►Summer camp was coming up and we needed to do two things: 1. Make a flag 2. get neckerchiefs for the boys.
The scout store was no longer nearby and the neckerchiefs were expensive. They were also too small for our need, so we got a little creative. My wife helped the troop choose the colors, another parent stitched the edges and my son & I handled the graphics.
How are we involved? Why are we doing this?: My son is 14 years old and is an active participant in the Boy Scouts of America program. My wife and I help whenever we can. Many other great families contribute as well to this group locally and we feel it is a worthwhile program for young men. My dad always said that if you keep a young man busy, he can't get into too much trouble. I encourage all youth to involve their families in their activities and interests and for parents to be apart of their children's lives.
DESIGN NOTES & FYI: We made these from a black cotton/poly blend fabric. I designed the graphics in Adobe Illustrator (file available if you desire it). I then used a vinyl cutter to cut the designs out of colored iron-on athletic jersey vinyl. This stuff is a very thin film that is backed by a clear plastic heat-resistant sheet. Simply peel away the unnecessary vinyl, flip and iron. The stuff won't come off even if it's abused--so it's a great idea for this project. Another parent & friend (name withheld for privacy) created the beautiful edging that you see on these neckerchiefs. It was done with a serger machine using red thread.
What we used:
- Black cotton/poly blend fabric cut to a triangle with two short sides of between 34" - 35 " and a long side of ~ 53"- 54"
- Vinyl Iron-On Athletic Jersey Film
- Vinyl Cutter & Vector Graphics Program (Adobe Illustrator, InkScape, ..etc)
- Iron on HIGH-heat setting with absolutely no steam (best not to have water in the iron at all for this project)
- fabric tape measure
- Meter-long aluminum straight-edge/ruler to guide the cutting of the fabric pattern
- a pizza-cutter style fabric knife
- Red Cotton Thread
- Did I mention Patience?
- You will need an extra hand or two on this (scout buddy system!) or it will take yet even more time
Step 1: Design the Graphics
- The troop number
- The location of the troop (home city usually)
- Some animal or icon that represents their goals (in our case a war eagle - for eagle scout)
- Boy scout motto, slogan or a troop/patrol chant
►What is the process? In a vector graphics program (I used Illustrator) we need to layout the text and graphics. This is then saved to a postscript file and imported into the vinyl cutting software that came with my cutter. I then cut the design out onto the colored vinyl. I have an article that I wrote earlier about vinyl graphics and that process, you can check it out here: https://www.instructables.com/id/-Personalize-Your-Hobby-or-Work-Area-with-a-Pro-Q/
Step 2: Cut Fabric & Serger the Edges for Strength
Next, we cut the fabric to the size we needed. This took quite a bit of time as it was very hard for me to be perfectly consistent with my cuts. I ended-up drawing the triangle pattern for each one as this was the only way for me to fight against shifting fabric and the slight "blade-wobble" of the fabric roller-cutter. The fabric pieces were then taken to a friend's home where she spent many hours with her serger to prep the edges. This gives the fabric strength and an elegant appearance. In my opinion this step made the design look finished.
Attached is a photo of a pile of "sergered" neckerchiefs.
Next, we need to iron-on the design...
Step 3: Iron-on the Vinyl Graphics
This step takes a bit of patience. Go slowly or you'll ruin the material.
⇒Always remember that you must have any exposed vinyl covered by the plastic film or a piece of paper or the iron will ruin it and spread the ruination to your neckerchief. Also, never use a steam setting on the iron.
Simply place the graphics in the proper location, cover with a sheet of paper and iron on high-heat setting for 1 minute. Allow the decal to cool mostly and peel away the plastic backing film. Iron-On films come with instructions for this process, so be sure to follow them exactly. They also come in every conceivable color including holographic and metallic shades.
Once you have all of the graphics ironed on, cover it up once more with a sheet of paper and iron on high-heat (no steam) for 20 seconds. This sets the image and makes it more permanent.
DESIGN NOTE & VINYL CUTTING FYI: As seen here, I layered the graphics so that I could get various color options. This was time consuming because I had to cut-out the pieces and align them separately. I did it this way in order to be efficient in cutting my vinyl. If I wanted to save time then I could have cut it out already aligned with guides, but the waste portion would have been tremendous. If this doesn't make sense, see the other article I wrote on vinyl graphics. Link is on previous step.
Step 4: Enjoy the Finished Product!
That's all there is to it.
Here is the photo of the finished product (1st photo on this step).
I also included a photo of a neckerchief I made that doesn't have the edge stitched yet (2nd photo on this page). It looks nice, but is obviously lacking in visual appeal and fabric strength. Eventually, the edge of the fabric will fray during its first use if it goes into service as-is. I applaud the effort & time of our friend who "sergered" the edges of these. She's a great scout mom.
Final project & contest notes: It was very hard to cut-out all this fabric and keep the size perfectly consistent. Hopefully in the years to come, we can procure a laser cutter that will not only make jobs like this quicker but much more perfect. A cutter would also make it a lot easier to engrave awards, walking sticks, fund-raising materials, and especially the flag leathers and staff. Any contest prizes will be used in the service of the youth programs in our area from scouting to public school band programs..etc.
Thank you for reading and I hope you will share some photos of any projects that have been inspired by this one! Be sure to include others in your projects. Share the fun & the hard work!