Sewing for scouts! How to sew badges, uniform tips, retired badges, keepsakes, and more. All projects and posts may contain affiliate links. Read our policies here.
There is one single best way to attach patches and badges to your scout uniform so that they stay on, permanently. You gotta sew them on, period. I follow an easy 3-step process:
If you compiled a list of the most common questions/complaints in the facebook groups for scout leaders and parents, very near the top of that list would be "How do you get the badges to stay on the uniform?! I've tried *everything* and they keep falling off!" What turns out to be true is that this person has probably tried ironing, hand-sewing, one of those "magic" products, and/or some type(s) of glue but they haven't tried machine sewing. It's really the only guaranteed way to get them to stick. I know - "But Badge Fairy, I've got 30 girls and no sewing machine, and who has time for all that?" I have two responses to that - First, I'm happy to help. You can send me all your pieces and I will put them together for you, at $1/patch. But the better answer is that machine-sewing turns out to be faster, easier, and cheaper than any other method.
All you need is:
A good sewing machine. It doesn't even have to be a GREAT sewing machine, like my Katherine by BabyLock, shown here:
In fact, I recommend any new sewist-to-be gets this machine - the Brother CS6000i. It's a reliable machine that will do everything you need. I owned a very similar model for a long time and sewed countless Halloween costumes, silly toddler dresses, and all kinds of scout stuff on it. And it's quite inexpensive!
Consider this comparison: two sheets of "magic" (as in makes your money disappear) is $15 on Amazon. One sheet is 8x11 inches. Two sheets is probably enough for roughly one year's worth of patches, unless your troop is more active. Now, you're going to lose and need to replace about half of those patches, so consider another $20-$30 there, plus the extra "magic" you'll buy to fix them. So, let's estimate $50 as the cost of using "magic" PER GIRL PER YEAR. Multiply that times the number of girls in your troop, and the number of years you'll be leading them. If you've got more than two girls, or are leading for more than two years, the sewing machine above has already paid for itself. For ~$140, you've got a machine that with no additional cost, will sew thousands of patches for hundreds of girls over dozens of years. The main CON of using any alternative method is that you're going to lose patches. Eventually all other methods fail. They just do. The stuff peels up and falls off, Hot glue freezes and cracks. And not to mention that girls' hair gets stuck and pulled in the peeled up sticky edges, and they collect dust and just look gross. Staples sure do work, but they aren't pretty. Hand sewing works, but it just takes way too much time and can be physically painful!
Clearly, machine-sewing is the way to go!! I always follow the tape - sew - iron method. The entire process takes less than two minutes per badge. There is no faster method. I pre-place all items using lab tape. It's reusable, and easy to sew right over. I always use invisible thread in the top of the stitch, which blends in to any badge, any border, any patch, and any uniform. In the bottom (or bobbin), I use a thread that matches the inside of the vest. Here's my post with 3 Tips for Using Clear Thread.
And quicker than it takes to cut a sheet of "magic," you've got a set of perfectly, permanently, invisibly sewn Brownie badges. Yes, this vest has a zipper! Read how I did that here.