Patchwork Tattoos: What Are They? (2024)

There are many different ways to fill a body with art. Some people commit to giant cohesive pieces that can fill a space as large as their back. Other people have too many ideas to settle on one big concept.

That’s where patchwork tattoos come in. You can start an impressive patch collection if you’ve got a few tiny tattoos on your arm or leg.

What Is a Patchwork Tattoo?

Patchwork Tattoos: What Are They? (1)

A patchwork tattoo isn’t a specific kind or style of tattoo. It’s actually a method of tattoo placement. When most people get a tattoo sleeve, they’ll have one giant cohesive tattoo or a few medium or large tattoos designed to fit the space harmoniously.

Patchwork tattoos are a bunch of small tattoos collaged together with a little empty space in between, like how you would iron patches onto a denim jacket. They don’t necessarily need a theme that ties them together, and there usually isn’t a background to fill the space. It almost looks like each tattoo is a sticker or a patch stuck to your body.

Why Get a Patchwork Tattoo?

Not many people start with the idea of getting a patchwork sleeve. They’ll get a few small tattoos on a part of their body and realize they have a lot of empty space.

It might look awkward, especially if they’re far apart. There usually won’t be room for a larger tattoo because the small tattoos occupy too much valuable skin real estate.

If the tattoos cannot be connected or incorporated into a larger piece, they’ll just continue with the theme until the whole area is full of small tattoos.

What Can You Do With the Negative Space Between Patchwork Tattoos?

Many people prefer to leave the negative space between patchwork tattoos empty. If you’d like to fill the space, choose something that won’t clash with your tattoos.

Some people fill the area with a smoky, misty effect. You can use color or gray, depending on what would look best with your tattoos — totally up to you.

You can also fill the space with tiny designs or simple patterns like stars, swirls, or spider webs. Some people create contrast against patchwork tattoos by filling in all the negative space with blackwork.

If that wouldn’t disrupt the borders of your tattoos and make them difficult to see, it might look rad. But maybe ask your tattoo artist for their opinion.

Can You Design a Patchwork Sleeve?

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If you already know you like the way patchwork tattoos look, you can design a sleeve to be patchwork from the start. You’ll actually have better luck that way.

If every move is planned out, you can create ideal symmetry, sizing, and spacing between each tattoo. You’ll also be able to fill up the space bit by bit.

The process starts with deciding what to incorporate into a giant patchwork area. Your tattoo artist can help you design each element to fit perfectly together. You don’t necessarily have to get all the tattoos simultaneously either — you can start small and add more later.

You can get a new one every few months, working from the original design template. If you’re a little bit addicted to tattoos, going this route will give you something to look forward to. No pain, no gain.

Remember that your patchwork sleeve will be a work in progress until you’ve filled most of the space. It might look a little weird while it’s still in progress, but the end result will be worth it. And some people actually dig the bumper sticker effect.

Try to avoid the temptation to impulsively fill in the empty space just to make it go away. Spend some time thinking about what you want and why you want it.

What Styles of Tattoo Are Used for Patchwork Tattoos?

Patchwork tattoos can be any style, but they look best if you stick to the same style throughout. Sameness in style is almost more important than cohesiveness in theme.

If you have many different ideas going on in many different styles, your patchwork sleeve will look chaotic (unless that’s your jam). If everything is the same style, there will be some order in the creative chaos.

If you like watercolor tattoos, go all watercolor. Neo-traditional style is very popular for patchwork tattoos. If you choose to do it in color, try to marry your tattoos in a color palette harmony. If not, there’s nothing wrong with keeping your motif black and gray.

Are Patchwork Tattoos Embroidery Tattoos?

Patchwork tattoos are sometimes confused with embroidery tattoos, which actually look like patches. Embroidery tattoo is a style made of small lines that come together to look like an embroidered or sewn-on patch. Every line will look like its own thread.

Embroidery tattoos are beautiful, and the technique is very difficult to execute properly. If you want an embroidery tattoo, choosing an experienced artist specializing in the art style is important. If you can, check to see how their work has healed.

Embroidery tattoos have a lot of nuances that may not look great after the healing process if the tattoo isn’t performed properly.

Ready To Start Filling Some Space?

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If you’re ready to start filling up your skin with patchwork tattoos, it helps to have at least a loose game plan before you begin. Make sure you give yourself enough time to heal between each tattoo. That’s where great aftercare comes in.

Our aftercare set contains everything you need to nourish, protect, and soothe your tattoos as you add them to your patchwork collection. Our CBD-infused foam soap and healing balm enrich and fortify your skin as it heals.

Our topical antiseptic and anesthetic spray keeps bacteria away from your healing tattoo while soothing the uncomfortable, itchy sensation that happens while your tattoo is healing.


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Patchwork Tattoos: What Are They? (2024)


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