Glimpse of Early Factory Life – Embroidered Patch History

Here at The Chicago Embroidery Company, we’ve been creating designs with needle and thread since 1890. A relative of one of our early workers recently discovered some old images from the turn of the last century and was kind enough to share the pictures with us. You can see all of the images on our website.

In the early days, each stitch was mapped out, the color, layout and type of stitch were taken into account. This is a manually operated pantograph machine. The operator moves material on a frame and traces the enlarged stiches while the needles are moving in and out.

This process is called “punching,” where the design is transformed from a paper drawing to a pattern that will run the loom machine. This is also where the science of embroidery meets the craft as various different punchers had subtle but unique signature styles of laying in the stitches.

Today, the entire process is run by computers controlling multi-head stitching machines.  Let us turn your design into an embroidered work of art. Send your idea/graphic to sales@c-emblem.com, visit our website for a free quote or call 312/664-4232.

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Embroidered Patches Are Fashion’s Next Trend

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This gallery contains 4 photos.

Here at The Chicago Embroidery Company, we make custom patches from your designs. This was a Huffington Post article written by Marcus Troy from about a year ago, showing patches are becoming a fashion accessory.  They still are hot; send … Continue reading

Embroidered Patches Increase Value of Shirt… Now Only $3,650

We’ve seen some crazy stuff here at The Chicago Embroidery Company in the 127 years the company has been in business, but this might be the wackiest.

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Apparently Selfridge’s is selling this shirt, featuring embroidered patches, for $3,650, though it should be noted that export duties are excluded.  The patches aren’t even all that intricate or detailed.ShirtCloseup

The Chicago Embroidery Company can make beautiful customized embroidered patches from your design, for considerably less $$$.  Send us your imagefor a free estimate, sales@c-emblem.com, or visit our website http://www.c-emblem.com, or give us a call, 312/664-4232.

Police Using Embroidered Patches To Fight Cancer

Today’s blog about innovative police officers using embroidered patches to fight cancer is from the Papillion Times:   La Vista (Nebraska) police officers won’t only be fighting against crime in October, they’ll be fighting cancer.

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LVPD will wear special pink patches on their uniforms in October in the continuing battle against cancer.

 

“Cancer affects many within the law enforcement community,” LVPD Chief Bob Lausten said. “We want to find a way to make a difference.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but Lausten said the project is designed to attack all forms of cancer.

 

Lausten said the Pink Patch Project got its start in California several years ago and is starting to gain traction across the country. Lausten worked for several years in law enforcement in California.

 

“I keep in touch through the Los Angeles Chiefs Association so I’ve known about this project for a couple of years,” Lausten said. “It’s been working its way east so I decided this was the time I wanted to do it.”

 

Thanks to the La Vista Fraternal Order of Police, patches, uniforms and shirts will be made available to all officers and staff members in October.

 

“They were going to buy patches for all of us to wear in October and we would remove them at the end of the month,” Lausten said. “But then the FOP agreed to buy all new uniforms with the patches for the officers to wear, and polos for the civilian workers. The officers will even have their names embroidered in pink.

 

“With the union stepping forward and agreeing to pay for the patches and uniforms, it’s really been a win-win situation for us.”

 

Lausten said LVPD is also bumping up its No-Shave November campaign a month early to aid in the support.

 

“Officers will pay to a local charity to not have to shave for a month,” Lausten said. “We decided to move it up a month and have all the guys donate to the cancer charity.”

The charity LVPD is working with is Scare Away Cancer, an Omaha organization that sponsors a large event each year at Halloween with proceeds going toward cancer research.

Patches will be available for purchase by the public for $10 apiece with all the proceeds going to Scare Away Cancer. Patches can be purchased at the LVPD, 7701 S. 96th St., or online at scareawaycancer.org.

 

Lausten said La Vista is the first law enforcement agency in Nebraska to get on board with the project, but he’s hopeful others will follow.

 

Papillion Police Chief Scott Lyons said the department is planning on taking part in the project as well, but is still in the early planning stages.

“We’re the only one’s for now, but we hope this peaks so

me interest,” he said. “We’ve sent info out to the other departments.”

 

Lausten is encouraging those interested in purchasing a patch to do so quickly.

“There’s a limited supply and they’re already going pretty fast,” he said.

Embroidered Patches Show Artistic Talent of U.S. Drug Cops

 

green airHere at The Chicago Embroidery Company, we’ve made a variety of law enforcement patches over the years, but this piece from Christopher Ingraham, originally published on Washington Post’s Wonkblog, shows how the DEA and other agencies have used embroidered emblem artistry to showcase their varied missions.

On one patch, from the DEA’s Cocaine Intelligence Unit, cocthe Grim Reaper sits on a bomb and does cocaine. On a patch made for the DEA’s International Conference on Ecstasy and Club Drugs, he goes to a rave holding glow-sticks and a pacifier. Other patches feature dragons, unicorns, camels and bald eagles swooping down on marijuana plants, talons outstretched.

