Monday, October 28, 2013

Custom Badges and Patches

As my regular readers know, I'm not one for throwing something away if I can mend it. When Little Miss got a dime sized hole in her otherwise new and unblemished coat, it didn't occur to me to toss it. I wanted to make a nice patch for it to cover it up!
You can buy patches and badges at most craft stores and even big box stores like Target and Walmart, but they can be pricey. They can be generic. They can be... mundane. And perhaps you want something unique, or something you can't find at a store? Badges, decals, patches, whatever you want to call them, are extremely simple to make, actually!
Please consider my heartfelt apology for these awful photos. My camera is missing and I'm not sure if a child made off with it or if I'm just too scatter-brained these days to remember where I left it... so my phone camera made due.

  • First things first, get some supplies and make your design. A plain cotton muslin makes a fine base. You want something that won't be too thick to trace an image through or too rigid to easily sew into.
  • A 4” embroidery hoop.
  • Small sharps (needles) with small eyes, better to use those specific for needlepoint.
  • Cotton embroidery floss in all of the colors you'll likely use.
If you can't freehand your image, you're perfectly fine to trace it. You can look for an image to use on any search engine or even a childs coloring book. My girl wanted Cinderella for her patch and it was easy enough to find a suitable image to draw from.
Next, you simply fill in the lines with your thread. Separate the floss and use two strands of it at a time. Beginning at the top of the section you're filling in, begin making vertical stitches, about half a centimeter apart. You'll want to stagger the length and do one short and one long. Keep all of your stitches parallel to each other. You will get an evenly filled section by keeping your stitches going in the same direction. Once you have finished the top row, leaving small gaps between stitches, go back and fill those ones in. Again, be sure to stagger the length of your stitches.

This technique is called long and short stitch and Satin Stitch embroidery and it has so many uses!

Here is an excellent tutorial to show you how to do the Long and Short stitch.

Once you've completed one row, you go into that row ever so slightly to begin your next row. You'll not only be staggering the length of your stitches now, you'll be going into that upper row at varying heights so as to keep the entire section free from ridges.

A few tips:

  • You want to keep your stitches taught, but don't pull them so tightly that they pull and pucker the fabric. Don't use too much force.
  • Pack your stitches in to fill in any holes, but be careful not to bulk them up too much that they are laying on top of one another.
  • Try not to rub the stitches to fray them. 
  • Don't use damp or wet thread. If your thread gets wet, replace it.
  • Don't use bulky knots. When starting a new thread, pull the thread most of the way through the fabric and sew a couple of little sideways stitches, one on top of the other to secure it and then cut off the tail. These two little stitches will be covered over by your fill-in stitches.

After the badge was complete, I cut around the edges and tucked them under. I then loosely hand sewed the badge to the front of the coat. Using the color I selected for my edging (pink) I used a button hole stitch going from inside to outside, to cover the entire edge of the patch and secure it to the coat.

Here are some other badges and embroidered items I have made recently. They're good not only for covering up a blemish on an otherwise fine article of clothing, but you can make them in any genre or theme. You see I like the Kansas City Chiefs! And I've also made one for the New Orleans Saints, though I haven't finished the sweatband I'm knitting to put it on. I am also making some Christmas Tree Ornaments for some friends which use a satin stitch design on the front.

Here are some older examples of what I've done with satin stitch embroidery. I sewed my daughter a dress and embroidered a beautiful butterfly motif on it.

I've even embroidered my grandparents portraits into a pillow as a gift for my father.

There you have it! It looks time consuming, but it goes more quickly than you'd think. It's not difficult, but it takes a bit of practice getting those stitches to look uniform. You can do some beautiful work though! I've had it in my head for a while to do a large long and short and satin stitch design for a wall hanging, but I just don't seem to have the time these days. I'll set that on the idea shelf and one of these days I hope I get to it!