DIY Finisher’s Jacket and Patches

I am a fairly frugal person. I’ll spend money on quality items, but I have to see the value in the item. At the expo for my 70.3 this October, I had a chance to check out all of the Ironman Finisher’s gear. It all looked great, but the price tags on most of the stuff was a bit hard to swallow. Going in, I had planned on trying to get a finisher’s jacket. The patch jacket caught my eye. I wanted a jacket, that I could add my next race to, but at 153.00 for a glorified Costco jacket I couldn’t pull the trigger. What can I say? I’m just too cheap, besides mama want’s a new bike and I like the idea of being able to put non-branded race patches on the jacket. So, I made my own.

I’ve done cross-stitching before, but never embroidery. How hard could it be? Well turns out, not too hard, but definitely time consuming. I made a finisher’s jacket for myself and my fiance. The lettering is very easy to do, detailed designs like my Arizona 70.3 patch are a bit more complicated.


  • Embroidery Floss in your desired colors.
  • Embroidery needles
  • An embroidery hoop
  • Patch fabric – I chose a muslin with looser weave
  • Water soluble pen or a pencil
  • Mod Podge
  • Fray Check
  • Fabric Glue or Heat ‘n Bond.


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All of my patches were traced from simple patterns. I got the font for my FINISHER lettering from a simple google search and my M-Dot 70.3 logo was also from an image search. I simply printed the logo and lettering at the sizes I wanted, cut them out and traced them with my water soluble pen. *Note: I started out with a pencil, but moved to the pen. The pen is a lot easier to erase if you make any mistakes.

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My patches were all done with two stitch types a backstick for outlining and a satin stitch for filling. This video was quite helpful in getting my technique (such as it is) down:

For the lettering and M-dot I  did a satin stitch fill first and then backstitched the outline in black to make them pop. The Arizona 70.3 race patch was quite a bit more complicated, although I stuck with the same two stitches.

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For the race patch, I used a sticker that I had purchased at the race expo as my inspiration. I free handed the drawing, as you can see with the wonky lettering, but considering my artistic ability is about a 2 on a scale of 1-10 I consider it a success.

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4305699869036252068-account_id1After finishing all of my patches, I glued the back threads with Mod Podge, cut out the patches, applied fray check to the edges and affixed the patches to my jacket. My first attempt at affixing the patches was with a material called Heat n’ Bond. It’s a double sided iron-on head reactant glue for fabric. This didn’t work so well, probably due to the thickness of my patches. They were lifting at the corners after a day. I ended up using Aleene’s fabric glue and it worked perfectly.

*Design note: I placed the 70.3 and Arizona race patch on the same side, because I want to put a full M-dot logo on the right hand side of the jacket. I didn’t want my M-dots set in different places over the jacket.

Making these patches, while time consuming and far from perfect, was a great way for me to unwind after my race. I had spent months at a go-g0-g0 level and needed some time to recoup and fully process my race. I finished the patches in about a week and a half and I’d say I spent about 20 hours total on the project. I’ll continue making patches after every big race as a way to de-stress and of course to fill out my one of a kind finisher’s jacket. If I ever fill up my jacket I may start putting patches on a tote bag.