Below you will find our patch glossary and list of terms specifically tailored toward embroidery and patches. Each term will have an accompanying definition and an example where applicable. Everything you need to know about a patch is right here. If you don't see something that you would like information about please drop us a line and we will gladly research your request and post the information here so that other collectors can also share in the information. You can close this window at any time by clicking on the X at the top right corner of this window or on the home button above to return to the main website.
3D Foam - Foam that is used to add dimension to an embroidery pattern that is typically used on caps. The 3D Foam is placed on the topside of the pattern and stitched over with shortened stitches to cut the Foam. The excessive foam is then pulled away from the embroidery giving a raised 3D appearance. 3D Foams are available in various thickness.
Adopted Patch - A patch produced by a vendor and is not commissioned or ordered by a department which was subsequently adopted by that department.
Applique - Decoration or trimming cut from one piece of fabric and stitched to another, usually with a satin stitch, to add dimension and texture. If the applique occupies a significant amount of the design, the stitch count can be reduced. In Schiffli embroidery, an embroidered motif is usually cut away from the base fabric and then stitched onto the finished product.
Backing - Technically, it is the material used to stabilize fabric and give it body to support embroidery. Two types of backings are tear away and cut away, with different levels of stability. Backing is also described in collectors circles to describe what the type or classification of the patch is that is being traded. In the old days the patch was usually backed with what was called cheesecloth or gauze. Today, plastic is used to support the patch and give the patch it's rigid feel to it. Other commonly found backings include PVC, Velcro, heat seal, iron-on, self stick and magnetic.
Bean Stitch - Three stitches placed back and forth between two simultaneous needle penetrations. Often used for outline and detail stitching in an embroidery design that does not have a merrow.
BEVo (also BeVo, Be Vo, or BEVO) - A machine woven patch with a very tight weave. Some might call it a micro weave that, at a glance, may even appear to some to be silk-screened. This unique method of construction was developed by the Germans during World War II and apparently is still unique to patches from Germany. The name is derived from the firm of Bandfabrik Ewald Vorsteher, in Wuppertal-Baren, where this manufacturing technique originated. Two good Florida examples of this is the first issue Jacksonville Sheriff's Office patch after consolidation in 1968 and the current issue of Graceville Police Department's blue shield patch.
Bird Nesting - A collection of thread between the fabric being sewn and the needle plate that generally causes thread breaks and sewing problems. Bird nesting can be caused by improper thread tension (needle thread tension too loose), the embroidery machine is not threaded properly (bobbin case not installed properly) or excessive flagging and poor digitizing. Generally on patches, bird nesting looks very similar to what it is called, a wad or nest of thread locallized in one spot of the patch.
Black-Light (also UV light, ultraviolet light, Wood's lamp) - Is a lamp that emits ultraviolet radiation (UV) in the long-wave (near ultraviolet, UVA) range, and little visible light. Other types of ultraviolet lamp emit large amounts of visible light along with the ultraviolet; but a "black-light" usually refers to a lamp that has a dark blue optical filtering material in the glass envelope of the bulb (or the lamp housing) which blocks most of the visible light, so the lamp emits mostly ultraviolet. Ultraviolet radiation is invisible, but a small fraction of visible light passes through the filtering material, with wavelengths no longer than 400-410 nm, and as a result, when operating the lamp has a dim purple or violet glow. Black-light sources may be made from specially designed fluorescent lamps, mercury vapor lamps, light-emitting diodes, or incandescent lamps. They have many uses, but black-lights are essential when UV light without visible light is needed, such as in observing fluorescence, the colored glow that many substances emit when exposed to UV. Black-lights are employed for decorative and artistic lighting effects, for diagnostic and therapeutic uses in medicine, for the detection of substances tagged with fluorescent dyes, rock-hunting, for the curing of plastic resins and for attracting insects. Strong sources of long-wave ultraviolet light are used in tanning beds. Black-light lamps are also used for the detection of counterfeit money, stamps and cloth patches. Also see No-Glo below.
Bullion Patch - An embroidered patch made with metal wire and thread on a cloth backing, typically hand-sewn. Bullion patches were typically required on dress uniforms for formal occasions.
Chainstitch - A type of stitch in which loops are connected in a chain fashion. Chainstitch embroidery is normally done with a single thread using a machine with a hook in place of a needle to pull the thread through the fabric. Chenille and chainstitch are done on the same machine. Also see Chenille.
Chenille - A type of patch in which a loop stitch is formed on the top side of the fabric using heavy yarn of wool, cotton, or acrylic thus giving a "rug" like appearance. Most of these type of patches date from the 1950's. A high-school or college "letter" patch is a good example. But is seldom seen in Law Enforcement patches.
Cheesecloth Backing (also Gauze Backing) - A fabric backing for patches that is very thin and has the appearance of the type of gauze material used for surgical dressings or first aid. This backing was common on many patches during the 1950's and 1960's. The patch was usually backed with cheesecloth or gauze then embroidered. The patch was then covered or sprayed with some type of glue sealant on the back and when the sealant dried, it gave the patch a rigid and stiff feel to it while protecting the delicate cheesecloth. The older the cheescloth backing on a patch, generally, the more non-uniform and widely spaced the gauze is. The more modern the cheesecloth backing the more uniform and tighter spacing the gauze is.
