Scouting magazine

SPONSORED: Spend less time sewing and more time Scouting

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 and a real person will get back to you right away.

SM: Thanks to Dave for talking to us, and check out to learn more.