As an adult volunteer, Dave Herbig heard only one complaint from fellow parents about Scouting: They hated sewing on patches. As for getting the Scouts to pick up a needle and thread or sit down at the sewing machine? Yeah right.
This meant that sometimes it took months for the Scouts in Troop 626 to show up wearing their latest merit badges or rank patches. He believed this delay compromised the motivational aspect of receiving badges as rewards for a Scout’s accomplishments.
There had to be a better way. In 2004, after two years of research and development, Dave invented one: Badge Magic.
A decade later, Scouters and Scouts are buying Badge Magic like crazy — enough to attach 40 million patches so far. It’s one of the best-selling items at local Scout Shops, behind only official uniform items.
Their uniform kits for each rank have cutouts in the shapes of all of the required badges. All you need to do is select the cutout matching the badge, remove the protective cover, and place the badge on the sheet. Then remove the patch (with the adhesive now attached to the back) and push it onto the uniform. And they withstand multiple washings. In other words, you’ll spend less time sewing and more time Scouting.
Scouting magazine recently spoke with Dave to learn more about Badge Magic.
Scouting magazine: What do you have against sewing?
Dave Herbig: (Laughs) Nothing really. If you can sew and have the time, that’s great. But most of us can’t or don’t want to sew. It’s the biggest unpleasant aspect of the Scouting program. When Scouting was founded, sewing was a useful skill used by almost everyone. It was needed to darn socks, hem pants, replace buttons, take in and let out clothing, and more. Every household had a sewing machine readily accessible. There was even a Sewing merit badge! Life’s different today. A survey in 1989 said less than 9 percent of the population sewed at home. And that was a quarter-century ago!
SM: And it’s not exactly the fastest way to attach a patch, either.
DH: Exactly. Fewer people know how to sew and have less time to do so, especially today’s mothers of Scout-age children. When I was assistant Cubmaster and my wife was committee chairwoman, we had a meeting at our house every month with all the den leaders to discuss the upcoming monthly activities. At nearly every meeting I heard parents complaining about sewing on the patches. It was the most common sore spot among parents.
SM: Is it your experience that patches get put on uniforms quicker with Badge Magic versus sewing?
DH: Absolutely, which increases the motivational impact of the awards and advancement program. After several pack meetings or courts of honor, the badges and patches keep on coming. In bigger numbers! A lot of times Mom or Dad falls behind in sewing and starts putting the patches in a drawer. This discourages Scouts from earning more awards!
SM: But with Badge Magic …
DH: With Badge Magic, the parent and son use the included Uniform Guide to attach the patches right after the awards ceremony. Eventually the Scout learns how to put them on himself, using Badge Magic, meaning he’s even more proud of his accomplishments.
SM: This stuff is pretty strong. Is it hard to remove?
DH: Well with adhesives there is always a trade-off between sticking well and easy removal. The trick was to find the right balance, and we did. When a Scout outgrows his uniform shirt, he can get it dry-cleaned with the industry-standard Perc process to remove all the patches. They’ll just fall off so have the shirt put into a laundry bag first. Then he can hand it down to a younger Scout and put his old badges on his new shirt. You can also use common household adhesive removers like Goo Gone® or Goof Off® if you only need to remove a few patches.
SM: We’ve heard from a lot of Scouters who thought Badge Magic was an iron-on. But it’s not, right?
DH: That’s a common misconception. Badge Magic is a peel-and-stick adhesive. Pressure, not heat, activates it. We’re actually going to change the instructions for next year to warn against ironing and to tell users to push the badges onto the uniform with as much pressure as possible.
SM: Ever seen people use Badge Magic for something other than patches?
DH: All the time. I’ve seen it used for hemming, adding name labels, repairing tents and backpacks, fixing holes in sweaters, creating Halloween costumes, home repairs and more. I think of it like double-sided duct tape.
SM: We saw you guys at the 2013 National Jamboree with a Badge Magic patch blanket. What was the story there?
DH: Yeah, it’s great for patch blankets. At the jamboree we gave away two of Pedro’s donkey blankets covered with council patches — all attached using Badge Magic. Here’s a photo of one of the winners with his new blanket:
SM: What if people have problems or questions?
DH: We’re very responsive; just email us at support@BadgeMagic.com and a real person will get back to you right away.
SM: Thanks to Dave for talking to us, and check out BadgeMagic.com to learn more.
After 25 years of scouting, pls do not use adhesive of any kind to put badges on scout shirt. It leaves a residue that will not come out. Ever!
Cycling shirts through the scout years to keep everyone in uniform means patches/badges change.
