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An embroidered patch is a piece of art which is created by using a fabric backing thread and some form of a needle. Embroidered patches can be attached with a pin or can be sewn on, but some of the more modern methods of attachment include iron-on, dryer heat activated adhesive, and Velcro backing. The art of making embroidered patches is decades old but the introduction of new high speed, computerized machines have brought a once rare, time consuming art into mass production.[citation needed]

Embroidered patches, an important identification tool for military and other uniformed personnel, trace their roots thousands of years ago to ancient cultures of the Mediterranean, Mideast, China, India and South America where the art of decorating fabric with thread stitching originated.[1] Elaborate hand-stitched designs and patterns were used to embellish the robes of royalty and for religious artifacts.[citation needed]

Today, embroidery designs are used by government (including uniforms of the military, emergency services and other specialized workers) sports teams and companies in the private sector to denote rank, job, specific position or specialized unit. Youth groups, including sports teams, scouting organizations and specialized clubs often wear clothing emblazoned with embroidered patches. They are also used by space agencies on the uniforms of astronauts to denote the mission. Since 1971, the sole manufacturer of mission patches for NASA has been A-B Emblem of Weaverville, North Carolina.

Space mission patches as well as fire and police patches are collected by enthusiasts as well.

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