Back to Basics – Edges

Too frequently I assume that all of my readers are aware of all of the nomenclature, abbreviations and acronyms that are routinely used as part of our hobby.

I’d like to make this a semi-regular feature to describe some of the terms I throw around without definition.  Since this blog covers OA issues, I will confine my comments to these terms as they relate to OA patches and other collectibles.

The first term I’d like to cover is seemingly a simple one.  The edge of a patch or neckerchief.

The Blue book has three main abbreviations or terms to cover edges.

  1. C – Cut
  2. P – Piping
  3. R- Rolled

C – Cut Edge

The earliest scout patches have a cut edge, in its simplest form it means you can see the base material of the patch by looking at the edge of the patch.  Early cut edge patches can almost look frayed as the edges seem to unravel.  Cuts are most commonly made by a die, hand, a hot-edge knife.

Old Style Cut Edge

Oddly enough some of the most modern patches also have a cut edge.  Today’s odd-shaped patches particularly are cut by laser.

Modern Cut-Edge

Modern Cut-Edge

P – Piping

Piping is a term reserved for neckerchiefs, it describes where a narrow band of fabric, normally a different color is sewn around the entire border of the neckerchief.

Black Piping on White Neckerchief

Black Piping on White Neckerchief

R – Rolled Edge

A rolled edge or merrowed edges, are applied to a patch after it is made. The stitching is rolled around the edge of the patch from the front to the back.  The rolled edge also has an interlocking stitch on the front and the back called the “lock stitch” in Blue Book descriptions.

You may have heard the term merrowed edge used to describe a rolled edge.

Merrowing is an overedge stitch added using a special machine. On loom-made patches, this is performed after a patch has been embroidered and cut; on multihead-made patches, it’s done to the pre-made twill “blanks” before they are embroidered. The telltale sign of merrowing is the “pigtail” end that is usually either glued or taped to the back of the patch. Merrowing machines are named after their inventor, Joseph M. Merrow.

Rolled Edge with Red Lock Stitch

Rolled Edge with Red Lock Stitch

Some patches and neckerchiefs don’t have a distinctive edge or border.  In that case, that portion of the description is left blank or a dash is used as a filler to avoid rendering issues in some browsers.

Anyone have a term or abbreviation they would like me to cover?


Competence, like truth, beauty and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder.
Laurence J. Peter, The Peter Principle (1969), chapter 1
US educator & writer (1919 – 1988)


  1. Bro. AJK says:

    Dear Bill,

    Piping can easily be made by a double-folded bias tape.

  2. John Pannell says:

    What about “flat rolled edge” (FRE or FR/E).

    That not defined all that well. The label is not always applied consistently — especially in the case where an FRE patch is the only variety/issue. Many collectors get tripped up by this term.

  3. Bill,

    How about twill? I get confused with right versus left (low-to-high versus high-to-low which is right versus left?


    Bill Griesmyer

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