Okay, I admit it. I’m not a super tough looking person. I might have some resting bitch face going on, but I’m definitely no scary-looking biker chick. (Not that all biker chicks are scary, of course!) But all the same, I love moto accents on clothing. I’m a sucker for leather jackets and I’ve always wanted pants or leggings with moto patches. Unfortunately, no one has ever made a pair that fits me. Now that I’ve got some pants and leggings making under my belt, though, I can just make some for myself! Today, I’m showing you how to DIY moto patches for your clothes in five easy steps. This project is a little time-consuming (especially depending on the size of your patches), but super easy, I promise!
1. Trace Your Pattern
Decide where you’d like your moto patches to go. You often see them on thighs, or on the inside of the calves. They’re your clothes, though, so you decide where to go! This tutorial works for any garment, so you could definitely add them to sleeves or the front of a top. I’m just going to use pants and leggings as the example for this tutorial. You should also think about whether you’ll be putting them on top of your garment, or inserting them in. Inserting them will take a little extra work, and a bit of pattern chopping. More information on inserting the patch is in step five: you might want to look at this step before deciding on your placement.
If you’re working with something that has one seam, like the Virginia leggings, it might be helpful to have a finished pair that you can use to judge patch size and placement. When you’ve decided on a location, draw your patch onto your pattern piece. If your patch is going to get inserted into a seam, be sure that you’ve traced the space that includes a seam allowance. If your patch will not match up with a seam allowance (like the Virginia leggings), you have three options.
- Draft in a seam allowance on the sides that you’ll tuck under if you’re adding your patch on top of the garment. You’ll make your pattern piece the exact same way, just make sure you’ve added your preferred seam allowance to all applicable sides.
- Draft in a seam allowance on all sides and insert the patch into the garment instead of on top. Look at step five for more information on this.
- Draft a separate strip of fabric that you’ll use to cover the exposed edges. This is probably the easiest route, and doesn’t require you to add any seam allowance to sides that you’ll cover with this strip.
Then you’re going to draw lines across the patch, moving horizontally across the garment. The width between lines depends on how large and far apart you’d like your pleats to be. I drew my lines a half inch apart — a centimeter would be a comparable spacing for non-inch folks. I wouldn’t recommend going much smaller. See the above photo.
Alternatively, you could draw your patch on the pattern piece, then trace the patch onto another sheet and draw the lines if you don’t want to mess up your pattern too much. I definitely recommend drawing the patch onto the pattern, though, so it’s easy to replicate on the other leg and in the future.
2. Create Your Patch Pattern Piece
The next step is to make your patch pattern piece. This is probably the most time-consuming step, but it’s pretty easy. Take a piece of tracing paper and lay it on top of the patch you’ve drawn on your pattern. Some people use real tracing paper, but I just use light colored tissue paper. Trace the the first half-inch section of the patch. Then directly under that, trace a rectangle that is the same size as that first half-inch. If that section has a curve, make sure the edge of the rectangle aligns with the lower edge of the section. Continue this until you have traced all the half inch sections.
It might be helpful to number the half inch sections and then label the sections you’re tracing. I mentally called the parts I traced off my original piece angled because they all had some curve to them, and the plain rectangles full because, you know, they were full rectangles. These rectangles will get folded under the pleat and ensure that you have a smooth curve/edge when your piece is all sewn up.
3. Cut and Mark Your Patch
Once you’ve traced your new pattern piece and cut it out, it’s time to cut your fabric! For this, I recommend scissors over a rotary cutter, as you’ll probably have a lot of fiddly little lines making up the edges of your piece. You can cut two pieces at the same time, but remember to mirror the second piece if you choose not to. Be sure and pin well to avoid slipping.
When you’ve cut the fabric, it’s time to mark your sewing lines. Do this on the right side of the fabric. You can use a fabric marker, chalk — whatever you like. Just make sure it creates a thin line and that you can get it out, because it will end up being visible. When I drew in my lines, I drew a full line under the bottom of my angled pieces and just market the beginning and the end of the line for the full rectangles. The full line is your sewing guide line, and the end markings show you where to line it up. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to draw all the lines fully in, because you won’t be able to see your bottom line!
4. Sew in Your Pleats
If drawing out the pattern piece is the most time-consuming process, then sewing the pleats is the second-most. It’s a lot of stopping and starting, especially if your patch is thinner. Luckily, they’re very easy to do. With your fabric right side up, join your first full line to the markings below it, with the pleat on the right side of the fabric. Making sure the top and bottom lines are aligned, sew across the guide line. Repeat until your patch is complete.
I used a twin needle for this, to try and keep as much stretch in the piece as possible. This creates a LOT of hanging threads. You can snip as you go or wait until the end. If you wait until the end, though, be very aware of the threads when you’re starting and stopping your seam. If you’re not careful they’ll get sucked into your bobbin case which is a mess and a pain. Learn from me!!!!!
5. Attach the Patch!
We’re finally here! Like I mentioned in the first step, there are a couple different ways that you can attach your moto patch. If you can align your patch with seam allowances, that’s definitely the easiest route. Even if you can use two side seams, though, you’ll have exposed edges. If you’ve drafted in some seam allowances on those exposed edges, you can simply turn them under and stitch on top of them. You can also cut yourself a strip of fabric and use that to cover the edges. One option is to use that strip like a folded bias tape and cover that exposed edge before stitching it down. You could also use another bias tape method and attach one end to the patch and then the strip to the garment.
The more difficult method would be to insert the patch into the garment itself. If you do this, you will end up chopping up your pattern a bit. On the pattern itself, you would cut inside the patch you traced, at whatever seam allowance you prefer. For example, if you like a 5/8″ seam allowance, you would cut your pattern apart that amount below the top of the patch and above the bottom. You will need to draft a seam allowance onto all sides of your patch. Instead of having one leg that you put a patch on top of, you’d have a top leg and a bottom leg and the patch in the middle. If you want a little wiggle room when attaching your patch, don’t go this route. You can’t really change the location after!
Whew! This whole thing seems a little more complex than I expected when written out, but I promise: it’s really pretty easy! All you need is some time on your hands, and you’ll be rocking some DIY moto patches of your own. If you use this tutorial, I’d love to see your finished garment. You can tag me on Instagram with my username (@maddiemadethis), or using the hashtag #maddiemadethis.