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Sewn On Patches – The Rest of the Story

It’s been a month since the SMA announced changes to the wear policy of the ACU. By now Soldiers have begun to have their BOS and Name tapes as well as skill badges sewn on their ACUs. For much of the Army, BDUs are either a distant memory or something they have heard about but never worn. Putting the camouflage pattern aside, the ACU is a pretty good uniform overall. Somehow, they forgot how to properly construct a crotch, but other than that it is an improvement on the BDU. The concept of attaching patches with Velcro was inspired by SOF but made sense for two reasons. First, the uniform could be sanitized for combat use and second, it would save the Soldier money. It’s not cheap to purchase all of those patches and have them sewn on to the uniform.

Now, Soldiers have gotten what they asked for. We have heard reports of sewing costs ranging from $20 to $79. Naturally, this depends on the number of ‘scare’ badges a Soldier has. Still, this is a bit expensive and rivals the cost of a completely new uniform. It seems that long gone are the days of $1 per patch.

The real question in all of this is; how long before we begin to hear the complaints from the field about these new costs associated with maintaining the ACU?

18 Responses to “Sewn On Patches – The Rest of the Story”

  1. straps says:

    Pony up the bucks. Conduct yourself in the manner of a seasoned, highly trained professional. Or do both. One thing I’ve noticed right off the bat is that sewing on badges with an economy of material around the sides seems to be a lost art. I’m assigned to a unit pretty far off the beaten path, and a key challenge is finding good stitchers. My XO had his done, and his Sr Parachutist wings are on a 2.5″x2.5″ swatch of fabric. No thanks, I’ll go slick until I can flag someone down whose sew-on badges were done right–and then I’ll do a blouse or two–and maybe bring my pants along for some gussets.

  2. Rick says:

    $29 for 4x Uniforms with name, rank, US Army, and 2 skill badges at the PX. First time Ive worn badges in my entire career.

    Not to mention it makes other ACUs look like absolute sh*t now in comparison.

  3. Kilroy says:

    $50 to change my stuff when I ranked up…

  4. maresdesign says:

    Nice thing about the BDU was it looked really good with all the “scare badges” sewn on it to specification. A much more pleasing aesthetic than the “cement factory” pattern and its pin-on insignia. I never complained of the sewing charges – the cost of being a professional soldier.

  5. sfdefender says:

    Has anyone else ran into the issue with having to de-conflict the rank tab and zipper when getting it sewn on? I have a MR jacket and the tailor had to lift a portion of the zipper, sew on the rank, and re-stitch the zipper. This added about 5 extra dollars to the process when done off post.

  6. Old Paratrooper says:

    I didn’t think you could sewn on rank according to the changes.

  7. taifunk says:

    I’m reading all the complaints about the high costs of sewing and how hard it is to find a good tailor. And I can’t stop asking myself, why the hell don’t you sew yourself all the stuff needed??
    I to do all my sewing needs myself, this way I can get more cleaner and aestethic look.
    BTW, we also have a proffessional tailor in our unit who takes no charge but I am located “over the Big Pond” also.

  8. Matt says:

    Well, its already 70 bucks for a top and bottom anyways, not counting name tapes and patches or pin on badges, for a uniform that last’s barely 6 months, so any additional costs is not a big concern, they were more expensive then BDU’s when they first appeared, not less.

  9. MarkM says:

    In the day, the little dry cleaning shops just off post did the best work and were cheap enough. Somebody isnt shopping the deal if they just stick to what’s on post.

    Further – I sewed my own. When you ARE off the beaten path, and the nearest post is over 100 milles away, you improvise. Locate a sewing machine and learn how, it’s not rocket science. That way you know for a fact the uniform is done right – and you don’t get the unit patches back upside down.

    For all that, the little dry cleaner just off post can still do great things like shorten the sleeves to actually fit, or even make a complete set custom tailored, with the pockets all sewn down for parade use. Garrison lives on, pro’s have one set like that just like one set of perfect boots. If you are in the loop to earn every merit badge you can, that uniform is required.

    Just please don’t show up in it at the motor pool where real work is required.

  10. wanda says:

    Welcome back to the peacetime Army. Time to start making ourselves look good and being jealous of badges again. Badges don’t make the soldier. How about we worry about maintaining our combat skills instead.

  11. straps says:

    Learn to sew? Seriously? That’s a waste of perfectly good range time, family time, or face time out on the links (so maybe I can knock out one more school). Maybe I should learn some 3rd shop radio repair while I’m at it?

