This collection of 30 patches and decals, designed by Ben Noe for Expedition Souvenirs, are not only spot-on beautiful, they offer a great lesson in how to design for the medium. If you’ve ever designed artwork that will be stitched, you know how vexing the decision-making process can be.
I asked Ben if he had any pointers for designing an embroidered patch and he shared these:
“First, because of the size and nature of embroidery thread, you have to accept the fact that only so much detail is possible. The smaller your details, the less legible they become. Also, gradients and subtle shifts in color do not render very well in embroidery. Therefore, it’s best to design using bolder, thicker, simplified lines and shapes, and a limited color palette with significant contrast between colors.
“Finally,” he tells us, “Unless you’ve been blessed with your own embroidery equipment, chances are you’ll need to use an embroidery vendor to get your designs produced. Communication between you and your vendor is key, especially when it comes to selecting the right thread colors.”
Note too that Noe uses quite a few different typefaces in heavy to light weights and manages to choose faces that remain quite readable. I also suggest you study the decal to patch comparison I created below. It was useful to me to see how the print colors translate to thread colors and how the illustration shapes render from print to patch.
Great compositions, deft use of typography, and bright, fresh color palettes—can’t beat that.