction of the cost.
Embroidery itself has a rich history; the earliest records of the craft can be traced back to the 3rd and 5th century BC in China. In this era, hand embroidery was one of many techniques used to mend and patch cloths, which eventually led to more intricate and decorative designs. At this point, embroidery became used primarily for identification, as only the very wealthy could afford embroidered emblems on silk, which were commonly adorned with gold and pearls. Custom embroidered patches were painstakingly created by hand with a needle and thread, a process which remained unchanged until the industrial revolution, when early embroidery machines were invented.
In the 1960’s and 70’s embroidered patches became novel and mainstream again with the rise of the hippie movement. This evolution of the patch began with practical, low-waste uses like repairing clothing using cheaper and more durable fabrics than before. It was only a matter of time before embroidered patches incorporated the visual motifs of the hippie era: rainbows, flowers, peace signs, and smiley faces adorned colourful slogans about love and freedom.
The 80’s brought another, darker social movement with the rise of the punk scene, and once again the embroidered patch underwent a shift. Common themes included political and ideological slogans, lyrics, and band names stitched onto irregularly shaped pieces of cloth and often haphazardly affixed to leather jackets and denim vests with safety pins. This era also gave rise to shoulder and full back patches, growing in size to accommodate the mantras of the counterculture.
Though embroidered patches have had many different iterations across history, they have always shared common themes as badges of identity, personality, and even solidarity. The Old Post Office’s Janome MemoryCraft 500E digital embroidery machine can make all of your wildest patch dreams come true. Using the Artistic Digitizer software, you can create custom patches from scratch, including uploading your own vector logos and converting them into stitches. To get started with the embroidery machine, we recommend booking a Tech 1-on-1 to get a hands-on tutorial on setting up your design, threading the machine, and seeing your patch come to life.
Stay tuned for next the March feature on engraving wine glasses, beer steins, and other drinkware!