    The Hangul speakers outside the gates will pick up the slack soon enough.

    Far as the rank and the zipper, it’s still better than having to do two, and ensuring that the angle and position are correct.

  12. SGT Rock says:

    Back in the day when both my grandfathers served during WWI in the US and French armies a soldier was expected to know how to sew. Just as my father and uncle who served during the Viet Nam era who also knew how to sew and taught me how when I was a young kid. When I joined the Army I already had a soldier skillset that has apparently been recently forgotten. Knowing how to sew is a skill that should be know by all soldiers regardless of MOS. This is so those soldiers can take care of themselves and their subordinates while in the field or deployed if need be when a tailor or the dry cleaners off post isn’t around. Tracking?!?

  13. J.Redrock says:

    The sew shops win again……

    Startched uniforms can’t be far behind.

    Wanda is right on.

  14. 18A says:

    The change from BDU’s to ACU’s ruined the economic model for sew-shops around Army bases. I’m sure that most of the commercial boot-polishing operations took a similar blow. Demand fell to nearly zero, and the supply along with it.

    Now, supply (experienced, efficient sewers) is low and demand is increasing. This sounds like a perfect example for Econ 101 … regardless of whether “Soldiers [are getting] what they asked for” or not.

    As for the increased price of the ACU’s, it comes from two sources: the general inflation in the U.S. domestic market, and the incredible increase in (unnecessary) complexity of the design. One example: velcro knee and elbow pockets that almost no one uses (and which only manages to add stiffness to what should be the most supple parts of the uniform).

  15. Strike-Hold! says:

    Amen, and ditto, SGT ROCK and MarkM.

  16. straps says:

    Tracking. Yeah.

    Agreed fully on the skills and willingness to maintain clothing and personal equipment in the field. I keep an awl, a seam ripper, a collection of stout needles and a few spools of appropriately-colored upholstery thread just for this purpose in my tough box.

    COMPLETELY different from the type of sewing necessary for a uniform appropriate for wear in garrison–or even in public. I’ve been in a few (dozen) military museums in my day and seen what passes for sewing on some of the exhibits. I actually engaged an old-timer volunteer about this exact topic regarding a uniform in a windowbox display. I jokingly suggested that he have someone from the ladies’ auxiliary go back over the patches. He was emphatic that what we were looking at was the standard of the day because (his exact words), “We did what we had to do.”

    So yeah, when we reflect lovingly on the days of yore and soldiering skills lost, let’s resist the urge to embellish. Every platoon didn’t necessarily have a fiddle player, a crooner, cobbler, a tailor and a chef…

  17. Buckaroomedic says:

    I think it’s ridiculous that the SMA is allowing the sewed-on name tapes and bolo badges. Kind of goes against the whole idea of the ACU, doesn’t it? I’m a big fan of going back to the patrol cap for daily wear though. One question regarding the PC; why did the Army leave out the vent holes that the last version of the BDU PC had?

    I’m constantly amazed at how shitty many soldiers look in uniform these days. Don’t even get me started on our Air Force brothers and their uniform wearing abilities. Half the Joes I see walking around the Exchange look like they just rolled-in from down range. What ever happened to NCOs policing the ranks?

    After the op-tempo starts to wind down, I think we’ll see the SGMs and 1SGs crack down on the wear and appearance of the uniform while in a garrison environment. Pretty soon the Army will go back to a “garrison” uniform with black boots and the soldier is going to have to “re-learn” how to spit polish a boot and drive an iron over a pair of fatigues.

    I completely agree with Wanda, but one has to start with the basics. If you want people to be soldiers, you first have to make them look and act like soldiers. This starts with a proper military appearance. Looking “sharp” and having pride in how one looks should be a basic soldiering skill.

    Rant off.

  18. straps says:

    If I had a dollar for every hour I wasted on a spit shine I would be a middle-class man. I hope NEVER to go back to those days, and though I’ve spoken to an idiot or two who yearns for their return, none of them are bound for positions of influence. Gives me hope for our Army’s future.

    I see pressed ACUs every once and again, which goes against the care instructions on that uniform. But then again folks are washing their uniforms in phosphorous detergents so I guess it doesn’t matter, why not go back to breaking starch?

    I wish I had a pic of a DV PSD augment I did in a pair of starched DCUs that I had done up for a SecDef/CoDel brief earlier in the day (yup, briefed ‘em in the IZ, then jocked up to get them back to BIAP). Under NODs I looked like something out of Tron. Sad.