Coiling - Each embroidery stitch is wrapped or coiled as it is sewn. The machine puts down a stitch and then coils a fiber around the stitch, the density of the finished coil is determined by the number of wraps per stitch. This is found on very old types of embroidered patches where is appears that most of the embroidery is on the top side of the fabric.
Column Stitch - This type of stitch is formed by closely arranged stitches using a zigzag stitch or a "Z" shape. Often used for lettering or borders. Also called a Steil Stitch or a Satin Stitch.
Computer Designed Embroidery (also CDE, CD Embroidery, New Embroidery, NE, Digital Embroidery) - This refers to the method of embroidery in the patch. Computer designed patches are characterized by the flatness of their appearance. More intricate and detailed designs are possible than with other previously known methods of embroidery, but, the patches generally appear two dimensional and when held up to a strong light source are semi-translucent. The embroidery is also generally very tight and modern looking in overall appearance.
Contact Sheet - A photographic proof is made by placing several smaller pictures (also called thumbnails) in near contact with each other on a neutral background, on this website we use white as the background. Typically, an 8" x 11" contact sheet will have 6 to 12 images depending on the layout and format. Contact sheets provide a convenient and economical alternative to single print proofing, especially where large numbers of images are involved and especially if you have over 10,000 pictures of Florida patches to display! The technical specifications for the old contact sheets was 960 pixels (13.333 inches) in width by 580 pixels (8.056 inches) in height inset with 6 columns and 3 rows of thumbnails per file. The new specifications for the website after May 1st, 2008 is 825 pixels (11.458 inches) in width by 550 pixels (7.639 inches) in height. The new contact sheets are inset with 7 columns and 4 rows of thumbnails per file effectively cutting down on unauthorized printing of the website's contents and reducing the offsite data storage by 20%. This will help in faster page loading and more media being served to web browers in fewer files. The contact sheets are exported in a constrained proportion bicubic resampled JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) format set at a resolution of 72 pixels per inch using a component sampling class of YUV 122 with optimized Huffman codes for truecolor matching.
Cross-Stitch - Cross-stitch is a popular form of counted-thread embroidery in which X-shaped stitches in a tiled, raster-like pattern are used to form a picture. Cross-stitch is often executed on easily countable evenweave fabric called aida cloth. The stitcher counts the threads in each direction so that the stitches are of uniform size and appearance. This form of cross-stitch is also called counted cross-stitch in order to distinguish it from other forms of cross-stitch. Sometimes cross-stitch is done on designs printed on the fabric (stamped cross-stitch), the stitcher simply stitches over the printed pattern.
Fabrics used in cross-stitch include aida, linen and evenweave. Projects are categorized by stitches per inch, which can range from 14 to 40 count, and the appropriate fabric is then chosen.
Cut-Edge (also Flat Edge, Schiffli Edge) - A type of border that is sewn on a patch then cut to shape, thus making the base material visible outside the sewn border. Cuts are most commonly made by a die, hand, a hot-edge knife or in more modern times, a laser. This type of border was extremely common on patches prior to the wide-spread adoption of the merrowed edge in the 1960's. Most irregular shaped patches use a cut edge to prevent the fraying associated with a merrowed edge.
Damaged Patch - A patch that has suffered a slice or cut, usually inflicted while attempting to remove it from a uniform or from Velcro that has a visible stain on the front side (even if only rust from a staple); or that is missing some portion of the embroidery or base material (does not include doctoring). It should be noted that patches containing mounting residue on the back, even heavy residue, are not considered damaged unless its presence or effects are visible while viewing from the front of the patch (e.g., the glue has soaked through the fabric and stained or discolored the front).
Density - Density often refers to the number of stitches or rows of stitches in a given area. Usually the tighter or heavier the density the better the embroidery definition.
Digitizing - The digital conversion of artwork into a series of commands read by an embroidery machine's computer via a card, memory or electronic file. Scanners also convert designs into a computer format, allowing the digitizer to use even the most primitive of artwork without recreating the design. Many digitizing systems allow the digitizer to transfer the design directly into the digitizing program without using intermediary software. This term is often interchanged with Punching.
Doctored Patch - A patch that has been intentionally changed in some manner from what was produced originally. This may be anything from cutting off a rocker, scroll, or tab, to something as subtle as painting or adding embroidery (often difficult to detect without a close examination of the back side of the patch). Post-production embroidery may include the addition of one or more elements to the field, but more often it is done to correct a "typo" in the designation or motto. Occasionally, it's even done to change an inscription rather than to fix an error, even officially!
Embroidery Point - A unit of measurement in embroidery in which 10 points equals 1mm or 1 point equals 0.1mm. There are 25.4mm or 254 points to an inch.
