Sewing Scout patches can be a challenge!
… let alone figuring out where they all belong!
Here’s some information that should answer your questions about where those patches belong, how to sew or iron them on and some ideas for displaying them.
Where do you sew all those patches?
Start with these resources, 99% of your questions are answered in the Official Uniform Inspection guides;
For Cub Scouts PDF Uniform Guide
For Webelos PDF Uniform Guide
For Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts PDF Uniform Guide
For All adult leaders PDF Uniform Guide
There’s also an online interactive guide that shows where to sew patches on the uniform for Cubs, Webelos, Scouts and adults;
If you don’t find the answers you need in those resources check the BSA Uniform and Insignia Guide.
If you still can’t find an answer get in touch with me!
What about Merit Badge Sashes?
Boy Scouts can wear a merit badge sash with their uniform anytime, most choose to wear them only at special events; like courts of honor. There is no special order to placing merit badges on the sash, just start sewing them on in rows of three as they are earned. If you have an ambitious Scout who fills his sash with badges on the front you can use the back as well.
- Merit badge sashes are worn only by Boy Scouts and Venturers who are earning Boy Scout advancement.
- Scouts are not required to wear merit badge sashes, they are optional.
- Boy Scouts may wear only one merit badge sash at a time.
- A merit badge sash is never worn on the belt.
- Merit badges may be worn on the front and back of the sash.
- Temporary patches (no badges of rank) may only be worn on the back of the sash.
- The merit badge sash and the Order of the Arrow sash may not be worn at the same time.
Are Scout Patches “Iron On”?
Short answer; NO!
Some patches have a slick plastic backing that looks a lot like it could be ironed on. I emailed the folks at our National Supply Division and asked if I could iron them on:
I have recently purchased some official patches – they appear to have an iron on backing. Is this correct? If so how does one iron them on? Are there other patches that have iron-on backing?
“Our emblems are not iron on – the plastic backing is to keep the emblem from rolling up. You will need to sew them on or use badge magic adhesive.”
I have used both of the products below personally, and I like them. They are pretty permanent, so I would not recommend using them for patches that will be replaced (like event patches). You can remove the adhesive, (well kind of), with adhesive removers or by dry cleaning.
Badge Magic Adhesive
The iron-on option if you don’t want to sew patches. It’s been around for a few years now and it does work well, especially for small patches like unit numbers, arrow points and square knots. I think the cut-to-fit freestyle sheet is the best deal.
Some folks don’t like badge magic, but it does actually work really well if you follow the directions!
Badge Magic Cut to Fit Freestyle Patch Adhesive Kit available at Amazon
Therm O Web Peel’n Stick Fabric Fuse
I’ve used Therm O Web Peel’n Stick Fabric Fuse to adhere patches to our troop neckerchiefs and it works very well, it will do an equally good job on uniforms.
Therm O Web Peel’n Stick Fabric Fuse is a washable double-sided pressure sensitive adhesive specifically designed for fabric. No sewing or iron pressing necessary. Simply press-on and go! Machine washable and dryable, do not dry clean. Use to permanently attach patches, felt shapes and other appliques to sashes shirts and more! Great for scout badges, ribbon, and appliques. Safe and non-toxic. Before using Fabric Fuse Adhesive, always PRE-WASH all material without using fabric softeners (in washer or dryer). Always pre-test adhesive on sample materials 4.25″x 5″ 5pc
Hand or Machine Sewing?
Hand sewing isn’t all that difficult for patches with borders that wrap around the edge. I use masking tape to hold the patch in place, turn the uniform inside out and sew the patch on by stitching through the raised border not the patch itself. You don’t have to force the needle through the patch, just catch the border. You can hide the stitches behind the patch this way and will only need one thread color that matches the shirt rather than the patch.
Machine Sewing means you’ll be sewing through the patch and that will require thread colors that match the patch if you don’t want the stitching to show. I prefer Badge Magic or hand sewing.
What About All Those ‘Extra’ Patches?
Scouts tend to accumulate lots of event and activity patches (camporees, cub weekends, hikes and trips, etc.) We call these ‘temporary insignia’. Scouts can sew one temporary insignia of their choice on the right hand pocket of the uniform shirt. Here’s a hint – if the patch in question is not mentioned in the official uniform inspection guides above it is probably a temporary insignia.
But what do you do with the temporary insignia patches, badges of rank, etc when you remove them from the shirt? Here’s some options:
One option is a patch vest available from Scoutstuff.org This red, acrylic vest may be worn with any official Scouting uniform.
Another way to display patches is on a patch blanket. Any blanket will do but there is one available from Scoutstuff.org – a classic patch blanket. with a gold fleur-de-lis screened in one corner.
A third option is to create a framed display. Scouting magazine has a great article about making a patch display.
Check out my Pinterest board for more ideas!
Are There Patch Police?
Short Answer; No!
There are no officials or volunteers who are appointed to go around and tell everyone where to wear their patches!
Occasionally you’ll run into someone who THINKS they are supposed to tell everyone else how to wear the uniform and wear patches. However well-intentioned they may be many of these self-appointed patch police can be a bit rude and self-important.
If your Scout comes home upset that someone told them they are wearing their patches in the wrong place it’s a great opportunity to talk to them about working with difficult people. Then you can use the resources here to sort things out and make changes if needed.
Some Scout units have uniform inspections using the Uniform Inspection Forms I have linked to above, hopefully they have done this in a friendly, helpful, courteous manner that encourages rather than discourages Scouts.