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The DIY Guide for Full Size Medal Mounting

TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#1
PART ONE - PREPARATION

If you cannot bear the thought of parting with £50.00 to get your 8th gong strapped on in time for Remembrance, then why not save yourself the cash and do it yourself? It is not difficult by any means, but it IS a time consuming process when done properly. Moreover, when doing your own set you'll be able to add that 'personal touch', attention to detail, and that level of care that no commercial tailor will give you. I have taken a number of sets apart now and have seen all kinds of crazy methods of mounting from varying tailors and gash DIY jobs - none of which have compared to the sets that I have recently put together, one of which I have taken pictures of in order to produce this guide.

Preliminary

Before we begin, you need to get your rule out. Because the maximum side-by-side medals can go are SIX. But most of us simply do not have a wide enough chest to accommodate a six-bar brooch over the pocket of our No.2's / FAD and if that's the case for you, then beyond five medals, they'll need to overlap - which has to be done in two parts. So the bottom line here is that for six medals and upwards you should always go for the biggest bar you can accommodate - it should extend no further than the seam line of your left inside sleeve so that it does not get caught when marching.

Speak to your Garrison tailor or RQMS about getting hold of ribbon and brooch bars. It's demanded up (unlike the miniature ribbon which is commercially produced), so take a packet of biscuits, jar of coffee, good bedside manner - whatever works for you. See what you can get hold of from the list below for free. Everything else, you can order from Mess Dress Ltd at really good prices:

Materials

1. Ribbons
2. Brooch bar
3. Thread (coloured to match ribbons and gold / silver / grey / bronze to match medals)
4. Double sided fabric tape, acid free
5. Pelmet hessian (buckram) - TWO layers of
6. Thin dark fabric (for wrapping around buckram)
7. Fabric glue
8. Black felt (or red felt for Guards Regts)
9. Paper / card (one sheet for ribbon guide)

Tools

1. Scissors (need to be extremely SHARP)
2. Rule
3. Thimble (for punching through two layers of buckram)
4. Snipe nosed pliers (for pushing / pulling that needle through)
5. Needles
6. Sellotape

...now we’re ready to begin. For mounting up to six medals side-by-side, please use http://www.arrse.co.uk/medals/177400-diy-guide-mounting-your-own-medals-miniatures.html remembering to mark out the buckram to the same width, but 71mm high (instead of 45mm):

For mounting full-size medals overlapped, please read on.

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TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#2
PART TWO - ALIGNING THE RIBBONS

Start by measuring out and wrapping your buckram (see the miniature guide). As a general rule of thumb, I use one sheet of buckram for up to four medals, and beyond that I use two sheets tacked together with a little fabric glue.

Now clip off a selection of the ribbons you need to use. Each ribbon should be at least 10cm in length (Picture 1). Use a naked flame on the ends of the ribbon to prevent fraying.

Now you need to do a little maths to work out how much ribbon will be exposed. The left most ribbon will always be fully exposed - but the awkward thing about full size ribbons is that they all come in different sizes. For example, the NATO ribbon shown in this example, is 37mm wide, compared to the Jubilee ribbons which are approximately 32mm wide.

So taking your rule, mark out on a sheet of paper (cut to the same size as your buckram), a line that will match your first medal as shown in Picture 2. You then divide the remainder of the length equally among the amount of remaining ribbons. Then mark out the remaining lines on the paper. This will be your guide. My example goes like this:

Overall length = 162mm
Width of NATO FRY ribbon = 37mm
Remaining buckram = 162 - 37 = 125mm
Divided by remaining ribbons = 125 / 6 = 21mm (approx)

Now take a small strip of double sided tape and place over what will be the bottom of the rack. Make sure you apply it to the side WITHOUT the fabric join (as this is the rear of the rack and will be visible).

Align the RIGHT edge of your ribbons with the lines on your guide. Because of the varying widths of the ribbons, they will look uneven viewed from this side - but once they are folded back around the board, the other sides will be perfectly equal. Use sellotape to make it easier if you like (see Picture 3). Once you are happy they are correctly aligned, remove the backing from the fabric tape, and apply the ribbons flush against the bottom edge.

To make sure you have got it right, turn the board around before folding the ribbons back, and offer your guide up. If you have done it right, it should look like Picture 4.