Excel Database - Microsoft Excel is most likely the world’s most used database. This statement may or may not be true, but it would be a fair statement to claim that “An alarmingly large number of individuals use Microsoft Excel to store numeric and non-numeric arrays of information in a spreadsheet that should probably be stored in a database." The term "Excel Database" is our database spreadsheet with over 3900 Florida cities and counties listed for the State Of Florida. Everything is color coded for quick reference. ACTIVE DEPARTMENTS are highlighted in Blue, DEFUNCT DEPARTMENTS are highlighted in Maroon, COUNTY DEPARTMENTS are highlighted in Green, STATE DEPARTMENTS are highlighted in Royal Blue and UNINCORPORATED CITIES are highlighted in Grey. There are small "red triangles" in selected cells that contain additional comments. Hold your mouse cursor on those cells to expand the comment. Further "table definitions" are located at the bottom on the second tab. To view this list, you must have any version of Microsoft Excel installed on your computer. you may download and save it, but you will not be able to modify the contents of the file. To download the Excel Database please click on this link: Excel Database.
Faleristics - Is the collecting of falerii, which were awards given to Roman soldiers. According to some, the term was actually coined in Russia to describe the study of badges and insignia. The term seems to be in wide use in Europe, and implies awards that for example might be affixed to the clothes on one's chest, and by extension or other "meaningful" jewelry one might pin there on. The field of faleristics divides into two categories, 1. Things worn by members of the military or military style organizations of whatever function. Examples include service medals and branch insignia. And 2. Civil badges, non-military badges, law enforcement medals, pins, etc. Examples would include Police and Fire badges all the way through to Hard Rock Cafe and Disney Pins.
Fantasy Reproduction (also Fantasy Patch, Eye-Candy Patch, Unauthorized Patch, Fake Patch) - A non-bona fide embroidered insignia is created with no official approval or oversight from the department that bears its title on the patch. There have been many cases where an unscrupulous manufacturer produces a fantasy SWAT or K-9 patch and then after manufacturing the patch tried to sell some of the patches to the department or in some more unusual cases donate a portion of the patch run to the department in some hopes of legitimizing the fantasy reproduction. These patches are never commissioned by a department or any member of a specialized unit and was never issued or used.
Felt - A nonwoven fabric made from wool, fur or hair matted together by heat, moisture and pressure then the design is embroidered onto this fabric. The edge of these patches is always raw or unfinished and is an un-embroidered border. This is called the Felt Edge and is very common with felt patches.
Fill Stitch - These are a type Running Stitches laid in rows from edge to edge of the given area to fill. Usualy used to fill in larger areas. Consists of two densities (also see Density and Stitch Length), spacing between the rows of stitching and the length of each stitch in the row and the partition lines which are used to place the stitches of each row in relationship to the stitches of the previous row. Also called Ceeding, Brick and Tatami stitches.
Flagging - The physical "bouncing" of the twill or backing as the needle moves up and down during the embroidering. Often caused by improper framing, incorrect backing or facing, maladjusted presser foot height or using a hoop too large for the embroidery design. Can cause poor quality embroidery and running problems such as skipping stitches, fraying of thread, bird nesting and breaking of thread.
Fraudulent Reproduction - A bona fide embroidered insignia is copied and reproduced. NOT for the department in which the insignia belongs but, rather for profit to the seller directly. The only person who loses on this type of patch is the buyer. To put it simply this is “fraud” and anyone who has shown a perpensity to manufacture any bona fide law enforcement insignia and sell it to a collector as a bona fide patch is committing a crime. In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual, the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Defrauding people or entities of money or valuables is a common purpose of fraud, but there have also been fraudulent “discoveries”, e.g., in science and collecting, to gain prestige rather than immediate monetary gain.
Fully Embroidered Patch - A patch in which the entire surface has been completely embroidered, therefore rendering the base fabric or what is commonly called the twill invisible. Fully embroidered patches cost more to manufacture due to the use of additional thread but the detail is much higher and has a sharper appearance.
Genuine Reproduction - A bona fide embroidered insignia is copied and reproduced for the department in which the insignia belongs too. A prime example of this would be if the department had a patch made say 9 years ago and they cannot locate the original manufacturer of the patch, they still have one of the original patches and take it to a new manufacturer to have the patch remade. Of course, there will be some variations in the reproduction, especially if the technology that is used to make the patch is now digital versus say an analog technology that was originally used to render the embroidery. These types of reproductions are very common and must not be confused with a type of reproduction that was remade without the department’s consent or knowledge.
Guide Stitch - These are Running Stitches used to assist in placement of an applique or in the placement of a die for the final cutting of emblems from the bolt of fabric, also called a cut line. You commonly see Guide Stitches in unfinished patches that have come out into the public that are missing the merrow. The thin line along the outside edge is a Guide Stitch.
Hand-Made Patch (also Custom Patch, Hand-Sewn) - A patch produced by an individual embroiderer using a needle and thread or a generic sewing machine. The design is transferred to cloth by punching holes in the original drawing, placing the drawing on a piece of cloth, and rubbing blue powder to transfer an outline of the design to cloth. Designs may also be drawn directly on the cloth or done freehand. Because each patch is individually embroidered, no two patches are exactly alike.
