Vintage Embroidered Patches Show Travel Patch Evolution

A time-honored tradition of vacationers is collect souvenirs of their travels, and embroidered patches collected from countries and places on the itinerary make inexpensive, easy-to-carry memories of a trip.

Especially popular in Europe beginning in the late 1940s and 1950s (though some designs are pre-WWII) are individual resort/town patches, colorful embroidered designs that can easily be sewn on a backpack vest or jacket.  These traditional patches provide a vibrant visual record of places visited, and many hikers and backpackers have a wide variety of patches to showcase their travel adventures.

Featuring timeless emblem design, these patches from the European countries, resorts and vacation holiday towns that are scattered across the Alps, differ from American-style patches in appearance and construction.

Note that these Euro patches have an embroidered stitch around the edges, not a marrowed edge.   The back and forth embroidery stitch is meticulously done by hand, before the patch is cut from the backing material.   The modern marrow stitches, an American innovation, wrap all the way around the patch and make a small circle.  The American-style patches are die-cut and then the border is added.

Another noticeable difference is the Euro travel patches don’t have an additional backing material.  U.S. designed patches usually feature a plastic  or vinyl backing, providing the patch with more rigidity and texture, forcing the embroidery stitching to pop out from background material for some unique 3-D effects. Patch customers like the newer look, feeling the patch has a higher perceived value.

Finally, the European patches appear different because they are stitched on a felt backing material, rather than the American preference for a cotton twill fabric to hold the stitching.  Because felt, constructed from fiber, doesn’t unravel as thread-based twill does, it can be die-cut with out the need for border stitching.

You can learn more about the wide world of embroidered patches by reading other installments of this blog.

Information about creating a customized embroidered patch from the Chicago Embroidery Company for your  group is available at, or by e-mailing , or calling 312-664-4232.