do I get a badge for sewing on badges?

design, quilting, sewing


OK. So I admit that trying to figure out how to permanently attach scout badges to garments is not one of the world’s most urgent problems, but if you’re looking at a pile of badges and your child is supposed to have his or her uniform ready for the local Memorial Day Parade, it becomes an unwelcome stress in your life.

Let’s back up for those who live outside of the US and have no idea what I’m talking about. We have these organizations called Girl Scouts, Brownies, Boy Scouts etc in which children join and become part of a troop. The troop does various activities such as camping, science experiments, charitable works and entrepreneurial activities for which they earn embroidered badges. These badges are supposed to be attached to shirts or vests that the children need to wear to school, meetings, parades and various occasions in the community. The problem is that the badges have an iron-on adhesive on them that doesn’t work yet makes them so stiff that hand sewing them on breaks needles and is really tiring on your hands. To complicate matters further, the badges are irregularly shaped and each one a different color which makes machine sewing challenging as well. When our veteran troop leader says that she’s never found an adhesive that works for long, I believe her.

So here’s the prize-winning combination: invisible thread and dropping the feed dogs on your sewing machine! We were given a spool of .004mm invisible nylon thread and it works great on the badges.

feed dogs up

feed dogs up

feed dogs down

feed dogs down


Here’s the drill:
Pin the badges in place. Attach the embroidery foot to your machine. Use the invisible thread for both the top thread and the bobbin. Then, be sure to thread the bobbin thread through the little hole on the tip of the finger of the bobbin. Got that? Then you’ll want to drop your feed dogs (not all machines have this feature) and carefully sew all the way around the edges of the badge. Finish up by doing a couple of small stitches in place before you cut the thread and move on to the other 15 that need to be attached.

Gotta go—Tim Geithner’s on line 1…

10 thoughts on “do I get a badge for sewing on badges?

  1. Actually you don’t need to explain what Scouting is. It is a world-wide organisation, and there are scouts in 216 countries.

    However, I have no idea what a Memorial Day Parade is.

  2. Should have also mentioned, when I was one, badges did not have adhesive. My mother made me sew my own badges on with a needle and thread.

  3. actually, if you teach your daughter to sew, there is a sewing badge. Learned to praise mine for doing her best & if the badges weren’t exactly straight & the thread clashed with the patch, so be it. She did it herself & was sooooo proud. Youngest girl in her troop (9) & only one who sews on her own patches (fun ones on back, not official on front as they are just a bit small.)

  4. I have not seen a Girl Scout badge in 40 years and so am amazed at how different they look! I guess today’s girl scout would turn up her nose at the plain round circles we used to get. These look much more festive and rewarding.

  5. Hysterical Weeks!!! I love the explanation and the very clear photos. However, I had to laugh at your handwritten notepad of things to do. Bravo to your note on “invigorating the U.S. Auto Industry”. I, too, remember my Mom sewing on my badges late at night after my attempts were, shall we say, less than stellar!
    Great tutorial, bravo!!!

  6. I have made a good deal of money sewing on badges for other people. Even at 50 cents a badge, it adds up! The only ones I sewed by hand were the ones on the pockets so the boys could have their pockets free. I used invisible thread on the top and matched the thread to the shirt on the bottom.

  7. I’ve been sewing on badges this way for almost 10 years. I don’t worry about the bobbin thread. Sometimes I use the color of the vest in the bobbin. Other times, I just use whatever happens to be in the machine. It’s not easy to pin them in place, either, so I use masking tape instead of pins. I’ve taught my Girl Scouts how to sew their own on my machine.
    My father sewed on his own Boy Scout badges by hand because he said his mother wasn’t as accurate with the placement!

  8. I staple the badges and patches onto the vest while I (hand)sew them then take out the staples when finished. Staples are easier than pins and they hold the badges/patches in place really well.

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