Hat Patch - Generally, any patch that was intended for wear on a uniform hat, cap or beret. These include small rectangular or circular patches bearing department or city logos, and also smaller versions of approved unit emblems (generally 2.5" or less in height and/or diameter).
Hook And Loop - See Velcro.
JPG - Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG or JPG) file format is commonly used to display photographs and other continuous-tone images in hypertext markup language (HTML) documents over the web and other online services. JPEG format supports CMYK, RGB, and Grayscale color modes. Unlike GIF format, JPG retains all color information in an RGB image but compresses the file size by selectively discarding data. A JPG image is automatically decompressed when opened. A higher level of compression results in lower image quality, and a lower level of compression results in better image quality. In most cases, the maximum quality option produces a result indistinguishable from the original. JPG encoded files are smaller than binary files, and therefore require less time to print. However, using JPG encoding also decreases the image quality, which helps cut down on reproductions and theft of the images, as well as, helps with faster online viewing and downloading. Only PostScript Level 2 (or higher) printers, like color laser printers, support true JPG encoding. All other printers utilize special software to simulate the PostScript Level 2 printing.
Jump Stitch - This is the movement of the frame without stitching but with take up lever and hook movement. you commonly see Jump Stitches on the reverse side of a patch as long single threads that sometimes jump from one end of the patch to the opposite end.
Kirk Edge (also Kedge, Kirk Special, Kirk Border or Fancy Edge) - All of these terms we're primarily credited to the late Bob Kirk, who for over a period of years was acquiring production plant over-runs in vast quantities that we're unfinished. Nobody wanted unfinished patches and the productions plants just threw them in large cardboard drums. Bob Kirk, along with two other partners, ingeniously found a way to make them useful to collectors by adding his own color border to the edge of these unfinished patches with a merrowing machine that he purchased himself. Therefore effectively finishing the patch. Most strikingly is that Bob Kirk never put the correct color on the edge of the patch he was making and only himself and "those in the know" would be able to identify these patches versus an officially produced patch. After years of collecting and documenting these type of patches, in most cases there is some "error" in the embroidery work of the patch itself, like a missing palm tree, tree trunk, ship, partially embroidered area or some other error in the design. Just take a minute to closely examine the patch side-by-side with a known good example and the error will become blantantly evident. A very good example of this type of work is the Malone tombstone series patches. The official Malone patches were all issued with white edges. All of Bob Kirk's patches had a red edge added to the patch. But in the center state seal, part of the indian maiden is missing, or only a portion of the water is filled in, or the palm tree has no tree trunk etc. You also see this in the old style sheriff white star series patches where normally these patches had a yellow or orange edge and the white star in the center is missing letters, entire words or the white star istelf is partially filled in. Those Kirk Edge patches had red, green, cyan, white or blue borders added to them and off they went into private collections to unsuspecting collectors.
Lock Stitch - Is a type of stitch using a bobbin or shuttle and two threads in which the upper thread is drawn completely around the under thread to form a "lock". It is also small stitches that are used to tie off the thread before a machine or manual trim in a design or lettering. Commonly used at the end of column stitches to prevent unraveling.
Loom - A machine for weaving together threads of various colors to form a patch. The most popular of these were manufactured by Schiffli, and the patches they produced are often referred to as Swiss Embroidery. The principal advantage of loom-made patches was that large numbers could be made relatively inexpensively, since each run of a large Schiffli loom could produce a hundred patches. After setup, a typical order of 1,000 patches could be made in little more than an hour.
Lurex - Lurex is the registered brand name for a type of yarn or thread with a metallic appearance. It is made from synthetic film, onto which a metallic aluminium, silver, or gold layer has been vaporised. Lurex is used for some modern machine embroidered badges and as an attempt, to imitate hand-embroidered Bullion wire. Commonly used for modern Canadian qualification badges and most all Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) patches and Lurex has been a popular material for movie and television costumes. For example, the bodysuit worn by actress Julie Newmar as Catwoman in the Batman TV series of the 1960s is constructed of black Lurex.
Merrowed Edge (also Overedge Stitch, Overlock Stitch or Rolled Edge) - A patch having a protective "molding" of thread all around its edge, often referred to as a "rolled edge" because of its appearance, the original purpose of which was to prevent raveling. Merrowing is an overedge stitch added using a special machine. On loom-made patches, this is performed after a patch has been embroidered and cut; on multihead-made patches, it's done to the pre-made twill "blanks" before they are embroidered. The telltale sign of merrowing is the "pigtail" end that is usually either glued or taped to the back of the patch. Merrowing machines are named after their inventor, Joseph M. Merrow. Although a few patches with merrowing from the 1940s and 1950s have been observed, merrowing of Law Enforcement patches didn't emerge until the 1960s, and didn't really "catch on" until the 1970s, and didn't become widespread until the 1980s. Merrowing now seems to be the industry standard, though quite a few are still unmerrowed. It should be noted that because twill doesn't ravel and is often treated, cut-edge patches really don't need merrowing, so nowadays it's usually added because the designer thinks it enhances the looks of the patch.
