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."