Sayonara, Patches!

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As I’m writing this I’m also rejoicing.  Because I just finished ironing and sewing on the last two patches onto Emily’s Brownie sash.  At least, I’m hoping and praying that they were the last.  I’m really not sure what I’m going to do if they weren’t her last – partly because there isn’t room for any more patches on the back, and partly because these patches have been more trouble to put on than they were for her to earn.

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Let me tell you – if you are thinking of getting your daughter into Girl Scouts, be ready for the patches.  (And for cookie selling time, but that’s another story).  I was a Girl Scout when I was Emily’s age (yay Troop #202!), and I honestly have some awesome memories from those years.  Girl Scouts can be an incredibly rewarding, confidence-building, friendship-creating, and educational experience.  But the patches! I’m impressed that my mom got as many patches on my sash as she did… especially since I’m pretty sure they weren’t offering the iron-on patches 25 years ago.  My patches didn’t all make it onto my sash though, and the ones that didn’t were kept in a little pink cylindrical container in the sewing table drawer.  As I grew, I’d stumble upon that container from time to time, and each time I’d wonder why those patches never made it onto my sash.

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Now I know.

The first step to putting Girl Scout patches onto the sash (or vest) is figuring out where the dumb things are supposed to go.  There are different types of patches, and some have very designated places where they are supposed to be applied.  The Girl Scout website has a few helpful images, but there are tons of patches that have absolutely no indication of where to go on the sash/vest.  It can get a bit infuriating, and inevitably you end up just picking a place that looks right and pray that you haven’t made a crazy mistake.  I’ve since learned that I have, indeed, placed some patches incorrectly.

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The second step is determining if the patch is iron-on or sew-on.  I wish I could help you here, but I pretty much try to iron everything on, and if it refuses to stick I sew it. Some come in a package that tells you (hooray), but some were given to Emily from her troop leader sans package (boo).  And I swear, some are supposed to be iron-on but refuse to stick and so they become sew-on by default.  Not that it matters, because iron-ons tend to lift off over time, requiring you to sew them anyway.  Grrrrrrr.

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Ironing on is pretty basic, but can be time consuming if you include the time it takes to get out the ironing board and supplies, wait for the iron to heat up, iron on the patch, and clean everything up.  The actual ironing-on itself takes less than 5 minutes, and it involves heating the sash, ironing on the patch with a cloth over it, ironing the back of the patch through the sash, and then ironing the front of the patch again.  I follow the steps pretty religiously, and my patches seem to stay on better than most.

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Sewing on is a bit tougher, but costs about as much time as ironing.  I’ve accumulated a huge stash of cross-stitch floss over the years, and I just try to find a color that matches the outside edge of the patch, knot the end of it, and work a straight stitch around the edges.  It’s quick work, but the patches are thick and I’ve had sore fingers afterward.  I need a thimble.

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But no matter how the patches went on, they are all little badges of honor reflecting the year my daughter has adventured through with her friends.  As proud as I am of myself, I’m mighty proud of her as well.

Despite all the fun she’s had, this was her last year as a Girl Scout.  Emily is ready to try a new activity next school year, and we are eager to see how these experiences with her little troop will help her blossom in the future. Whatever her future holds though, I can guarantee it will include a Brownie sash full of patches lovingly tucked into a drawer somewhere.

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