Mylar (also Melinex, BoPET, Hostaphan) - BoPET (Biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate) is a polyester film made from stretched polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and is used for its high tensile strength, chemical and dimensional stability, transparency, reflectivity, gas and aroma barrier properties and electrical insulation. It is also used as a synthetic metallic thread. A variety of companies manufacture boPET and other polyester films and threads under different brand names. Also see Lurex.
Needle - The stitch forming devise that carries the thread through the fabric so it can be interlocked with a bobbin thread. Sewing machine needles generally have nine basic parts including the butt, shank, shoulder, blade, groove, scarf or spot, eye, point, and tip. Needles are available with various points. These include: Sharp points for piercing heavy, tightly woven fabrics; Ball pointed needles for sewing knits; and, A variety of specialty points for sewing leather and vinyl. Needles also come in many sizes. Two of the most common needle size systems are the metric size (i.e.,60, 70, 75, 80, 90); and the Singer numbering system (i.e.,9, 12, 14, 16).
Needle Bar - A Bar that carries the needle up and down so a stitch can be formed. Each embroidery machine head can have up to 15 needle bars that can be selected to form the embroidery stitch pattern.
Needle Plate - The metal plate located above the hook assembly of an embroidery machine. This plate has a hole in the center through which the needle travels to reach the hook and form a stitch. Also know as a throat plate.
No-Glo (also Does Not Phosphor, DNP, Does Not Glow, DNG) - This term describes a patch that does not fluoresce when illuminated by light in the long wave ultraviolet wavelengths or UV-A. The UV-A long wave band runs from 320 to 380nm with a peak at 365nm. The long wave emission is commonly called a "black-light". Recent patches tend to be constructed of synthetic fibers which will "glow" when thus exposed, whereas patches made before the introduction of synthetics generally do not glow (the one exception is when an older patch has been washed with a detergent, which tends to leave a residue that appears to glow but is dim). This technique is used to identify counterfeits of vintage era patches.
Overruns (also Manufacturer's Overruns) - Extra patches produced above and beyond a customer's original order.
Partially Embroidered Patch (also Embroidered on Twill, PEP) - A patch in which part of its surface has been embroidered, therefore rendering portions of the base fabric visible. Partially embroidered patches cost less to manufacture than fully embroidered patches. Partially embroidered patches are referred to as "Embroidered on Twill", however the term is incorrect as technically, fully embroidered patches are embroidered on twill as well. Additionally, the base material used is not always twill. It can also be tweed, felt, wool, etc.
Participation Patch (also Participation Pin) - Supplementary insignia and/or pins received by law enforcement personel and in some cases patch collectors for simply participating in an event or activity. Participation patches and pins are not worn on any official uniform and are very similar to fantasy patches but are officially made by the deaprtment or by a member of the specialized unit. This is very common in Federal patches where several departments and/or units engaged in a joint operation and wanted something made to signify the event.
PNG - Portable Network Graphics (PNG), is a raster graphics file format that supports lossless data compression. PNG was created as an improved, non-patented replacement for Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), and is the most used lossless image compression format on the Internet. PNG supports palette-based images (with palettes of 24-bit RGB or 32-bit RGBA colors), grayscale images (with or without alpha channel), and full-color non-palette-based RGBA images (with or without alpha channel). PNG was designed for transferring images on the Internet, not for professional-quality print graphics, and therefore does not support non-RGB color spaces such as CMYK. PNG offers a variety of transparency options. With true-color and grayscale images either a single pixel value can be declared as transparent or an alpha channel can be added (enabling any percentage of partial transparency to be used). Patch Me Thru's website began using the PNG alpha format on January 1st, 2015 for most of it's websites graphics, allowing transparency around the alpha image permits the background to be visible with seamless edges. Alpha images can be "associated" ("premultiplied") or "unassociated", but PNG standardized on "unassociated" ("non-premultiplied") alpha storage so that alpah images with separate transparency masks can be stored losslessly on the internet. The end result is higher resolution, vibrant color and very crisp image detail.
Prototype Patch (also Manufacturer's Sample, Pre-production Sample, Proof, Sew-Out) - A prototype or pre-production patch made by a manufacturer used to obtain customer approval before the full-scale production takes place.
Puckering - Fabric being gathered into small folds or wrinkles and can be caused by the penetration of the needle, thread tension, inadequate hooping tension or by the density of the stitches.
Rarity And Value - Do not confuse rarity and value. A rare item may not be valuable unless someone wants to buy it badly enough. When it comes to certain patch collectors, there has been a growing trend of staggering bids on eBay to acquire a rare patch that has never before been seen on eBay. Even though the item may be rare, once most of the collectors have acquired one, the price will surely drop for the next buyer who wants it. A valuable item may not be rare but may have derived its value due to the cost of materials and production and in some cases by scarcity or how limited the availability of the item is to collectors.
Rejects (also Error Patch, Reject Patch) - Patches that were ordered by a department and/or individual but were refused and/or returned to the manufacturer. Patches are rejected for a multitude of reasons including misspellings or issues with patch quality or missing embroidery. Manufacturers often dump these patches onto the market in order to recoup losses to unsuspecting collectors. In patch collecting, a reject is considered practically worthless and they should be destroyed when discovered.
