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Sewing Air Force Ones: Rank, Badges & Stripes (2024)

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how to sew air force onesAre you ready to take your Air Force Ones up a notch? According to the U.S. Department of Defense, there are currently 800,000 active-duty airmen in service – and that number is only growing. Whether it’s for decoration or recognition of rank and awards, sewing on patches can be one way to show off your pride in being part of this elite group.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose quality materials like leather, suede, or canvas for the upper and lining.
  • Use strong, durable thread that matches the material color.
  • Carefully remove the original stitching without damaging the material.
  • Master basic sewing techniques such as whip stitching before attempting more advanced details.

Preparing to Sew Air Force Ones

Preparing to Sew Air Force Ones
Before you can customize your AF1s, you’ll need to carefully deconstruct them using the right tools and safety precautions from the Shoe Surgeon’s tutorial. Focus on the upper construction and lining before thinking about swapping out sole units.

Start by sourcing quality materials like leather, suede, or canvas for the upper and lining. You’ll also want to choose a strong, durable thread that matches the material color.

Once you have your materials, prepare the sneakers by marking stitch lines and points where you’ll need to remove original stitching. Use a seam ripper or craft knife to gently remove original stitching without damaging the material underneath.

With the uppers separated from the sole, you can use the original pieces as templates for reshaping and reassembling the sneakers with your own custom materials and personalized stitching details. Master basic sewing techniques like whip stitching before moving on to more advanced details.

Sewing Air Force Rank on ABU Uniform

Sewing Air Force Rank on ABU Uniform
Climb those master sergeant stripes onto the sleeves of your ABUs. Sewing on rank to Air Force utility uniforms takes skill but elevates your stature.

Follow these key steps for properly mounting those hard-earned chevrons and rockers:

  • Use a chalk pencil to mark precise placement per regulations.
  • Select a sturdy thread in spice brown or bagby green.
  • Hand sew the rank using small, tight stitches along the edge.
  • Take care not to catch the underside lining or bunch material.
  • Use additional stitches at the points to reinforce shape.
  • Check angles and alignment before trimming threads.
  • Press gently with a cool iron when finished.

Wear your rank with pride on crisp ABUs. Let those stripes and impressive embroidery announce your authority. Promotions call for new insignia and fresh sewing. Master the essential techniques for affixing chevrons and you’ll maintain squared away uniforms ready for any inspection.

Sewing Air Force Occupational Badges

Sewing Air Force Occupational Badges
Muster your decorum and stitch that occupational badge over your heart, airman, as the falcon guides its young to soar in service. Whether you’re a defender, firefighter, or specialist, select strong 100% polyester thread in spice brown to match the fabric.

Set your machine to a tight zigzag stitch before attaching the badge, centering it precisely 1⁄2 inch above the left pocket.

Some prefer hand sewing for greater control – use a thimble and aim for eight small stitches per inch. Whichever technique you choose, let it reflect the honor of your calling. Wear it with humility, knowing that thread and fabric fade, but your commitment strengthens with time.

You serve a greater purpose.

Sewing Air Force Stripes

Sewing Air Force Stripes
Slip the needle through the fabric to attach the stripes onto your uniform when sewing Air Force insignia. Position the stripes precisely, following official guidelines for placement on sleeves and pants.

Choose a durable thread in an authorized color like Spice Brown to blend with the uniform. A sharp needle glides smoothly; select the right size and type for your fabric. Invest in a heavy-duty sewing machine, which powerfully punches through multiple layers of fabric for clean, sturdy stitches.

Master basic sewing skills like straight stitches and backstitches so stripes stay fixed in place. Take pride in neatly affixing your hard-earned rank; perfectly aligned insignia shows attention to detail.

With care and practice, you can expertly sew stripes on any uniform. Your polished appearance will exhibit military precision and professionalism.

Dominic Ciambrone creates amazing sneaker customs using intricate reconstruction techniques. Carefully deconstructing components allows endless possibilities to redesign unique shoes. He meticulously assembles one-of-a-kind sneakers that express his artistic vision.

Sewing Rank on Air Force Blues

Sewing Rank on Air Force Blues
Slide those stripes on your blues carefully to show your hard-earned rank. When sewing on rank to dress blues, follow these steps for proper placement:

  1. Pin the rank insignia in place before sewing to ensure proper alignment.
  2. Use a sewing awl to punch holes where the rank will be sewn.
  3. Insert the needle through the back of the uniform fabric up through the punched hole.
  4. Sew the rank on with tight, neat stitches using matching blue thread.
  5. Check symmetry and placement once the rank is sewn on. Make any needed adjustments.

With practice, you’ll quickly and neatly sew your hard-earned rank onto dress blues. Take pride in your precision – correctly placed rank shows attention to detail. Once properly sewn, crisp rank insignia will showcase your advancement through the Air Force ranks.

Tips for Sewing on Air Force Uniforms

Tips for Sewing on Air Force Uniforms
Choose the right needle for the fabric – use sharp needles for woven fabrics like the blues uniform, ballpoint for knits like ABUs.

Check thread tension often – the top thread should pull just slightly to the bottom on the underside.

Take your time positioning patches – pin or baste first. Remove pins or basting as you sew.

Backstitch at the start and end to secure stitches. Trim threads close to fabric.

Clean out lint and change needles regularly. Fraying, skipped stitches or breakage means it’s time for maintenance.

With care and attention to detail, you can achieve clean, neat insignia that meet uniform standards every time.


Sewing Air Force Ones can seem daunting, but when done right, it can result in a finished product that’s professional and tailored to your style. Take Paul’s case, for example. He wanted to add rank, badges, and stripes to his Air Force Blues uniform.

After some trial and error and careful sewing, he was able to customize his uniform with his unique style. With the right tools, techniques, and a bit of patience, you can create a unique look with your Air Force Ones too.

So next time you want to make a statement with your uniform, consider sewing Air Force Ones to make it your own.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.