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TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#3
PART THREE - THE MOUNTING BOARD

Now comes the first time-consuming process; stitching the ribbons down at the bottom of the board. Draw a line over the ribbons around 12mm from the bottom edge and use this as a guide to stitch as shown in Picture 1, using a neutral coloured thread. Once you (eventually) get to the other side come back along stitching in between the gaps, tying-off once you get back to the start.

Turn the board over and place the board at the edge of the table so that the ribbons hang down (see Picture 2). Now you have a choice. You can either sellotape your ribbons in place until they are stitched down; or like shown in the picture, use a thin layer of double-sided tape at the top. Taking each ribbon in turn, starting from the RIGHT, pull tight and fold up into place. Once flat, apply a small amount of fabric glue to the corner of ribbon that will be overlapped by the next ribbon along. Use the guide and apply the next ribbon, again adding the blob of glue as shown in Picture 3. Keep this going until your board looks like Picture 4. Finish by overlapping the final ribbon - all of which should align with your guide.

Whilst allowing the glue to dry, turn your board over and mark out a 2mm line from the top of your board - see Picture 5. This will be used to stitch board the board ribbons and medal ribbons in the next stage. Once dry, trim the excess ribbon so that your board ribbon is flush with the top edge of the buckram. Use a naked flame to remove any fraying.

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TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#4
PART FOUR - HANGING THE MEDALS

Prepare another set of ribbons, but this time ensure they are long enough to start at the top of the board, go through the medal, and be folded over and leave enough to be folded back through the brooch bar. In Picture 1, you can see how the LSGC ribbon lines up, leaving a 35mm excess at the top.

Now take the bottom part of the ribbon, match it up carefully with the ribbon that is already secured to the board as shown in Picture 2 - use sellotape to help keep the ribbon in position. Stitch along the 2mm guide line from the RIGHT side of the board, going inwards until you get to the first edge of the neighbouring ribbon. STOP here and tie your cotton off. Or you can go back in between the stitches and secure it back where you started (similar to securing the ribbons at the rear of the board).

At this point you need to thread the ribbon through your medal and making sure the medal is centred over the bottom edge of the buckram, pull the ribbon up and secure down using a small square of double-sided tape as shown in Picture 3. Now repeat the procedure for the next ribbon along. You'll also be stitching over the top layer of the preceding ribbon as shown in Picture 4. Each time, only stitch up to where the next ribbon begins underneath.

The only problem with working right-to-left is aligning your clasps if you have them. This is because the clasps should start low on the left, working higher on the right. So once you have a good idea of where each clasp will be, place it into that approximate position (you can adjust it before you stitch the medals down) and continue as per the previous paragraph, and you should have something that looks like Picture 5.

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TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#5
PART FIVE - FIXING THE BROOCH

Now that you have hung all your medals, you need to fix the ribbons that will go through your brooch. Once you are happy with the alignment and length, sellotape them into position first (Picture 1), then turn the rack over and apply a layer of fabric tape at a sufficient length that will ensure enough of the ribbons can be fed through and secured by the brooch. I would suggest at least 30mm as shown in Picture 2.

Next, trim off the ribbon up to the tape, and feed through the slot in the brooch. This will take a little effort and teasing here and there to get it right. You will find that the ribbons together will be slightly wider than the gap - and so the ribbons at the end will be compressed a little.

Once all the ribbons are through the slot in the brooch, remove the backing from the fabric tape and pull the ribbons tight and press firmly into place against the back of the board, ensuring the ribbons are square and in line. Tack the loose corners of ribbon down as shown in Picture 3.

Now fold the brooch down and push into place as shown in Picture 4. Using a thread of similar colour to the adjoining ribbon (or neutral colour), secure the brooch into place. I recommend using double thread, a minimum of SIX loops. You will need a thimble to push a short, sharp needle through two layers of buckram, and I recommend using snipe nose pliers to pull the needle through. Each time you loop, give the needle a wide circular motion to create play for the next loop. Tie off and secure the other side using the same method.

Using a neutral coloured thread, secure the brooch fully by using holes as shown in Picture 5. I usually do this in two parts (in case of tangle or break I don’t have to do it all over again).