Reproduction Patch (also Knock-Offs, Repro, Repros, Replicas, Counterfeit) - A copy of a patch produced by a different embroiderer than that officially used by the department and/or individual(s). Reproductions were never ordered or used by a department or the individual(s) that commissioned the original patch. These days more and more reproductions are popping up everywhere and they are generally made by unscrupulous and dishonest sellers and sold to collectors just to make a buck. Recently, a known seller of reproductions called his merchandise a "collector's copy". What ever they call it to somehow make it seem more legitamate it still comes down to one thing, its a reproduction. If you come across a patch you suspect to be a reproduction and you are not sure, please e-mail us the scan(s) and we'll try to help you identify it. Also, seek out any reputable collector that can also help you identify this type of patch if you think you have one. We also have written a instructional document discussing reproductions in depth. To download the PDF please click on this link: Reproductions Of Embroidered Insignia.
Running Stitch - A Running Stitch is a single stitch between two needle penetrations. A continuous line of stitching between two points. Generally used for detail, text and outline work in an embroidery design. Also called a Straight Stitch, Walk Stitch or a Walking Stitch because it resembles a dotted or hashed line motion in a straight line. This is the most common type of stitch in patch embroidery.
Satin Stitch (also Damask Stitch) - In sewing and embroidery, a Satin Stitch is a series of flat stitches that are used to completely cover a section of the background fabric. This is most commonly found in text on patches, like the word POLICE, each section of a letter in the word are narrow satin stitch rows. Satin stitches can be simluated on a standard sewing machine using a zigzag stitch or a special satin stitch foot. In order to maintain a smooth edge, shapes can be outlined with back, split or chain stitch before the entire shape including the outline is covered with satin stitches.
Scutelliphily - Patch and badge collecting is called scutelliphily, from Latin "scutellus", meaning "little shield", and Greek "phileein", meaning "to love", in other words the love or study of little shields, better known as insignia. Insignia is usually called badges in the United Kingdom and patches in the United States and the collecting of insignia is generally called badge collecting in the United Kingdom and patch collecting in the United States. Other types of collectible insignia include police patches, fire/ems patches, space mission patches, federal patches, military unit patches, boyscout/girlscout patches, movie/television patches, fashion patches, political and sports stickers/buttons, walking stick labels, car window pennants, pin badges, etc, etc, etc. Collecting metal badges, shields or pins, either military or civilian, is known as Faleristics.
Selvedged Edge - Similar to merrowing in both appearance and purpose, but this edge finishing is performed with a sort of cross-stitch (very much like a button-hole stitch) rather than by using a merrowing machine, so generally there is no pigtail remnant but some are seen and the edging lacks the "rolled" look of merrowing. The most identifying feature of this type of edge is that this type of finishing does not roll over the edge onto the back of the patch and generally does not have a "tail" that is either taped or glued onto the reverse side of the patch.
Shapes (also Silhouettes, Patch Shape, Patchscraper) - Patches can be found in thousands of shapes and designs. A shape is simply an outline of a specific form or figure. The most common shape is probably the triangle and/or the circle. For the purpose of identifying patches for collectors a "Patch Shape Compendium" has been put together with over 135 various shapes or silhouettes. These should be considered to be the main designs for which all patches are based on. Variations, sizes and strains of these shapes will be prevelent, expected and common. But for the purposes of this glossary, any patch can be identified by matching the patch to one of these shapes or silouettes shown in the compendium. To view the compendium please click on this link: Patch Shape Compendium.
Silk-Screened Patch (also Screened Patch, Screenprinted Patch) - Silk screen printing is a technique using a stencil on a silk, nylon or organdy screen. Paint is applied to the screen and penetrates areas of the screen not blocked by the stencil. Several stencils are used to achieve multiple colors. A good Florida example of this type of patch is the Montverde Marshal's Office patch.
Sniper (also Sniped, Auction Sniper, Bid Sniper) - A Sniper is a program that automates the process of placing your eBay bid in the closing seconds of any eBay bidding auction, dramatically increasing your chance of winning. You’ve seen it happen. Your eBay bid is still the highest as the auction is about to close. You wait excitedly by your computer expecting to be notified that you've won, but somehow you've lost. In the last seconds of the auction a new bid has appeared, too late for you to respond. You've been sniped and you lost the item. An auction sniper makes sniping on eBay auctions as easy as placing a bid on eBay. Your computer doesn't even have to be on and there is no complicated software to learn. A bid sniper server will snipe eBay just a few seconds, usually 4 or 5 seconds, before the auction ends. Some sniper programs that are being used are www.auctionsniper.com, www.powersnipe.com, www.auctionstealer.com, www.ezsniper.com and www.esnipe.com.
