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DESPERATE! Sewing on patches!

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I've tried handsewing patches and they look awful. I've also tried glue and bonding materials but those ruined his shirt. I have a nice sewing machine but haven't a clue on what size needle and what settings to put the machine on. I've tried before and the needle gets stuck in the thick patch or worse...breaks! I have to redo my kids whole shirt and I want to make it look nice.

you can send me an email directly since i'm in a hurry!!



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I've tried machine sewing in the past. A largish needle and more of a basting stitch are best. But, I've never really liked the effort it took to constantly turn the shirt to sew on a small round patch (think merit badges).


I don't like the way the badge bond and glue leave residues on the shirts either, so I still hand sew everything. You can use a slip stitch just pulling the needle through the underside of the edge of the patches. It will catch the threads on the border and won't be at all visible on the top. Also, much easier than trying to force the needle through and whole patch.


To keep the patches straight, I make a stitch at the top, run the thread behind the patch to the bottom, and make another stitch. Then it will stay in place while I slip stitch all the way around.



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Many tailor/alteration shops will sew on patchs for a small fee. Or maybe a neighbor has this skill in exchange for you watching the toddlers for an evening.


If you want to do it yourself, I suggest first positioning each patch with several safety pins so it won't shift. Take your time and be careful of that needle!



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I use a sewing machine with great results. I've never had problems with it. I can't say anything about the needle, it's whatever is on the machine.


I staple the patches onto the shirt before sewing them. It's quick and seems to work really well.


The only patch we hand sew is the Boy Scout and oval Webelos rank patches. That is so the pocket is still usable. Like gwd-scouter states, for hand sewing, just put the needle through the edge of the patch, that way you don't have to push the needle through the patch.



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I hand sew all the patches on my uniform, because I don't know how to use a machine.


The local scout shops will sew the patches on, for a per-patch charge.


I find that stapling them to the shirt works better then using pins.


Also, I always find that going thru the patch between the border and patch works fine. I get little resistance.


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Use a "standard" sewing machine needle, medium sized (10 or 12 in American sizes; 70 or 80 in Europian sizes), and 6-8 stitches per inch. This is a bit wider stitch than for sewing most clothing, which is typically 10-12 spi. A basting stitch is usually 4 spi.


For smaller patches its not uncommon to run the machine almost entirely by hand, unless the machine has a very low-speed setting (a great feature to look for).


For patches I will usually use transparent tape (Scotch tape) in an X-pattern to fasten the patch to the cloth while sewing. The stiches perforate the tape and make it fairly easy to remove when finished sewing. I find pins just don't work well for patches, since they are so thick.


Patches on shirt pockets are my nemesis. I really don't like to sew pockets shut, so I'm forced to sew these by hand. I've heard of people who take the the pockets off of the shirt, sew on the patch, and then resew the pocket back onto the shirt. The problem with that is that I've yet to find thread close enough to the "official" uniform color at my local fabric shop.

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When I made Tenderfoot and came home from camp with my first merit badges, Rowing and Basketry, my Mom handed me a needle and thread and said, "it's time for you to learn how to do this."


Been hand sewing my own stuff ever since. I did machine sew all my knots on a new shirt once, but constantly changing colors on the bobbin was a pain. It's a great summer camp project for those "dead times" when you need something to do.


I sat an Eagle Board last night as the District rep. The Eagle candidate had one of the best assempled and pressed uniforms I had ever seen. When questioned about it, he admitted his Dad, a Naval Officer did it for him. I'm more impressed by a less-than-perfect uniform knowing that the Scout did it himself.


"Never do anything that a Scout can do"

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Cub Scouts - have parents or other adults or older siblings do the sewing.


Boy Scouts - I agree with scoutldr (or should I say B-P), "Never do anything that a Scout can do." Of course, being a Scouter, I have my wife do the sewing for my Scout shirt!


Seriously, I've done some of the sewing and do it all by hand. I just take a few extra needles to pin the patch, find matching thread and make do.

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I cheat and have the Korean Lady down the shopping center from my shop sew on my patches-and have the shirts laundered with heavy starch there also. Cheap and looks good!


I've recently lost a lot of weight, so also had her alter my shirts-now fit me instead of being really baggy!


Tried sewing my stripes etc on my Uniforms when I was in the Air Force; even though I "Did My Best", results weren't that good!


As a Scouter, not much gets changed on my uniforms, so it's not that big of an expence. A scout on the other hand with his rank changeing often might be different!

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What works best for me:


1. Sew on a machine, practically moving it my hand. My hands cramp very quickly if trying to hand-sew (my mom taught me to do both kinds of sewing when I was about 6th grade - even made some of my own shirts back then, which became the subject of taunting in later years - but that's OK).


