DIY pins and patches tutorial: Wear your personality on your sleeve (literally)

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It’s back to school for kids, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have our own fun by jazzing up our clothes with DIY pins and patches. Photo by GABBY CANTERO

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — With dress codes and uniforms in the school setting, it can be hard to express yourself. It’s difficult, even, to tell yourself apart from the other students who go to your school, seeing that you’re all wearing the same pieces of clothing with everything just so — slacks neatly pressed, socks aligned, skirts down to right here, collars pointing right there. Even beyond the classrooms and hallways, however many options fashion now offers us and however out-there the trends are, there’s still something thrilling about do-it-yourself (DIY) wearables. It doesn’t matter if they’re jagged, or messy, or imperfect. It’s that you’ve made something that no one else can replicate (not even you yourself) and that caters to your specific tastes, and from regular objects lying around the house at that.

School’s back in session, but there’s just enough time between homework to do two quick and easy DIY projects. The final products can provide subtle but fun ways to let others know what you like and what you’re all about without costing you a trip to the principal’s office.

                                                                Patch perfect

With a needle and some thread (have you been paying attention to your sewing lessons?), you can put your favorite emojis, art, and sayings on your jackets and shirts.

The materials needed in making DIY patches. Photo by GABBY CANTERO



Embroidery floss (colors depending on the design you want to make)

Embroidery needle (or any needle with a large eye)

Embroidery hoop


Plain shirt/any fabric surface that you would like to personalize


Draw or outline your desired design on the shirt or fabric.

Draw or outline your desired design on the shirt or fabric. Photo by GABBY CANTERO

Prepare the needle and embroidery floss. Most floss comes in groups of six threads, but you can opt to strip away half and use three. Insert the floss in the eye of the needle, and make sure to cut off a generous amount of thread for the design.

Insert the embroidery hoop by placing the smaller hoop inside the shirt under the area you want to embroider and the larger one outside of the shirt, on top of the smaller one. Make sure that the fabric is stretched enough to avoid crumpling.

Follow your guide by first stitching around the outline with embroidery stitches (slip stitches or back stitches). If needed, fill in your design.

Follow your guide by first stitching around the outline with embroidery stitches. Photo by GABBY CANTERO

Do a finishing knot by inserting the needle back through a previous stitch to finish off the design.

Cut off the excess thread.

Cut off the excess thread and behold the patch of personality on your otherwise plain article of clothing. Photo by GABBY CANTERO

You can opt to embroider other objects such as canvass bags, baseball caps, denim jackets, jeans, socks, and more. The embroidery ring will not be necessary if you think the fabric of these items is sturdy enough.

                                                                    Honey, I shrunk the pins

Some part of chemistry can surely explain how a sheet of plastic that’s almost paper-thin turns into sturdy pins that are tiny and shiny. But we’re not here to to delve into that; we’re here to find out how to make those pins display whatever image you want.

Some of the materials needed in making DIY pins. Photo by GABBY CANTERO


Shrink film (available online, in craft stores, and bookstores)

Permanent or felt markers

Inkjet printer


Wax paper/aluminium foil

Toaster oven

Superglue or glue gun

Pin backs


Draw your design of choice on the shrink film. Surfaces vary according to different types, so pay attention to the instructions regarding which side to draw on and what type of markers to use. Some types of shrink film also let you print pictures off your computer.

Draw your design of choice on the shrink film. Photo by GABBY CANTERO

Make sure the design is three times larger than your desired outcome. For one-inch pins, the design should be around three inches.

Cut out your design based on your desired shape. Be careful around curves and tight inner cuts, because the force might damage the plastic.

Cut out your design based on your desired shape. Photo by GABBY CANTERO

Line the toaster oven tray with wax paper or foil so the plastic doesn’t stick. Place the cutouts in the oven.

Wait three to five minutes for the cutouts to bake. They should remain motionless for a bit before contorting and twisting, then finally shrinking and hardening.

Wait for the plastic to settle and flatten out before taking it out of the oven. Hurry and flatten it further with a heavy object.

Seal your creation with a sealant of choice, but be careful as some sealants make the ink smudge or run. Clear nail polish, if applied neatly, should work, as well. For translucent shrink film, you can use sticker paper or white nail polish to make the design more visible on an opaque background.

Use the glue gun or superglue to attach the pin backs.

Turn a sheet of plastic that’s almost paper-thin into sturdy pins that are tiny and shiny. Photo by GABBY CANTERO