Stitch - A stitch in the context of embroidery or hand-sewing is defined as the movement of the embroidery needle from the backside of the fabric to the front side and back to the back side. The thread stroke on the front side produced by this is also called a stitch. In the context of embroidery, an embroidery stitch means one or more stitches that are always executed in the same way, forming a figure of recognizable look. Embroidery stitches are also called stitches for short. Embroidery stitches are the smallest units in embroidery, embroidery patterns are formed by doing many embroidery stitches, either all the same or different ones, either following a counting chart on paper, following a design painted on the fabric, digitized computer file or even working freehand. Each embroidery stitch has a special name to help identify it. These names vary from country to country and region to region. Some embroidery books will include name variations. Taken by themselves the stitches are mostly simple to execute, however when you put them together or mix them up the results can be extremely complex.
Stitch Hole - The end result of stitching the patch to a uniform, then after some period of time removing the patch from the uniform, cleaning and removing any left over thread. What is left are small uniformily spaced holes along the stitching path or edge of the patch where it was stitched. When the patch is held up to a strong light source light may pass through the holes. Stitch holes are used to identify if the patch was used on a uniform.
Stitch Length - Stitch Length is the number of SPI (stitches per inch). SPI is measured by counting the number of lengths of thread found within one inch. SPI has a direct influence on the following: 1) the seam strength; 2) the stitch appearance; and 3) the seam elasticity on stretch fabrics. SPI has a tremendous impact on the strength of the seam, e.g., 6 SPI = 20-23.4lbs., 8 SPI = 26-31.2 lbs., 10 SPI = 33-39 lbs. and 12 SPI = 40-46.8 lbs. estimated seam strangth. Generally, the more stitches per inch, the greater the seam strength. There are rare cases where adding stitches per inch can actually damage the fabric so that the seam is weakened, however, this only happens on specific fabrics that can be damaged by excessive needle penetrations. When setting standards for stitches per inch, you should always keep in mind that more stitches per inch used in a seam requires longer sewing cycles to complete the seam. Longer sewing cycles translates in to higher labor costs and lower production levels. A sewing machine sewing at 5,000 SPM (stitches per minute) at 8 SPI will sew 17.4 yards of seam per minute. A sewing machine sewing at 5,000 SPM at 14 SPI will sew 9.9 yards of seam per minute.
Stock Eagle Patch - This is collector lingo for the unique shape and style of the patch. More predominantly, the signature eagle at the top of the patch and the hollow banner that wraps across the patch from side to side. The stock eagle series patches was a very common generic type of patch where the only thing the embroiderer had to change on the patch was the name of the department in the banner and the color scheme of the text, banner and border. In Florida patches, there are litterally dozens of different styles of stock eagle patches, ranging in different shapes and colors. Some good examples of these type of patches are the Green Cove Springs, Crestview and Live Oak series stock eagles.
Stumpwork - Stumpwork is a style of embroidery where the stitched designs are raised from the surface of the work to form a 3-dimensional effect. Stitches can be worked around pieces of wire to create individual forms such as leaves, insect wings and flower petals. This form is then applied to the main body of work by piercing the background fabric with the wires and securing tightly. Other shapes can be created using padding under the stitches, usually in the form of felt or foam rubber layers sewn one upon the other in increasingly smaller sizes. The padding is then covered with a layer of embroidery stitches. This method is frequently used to create tree trunks, the bases of flowers, human forms and heavy text.
Subdued Patch (also Camo Patch, Camouflaged Patch, Muted Patch, Ghost Patch) - A patch whose color palette features predominately dark green, brown and black tones. The official military subdued color palette consists of black, olive drab, spruce green, garnet, and flag blue, however many desert patches use additional colors. In Law Enforcement it is simplified with silver, gray and black tones. Subdued patches are worn predominately on SWAT, SRT, ERT and particularly the Special Operations community. Subdued patches came into widespread use in late 1970's.
Swiss Embroidery (also Schiffli Embroidery, Old Embroidery, OE) - Swiss embroidery involves a paper tape, punched like the roll for a player piano, that is mechanically "read" by a machine that directs hundreds of needles on a loom simultaneously. The process begins with a sketch of the patch, enlarged to six times the size of the finished product, with every other stitch actually drawn in by hand. The operator traces every indicated stitch line with a metal stylus, creating a paper template for the loom. During the sewing, a different color of thread is used on each "pass" and this, in effect, layers one color on top of another, creating a bas-relief effect, as opposed to the uniformly flat surface of a Multi-Head patch. Two or three layers is fairly common, but attempting to penetrate too many layers tends to break needles, so rarely are more than four or five observed. The perception of depth from the raised layers of color, and the effects of highlighting and shadowing that occurred naturally when light hits the patch from various angles, tends to make some of these patches with more elaborate designs true works of art. This type of patch embroidery had its genesis in Switzerland, hence the term "Swiss embroidery," but the process was imported into the United States and was firmly established in the northern New Jersey area by the outbreak of World War II. (Fully 70% of embroidery in the United States is still performed in that state.) Swiss embroidered emblems are often referred to as Schiffli patches because they are made on Schiffli looms. These looms use a shuttle that resembles the shape of a sailboat's hull, and "Schiffli" means "little boat" in the Swiss dialect of the German language.