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TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#6
PART SIX - FIXING THE MEDALS

The best method to get it right first time, is to position the medal and push a needle (with no thread) through from the TOP as shown in Picture 1. Give it a good wiggle and this should leave you with a tell-tale hole on the other side of your buckram.

You can buy decent metallic coloured threads from Dunelm Mill and eBay that will give that professional look to your medals. So using a silver thread, you can see in Picture 2 the LSGC is now secured with a silver coloured thread. Moreover, this is practically undetectable to the naked eye, even from a close distance.

As you overlap the medals in turn when securing down, do not pull tie them too tight as this will cause them to flip up at the bottom, as opposed to laying flush. Keep your thumb on the medal as you loop around to make sure this doesn't happen.

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TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#7
PART SEVEN - FINISHING TOUCHES

Use your fabric glue at the ends of the brooch bar where the cotton is tied, as well as the holes where the cotton passes through, as shown in Picture 1. Also apply a little glue to the small knots you have made when securing the medals as shown in Picture 2.

In order to tidy up the back, cut your black felt to size and use fabric tape as shown in Picture 3. Place carefully over the bottom first, and use a blunt knife or similar instrument to push the felt into place under the lips on the brooch bar. Once correctly positioned it should look like Picture 4.

And finally Picture 5 - you're finished!

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TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#8
Just to clairfy any potential confusion - here is an extract from Army Dress Regs:

13.016 Method of Court Mounting

a. Full Size Medals. A backing of buckram 69.85 mm deep by width required, depending on the number of Medals. Medal ribbons should be placed side by side up to and including a quantity of 6 Medals unless the width of these 6 medals extends past the left shoulder seam of the uniform. In this instance, the 6 medals may be overlapped. 7 or more court mounted medals should always be overlapped with the senior ribbons nearest the centre of the chest being left fully exposed. The overlap of ribbons will vary depending on the number of Medals worn and the size of the individual’s chest. At no time should more than two-thirds of any ribbon be covered by another; the overlap of each ribbon should be equal. The Medal is suspended from a ribbon so as to allow the centre of a round Medal to be cut in half by the backing, i.e. the nose of the impression of a sovereign’s head on a Medal should rest on the bottom edge of the backing. The overall length of a suspended Medal will be 88.9 mm. No Medal should be suspended from less than 31.74 mm of Medal riband; in the case of a larger Order, Decoration or Medal, the backing may be increased to 76.2 mm depth to allow a minimum of 31.74 mm of riband suspending the Medal. A standard issue Medal brooch should be sewn to the back of the buckram. The back overall should be covered by a black face cloth or doeskin, with the exception of the Guards Division, whose Medals are backed with scarlet. Medals are sewn down with a neutral coloured thread. When mounted, the bottom edges of the Medals, regardless of their size, should be level.
 
#9
Very good guide - Just a quick question.
I have used a guide before then mouted a slightly different way, after practising I found my way easier. I was told somewhere that using glue underneath the white parts of ribbon can, over a period of time cause the white part to go a yellow colour. Is this correct? Until now I've tended to stick to using double sided tape to hold the backing / ribbon in place while I stitch it.

Cheers EDM
 

TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#10
EDM - If you check the guide, the small dots of fabric glue are only used in the corners of the ribbon that are going to be buried under one or two layers of other ribbon / felt anyway, and it is only used to tack it down where it cannot otherwise be secured with the fabric tape or stitching.

The important thing is, wherever you do use it - make sure it's dry first before fixing another layer of ribbon / felt backing etc to avoid any chance of it seeping through. It is true what you say - glue and some forms of double sided tape will cause ribbon to discolour over time. Stitch wherever possible - it will take much longer, but as they're your own set it will be worth the finish.

Regards,

DC
 
#11
Very well done,they look great but (and I hope I'm wrong here) I've a horrible feeling that British medals should take precedence over UN or others, therefore your FRY and the third one are in the wrong place?
 
#12
Very well done,they look great but (and I hope I'm wrong here) I've a horrible feeling that British medals should take precedence over UN or others, therefore your FRY and the third one are in the wrong place?
No, DC is right - Awards - Tours (in order of tour, regardless of NATO / UN / British) - Coronation / jubilee - LSGC
 
#13
Just another point to throw in!
I noticed about the list of items - The only place I've found Buckram for sale (In case anyone wants to self mount using DC's guide) is John Lewis. They also sell good backing in black (or red if you're not a chippy)! It's a nice thin black / red fabric and quite cheap and same as the Buckram, they sell it by the meter. For ribbons I've bought mine off Ebay, dirt cheap and if you need a few they can combine postage.
 

TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#14
Did you get the ribbon from a seller called "ArmyUK" by any chance? If so - that's the Mess Dress Ltd in Bournemouth. Easier to go on their website, as depending on what you order, the postage doesn't always calculate properly (not to worry though, as they put the coins in the envelope to reimburse you!).

Dunelm Mill stores do the buckram - but most civvie tailors and fabric shops refer to buckram as the stiff white stuff they use in curtains. You need to refer to it as "pelmet hessian" for them to know what you're talking about. They sell it off the roll - dirt cheap as well for the amount you get.

But never underestimate the power of networking. Quite often, garrison tailors don't have access to Dii, so offering to print out the latest regulations and briefing notes in relation to tailoring of uniform is a good start to get that rapport going. You'll be surprised what they might offer you in return for the "small amount of bits and pieces" you originally asked for.

Good to see a few people having a go at this. Feel free to post your results on here too - if anything it'll give that confidence to others that it's not as hard as it looks :)
 
#15
I'm not sure who I bought it from - I bought a few ribbons as I also Mounted my Grandad's brothers from WWII. I agree it is easy, but I've only ever mounted 1, 2, or 3 medals, guess it takes a bit more practise for 6 or 7!
 

TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#17
Indeed - but they are not my medals. I have way more than that!

Well... one more anyway.

And erm, yes I also have the Althea medal, which just looks horrible. The clasp bit should be optional at the very least, I agree.
 

TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#19
Not completely removed, but as good as.

First you need to remove the felt backing (including old fabric tape deposits etc), then sliding a sharp knife in between the rear of the medal and ribbon, cut through the securing stitched loops. Remove the gash pieces of thread and that will free up the medal that you wish to clean.

Next, apply sellotape to both the ribbon on the board, and around the ribbon that the medal hangs from. You can actually feed the sellotape through the bar that suspends the medal which will also protect the ribbon if you wish to clean that part too. If you're having trouble trying to feed the sellotape through the bar because it keeps sticking, then fix the sellotape to a strip of thin film first, and once it's through you can simply peel of the film and press the tape into place.

Then you can clean until you're satisfied. Once finished, secure the medal back to the buckram, and re-apply the felt backing to the rear of the board.

Time consuming, but it works. And chances are you'll only need to do it once a year.
 

TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#20
I've been asked by a fellow user about attaching ribbons to FAD / Service Dress.

It's not my normal area of expertise as it's done at public expense according to ABN 10-12 - but for those of you that simply do not have enough time to visit the tailor or have no access to one nearby, the basic guide that I follow as thus:

(And please forgive the rather crude diagram - I realised afterwards that the loops are not high enough for when the ribbon and buckram are folded upwards)

**From Army Dress Regs - All ribbons are to be 9.525mm deep ie from top to bottom**
This is basically a conversion from inches. Cut your buckram strip to 9mm which combined with the ribbon wrapping around, will be just about spot on.

1. Mark out a guideline using tailor's chalk (or something similar that can be removed afterwards) where the bottom line of the ribbon will go. For most people this will be just above the pocket (if you have one). Now align the end of the ribbon(s) so that it/they sit(s) about 4-5mm above the guideline and sitch into place. Use a few pins or a little double sided tape to hold the ribbon in place to make it easier.

2. Cut your buckram strip to size using the direction above (in italics) and tack into place using a little double sided tape if you wish.

3. Trim the ribbon to size so that you now have around 4-5mm exposed each side of the buckram.

4. Fold up and using a similar coloured thread to your FAD / Service Dress - starting from inside the jacket, thread carefully through the top edge of the ribbon, being careful to ensure any stitching on the exposed side of the jacket is as small and as close to the top edge of the ribbon as possible. The trick is to make the stitches on the exposed side slightly lower than the top edge. Each subsequent stitch will tighten the one before it, which will hide itself as you tighten it up and move along. Finish off by tying the thread at the other side.

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