Customizing an existing Airsoft patch

How to Customize an Existing Airsoft Patch to Make it Uniquely Yours

Morale patches are the perfect conversation starter for all you guys and gals out there who consider themselves tactical survivalists.

Whether you slap your morale patch onto your hat, jacket, or EDC bag (Every Day Carry bag), there’s one thing you want your patch to do.

You want it to speak for you—your feelings, creativity, ethos, and team spirit.

These days, custom Airsoft patch companies are a dime a dozen online. You can get any artwork onto a PVC or embroidery patch. 

Professionally customized Airsoft patches are cheaper when bought in bulk, but it’ll cost you a pretty penny if you’re collecting single pieces.

That’s why we want to focus on customizing existing and vintage patches to suit your life and taste.

Table of Contents

  1. Paint It à la Novritsch
  2. Add Hook and Loop Backing
  3. Hydro Dip your Patch
  4. What Is a Morale Patch?
  5. PVC Patch vs Embroidery Patch
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. Get Crafting

Paint It à la Novritsch

à la Novritsch

Though Novritsch didn’t invent the camouflage painting method, he definitely popularized it in the Airsoft online community.

It’s a painting method used to disguise any person, gear, or equipment that would stand out in a natural setting. 

A dark green color forms the base, then a medium green tone is sprayed through foliage or in randomized shapes, completing the camo pattern.

If you have a PVC patch that’s bright enough to signal a plane, you might want to tone the colors down and make yourself less of a target in the field. 

Bonus points for creating a totally unique patch.

You will need:

  • Two nature-toned cans of spray paint, such as army green (dark) and sage green (medium tone)
  • Tape to section off any parts you don’t want to paint
  • Scissors
  • Fine sandpaper
  • An assortment of foliage
  • The patch you want to customize

NOTE: We demonstrate the camo painting method below on an Airsoft gun, though it’s applicable on patches, helmets and just about any gear or equipment on the field.

hand holding tape to protect equipment before painting

Step 1 – Tape off any parts of the patch or equipment you would like to leave unpainted.

fine sandpaper roughs up the gloss on the gun

Step 2 – Sand down any shiny or glossy finish using fine sandpaper to create some grip for the paint.

cleaning off dust and particles on the gun

Step 3 – Clean off any debris, dust, or particles that could get caught under the paint and make it look uneven.

spray painting coat of dark army green on the gun

Step 4 – Spray the base coat of dark army green lightly and evenly all over and wait for it to dry.

gun covered in foliage to create camo pattern

Step 5 – Lay all your leaves and foliage across the patch or piece of gear. For patches and smaller gear, ‌use smaller leaves to get the same pattern definition.

spray painting second lighter green coat on the gun

Step 6 – Spray paint the lighter shade of green all over the leaf covering.

gun displaying two green tones and camo pattern

Step 7 – Let your equipment, gear, or patch dry and enjoy the custom camo effect.

Add Hook and Loop Backing

Black Lion shoulder patch

Not all patch creators are as bold and progressive as the Black Lion shoulder patch, an awesome patch which comes with the hook backing.

The patch is awesome! Really high quality rubber… very durable… not a huge fan of morale patches with slogans, but this Lion logo looks awesome.
Nathan H.

Morale patches, especially older ones or limited editions, come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and backing—sew-on, iron-on, and vinyl.

If you’re collecting vintage military patches, you’ll find most of them are sew-on patches and have no hook and loop backing (Velcro). 

Hook and loop backing is the most versatile type of backing. You can easily switch out your patches or add in new ones from a patch swap or a trade event.

To attach a hook and loop backing you’ll need:

  • Non-adhesive, 4-inch or 6-inch wide Hook and Loop Tape
    • 4–6 inches gives you enough room to place and maneuver differently shaped patches 
    • Non-adhesive back allows you to use your own strong adhesive
  • Heavy-duty glue that adheres to a variety of surfaces and dries quickly
  • Heavy-duty scissors to cut through the velcro backing
  • Wood clamp or a heavy object to hold the hook backing flat as it adheres to the patch, since it comes packaged in a tight roll
squeezing a small amount of glue onto patch back

Step 1 – Lay the patch face down and apply a thin, even layer of glue on the back.

evenly spreading glue on the patch underside
smoothly laying the patch underside onto hook backing

Step 2 – Lay the patch carefully on the smooth side of the hook backing, smoothing out any bumps.

sandwiching patch and hook backing between two flat surfaces

Step 3 – Sandwich the glued together patch and hook backing between two flat surfaces. Place under a weight or clamp to apply pressure as the adhesive dries overnight.

wooden boards between clamps hold patch and hook backing flat
cutting away excess hook backing using a box cutter

Step 4 – Using a box cutter or scissors, cut away any excess backing and your patch is ready for use.

Hydro Dip your Patch

hydro dipped Glock slide in snow camo pattern

Hydro dipping is a technique that transfers complex patterns like wood grain, camo, or marbling onto 3D objects that are dipped into the colored water.

Hydro dipping works on most materials, including PVC and cloth, so you should be able to rock a customized patch in a day. 

You’ll need:

  • Large, deep plastic container filled with water
  • Rags and mild cleaning solution
  • Airsoft patch or gear you intend to hydro dip
  • DIY hydrographic printing kit or assorted spray paints
  • Rubber, latex or vinyl gloves
  • Primer coat
  • Clear top coat

You can create the pattern on the water using the ink and PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) film found in hydrographic printing kits. An easier way to create the design is with spray paint, as shown in the video below.

What Is a Morale Patch?

Different from the patches that denote rank and achievements in the military and police forces, morale patches are insignias intended to communicate identity in a less official way.

Morale patches often have images or slogans that inspire bravery, laughter, a sense of community, and all-around ‘badassery.

zombie outbreak response

PVC Patch vs Embroidery Patch

PVC and embroidery are the two most common patch formats. 

Embroidery patches are made of designs stitched onto a piece of fabric, while PVC patches are made from soft colored plastic poured in layers into prefabricated molds.

In the table below, we compare the pros and cons of each type of patch:

Type of Patch Pros Cons
PVC Patch
  • Hardy and durable, especially for outdoor wear
  • Can have almost infinite variations in color, form, and shape
  • More expensive than embroidered patches
Embroidery Patch
  • High quality embroidered patches have a luxe feel
  • Are easy to acquire in vintage and thrift shops
  • Cheaper than PVC patches
  • Limited color combinations and design flexibility
  • Wears out faster, especially if worn out in rough terrain
testimonial from Maria B

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best fabric glue for attaching Velcro (hook and loop backing) to patches?

As an Airsoft patch collector looking to change up your patches often, you can rely on these top five affordable adhesive brands to secure the velcro to the patch itself and your clothing:

Can I as a civilian wear military patches?

While it is not illegal to wear military patches, we advise discretion. Most military patches symbolize time spent in combat and feats of bravery. Wearing badges, such as those awarded to veterans, could rub vets the wrong way and appear presumptuous. That said, if it’s a patch handed down from someone close to you, wear it with pride.

Get Crafting

Whether you choose to customize an embroidery patch or a PVC patch, the key thing is to make your collection your own and to always have fun doing it. After all, Airsoft is more than a hobby—it’s a lifestyle.