This is a project I’ve had in mind for awhile and finally got around to completing it this week. It was born out of the high levels of self-congratulation I feel when I do something responsible, like going to the grocery store when I’d rather be reading a book or making a week of dinners without ordering out once. Sadly, no one seems to give out gold stars for being an adult and doing the boring, responsible tasks that are necessary to keep life going. These grown-up merit badges are for my sisters-in-law, who both work from home while taking care of 3 young children (they would both say that their job is being a mom and they happen to do a little work on the side, but seriously, they both work like crazy and take care of the children). They deserve way more than a merit badge.
I made the merit badges on a Brother digital embroidery machine at the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab. The images are from a google icon set, that I made into badges in photoshop. There is not yet open source software for digital embroidery machines, so the staff at the Fab Lab helped me convert my jpeg into a vector image that could then be imported into SewArt which creates the embroidery file.
Once the badges were stitched, I cut them out and added a layer of Heat’n Bond to the back so they could be ironed on to…I don’t know what, but it seemed like the right thing to do. I also put a layer of Fray Check on the outline so I could comfortably cut close to the stitching. To finish the presentation, I remembered that I had seen, in a batch of ephemera, some cards that Boy Scout merit badges were presented with. I did a little googling, and found these that I based my presentation cards on.
Once I had my images created (which took the most time, both in moving from idea to actual assembly in photoshop and converting to an embroidery pattern), the digital embroidery machine was very easy to use. Each color change was prompted by the machine and the only real work I had to do was to thread the machine multiple times. This design is simple, compared to what the machines are capable of and is only just a beginning.