Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My DIY Merit Badges Tote Bag

Although my Girl Scout days ended decades ago, I still love the idea of earning and displaying merit badges.  So I made myself a merit badges tote bag: 

I was going to be lazy and just sew badges on to the front side of the bag, but I went overboard when I ordered the badges.  So now both sides of my tote declare my commitment to nerdiness:

I tried to only use badges that I have legitimately "earned" at some point in my lifetime.  The etiquette badge is questionable since I still struggle with utensils at restaurants, but I did attend cotillion lessons for two years. 

I don't think I've ever attended a "Pizza Party," but I have eaten a lot of pizza and can make a damn good pizza from scratch.  Besides, every merit badges tote bag needs some pizza!

My claim to the laser tag badge is tenuous at best.  I played laser tag once, for about 30 seconds, at Universal Studios in the 80s.  Also, I knew a kid named Michael who had his own laser tag gear, with all the equipment.  But Michael was a little prick and just taunted me with the fact that he had laser tag gear and I did not.  Is is possible to earn a badge by coveting someone else's toys?

I chose the hay ride badge for two reasons: (1) I recall at least one hay ride from my early years (I just remember the hay was scratchy and uncomfortable); and (2) it's tough to tell in the photo, but there's a pumpkin on top of the hay.  Since my blog is The Cranky Pumpkin, obviously I needed at least one pumpkin on my tote.

I bought my badges from here and will use them again if I want more patches.  In fact, I already want more badges!  They have a new gardening badge THAT I MUST OWN.  (What else can I make with merit badges??)

I agonized over the tote bag and spent weeks looking everywhere for the perfect one.  I wanted a bag with exterior pockets and handles large enough to go over my arm (I hate bags with short dinky straps).  I went with this bag but it's currently unavailable on Amazon.  Shit.  Why didn't I buy more bags when I had the chance?

Then I just hand sewed the badges on with needle and embroidery thread. I have a huge stash of DMC embroidery thread from a cross-stitching phase, so I was usually able to match the thread to the badge.  But I wanted the bag to look homemade and a little tragic, so I did not worry about matching thread colors or making pretty stitches.

I stabbed myself with my needle about 82 times while making this bag.  The 82nd stabbing hurt just as much as the first.  I tried using a thimble, but thimbles are for wimps.  

My tote bag has exterior pockets, and the bottom two rows of badges are sewed on to the pockets.  I accidentally sewed the pockets shut about eleven or twelve times, because I was paying too much attention to the television. 

If anyone asks me about the tote bag, I could just tell them that I really like merit badges.  But maybe I'll invent a club, like The Society of Recreational Education.  That sounds much more legitimate and impressive than "I really like merit badges."