How to make your own merit badges

Bear with me as I have never done a ‘how to’ before but I figured this one was easy enough and pretty fun… I’m making these for Christmas gifts.

You will need:
Plain backing fabric
sharp pencil
embroidery threads
needle
sharp fabric scissors
felt for backing
iron on interfacing
brooch backs
ideas for designs!

Step one, get some plain fabric for the base of the badges. I tend to use unbleached cotton calico because that’s how I roll, it’s good to iron it first. Using a nice sharp pencil draw some circles on the backing fabric – you can do freehand or draw around the bottom of a bottle or a small jar lid, whatever you want. You can also make other shapes but they’re a little more difficult to bind.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

These will be your badges. Using your sharp pencil draw your designs inside the circles. I like to use words a lot, as you can see. In this example I’m making a bulk lot but you can make just one to start off with.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Now, thread your needle with a couple of strands of embroidery thread (two if you want a fine line like mine, three if you want it thicker). Using a small stitch, follow the lines you’ve drawn – I use a connected chain stitch kind of thing but you can just as easily do backstitch.

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Once you’ve completed the embroidery to your liking (different colours for different bits, etc, then it’s time to assemble the badge. Iron the interfacing first to the back of the embroidered fabric and then onto the backing felt. Interfacing is available at spotlight or any fabric store, you don’t need fancy stuff, just the paper backed cheap version is fine.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Cut out the badges with sharp scissors, following the lines you initially made. They look really great at this stage, I think. You’re getting there!

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Using two threads in whatever colour will complement your badge, sew around the outside of the badge. I go a few millimetres in on the top and use that as a guide. This step binds the layers of the badge together, so it’s important. You don’t have to be too precise though, getting it all perfectly alligned and ensuring no glimpse of fabric between stitches makes this part very time consuming. I tend to go quicker – a bit of imperfection gives it character.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Once you’ve gone right round the outside of the badge, sew on the brooch back. I use around three stitches on each side of each hole on the brooch back is enough, but you want to ensure that it’s secure when you tug on it. Knot the thread securely and cut off any stray bits.

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You’re done! Look how fantastic it looks!

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

jennitalula merit badges

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