Earning merit badges and then proudly wearing them on my merit badge sash was one of the highlights of my Scouting journey! However, sewing a patch onto a uniform or merit badge sash can be tricky. From one scout to another (or their parents), let me give you some insider tips on how best to attach that patch.
There are really only 4 resaonable ways to attach a patch to your merit badge sash:
- Sew the badge on by hand (super tough, not recommended)
- Apply an inexpensive cutout adhesive (My favorite method, I’d suggest using Badge Magic)
- Use an iron-on sheet
- Use a hot glue gun (works best in a pinch!)
In this article, I’ll walk you through each of these 4 methods and give you some pro-tips that I’ve had to learn the hard way. Plus, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about wearing and using merit badge sashes. Let’s get started!
If you’re trying to earn more merit badges, I’d also recommend you check out my article covering 3 fun and easy merit badges that can be earned in a day
Sewing a Merit Badge Onto a Sash (Not Recommended)
Using a needle and thread is one of the most secure ways of attaching merit badges and other patches to your merit badge sash. However, you are going to want to be very careful! Trust me, it isn’t a fun time stabbing your fingers while pushing a needle through the thick fabric of a patch.
The video (3:36) below details the best way to attach your patch using a sewing method. However, even with a sewing machine, this is a difficult way to attach your patches.
If you’re really determined to attach your patches using a needle and thread, you can jump to my additional sewing tips here. However, down below I’ll be sharing with you a few easier alternatives to sewing. 🙂
How to Attach Merit Badges Using Cutout Adhesive (My Top Method)
Attaching merit badges and other patches is fast and easy if you’re using a cutout adhesive backing. That’s a fancy way of saying a double-sided sticky goo! Badge Magic is what I personally used to use to attach patches back in my Scouting days.
Most brands of cutout adhesive backing will work on every size and shape of patch you can find. What’s so great about these kinds of adhesives is that they can be washed many times without coming loose.
However, if you want to swap out your patches, it’s also pretty easy to remove the backing with a spray-on adhesive remover. That should come in handy when you’re changing out your patrol patches!
Steps for Using Cutout Adhesive to Attach Merit Badges and Patches
Using Badge Magic or any other adhesive is fast and straightforward if you follow these steps closely. All you’ll need are a pair of scissors, a pen or pencil, and your patch adhesive.
- Place the badge in the corner of your sheet facing upwards. Carefully trace around the outside of your badge using a pen or pencil.
- Cut out the shape you just traced using a pair of sharp scissors. (Now is not the time to test your pocket knife skills, haha)
- Remove the printed covering of the Badge Magic sheet, making sure you leave the adhesive on the backing.
- Gently center the badge on the adhesive, pressing down firmly.
- Remove the adhesive’s backing and tuck any overhanging adhesive behind the badge.
- Carefully place the badge in the desired position on your sash. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, you can always shift it over before permanently setting it into place.
- Once you get the badge in the right location, press down as hard as you can on the front and back of the patch.
And there you go. You’ve successfully attached a badge to your sash without using a needle and thread! Also, don’t use an iron on a cutout adhesive patch. Badge Magic doesn’t require any heat to set your badges into place permanently. If you need to remove a badge for any reason, any spray-on adhesive remover will do the trick for you.
The following video (1:47) gives you step-by-step instructions for using Badge Magic’s Freestyle kit:
Using Hot Glue to Attach Scouting Patches (Best in a Pinch)
A hot glue gun is one of the cheapest and easiest ways you can attach merit badges and other patches to your sash! However, you are going to want to be careful if you go with this option. Placing your patches in the right spot the first time around is much more critical when you’re using hot glue.
If you’re going the hot glue route, keep in mind that this method is one of the least reliable ways to keep a patch attached. After a few months, you’ll likely need to resecure the patches that you’ve put through the heaviest wear-and-tear.
However, this method is perfect if you really need a patch put on and don’t have any other options aside from sewing. I’ll admit it – I’ve hot glued my merit badges on in the past! Down below, I’ll give you some ninja tips on how to hot glue your badges and patches on, the right way.
Steps for Using a Hot Glue Gun to Attach Merit Badges and Patches
Using a hot glue gun is pretty straightforward. However, you really shouldn’t touch the extremely hot steel nozzle! Duh. Anyway, here’s the best way to attach your patches using hot glue:
- Make sure that your glue gun tip is clear of old glue residue. You can use a toothpick to clean out the nozzle if it is blocked.
- Set your glue gun to its lowest setting. If you let your glue gun get too hot, you’ll run the risk of burning a hole in your sash!
- Plug your glue gun into a nearby electrical outlet. Once it’s hot enough, a bead of glue will start flowing from the tip.
- Gently squeeze the trigger to place a small dab of glue in the center of your patch. Make sure to smoothly apply it in swirls or dots.
- Carefully place the patch on your sash. Once you have it perfectly placed, use even pressure to set the glue.
- Add more glue on the edges of the patch, as needed, until the entire patch is firmly attached to your sash.
And there you go! Wasn’t that easy? Turn your glue gun off and get ready to rock your newly attached patch during your next troop meeting. 🙂
Using Iron-on Sheets to Attach a Merit Badge
You can also attach patches and merit badges to your sash using iron-on sheets! Having done a bit of research, it seems like Warm Company’s Steam-A-Seam 2 iron-on sheets are the best option for most scouts trying to iron on their patches. While I’ve personally never used this method to attach my own patches, I definitely know scouts who have.
I especially like the fact that iron-on sheets aren’t permanent until ironed. This means you can move your badge around as many times as needed until you’ve got them in the right place! Plus, if you also want to sew your badge onto your sash through the adhesive, most iron-on sheets won’t gum up your needles.
