Over the years both as a Girl Scout and a mom of Girl Scouts, I have tried many, many methods of attaching badges to sashes, vests, and tunics. I’ve also witnessed a few methods that I never thought to try. People will go to some pretty serious lengths to avoid pulling out a needle and thread. Regardless of your preference, the very best way to attached badges and patches to fabric is to teach your Scout how to sew. If for some reason this is not an option, here are the best (and worst) ways to glue, iron, and sew on boy scout and girl scout badges.
Staples: I will start with a true Girl Scout confession of mine. When I was a Junior Girl Scout and I wanted to quickly add some badges to my sash, I resorted to the stapler. Here’s how that went…
Pros: Very fast, fairly permanent.
Cons: Everyone can totally see that you tried to staple your badges to your sash.
Hot Glue Gun: I only know that people try this one by the sad empty glue spots where pretty lost badges once lived.
Pros: Fast and looks great…
Cons: …for 5 minutes
Fabric Glue: People swear this is their favorite method. It works best if your badges have fabric backs. The “iron-on” backing will not stay glued.
Pros: Fast and looks great…
Cons: but not for long.
Follow Iron-On Patch Directions: I’ve had one person tell me that they simply followed the ironing instructions that came with the badge and it had worked perfectly. Witchcraft! I don’t believe it. And don’t leave me comments that it works. No, it does not.
Pros: Bragging rights that you are a master ironist. And also fast and durable, if you are a witch.
Cons: Stop bragging.
Badge Magic: This is a sheet of adhesive that requires no sewing or ironing. There are also versions that come pre-cut to the standard shape badges. Sounds amazing, right? The reviews praise this product and while I’ve heard it’s easy at the start, after several washes, the badges begin to peel up at the corners and eventually fall off.
Pros: Easy solution to get started. If you plan to never wash your vest/tunic/sash, you have a shot at hanging on to those hard-earned patches. Is it worth the risk?
Cons: A temporary fix only, for most.
Hand Sewn: This method is time consuming but it’s the best way to teach the kids to sew on their own badges and it can be a portable project. Match the background or try invisible thread.
Pros: It’s a classic, it works, forever.
Cons: Takes a long time and if your stitches are not close to the edge, the patch will appear to peel up, even though it’s secure.
Machine Sewn: Yes, machine sewing badges is the best solution. I’ve tried zig-zagging the edge, changing thread color, and invisible thread, here’s what I’ve learned.
Zig-zag over border:
Pros: looks great, secure.
Cons: thread changing and mad sewing skills required.
Sewing inside border with matching thread:
Pros: Looks good, secure.
Cons: thread changing required.
And without further adieu…
The best way to easily attache Girl Scout badges is to machine sew with invisible thread. The key is to use invisible thread on the front and traditional thread in the bobbin. If you use invisible for both, it will jam up, bunch and break.
Pros: Quick, forgiving, secure. Looks great!