Federal agencies began adopting patches in the 1970s, according to Raymond Sherrard, a retired special agent with the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division. Sherrard is the author of “The eradEncyclopedia of Federal Law Enforcement Patches,” generally considered to be the bible of the federal patch collecting community. It contains thousands of color photos of federal agency patches and was compiled by Sherrard with the assistance of hundreds of collectors, law enforcement officers and organizations.

In the 1970s, Sherrard says, different federal law enforcement agencies began to team up to tackle big cases. In his own IRS division, which investigated drug traffickers and money launderers, “we had probably dozens of people from different agencies, most of whom had never seen each other before,” he told me. When raiding suspected drug operations, the agents needed a quick visual way to identify one another. “In the ’70s, everyone looked like drug dealers,” he said, commenting on the style of an era distinguished by long hair, mustaches and flamboyant fashions.ecstasy

So the offices started making custom “raid jackets” with the seals of the respective agencies on them. “As time went on, there were more and more task forces created,” Sherrard said. “Pretty soon every federal agency had all these patches.”

The patches soon began to evolve beyond their original purpose. These patches are often not produced in an official capacity, or with the knowledge or approval of an agency’s higher-ups. In his book, Sherrard writes that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of “commemorative, anniversary, special unit, ‘giveaway’ and local team patches, many of which are unknown or unapproved by headquarters.”tech

Many of the DEA patches likely fall into this category. A DEA spokesman, who declined to be quoted by name in discussing the issue in an interview, said the patches are typically designed and paid for by the agents themselves. “They reflect an esprit de corps, used as a memento, or a token of gratitude to other officers” who help with major missions, he said. The agency itself only commissions and pays for official DEA seals and badges.

DEA IntellSome patches celebrate the completion of a major initiative, such as the patch for Operation Green Air, a partnership between the DEA and FedEx to bust a major marijuana smuggling operation in 2000. Others are given to cooperating local agencies as tokens of appreciation. “Most are never worn,” Sherrard writes, “but are used in displays or sewn onto a baseball cap, or simply kept in binders. Some are very collectible.”

Fred Repp Jr. is an active duty officer with the Bureau of Prisons in New Jersey. He runs Fred’s Patch Corner, a site for buying, selling and trading patches online. He’s particularly interested in the narcotics patches, especially ones that come from task forces overseas.Kabul

“DEA agents are in Afghanistan right now, working with local police to destroy poppy fields,” he told me. “Those patches are being produced in such low numbers by the teams, you might have 12 guys,” which means 12 patches, maybe a couple of spares. On such overseas assignments, Repp said, patches are usually manufactured on-site by locals. Patches produced in such small quantities are hard to come by.

“The whole thing about collecting is the seeking out,” Repp said. “A lot of guys have a story about how they came across something for their collection.”

There are as many different types of patch collectors as there are patches. Some, like Repp, are interested in patches from a particular agency or task force. Others only collect patches shaped like states, or that contain representations of birds.heat

There’s a brisk trade in DEA patches on eBay, and on the sites of individual collectors like Repp. Sherrard, the author, estimates that there are about 20,000 different federal law enforcement patch designs, some more sought-after than others. He’s known some of these to sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, although most sell for $5 to $10.

Sherrard says patches from FBI hostage rescue teams are among the most sought-after, because only a few are ever made. Patches from the CIA and NSA are also difficult to come by, because teams in these agencies are highly protective of them and don’t typically give them to people outside the organization.

“Most of the collectors are cops,” Sherrard said. “They’re either active or retired.” But some people collect the patches for other reasons.

“A reflection of the mentality of law enforcement”

Larry Kirk, a police chief in Old Monroe, Mo., has closely followed the patch trend. He was initially interested in the special unit patches. “I was interested in the culture behind them — it’s kind of a neat story,” he said. But in the past 10 years or so, he’s noticed a change in the iconography used on many law enforcement patches, even at the local level.forfeit

Many have “become reminiscent of military unit patches,” he said. “A lot of them are very aggressive, some of them have skulls, rattlesnakes, vipers. … It’s another sign of that warrior soldier mindset now that’s throughout law enforcement.” As law enforcement agencies have increasingly adopted military weapons and tactics, the patches suggest that they seem to be embracing military iconography as well.

Asked about this pattern, the DEA spokesman said that on some patches, “you’ll see the specter of death because drug abuse is dangerous. It reflects the dangers of drug abuse and the violence associated with drug trafficking.”

