DIY Your Own Geeky Patches

Banner: DIY patch

patchDIY1Need a break from the endless announcements, exclusives and all around overwhelming onslaught that is SDCC in your every feed? Perhaps it’s time for to try a geeky DIY activity. One of my favorite extracurriculars these days is expressing my altgeek self by customizing vests, and I wanted to share this DIY I taught myself in the process with all of you! Let your own geek flag fly by making your own patch. Make a patch for a vest. Or make a patch to sew on to your backpack. Or use it to cover an unseemly, expanding rip in your favorite pair of pants. Whatever you choose to do with it, I won’t judge.

I have two geek vests going at the moment. My Evil Bitch Sailor Scout/Fake Geek Band vest and my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Political Pizza vest. I love how ridiculous those both sound. That’s the best part of working on a vest, or anything DIY really. It can be whatever you want it to be, as long as it makes you happy. In my quest to create pleasing, outrageous DIYed items of sartorial self-expression, I’ve come across a lot of things. Patches that say things like “Peg Me”, pentagram pizza pins, and so forth. But sometimes, you can’t find just what you’re looking for, and you just have to make it yourself.

This tutorial is a basic introduction to making your own simple, single color patches. To do so, you will need the following:
– Fabric scrap (canvas or similar weight works well)
– Scissors
– Fabric paint
– Paper and/or pencil
– X-Acto Knife (or comparable cutting tool)
– Paint brush

Most of these supplies can be acquired at a craft store for less than $2!

PRO TIP: if you want to make multiple copies of your patch, I would suggest in using something sturdy to cut your stencil out of, like card stock, or maybe even a sheet of rubber. Paper stencils tend to get wonky after more than one use. But for the sake of this tutorial, we’re using paper, because it’s cheap and easily accessible. If you find you LOVE making patches, you can always invest in something sturdier for future stencils.

patchDIY2Step One!

Pick a design you like. Preferably something simple. For this patch, I chose the Sex Bob-Omb logo from Scott Pilgrim (my first stab at this was the Thunder Cats logo, and that worked out pretty well). You can print your design on basic printer paper, or you can trace it directly off a computer screen, or out of a book. You can also mix and match, say, by printing an image of a crescent moon, and printing the words “MOON POWER” in a font you like, and rearranging accordingly to create a stencil.

patchDIY3Step Two!

Cut your design out of the paper using your X-Acto knife to make a stencil. Remember, you’re making a negative of your patch; whatever you cut out is what’s going to appear on the fabric. In making the Sex Bob-Omb patch, I did not cut out the fire, so the rest of the design would not be separated from the stencil. If your stencil is a similar shape, make sure to leave a little sliver of paper connected to the rest of the paper so the stencil stays together. PRO TIP: place something between your design and the surface you are cutting it out on, like an old notebook, otherwise you might end up with the Sex Bob-Omb logo cut into the top of your coffee table.


 Step Three!

Cut your fabric to meet the size requirements of your stencil. Don’t forget to leave a little room around the edges for your stitches! A quarter of an inch will usually do just fine.

Step Four!

Put your stencil on your fabric. Apply fabric paint to brush. Apply paint to stencil over fabric –  but not too much paint! You can always go back and touch up areas after you finish your patch. Globbing on a bunch of paint may lead you to painting outside your stencil. PRO TIP: you might want something between your fabric and the surface you’re working on. The paint may bleed through the fabric.

Step Five!

Gently remove your stencil from your fabric. Let dry. Sew like a fiend!

There you have it; your very own custom patch, ready to sew onto your geek vest, backpack or book bag! If you make any geek patches, share them with me on twitter @laurabeastly!
LB Royal

LB Royal

LB Royal is a project manager that spends a lot of time thinking about gender representation and intersectionality in geek media. She holds an MBA and an MA, and tries to use her powers for good (mostly). You can find her on twitter @laurabeastly