Steps for Using Iron-On Fusible Sheets to Attach Merit Badges and Patches
Using an iron-on sheet is pretty easy – all you’ll need are a good pair of scissors, a steaming iron, and a pen or pencil. Here’s how to do it:
- Place your merit badge or patch on the sheet facing upwards. Trace around the perimeter of your patch using a pen or pencil.
- Set the patch aside and cut out the shape you just traced using a sharp pair of scissors.
- Remove one side of the covering of the iron-on sheet and carefully place your badge or patch on top of it.
- Then, remove the other covering sheet and tuck any overhanging adhesive behind your merit badge or patch.
- Place the merit badge or patch where you want it on your sash. Since the adhesive isn’t permanent until ironed, you can take your time moving it into the perfect position.
- Run your iron over your merit badge or patch for about 25 to 30 seconds. It might also help to use the steam setting to ensure your patch is secured.
Easy-peasy! Your patches are secured and now able to stand up to washings, dryings, and Scouting activities.
Safely Sewing Merit Badges and Patches Onto Your Sash
As the Scout Motto reminds us, we should always Be Prepared. Part of being prepared is learning tips and tricks to safely do things the right way. If you’re determined to attach your patches using a needle and thread, in this sections I’ll tell you some useful hacks to do just that!
Below are four useful tips for safely sewing patches:
- Use a sharp needle: You probably already know about the importance of keeping knives sharp, as dull ones are more likely to slip and cut you. The same principle applies to needles. Forcing a blunt needle through a merit badge’s thick border requires extra force, which could lead to unexpected slips and injuries.
- Use the right kind of needle: Merit badges are thicker than typical fabrics, particularly around their borders where you want to place your stitches. Heavy-duty needles designed for leather or upholstery work best with these materials.
- Always use a thimble. Even the blunt end of a needle can pierce skin if pressed on hard enough by a finger or thumb. For that reason, you should always use a thimble to protect yourself from injury.
- Pre-attach your patches: Preattaching your patches using cutout adhesives, fusible sheets, or hot glue is also recommended, even when sewing on patches. This prevents the patch from accidentally slipping.
Frequently Asked Questions About Merit Badges and Sashes
What Order to Merit Badges Go on a Sash?
The Scouting Guide to Awards and Insignia doesn’t specify any particular order for placing merit badges on your sash. Most people add them to their sash as they’re are earned. However, it’s up to you.
I’ve seen some cool instances where a scout placed all of their Eagle-required badges in one long line along the middle of their sash. The drawback of this design though is that you’ll need to earn a lot more merit badges to keep your sash symmetrical.
How Do I Arrange Merit Badges on a Sash?
Merit badges can be displayed on the front of a sash with a maximum of three badges per row. Additionally, in some rare cases you can place temporary patches on the backside of the sash.
You might also consider arranging the required badges for Eagle Scout (the ones with the silver border) in a specific way to suit your own style. Personally, I just stuck em on as I got ’em!
Can I Display Merit Badges on My Uniform?
I haven’t met a single scout who puts merit badges on their uniform, but technically, yes, it is allowed. Apparently you can put up to six merit badges in three rows of two above the right cuff of the right sleeve of a long-sleeved uniform shirt.
How Do You Put Patches on Without Sewing?
As discussed above, you can put patches on your sash or uniform using cutout adhesive, double-stick iron-on sheets, or a hot glue gun. Additionally, you can use contact cement and other glues, but I would stick to the three methods discussed earlier. They’re the best alternatives to sewing and tend to last the longest.
Can Scouting Patches Be Ironed On?
Yes, as we covered earlier, you can iron on your Scouting patches, but only if you use double stick iron-on sheets. Most badges look like they have an iron-on backing. However, that backing is only there to keep the patch from curling.
Is There a Minimum Number of Merit Badges I Must Have on My Sash?
No, there isn’t any minimum requirement for the number of merit badges you can display on your sash. As soon as you earn your first one, you can put it on your sash and show off your new award!
When Do I Wear My Merit Badge Sash?
Typically, you’ll only wear your merit badge sash for formal events and activities. Personally, I’ve only ever worn mine at official ceremonies like troop Court of Honors, and special public events.
How Do I Wear My Merit Badge Sash?
Your merit badge sash is only ever worn over your right shoulder on your BSA uniform. You cannot wear it on your belt, and you shouldn’t wear more than one sash at a time. You can always attach merit badges to the back of your sash if you run out of room on the front. Alternatively, I’ve also seen scouts purchase 2 sashes to hold all of their badges.
Who Can Wear Merit Badge Sashes?
Scouts BSA and Varsity Scouts are the only groups to formally wear merit badge sashes. Sea Scouts don’t wear a merit badge sashes because, technically, they are unable to earn merit badges.
How Do I Wear My Merit Badge Sash Pin?
The merit badge sash pin is worn on the shoulder, parallel to your epaulet, to secure your sash to the epaulet.
There you have it. You’re now an expert on merit badge sashes, and ready o earn the 21 merit badges you’ll need to earn the rank of Eagle Scout!
Earning Eagle is tough, but I know you can manage it by being prepared. If you’re on your journey to Eagle, I’d highly recommend you check out my Difficulty Rankings To Every Eagle-required Merit Badge. In this article, I’ll tell you the best order to earn your badges. Plus, you can even check out the links to my complete merit badge guides when you have the chance!
Thanks for checking out ScoutSmarts and for making our world a better place through your involvement in Scouting. I hope you’ve found this article useful and, until next time, best of luck on your Scouting journey! 🙂