Monday, November 7, 2016

DIY Felt Military-Style Family Medal (and Why I Made It)

When I made Tiger's Olympic medal cat toy, hubby thought it looked like a military medal as noted in my comments suggesting it could be a cute present for hero cats, military moagies, or even adapted for kids.  Perhaps is was foreshadowing!  A photo recently popped up in my social media feed of a very special little girl (sending you long distance love!) trying to appropriate her Daddy's military medals.  Commenters on the cuteness suggested he find her a family medal, and so I offered to make her one, keeping Daddy's real medals safe from toddler "Stolen Valor" efforts. :)   This cutie is currently packaged up for the mail, and I thought I should adjust the posting schedule to slip this DIY in before Remembrance/Armistice Day in case there are any crafters out there who would like to make one of their own.

As shown in our Easter bunny softie collaboration, simple soft toys can easily be adapted to be larger or smaller for children or pets, so feel free to adapt these felt basics whatever style of creation best suits. As always, individual parental discretion is required as to suitability. This medal differs from from Tiger's Olympic cat toy version in that it's crafted with different dimensions, adds a heart accent and top bar, and has a slightly different approach to sewing and joining the elements. Oh, and no catnip of course...hehe...  To make your own felt medal like the one shown, you will need coloured felt, complimentary thread/floss, fabric glue (optional), and basic sewing supplies.  For this craft, I recommend using a nice quality thick wool felt so that your medal is sturdy and thick without adding any padding or fill.

  • Cut a long rectangle of felt for your ribbon base (I used dark pink).  If you have a large enough piece of felt, this can be cut (like mine) to width + twice the height plus a little extra for joining the medal.  If  you are using smaller felt scraps, you can do the same with a separate backing piece and a little extra sewing.
  • Cut two identical circles of yellow (or other medal coloured) felt, slightly wider than your ribbon.  Optional: Cut a heart (or other embellishment).  Use fabric adhesive and/or pins to secure in the center of one medal circles and sew securely around the outside edge of the heart using a blanket stitch.  Set aside while you prepare the ribbon.
  • Cut smaller strips of felt to be the ribbon accent stripes, one wide (mine is light pink) and one narrow (mine is same dark pink as the base ribbon).  These strips should be half the length of your base ribbon, as they will end shy of your top fold.
  • Position the wide strip (light pink in my case) in  the middle of your ribbon base, so that it ends just shy of the top fold. Sew around the edges to secure.
  • Position the narrow strip (dark pink in my case) in  the middle of the strip you just attached, so that it also ends just shy of the top fold. Sew around the edges to secure.
  • Optional: Cut a narrow strip of yellow felt twice as wide as your ribbon. Position it centered on the ribbon just below where you will fold the ribbon base so that it covers the top of your ribbon accents. Fold the ends behind the ribbon. Sew the top and bottom edges to secure, ensuring that the stitching also catches the folded over sections at the back as you go.
  • Optional: If you would like to sew a pin into the back of the ribbon before joining, you can do this now.  I didn't want to do this so that my little medal recipient's parents can maintain discretion of when it does/doesn't have a point pin attached.
  • Fold (or layer if using two pieces of felt) the ribbon base in half, so that the accents and bar are at the front. Pin to secure. Sew the sides together, but do not sew fully over the top of the bar (see photos) so that it retains it's appearance as an accent.
  • Layer over the bottom end of the ribbon and pin to secure. 
  • Mark the inside of your medal circles where it will meet the ribbon when assembled.
  • Sew the medal together around the outside edge from mark to mark. Insert the ribbon, and continue sewing through the front of the medal and ribbon, with the back of the medal folded out of the way.
  • Carefully sew the top edge of the back of the medal into place, ensuring that you catch the back side of the ribbon to attach but don't do all the way through to the front.
  • Check that everything is securely sewn, and trim any threads if/as needed. 

The families of our military service personal (and police, firefighters, medical workers, and a whole host of other services) sacrifice and risk a lot so that their loved ones can do their duty.  I think it's only natural that a child would find their parent's uniforms, medals, etc interesting.  Of course, it's neither safe to be playing with sharp sticky pins and it's against the rules to be playing dress-up with the real thing, so why not make a family-friendly craft instead?  It's also a good opportunity to talk with kids about why people have real medals - check out this neat post from Playful Matters for a paper craft medal learning idea suitable for the kiddiesIf anyone wants to wear their medal, don't forget that only genuine awarded medals should be worn on the proper recipient's left (over the heart)...not that anything like this felt craft is likely to ever be mistaken for a real medal, but these things deserve due respect.

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