Custom patches Tacoma

Embroidered patches

Embroidered patches are a economical way to decorate a item of apparel. The use of patches was very big during World War II. Each unit from a corps to a platoon used embroidered patches to promote comrade and a sense of belonging.

After the war the market for patches grew. Boy scouts used them as merit badges. Sport teams decorated their uniforms with patches. Companies provided patches to sports teams to promote and advertise their products or company.

1974 Patch caps are popular

Around 1974 patch caps started to become popular. Caps were now getting decorated with a simple patch on the front as a method to promote a message. Seed companies used this as their primary method of advertising. Think of all the Cat caps, John Deere caps, Coors beer caps that were sporting custom logos.

Logo Caps

In 1977 recognizing the popularity of logo caps Northwest Embroidery was started in Tacoma, Wa.. The business model was to find a better way to manufacture emblems in the pacific northwest. At that time 90% of the embroidered patches were made in and around Union City New Jersey. This area was known as the embroidery capitol of America. The patches were made on giant Shiffli looms which produced quantities of 220 each.

The team at Northwest realized the real market was for small orders. The goal was to manufacture in groups of twenty four and attach these emblems to caps. The order size made sense because a customer could now purchase small quantities and not have to figure out what to do with 220 patches.

A solution to the problem

In order to make this plan work a machine was needed which could produce small quantities. This void was filled by a Japanese company who developed a multi-head embroidery machine which could produce in multiples of 12. The problem was solved.Off to the races


Northwest purchased two 12 head machines and started selling small orders. They have been doing this ever since. The company is now 42 years old.

Quality embroidery in Tacoma

Define Quality

How do you define quality when referring to embroidered apparel? There are no hard or fast rules it is a very subjective judgment.

Sometimes it is in the eyes of the consumer. Sometimes it is in the eyes of a techno freak. Every shop or consumer is different and sometimes depends on how well they know fabric and embroidery.

What’s the difference between elegant embroidery and shop rags? Our staff knows the difference.

Excellent Substrate

To begin we need a good substrate to embroider on. This means a quality shirt with a tight weave fabric. Some of the best embroidery substrate is Egyptian cotton. The fibers are thin and strong. But this can also change depending on the crop and growing conditions.

Man made fibers used in manufacturing produces a superior garment which will provide a constant fabric substrate. The material is made with polyester are referred to as performance fabrics. Eventually performance fabrics will become the most popular material to embroider on.

Quality Digitizing

The next step is quality digitizing. Bad digitizing we all know can ruin a beautiful design. Too many stitches will produce a embroidery which is cardboard tough. The design must be digitized to be compatible with the garment. Every wonder why companies such as Cutter & Buck have such beautiful embroidery?  It is because they control the fabric which they decorate. Very simple excellent fabric and quality digitizing.

Inexpensive apparel has a loose weave which requires heavy stitching and extra backing to produce nice embroidery. But then again you end up with a piece of cardboard on your left chest.

Heavy stitches to compensate.

Heavy stitches don’t need a good substrate. The substrate is the backing and the shirt is not part of the designing process. It is important to know and learn what fabrics will produce beautiful embroidery. Decosource always produces their digitizing to match the type of garment to be embroidered. Because we always use the same thread we never have thread problems.

Manmade fabrics

Most manmade fabrics or performance fabrics are excellent substrates to embroider on. Deco source always advises its clients as to what shirts will deliver the best results. Deco source has over 40 years experience doing beautiful embroidery. We know fabric and substrate.

Use the correct thread.robison-anton-polyester

Always use the same thread in your product. Do not change thread manufactures because you will eventually be getting results which were designed for the original thread. Northwest Custom Apparel has used the same thread supplier for over 40 years. All our designs are digitized with this in mind. We always have beautiful embroidery


Beautiful embroidery starts with a good substrate, excellent digitizing, and quality thread and ends with a beautiful design.  For advice you can call Decosource or visit us on the web for professional advice.