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Sewing Patches on Uniforms

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The POR patches drive me crazy! Boys leave the old ones on and take forever to put the new one on. Velcro might be OK if it is Khaki. I did that for my Webelos DL/ASM patches but it is not so great. The new "smokes" pocket is a great disincentive to getting the patches on. - Tampa Turtle


Uniform inspections as part of a patrol competition can work well with Scouts. Peer pressure in such occasions is a key factor. As a Troop Committee member, I ask Scouts about wearing incorrect patches during Boards of Review when discussing Scout Spirit. Some other may not think such things are important, but paying attention to details is a good leadership skill in my book. For all the Board knows, the Scout before us could one day be a civil engineer needing to determine if a bridge is safe or a scientist trying to develop a safe vaccine. Plant the seeds now.


However, I have had one offs here and there too. The excuse is usually "My mom (or wife as Scouters use this excuse as well) didn't have time to sew on the new one yet." I then retell the Scout or Scouter the following story:


When I was a Second Class Scout, I had three patches that I needed (wanted) my mother to sew onto my uniform: my new Second Class badge and a different temporary patch as well as a pie segment. I bugged her constantly to sew on the patches usually when she was in the middle of doing something that as the time I considered less important than my Scout uniform such as cooking dinner or washing clothes. She finally looked at me and said, "What was that I heard that older boy say after your meeting the other day when I picked you up? Oh yeah, never do for a Scout what he can do for himself!" She then threw my uniform shirt at me and said, "I'm done! You can sew your own patches on your shirt from now on!" I started to whine that I didn't know how to sew. Her reply over her shoulder as she walked out of the room was "Figure it out; it's not brain surgery."


Well I figured it out and thirty years later I still sew on my own patches. I pass on my mother's tough love lesson differently nowadays in that I will show Scouts and Scouters how to sew a basic stitch that they can use to put the correct patches on their uniforms. I then follow up with the Scouts or Scouters. The usual time frame is about two weeks because the first week excuses change 99% of the time to "I didn't have any time." I usually then discuss with the Scout or Scouter about how much time it takes to sew on a patch and they usually arrive as the same conclusion that I have; the reason is not lack of time but generally lack of motivation.


The other excuse I sometimes get is that the "mother (or wife) doesn't want him to sew because he will mess it up!" I will always call a Scout or Scouter on this one. For Scouts, I'd said, "Scouts on the trail to Eagle have to do some pretty challenging things and you are telling me that your mom does not have enough confidence in you to hold or pin a patch in place so that you can use a threaded needle to go down, over, up, down, over, up (I do the sewing motion with my hands) until done?" I suggest the Scout talk with his mom or dad or somebody else about showing me how to sew on the patch.


Another reply I use if I know the Scout has Totin Chip is to ask, "So let me get this right. You know how to safely use a knife, an axe, and a saw; however, you can't use a needle. Do I have that correct?" The Scout usually grins and gets it done.


As for Scouters who try the "wife won't let me sew" excuse, I tell them flat out they are just plain lazy! I tell them, "Look, if my wife said that to me, I would take it as a challenge to my manhood that I could not handle such a simple task and I would prove her wrong." I also add in that a good leader sets the good example. If the Scouter is going to be lazy about something, then he/she can not get on the Scouts for the same thing.


That's what has worked for me. Maybe something like this can help you.


Good luck,

Chazz Lees

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Your mom's story is similar to mine. Except I was Webelos, she had just finished sewing on a temp patch abotu 10 mintues before the Pack meeting, and I cut off the patch atthe pack meeting and ask her to sew on the new one I got.


I learned to sew real fast ;)


When I have done district level uniform inspections, in my old council it was a once a year event, and with my current one it's done at camporee as an event, I always bring sewing kit, including scissors and/or seam ripper, so that folks can fix things prior to the inspection.


Back in the day, if we had the incorrect POR on, points were deducted from our inspection score at the troop's weekely inspection. It was part of the honor patrol award, and sometimes inspection scores were the deciding factor.


An aside. I remember one camporee that had a troop merge several patrols together, basically creating a "ringer" patrol of all older scouts. They got nailed on the uniform inspection b/c they had 2 or 3 PLs, APls and about 3 or 4 different patrol medallions on. they were given the chance to fix the problem prior to the inspection, and wouldn't do it. No reason was given, but me thinks they didn't want to resew the stuff back on once the weekend was over.

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I have purchased a number of old MBs and saches as part of my collection, and most are sewn "Frankenstein style" from the old time sashes (1911 to 1940s). Modern sewing machines and helicopter parents (and the lack of a sewing MB) have led us to let others do for us instead of doing ourself.

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If one is careful with the backing they should not have bleeding fingers. I sew on patches all the time and have never used a thimble.


I sew the wrap threads on the edge of the patch rather than through the patch itself.


First stitch into the threads to hide the knot.


Second stitch: While holding/pinned patch go down into the shirt right were the knot is and then diagonally under the shirt coming back up further down the edge catching 2-3 patch threads.


Third stitch. Go down into the shirt right were the needle came up, a tad under the patch to hide the thread, go diagonally down the patch coming back up and catching 2-3 threads of the patch.


Once you get all the way around the patch, then tuck the knot thread under the patch and finish up with the down/diagonal/catch method described.


If done correctly one cannot tell the patch is sewn on unless they look on the inside of the shirt.


One never has to push the thread through any plastic backing using this method.





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when my son and a few of his buddies switched troops I bought them the correct numbers to switch to and had them all sew. out of the 4 only 1 would not have to be redone... the other 3 had really messed up... but it was something I felt important for them to do.


my son has terrible small motor skills, and while sewing would be a great way for him to work on improving it I don't think a BSA uniform and sash that he wants to look good is the right place for him to do it.


key for me with a boy in BSA and a girl in GSUSA is that as soon as they get a patch that needs sewn on I do it as soon as we get home. for temporary patches he has a couple plastic sleeve deals that he can pick from to wear, but now that he has a philmont patch he doesn't want to wear any others. so all the others from cubs through BSA I sewn onto a summer camp blanket that he hangs in his room.

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I've sewn pockets shut, I've sewn sleeves shut, I've even sewn patch, shirt and the pants I'm wearing together. :)


For pockets, put a small notebook in the pocket before trying to sew. No needle is going to go through to the shirt. For sleeves, roll up a 8 1/2" X 12" notebook and slide down the sleeve before sewing. For patch/shirt/pants combo, quit watching TV, get off the sofa and sew at the table where you're supposed to be in the first place. :)



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Whoa there Eagle92!


Cut the pants off and leave them unhemmed until you get home. :)


Blow out the crotch? Well, that's a gotta-do-right-away. :)


As a side note... When I started a Civil War Reenacting Venturing Crew a number of years back, the first thing I taught the boys was to sew. Hardly an event goes by that someone isn't sitting around the campfire with spectators all around sewing something back together. I have a home-spun shirt so rag-tag and cobbled together that other reenactors have offered me up to $75 to sell it to them. The worse the shirt gets, the more valuable it is. :) The real challenge is sewing your shoes back together to get cha through the weekend! Duct tape isn't period correct!


My original scout shirt still has a 1993 temporary patch on it, but it doesn't look as bad as my CW shirt. Close, but not as bad. :)



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