Almost every unit has a Gramma that will gladly sew for the unit. Just ask and you will find her.
AND, at troop level, scouts/scouters are to do their own sewing.
A number of the people in my Scout Troop use Patch Magic. Others sew the patches on. It’s easy to tell who uses which process, as the Patch Magic users have patches on their uniform that are partially peeling off, especially at the corners, after a couple of trips through the dryer, whereas the people who sew their patches on always look good. The exposed adhesive quickly picks up lint in the dryer, so the patches never stick back on and the dark color at the corners and edges is very noticeable.
I tell parents that if they want to use Patch Magic to stick the patch down while they sew it on, great – but don’t expect the product to hold the patch on by itself. And on a Boy Scout shirt, where you want to change the rank or office patch occasionally but not the Council patch, Troop number, etc., dry cleaning the shirt would mean you’d have to knock all the patches off to change one or two. I’m sorry, but I am not a fan.
It is junk, it isn’t that hard to sew a patch. Do it right or don’t do it at all. Disappointed that you are advertising this crap.
I realize this is a sponsored article so this is all about the money.
I sew patches on for scouts and fellow scouters. I have sewn new patches on new uniforms because the old ones were completely ruined with this stuff. I cringe when I hear of people using it.
My recommendation. Stand up for doing things not just a good or better way, stand up for doing thing the best way… sew your patches on: Good (Hot Gluing or bubble gum). Better (Badge Magic). Best (Sewing).
As a Scout in 1989 I took pride in the fact that I sewed all my patches on my uniform, my backpack, my merit badge sash, and anything else. My mother didn’t sew my patches on, either. The Girl Scouts sold out to Badge Magic several years ago, before my daughters got into the Girl Scout program.
The biggest complaint, “I waste my money buying something that falls off and ruins their uniform, sash, or vest only to have to sew the patch on later anyways.” Active kids ensure that patches attached with Badge Magic or other adhesive products will fall off.
The BSA has now sold out to a corporation selling its goods too. My recommendation. Stand up for doing things not just a better way, stand up for doing thing the best way… sew your patches on.
Badge Magic is neither “crap” nor “panacea”. It is what it is. It will stick the badge/patch on the shirt or blanket neatly, and quickly. It is NOT permanent. If ironed, it WILL leave a residue that is all but impossible to eliminate. If only PUSHED on, the adhesive can be removed by GooGone, WD40, dry cleaning, etc.
My complaint is not about Badge Magic.
My complaint is about the plastic backing all new patches now have. True, it makes them lay flat and no doubt last longer, look prettier longer, but geesh, it makes it soooo much harder to actually SEW them on. Scrape and peel off the plastic backing and the sewing goes soooo much easier. I have patches from my Scout days that are still pretty, full of memories, without plastic on the back. They were easy to sew on originally, and easy to remove (sharp knife and care). Is it possible to specify NO plastic backing on the patch/badge we buy for Camporees and such?
I went so far as to take all the patches I collected from my Jamboree (trades and bought and given) and the red shirt-jac my wife gave me, pinned the patches where I wanted them, and took all to my drycleaners . There, the seamstress sewed everything on , neatly, for about $90. It was worth it.
Horror story: Scouter friend told of sitting at a campfire, and felt a motion behind him. He turned to find someone attempting to razor blade off an old Philmont patch from the back of his jacket. The commotion he said was not nice, the other person was removed/ejected from the camp.
Honestly I hate the stuff. I have used everything suggested to remove the patches. It doesn’t always come off. And our Pack uses hand me down uniforms for most of our Scouts.
All patches are not the same for everyone. So it tends to leave a residue. I make it point to tell our families sew the patches only.
sew a velcro strip on to the shirt and glue the velcro to the rank patch. the boys move up quickly and the patches are easy to revelcro. sew all merit badges and all others
The difficulty with the Velcro is that the edges of the badges tend to curl in the wash and look bad, and the badges can come off in the daily roughness of a bots life and get lost. After 12 years with my boy in scouts, using all the methods, I back to sewing as best and most versatile.
I used the Badge Magic on my first set of patches, but when I had to change from U.C. to A.D.C. it caused a mess and with the JTE patch having to change every year…it even caused a hole in my shirt. Use velcro, especially for a patch that ‘might’ change!!!
I can’t understand why BSA doesn’t use Velcro. Put the brush on the uniform and put the loop on the back of each patch. It would be great for the patches that are likely to change (position, rank, etc) and maybe even for ares like the CSP, unit numbers, etc.
It couldn’t add that much cost!