Introduction: DIY Hand Embroidered Medal Patches

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If you're having a bad day/week/month/year, maybe what you need is a little recognition or encouragement in your life? These hand embroidered medal patches are perfect for silly accomplishments and compliments! :D

In this instructable, I'll teach you how to make your own embroidered medals! I've also included a free PDF pattern of five different hand drawn medal patches so you can pick and choose your favorite medal shapes.

Not sure how to embroider? I can teach you in both instructable and class form!

To learn more about the stitches I use in this project, check out my Hand Embroidery Class! I'll teach you everything I know about choosing embroidery floss and fabrics, making patterns, transferring patterns, finishing embroideries and more. :D

Step 1: Tools + Materials

What you'll need:

  • craft felt - white and colors you like!
  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery needles
  • scissors
  • sewing pins
  • Fabri-Tac glue
  • safety pins or pin backs for attaching the medals
  • embroidery hoop
  • water soluble pen
  • cool water and a clean, dry towel for removing ink
  • PDF medal pattern (attached below)

Because felt is stiffer and does not fray like woven fabric, it's fairly easy to embroider on a piece of felt without a hoop! However, I admit I much prefer embroidering on felt in a hoop. Embroidering with the hoop goes much faster because you won't have to worry as much about the tension of the floss.

I'm using a 5x9 inch embroidery hoop because it allows me to embroider multiple medals at once. A six or eight inch hoop will fill the same role if you don't have an oval hoop.

About the water soluble pen: this is my preferred way to create the text and other designs on the medals. We'll be washing the ink out later!

Step 2: Transferring the Pattern on Light Felt

This ended up being my preferred way of making these: using light felt, tracing the patterns, and embroidering the medals using a hoop.

Place a piece of felt in an embroidery hoop and tighten the felt gently. Felt is easy to stretch too much!

Once it's tightly in the hoop, place the cut out medal patterns on top and trace with a water soluble pen.

Step 3: Transferring the Pattern on Dark Felt

On dark felt, you can't really see marks from the water soluble pen. Instead, we'll pin the pattern to the felt and cut it out!

Once the shape is cut out, you can embroider on it as normal.

Step 4: Embroidering the Medals

Start by trying to define the outline of the medal and then fill in detail! The only caveat here is to leave a little room between your stitches and the edge of the medal so you can cut them out! The medals seem to look best with lots of tiny stitches and colors.

I tried to use really simple stitches for this: straight, stem, running, chain, backstitch. Treat it like doodling and have fun with the colors. :D

Once I defined the outlines of the medals and filled them in a bit, I started to focus on the text. You can probably see that the text on the light medals is better, while the text on the dark medals is a little wonky.

You can use the water soluble pen to help draw out a path on the light felt for text, but you'll need to wing it on the dark felt!

Step 5: Remove the Ink and Dry the Medals

Once your medals are all stitched, you'll want to remove an excess water soluble ink. If your felt is in a hoop, remove it from the hoop before you do anything else!

This is easily accomplished using some cool water. Submerge your embroidered felt in a bowl of cool water or run it under the faucet. The blue marks will disappear almost instantly.

(Be very gentle with the felt when it's wet, especially if you're rinsing any darker medals that have been cut to shape already.)

Once that's done, lay the felt on a dry clean towel. Fold the towel over the felt and press well with your hands.

Felt takes several hours to dry, so you need to remove as much water as possible now to speed it up.

Once you've pressed the felt to remove most of the water, hang it up or lay it on a flat surface to dry the rest of the way. I normally allow this to happen overnight, as I am always surprised at how long it remains wet. :P

Step 6: Cutting the Medals Out

If you embroidered the medals on light felt, you'll want to cut them out after washing.

Use a pair of sharp scissors to cut all around the medals and remove them from the larger sheet of felt. You'll use the extra felt to back your medals!

Trim around each medal, fairly close to the stitches.

Step 7: Backing the Medals

I recommend backing the medals with a piece of felt to secure the stitching on the back and make them a little more rigid.

I always use Fabri-Tac glue for this - it's my absolute favorite fabric glue and the only one I ever use. It dries completely clear and fuses really well, so it's perfect for felt patches!

I like to use the scraps of felt from other projects for this. It's a good way to use op scraps!

Apply glue liberally to the back of the medal, concentrating especially on the edges. Press the glued medal down onto a piece of backing felt. Make sure the medal is flat and properly stretched and that it looks nice.

Pay close attention to any corners or sharp points and get them glued down.

Once that's done, leave the glue to dry for a bit. :)

Step 8: Finishing the Medals

After the glue is dry, trim the medals one last time. Apply extra glue to any edges that aren't secure.

Yay! You're done. :D