2. Staple the patches in place. No residue to remove, easy to change. East to see if it "looks" straight before you begin sewing. I use 2 staples on a MB or square knot, 4 staples on just about everything else. Staples are easily pried loose with a seam ripper (don't use a staple remover, because you'll catch patch threads).


3. Use transparent thread for the top stitch. Don't try to go fast, and it won't break too easily. Eliminates the need to match thread colors and is virtually invisible. Also saves the cost of buying 20 different colors of thread (been there, done that -- a scout is thrifty!). The bobbin color doesn't matter since it's not seen. Transparent thread comes in "light" and "dark" shades. The light one seems to hide better for scout patches.


4. I sew directly through the border of the badge. That way they stay flat and make a neater appearance. The border will have a "crease" where the stitching is, but it's hard to see unless you look closely.


5. Use a fairly long stitch length - maybe 1/8" to 3/16" long. Any shorter and they're hard to remove if you find you made a mistake. Too long, they show up more.


6. For pockets, my wife hand-sews since I can't manage it any more.


Glues never work. They let go in the wash, leave residue, and are just plain lousy in my opinion.(This message has been edited by oldsm)

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I sew all the patches in our family, for for different people. I actually like to sew, and get it to look good. I've developed a collection of matching threads, so nothing shows.


I don't staple, I use duct tape cut in half, and then X'ed across the patch, I remove it as I go, never had any residue, except for the used shirt, where someone duct taped, underneath the patch.


I don't like pockets either, I solved the problem a bit, by using a cardboard insert, so that I don't have to stick my hand in all the time. The needle hits the cardboard and skates across it. Takes a bit of work, but some angles are really hard in pockets.


What I hate are the "segmented" year patches, the pieces never look all that great. I only know that no matter how uneven our are, there are others that are worse.

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You can get excellent results from hand-sewing. Secure the patch with a safety pin, use thread that matches or blends in with the patch background, and keep the stitches close together for a tight fit.


I have two uniform shirts one with hand-sewn patches and the other by sewing machine. Unless you take a close look, you cant tell the difference.


Whatever you do, avoid badge magic. Initially it will look fine, but the patches will eventually peal off and leave a residue on the uniform that cannot be removed.

(This message has been edited by Jeffrey H)

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I remember a few years back a bunch of posts about sewing on pockets - my favorite reply was to hand the boy a needle and thread. I've seen pretty sloppy results of this, but it IS his shirt/sash, and it shows responsibility. Why don't we make sewing one of the FIRST requirements for Tenderfoot?


I don't like sloppy patches, so here's what I do:


1. I always staple. As noted by others, it's easy to remove, change, reposition, no residue, etc.


2. I use the machine only when the fabric is flat - e.g. sash or above pocket. I use the same size needle for everything, and it's never broken, so my guess is that it's fairly medium sized. Sometimes I sew right through the patch's border, sometimes just inside of it. I haven't used clear thread in years - when I tried it ages ago, it tended to slip (too plastic-y) and/or get snagged in the machine. Maybe it's gotten better.


3. I almost always sew by hand, despite arthritis in thumbs, using an easy and nearly invisible (!) stitch suggested by a poster - Uncle Guinea (sp?) - years ago. Here's how:


a. Use a moderately sturdy long-ish needle and shirt-colored or sash-colored thread (it doesn't need to match the patch because it will not show)


b. Staple the patch with at least 2-3 staples so it won't shift


c. Knot the thread, and UNDER the patch about 1/4" or so in from the edge, take a stitch from the front of the fabric down through the back of the fabric, leaving the knot between patch and fabric.


d. Make a tiny stitch and come back up through the fabric ONLY


e. use the needle to grab a few threads from the BACK of the EDGE of the patch, parallel to the edge of the patch, pull through, and then go back down through the fabric.


f. Come back up ONLY through the fabric, very close to where you went down, i.e. with a tiny stitch.


g. BETWEEN the patch and the fabric, move a good distance - maybe a 1/2 " - and repeat e. and f. What you're doing is stitching through the back of the patch and taking tiny stitches through the fabric, but spacing them fairly well apart so you don't need too many (it won't gap)


h. when done, take a few tiny stitches under the edge of the patch, pulling the thread through them a few times so it knots, cut the thread, and poke any excess under the patch.


i. pry the staples off.


Now you have NO stitches on the front of the patch, TINY stitches on the back of the patch and through the shirt, and a relatively long space in between those tiny stitches, with all the thread hidden between the patch and the shirt.


Once I started doing it this way I stuck to it - it works great, and is easier to sit on my couch and do that than bothering with the machine.









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