Other patches celebrate controversial practices and programs. The DEA’s asset forfeiture program, for instance, has allowed law enforcement agencies to seize millions of dollars in cash and property from citizens without charging them with crimes. The practice has come under criticism from lawmakers in both parties and was recently sharply curtailed by the Justice Department. The program’s patch contains the slogan, “You make it, we’ll take it.”dal

Surveillance themes also show up in a lot of narcotics patches. In the DEA Technical Operations patch, above, a scorpion with a radio dish for a tail listens in on signals from a nearby cellphone tower under an arc of lightning bolts. This type of imagery may not play well with members of the public who are concerned about the federal government monitoring their communications.

Some law enforcement agencies are “painting the picture that this is some type of war, on crime, or gangs, or drugs,” Kirk said. “It’s a reflection of these units taking on paramilitary ideas. It’s definitely a change in the culture that started taking place in the mid-’90s until now.”imrs

“Reminders of the absurdity we are up against”

For some, the patches have come to represent the excesses of the drug war. Aaron Malin is the director of research for Show-Me Cannabis, an organization working to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in Missouri and a critic of Missouri’s drug task forces.  “When I first saw some of these patches, I didn’t think they could be real,” he said in an interview. “But after spending the last year and a half investigating the horrific ways in which the drug war is carried out, they don’t seem inconsistent with the mindsets of the officers who wear them.” (For many years, Missouri led the nation in methamphetamine busts as numerous state’s drug tasks forces sought to address abuse of the drug.)

One patch for a DEA Maryland Metro Area Task Force depicts a bloody skull impaled on a sword against a background of the Maryland flag. The skull holds a set of scales between its teeth.

A patch from DEA’s “First Virginia Cavalry,”  which operated out of Roanoke, Va. vrgin the late ’80s and early ’90s, shows a skull wearing a cowboy hat featuring crossed hypodermic needles against a Confederate flag background.

Sherrard notes that nowadays the DEA “is a much more politically correct agency than in the past” and that the patches are used less frequently. But Malin says the extreme imagery “represents a manifestation of the most absurd levels of the drug war. I more or less collect them as reminders of the absurdity we are up against.”

Not for public consumption

The other important point to consider is that many patches are essentially private documents, made by law enforcement officers for law enforcement officers. “They’re made as collectibles,” Sherrard says. They’re for internal morale-boosting and team-building. Officers from different agencies trade them with one another, “like a business card in some ways,” Sherrard says.strik

When we talk about large federal agencies like the DEA, it’s easy to forget that every monolithic bureaucracy is composed, essentially, of individuals.

It’s one thing to dismiss the asset forfeiture program as terrible policy, for instance. But it’s another to remember that the individual agents who carry out that policy are, in many ways, just regular people doing a job they’ve been assigned. Field agents don’t write policy — Congress does. Why wouldn’t we expect the people who carry out that policy to take pride in their work, and to wear that pride on their sleeve?
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You don’t have to be a drug cop to get a cool embroidered patch, we’ll work with you to create a distinctive emblem for your group, team, business, club (or police department). Check us out at www.c-emblem.com , e-mail to sales@c-emblem.com or call us 312/664-4232. For more than 127 years, The Chicago Embroidery Company has been creating this beautiful, vibrant art with only fabric, a needle and thread.

Bike Week visitors patch up for Daytona rides

A Patchplace reader sent this nice story about the importance of embroidered patches to bikers and Bike Week, written by Casmira Harrison of the Daytona Beach [Fla.] News-Journal:

Posted Mar 15, 2017 at 4:34 PM Updated Mar 16, 2017 at 11:46 AM

By Casmira Harrison

DAYTONA BEACH — The return home from Vietnam was so emotionally taxing, for years biker Jules Shubuck kept his military service mostly to himself.bike weeks day

“I was in the closet, so to speak,” Shubuck said. Then, in 2006, he rode from California to Washington D.C., to the Vietnam Memorial. During the “Run for the Wall,” Shubuck rode with veterans and met others along the way. Connecting with his brothers helped him regain pride in his military service, and he bought a Vietnam service patch at the Wall.

As part of the 76th Annual Bike Week, Shubuck is wearing that service patch in a place of honor — over his heart. People see the patch and connect with him.

“I have reached out to so many veterans here on the street that saw the patch that were also there,” said Shubuck, recollecting how they welcomed each other home. “It was kind of rough when we came home.”

Shubuck arrived from Pennsylvania with others from Murrysville Alliance Church to hand out Bibles along Main Street. He pointed to his church patch as his favorite, but says his Patriot Guard Rider patch is a close second. Patriot Guard Riders attend the funerals of fallen U.S. servicemen and servicewomen to show respect and have in the past guarded military families from protest groups.bike week day

Patches — and the traditions they’re steeped in — are a staple of Bike Week. For some, the real estate on a vest — or cut — is a sacred space reserved for those pieces of stitched fabric, earned over time in a motorcycle club. But for many others who roll into the motorcycle mecca each March, the trip isn’t complete until they’ve solidified it with a new patch.

