We witness a lot of indecisiveness when it comes to iron on patches and sew on patches. We are here to tell you, there isn't much of a difference. However, we want to explain both so you can make the right decision when it comes to your current project.
First, we want to clear up the confusion and I'm pretty sure I know where it comes from. Patches that contain heat seal or iron on backing appear as if there is only one way to attach them.
Iron on patches contain a thin film (see above) of commercial grade heat seal backing. Guess what, folks? These can also be sewn on. There is no need to iron these on and then sew them on. If you don't want glue on your jacket, backpack, etc, then just sew these bad boys on and forget about the iron all together. The heat seal backing is flexible enough for needle penetration. In my opinion, having it on there makes the patch last longer because not only is the back side of the embroidery knotted, but then the knots are also heat sealed. So, unraveling is virtually impossible.
There is also a confusion about whether or not the heat seal backing is plastic. Our company does not use plastic backing. Usually, that is there to make the patch very stiff and cannot be ironed on. WIth our heat seal, the patch becomes a bit sturdier...and when I say sturdy, I mean it adds a little bit of stiffness to the patch.
Sew on patches are great too. They add more flexibility to the garment on which the patch is attached. So, if you don't want your patch to be a little stiff, you can have the iron on backing eliminated and once it's sewn on, the patch can flow a bit with the fabric.
Choosing whether to purchase iron on patches or sew on patches is really just about what you prefer or the look you're going for. However, the iron on patch really gives you the best options...you can sew it on or iron it on. The best of both worlds.
I also wanted to add something to this as a final thought and great point from one of our awesome customers, Dori. "Having used your name patches for well over 5 years , the sewing method has worked the best as they have been removed and sewn again and again! Love your patches!!".
What a glowing recommendation from Dori and an excellent point about sewing patches on so they can be transferred and resused!
If you want to move the patch from jacket to jacket and for it to not be permanantly attached to one garment, then sewing it on works best. You can unstitch it and stitch it on to something else. Just remember to NOT iron it on first.