How To Sew A Patch On A Backpack

If you’ve never learned how to sew a patch onto a backpack before, it might seem intimidating. It is a task worth remembering, though, because sewing is more secure than using adhesives. A stitched bond won’t weaken over time.

Once you know how to attach a patch to a backpack, you’ll realize it’s simpler than you think. Then you’ll be well on your way to showcasing your personality using stitch-on patches.

Tips and Tricks

  • It’s your backpack, so you decide what works for you: Choose a theme for the images you select or pick them at random.
  • Have a thimble on hand, as it will be tough to push the needle through both fabric layers. A butter knife makes a workable alternative.
  • Perfect your technique on a scrap piece of fabric first. You may easily remove the practice patch and reuse it later.
  • Take it slowly to start.

Are No-Sew Backpack Patches Better?

No-sew patches are easier to apply in principle. You place them where you like and then iron them. The heat activates the adhesive and the entire patch sticks.

One downside is that it is easy to ruin the fabric if your heat setting is too high. Another downside is that glue becomes increasingly brittle over time. The patch will start to lift and may fall off.

Hand-sewn is better for durability. You may combine both to get the best possible results.

Center your patch and put the iron on a high heat setting. Put the patch where you want it, with the picture facing up, and lay a press cloth over it. If you don’t have one, a clean dish towel will do.

Press the patch quickly, using short bursts of heat. Your goal is to adhere it well enough that it doesn’t shift while you’re sewing. From there, allow it to cool and then sew it down.

You’ll find it easier to keep the image in the right position, particularly over thick seams. The glue will bond the patch, and the sewing will ensure that it does not fall off.

Alternative Patching Methods

Iron-On Patch

Many patches come with activated adhesive backing. To find out if yours is one of them, read the instructions, or look at the back. If there is a thick, seemingly plastic coating on the back, it’s likely heat-activated glue.

If there is no such layer, and you can see the back of the embroidery stitches, you’ll have to get out the needle and thread.

It is best to check the manufacturer’s requirements for the correct temperature before you start.


Should the patch be made from nylon, you might use a bonding technique instead. You’ll have to head over to the hardware store and get a 100% silicone sealer. The type is not that important, as long as it’s silicone-based.  Don’t just use an everyday glue stick.  It won’t hold up over time.

With this technique, you don’t require any heat. You’ll use silicone instead. The advantage here is that the silicone flexes with the backpack fabric, and so it’ll last longer than adhesive.

Empty the backpack and lay it out flat. Apply the sealant in a thin layer over the back of the patch. Leave a small space around the edge so that silicone doesn’t sloosh out during the next stage.

Apply the patch where you want it and grab a few heavy books or objects. The items should apply even pressure over the whole surface. Place a cloth over the patch and put the objects you chose on top.

Now leave it alone until the next day so that the silicone cures properly.              

How to Hand Sew a Patch on a Backpack

Choosing Your Thread

There are two options with the thread color:

  • Some people select a thread similar in color to the image’s edge to hide the stitches. If you’re a beginner, you might prefer to do this.
  • Others opt for a contrasting color instead so that the image stands out more. If you’re able to create neat, even stitches, you may prefer this method.

It should be a strong, thin thread. Clear threads, similar to fishing lines, won’t work well here as they’re too thick.

Cut off around a foot and thread it through a thin, sharp needle. Stick to a single strand and secure it with a knot.

Cleaning the Bag

Wash the backpack with soap and water and allow it to dry overnight. As a precautionary measure, wipe it down with rubbing alcohol to remove any remaining residue. Allow the alcohol to evaporate before you start attaching the patch.

Place the Patch

Work out where you’d like to place the patch. You’ll have to be able to access both the inside and outside and maintain a firm grip. Once the patch is down, secure it with a safety pin

Start Sewing

Put your first stitch on the underside of the patch so that it hides the knot. Bring it up through the edge and then down into the bag. A simple whip stitch works well.

You’ll run the stitch through the bag, catch the fabric, and then back up through the straight edge of the patch. Carry on in this manner, sticking as close to the edge as possible. Work neatly and attempt to place the stitches evenly.

Continue until you’ve gone all the way around the image. Then loop your needle around a stitch twice and poke it through the patch one last time. Bring the needle down again, but instead of piercing the backpack, pass it under the image.

Cut the thread off, being careful not to cut your newly stitched edge.

Alternative Stitches

Running Stitch

A running stitch might be a little quicker. You will start and finish in much the same way, but instead of working around the edge, you’ll work to the inside of it. The technique won’t leave visible stitching on the bag’s surface.

You’ll draw the needle through the patch as before, but you’ll place the following stitch next to it on the image. If you choose your thread color correctly and use small stitches, no one will notice the stitching.

This stitch is a good option for those who are not the best at sewing.

Overcast Stitch

You may create an overcast stitch with a decorative edge that looks great with contrasting fabric. To get the pattern, you’ll do a combination of whip and running stitch. Start as before and bring the needle through the patch.

Machine Sew the Patch

Machine sewing is neater, faster, and more secure. But it’s not always suitable. You won’t be able to go through thick existing seams or extensive padding.

If you decide to use a sewing machine to attach the patch, you’ll have to make allowances for the device’s limitations.

As before, you’ll attach the patch using a safety pin. Keep the pin in the center to ensure you won’t run over it with the machine’s needle.

Open the bag out, so that you’re only working with one layer. Check to make sure that the bag will fit under the presser foot all the way around.

Thread the sewing machine, using a matching thread in the bobbin. Set your machine to a straight stitch, line up the needle, and create two stitches. Then backstitch to secure those stitches before sewing along the inner edge of the patch border. 

Continue until you’ve gone all around the edge, and then backstitch once more to secure the loose ends. Set the needle to its highest position, remove your bag, and trim away any excess thread. Remove the safety pin, and the bag is ready.

Final Notes

You’ve now learned how to sew a patch onto a backpack in several ways. It’s not hard work, just takes some patience.  There’s bound to be one option that appeals to you. All you need to do now is get out there and have fun collecting the images you like.