Thursday, October 30, 2014

9 Tips for Sewing on Cub Scout Patches

I don't really enjoy doing extra-fine motor types of activities such as sewing by hand.  It's always been somewhat difficult for me.

When my older son joined Cub Scouts last year, it was during a time period when my infant son could not be put down.  So, I sewed the patches on whilst holding a baby on my lap, which was kind of exciting, because I was doing something productive while holding him.  However, it was pretty brutal.

A couple weeks ago, I needed to sew on some new patches, because we moved over the summer, so I updated the council, the pack number, and the den number.  After spending 45 minutes on the den patch, I knew I needed to do something different.  So, I searched around for some online tips, and I came up with one idea of my very own.

My hope is that if you are having a not so fun time at sewing on your scout patches, these tips will help you, so you don't have to resort to paying someone to sew them on.

1) Don't aim for perfection.  If your stitches are not the same size, or if you have a bit of a mess on the back side of the shirt, don't worry.  I doubt anyone will notice but you.  The goal is to add the patches so that they look pretty good and will stay affixed.

2) This was a game changer for me:  Use a curved upholstery needle. 

I recently had to mend the binding on a rug, so I bought a few upholstery needles.  While working on the rug, I wondered if a curved needle would be useful for sewing on Cub Scout patches...  Yes, it is!  I used a smaller/medium sized curved needle for the patches.  You can use trial and error to choose the best size for you.  If someone out there is good at physics, maybe you can explain why the curved needle is so much easier than the straight one for thick materials.  All I know is that your fingers will thank you!

3) Use a straight pin to hold the patch in place before you start to sew.  You may need to adjust the patch as you tack it on, but this will help immensely.  

4) Do NOT attempt to iron on the patch.  There is some type of plastic on the back, but the patches are not "iron on."  If you use an iron to try to apply the patches to the shirt, it will create a sticky substance that will not come off the shirt very easily if you have to remove/replace patches.  I say this from experience.

5) Similar to #4, do NOT use a patch adhesive (such as Badge Magic) that is available in stores.  It may make applying the patches a little easier, but it is said that it's not easy/impossible to remove.

6) When adding the pack numbers, first pin the numbers together, and then sew them together.  

If you have a sewing machine, you may be able to use this.  I did it by hand, and it made it worlds easier to sew them all onto the shirt sleeve.  This site gave me the idea.

7) Do NOT double your thread.  That was a mistake I was making.  You only need a single thickness of thread.  Doubling it creates more room for error.  Thank you to commenter, LT, on this site for the idea.

8) If you need an idea of how to start your thread and finish it off after you are done sewing, here is a pictorial.

9) If you aren't sure where to place the patches, this site or this site can link you to some guides.

Now I feel much more confident that I can sew on any future patches without it taking an eternity and without having a nervous breakdown.  I hope you find these tips helpful, as well.  If you have any additional tips to share, please add them in the comments section!  

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