One of the busiest places for patches during Bike Week is PatchStop, which has six locations: two on Main, two at Daytona Beach International Speedway and two at Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona, said Office Manager Cristina Kibler. Its home base is on the second floor of an office on Main Street.

By the time the last biker rides away from Volusia County, PatchStop expects to sell between 10,000 and 15,000 patches at just one of the Main Street locations, Kibler said.

“Everybody buys about 3 pieces each time and we usually average about 300 to 400 sales each day,” Kibler said, adding that many of those have been patriotic, political or pro-gun. “Right now, one of the biggest things that we’re selling would be the Second Amendment patches,” she said.

But patch vendors don’t survive on Daytona’s Bike Week alone. Rallies are a nationwide occurrence and the PatchStop crew will barely get a break before Kibler and her team split into two teams and head to to Leesburg Bikefest and the Laughlin, Nevada, River Run.

“We’re on the road four to six weeks at a time,” said Kibler, who estimates they attend about 25 rallies a year.

Patches = storiesbike weeeek

Neil Durfey chose a few more patches to add to his vest, including the official Bike Week 2017 patch. He brought his bike down from Buffalo, New York, and will be heading back to the frigid north soon.

“I collect every time I come,” said Durfey, who also snared one with a masonic logo and adding that that one had a more sentimental meaning. “My dad was a mason,” Durfey said.

Like Durfey’s and Shubuck’s, each person’s patches contain stories.

PatchStop seamstress Heather Williams has heard a ton in her six years sewing them on for customers, and she loves when someone finds something they’ve been looking for.

“There was a guy last night. He was a firefighter in 9/11. He walked in and saw this patch up at the top,” Williams said, pointing to a patch with the number 343 embroidered on a firefighter’s helmet and gas mask along with the job’s tools of the trade. “His wife walked in and she started bawling.”

“There’s so many, many, many examples of stuff like that,” Williams said, wishing aloud how she’d like to video record each time she heard a memorable story at her sewing machine.

Colors outlawed

On a ride along Main Street this year, one might notice something conspicuously absent from the landscape.

The brand of the outlaw biker — denoted by the “1%” patch worn over the heart — was a rare sight. In fact, a large percentage of Main Street gawkers and partiers replaced the motorcycle club cuts with Harley Davidson sweatshirts and plain, black leather.

“Big Ben” Bowers, a member of the Leathernecks motorcycle club out of Central Florida, was one of the few wearing his colors on Main with a few of his club members.

“You know why, right?” said Bowers. “Because we’re not welcome.”

Bowers was referring to the “No Colors” rule for bars on Main. While occasionally you’ll see a few motorcycle clubs sporting their territory on their cut, the emblems are usually stowed away in bikes for a Daytona Beach run.

Bowers said even though his is a military club — United States Marine Corps, to be specific — as long as the vest is a club cut, he can’t wear it in a bar. “But we’re not going into a bar,” he said. “We’re just hanging out here.”

Too many patches?

Beyond signifying the solemn loyalty to biker clubs, patches have different meanings for different people.

“It’s about experiences,” said Larry Watkins, who was visiting Daytona from Port St. Lucie. After moving south, he noted he needs to replace his Maryland patch with a Florida one.

He also has a patch from his time stationed in the Philippines. He likes that one because that’s where he met his wife. “For everybody, it means something different,” Watkins said.

Joe Miller, who two weeks ago moved to Daytona Beach from Ohio, said he has four vests.

He has an entire vest dedicated to his involvement with the Patriot Riders, another for “odd sayings,” and yet another for his Air Force service.

The service vest is where his favorite patch lives.

“It’s in memory of my father,” Miller said. “He was in the Army for 13 years. Served in the Korean War and died of complications from Agent Orange.”

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Don’t Need “Snowpocalypse” To Create Your Own Embroidered Patch

Here at The Chicago Embroidery Company in the Windy City, we know a thing or two about snow.  But while we just finished the least snowy January here in 117 years, we also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the city’s largest ever snowstorm, 23 inches on Jan. 25-26, 1967.

Our friends in Boise, Idaho, have been deluged with the white stuff this year, and have the right idea, commemorating the event with this cool Snowpocalypse embroidered patch.snow1

This story, written by Katy Moeller of the Idaho Statesman, tells how the idea for a special patch came about.  The woman who designed the emblem, Chrysa Rich, is selling the patches, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.

Don’t have an epic snowstorm in your area?  You can commmemorate ANY special event or occasion with a unique embroidered patch.  Here at The Chicago Embroidery Company, we’ve helped customers create patches for birthdays, weddings, golf outings, bike rides and many other events.  Send us your design, even in rough form, and our art department can help you produce an embroidered masterpiece for less than you may expect.  Contact us at sales@c-emblem.com, visit our website, www.c-emblem.com , or call 312/664-4232.