Thread - Embroidery can be sewn with many types and sizes of threads depending on the desired finished appearance. Embroidery threads are commonly made from rayon, polyester, cotton and metallics. Rayon threads are generally made with a twisted multifilament construction and have a high sheen. Polyester threads can be made in three different thread constructions including a twisted multifilament, air entangled and spun construction. Obviously, cotton threads are only made in a spun construction. Both spun polyester and spun cotton thread have a "matte" or low sheen appearance. Rayon and Polyester filament threads have a high sheen. Polyester is stronger than Rayon and has superior color fastness and abrasion/chemical resistance. Mylars and metallics are filament threads that have the highest luster and are formed with a synthetic core wrapped in metal foil. Generally mylar and metallic threads do not sew as well as polyester or rayon threads. The most common ticket size for rayon or polyester embroidery threads is a No. 40, however other sizes are available. A&E's Signature polyester embroidery thread comes in a variety of sizes including a No. 40, 30, 20, 10 and 3004 used for serging appliques.
Tombstone Patch - This is collector lingo for the unique shape and style of the patch. The tombstone series patches was a very common generic type of patch where the only thing the embroiderer had to change on the patch was the name of the department at the top and change the seal in the center to the appropriate state the department was from. In Florida patches, there are litterally hundreds of different styles of tombstone patches, ranging in different shapes and colors. A few good examples of them is the Tamarac, Gulfstream and Inverness series tombstones. Even today there are still a few departments in Florida who continue use this style of patch, they are Cross City, High Springs and Gulfstream Police Departments.
Tweed - Tweed is a made-up, rough, unfinished woolen fabric, of a soft, open, flexible texture, resembling cheviot or homespun, but more closely woven. It is made in either plain or twill weave and may have a check or herringbone pattern. Subdued, interesting colour effects (heather mixtures) are obtained by twisting together differently coloured woolen strands into a two- or three-ply yarn. Tweeds are desirable for informal outerwear, being moisture-resistant and durable.
Twill (also Tweel, Twill Weave, Twill Fabric) - A strong, durable, firm fabric typically used as the base of a patch, characterized by diagonal ribs. Twill fabric is typically a polyester or a cotton/polyester blend and is quite durable and can be dry cleaned or washed and still look crisp. One of the most appealing characteristics of twill is that it doesn't ravel.
Variation Patch - Variations do not appreciably alter the patch's value, appearance or design. Three types of variations include positional changes, stitching changes and color changes. These are often caused by manufacturing variations and not classified separately. However, some variations have attained notoriety, such as the ridge variation found generally among orange twilled patches, thick text vs. thin text and the large indian maiden vs. the slender indian maiden state seal variations. Such variations were very common up until the 1980s and still occur today, though not as often. Collectors find these variations interesting and collect such patches. Examples of positional changes or variations among certain objects comprising the patch design as a whole include changes in the precise positioning of the text in relation to the "border" or "edge" of the patch. Stitch changes or patterns are also not always consistent. There are three known stitching variations among most patches. They are "vertical object", "horizontal object" and "split object" (This variation creates the appearance of a split down the middle of the object). Color changes or variations, is where colors vary in order, shade, brightness, hues, etc. The exact reasons for this are unknown, but it is suspected that different manufacturers stock various threads from time to time and the supplier of that particular thread may no longer stock that exact color but has a close match. Hence the yellow edge patches vs. the yellowish-orange edge patches. The color green (as seen in trees, bushes and grass on patches) is also never consistent, even today, it varies between dark green, medium green, light green and yellow green.
Velcro - Velcro is a fabric hook and loop fastener. Hook-and-loop fasteners consist of two components, typically, two lineal fabric strips (or, alternatively, round "dots" or "squares") which are attached, sewn, adhered, etc. to the opposing surfaces to be fastened. The first component features tiny hooks; the second features even smaller, softer and "hairier" loops. When the two components are pressed together, the hooks catch in the loops and the two pieces become attached temporarily, until they are pulled apart. The hooks are somewhat flexible, so when the surfaces are pulled apart, the hooks straighten and slide out of the loops without doing any damage. The hooks return to their normal shape when the straightening force is released, so the Velcro can be used again. When being separated, by pulling or peeling the two surfaces apart, Velcro makes a distinctive "ripping" sound.
1* (also 2*, One Asterisk, Two Asterisk) - This is law enforcement lingo for those units and/or teams who place their lives on the line engaging in life threatening operations. The lingo or slang has become more and more prevelant with custom designed insignia and has become quite popular with Florida SWAT and K-9 Unit insignia. The 1* spoken as, one asterisk, is slang for "one ass to risk". Similarly, K-9 Units comprising of a handler and a canine are using 2* which is slang for "two ass'es to risk".
5* (also Five Asterisk) - Recently a new term was born following the SWAT and K-9 lingo of 1* and 2* called 5* or "five ass'es to risk". New specialized units are constantly being created to meet the needs of a department's mission. When the new unit is created, in this case, the original members of the unit are branded with the 5* as the original five members who risked thier asses to plan, train and activate the specialized unit. As a new member joins or is assigned to this unit they would not be branded or entitled to the 5* because they we're not one of the original five. So far, only one custom designed insignia adorns the 5* term.
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