A jean jacket is a staple that most people have (or wish to have) at some point in their lives. It goes with everything, is durable but stylish, and is customizable at will.
While I’ve had a few pins on my main jean jacket for a while now, pins I’ve collected from friends, college, and online, I’ve never gone the extra mile to add anything actually permanent (or semipermanent) until this past week when I was digging through some of my old things and found…a box of Girl Scout patches. In Girl Scouts, patches are different from badges, in that you are given them for going to events and doing simple fun activities (vs earning badges by doing a certain list of requirements, etc.). Instead of going on the front, they could be put on the back of your sash or vest to add a little color to your uniform.
All that to say, that I certainly never earned any sewing badge in Scouts, and most of my patches were never actually put on anything… they weren’t all keepers, but some of them were actually really cute…and that’s when I got the idea of how I could finally use them in a fun and more ‘adult’ way…by adhering them to the back of my jean jacket, of course.
While I do own a nice Levi’s jean jacket, my mom recommended I find an alternative to experiment on (just in case), so I found this nice light summer-weight jacket on Amazon. You can also find perfectly good jackets at your local thrift shop, or, if you’re feeling confident, use the current one you have.
In case you don’t already own a box of patches you’ve kept stored away for years (what, that’s not what we all do?) you can get whole sets of them for cheap like here on Amazon, or look for unique badges as well, and begin to make a collection. There are patches for every occasion, hobby, and interest you could possibly have. The possibilities are endless.
This goes double for pins, as enamel pins have grown even more popular online recently.
If you don’t already have sewing supplies, you can easily get a cheap kit at a local craft store or on Amazon. You’ll very likely want more than one color of thread (to match as close as possible to individual patches), needles, pins, scissors, and a thimble. The pins can help you stick the patches where you want them once you’ve found a layout you enjoy so they don’t go flying when you move your jacket.
One thing I learned very quickly is that sewing (or sewing patches at least) isn’t hard so much as it is time-consuming. It’s very methodical, making little loops in and out of the jacket and patch material, so in many ways, it’s not complicated. I recommend putting on a show that doesn’t require your full attention (like for me, The Great British Bake Off) to help the time pass.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the inside of your jacket to avoid accidentally sewing both sides together, or a developing knot that you’ll have to fix later. Once you’ve gone entirely around the patch (and have checked the corners to make sure they’re set) you slip the needle in under the last stitch and then make another knot before cutting the thread.
An obvious solution for people who aren’t interested in learning this little sewing project is to find strictly iron-on patches. (Yes, they do exist). I had a handful of both types, but one thing I noticed was that the older the patches were, the less likely the iron-on glue would melt to be a proper adhesive. In any case, most people recommend doing both techniques, as going around with a little needle and thread is the only sure-fire way to keep your patches in place.
Bask in your girl gang glory.
Once you have all your patches and pins on your jacket you’re ready to go. Warning: once you have a taste of decorating your jacket, you may not be able to stop. At least you’ve left room for more memories to explore and add later.
Have you ever decorated your jean jacket before? What did you use to spice it up a little? Let us know in the comments down below!
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Lauren West graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English and Digitial Journalism in December 2018. She is a Southern California native, an INFP with anxiety, and at any moment trying her best.