The Battle Of The Badges

I knew that motherhood would bring its share of challenges.

Sleepless nights.

Potty training.

Terrible threes (I don’t care what anybody says; the twos have NOTHING on the threes).

First day of kindergarten.

Etc. and so on and so forth amen.

But I have to say: nothing – NOTHING – could have prepared me for a challenge I’ve faced over the last couple of months. It blindsided me – hit me out of the blue – and even now the mere thought of it makes my heart race and fills me with a lingering sense of dread.

I’m talking, of course, about Cub Scout badges.


Now granted, I don’t really know how to sew. Even still, I felt certain that I could attach the little guy’s badges to his uniform before his first den meeting. But just in case I couldn’t – JUST IN CASE – I made sure that I had a back-up plan. And my back up plan was an industrial-size pack of safety pins.

After ONE HOUR of trying to sew on badges that are apparently made of an impenetrable material that can only be attached to fabric with a hammer and nails, I managed to tack on the smaller badges and run a single three-inch long stitch across the biggest badge. I knew that the badges wouldn’t hold for long, but since I didn’t have a drill and/or a set of grommets nearby, I decided that I’d try to use the safety pins.

The safety pins, however, were completely uncooperative. I tried to push them through, only to watch them bend into unrecognizable shapes. I’m sure that a more experienced seamstress could have made those safety pins submit, but all I could seem to get them to do was to jab my thumb and and consequently make me VERY ANGRY.

Despite my frustration, I was bound and determined that THE BADGES, THEY WOULD NOT BEAT ME, and that is why I sent my child to his first scouting event with badges that were attached to his sleeves with a tiny bit of thread and an obnoxious amount of Scotch tape. We like to keep things klassy, you understand.


The badges survived the first few meetings (I KNOW!), but tonight I knew that I had to step it up a notch. The biggest badge was just about to fall off, so I took a deep breath, grabbed my box of safety pins and summoned all of my courage. It was time for action.

And do you know what happened? DO YOU KNOW?


I don’t want to overstate it, but I’m pretty sure that it’s the crowning achievement of my life as a mama.

I don’t know when I’ve ever been more proud.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email


  1. Aw, bless your heart!

    I think I remember (back in the day – perhaps 17 years ago!) attaching my daughter’s Girl Scout badges with a fabric adhesive. But I can’t remember if it worked for the long haul.

    Scouts is a great thing! Remember that :-)

  2. I am currently living with a Three who only recently found her voice (literally, the girl didn’t talk at all six months ago), and JUST discovered the Power of No. Pity me.

    Re: the badges, you might check with a local tailor. We have one in town who will sew them on for $1 each.

  3. …We only had a girl scout, but her badges were “iron on.” You may want to check that out, too.

  4. Welcome to the sisterhood of the bruised fingers.
    I have four words for you as the aging mother of a 21-year-old. A wise woman shared them with me years ago, and there’s pretty much nothing that can’t be fixed by the following:

    STITCH WITCHERY (hideous name, glorious product.)

    Much love,

  5. I absolutely understand your pain as I don’t sew either. I’ve been known to throw a shirt away if it needed a button reattached and I have worn pants hemmed with masking tape for YEARS (one pair of pants, hemmed with tape…worn for years). Ha!
    The cubscout badges flummoxed me too until some caring soul told me you could take the whole mess to an alterations shop and they would attach them. Success! Not necessarily inexpensive but I didn’t want my kid to look like I couldn’t sew…which I can’t. :)

  6. Hey, you need to go to Michaels and look for Fabric Fusion! You brush it on stick it to the shirt and you are done. WA-LAH. I figured that one out when we had Indian Princess badges to attached to a SUEDE vest.

  7. My friend Kathy Smith says, “They don’t tell you about Science Fair when you are thinking about getting pregnant.”

  8. Hot Glue…Staples : )

    I may or may not have a small drawer in my sewing table containing a few misc. girl scout badges earned in the later years that did not make it onto the vests. For a while the girl scouts tried iron on but I could never make those work either.

    You deserve a badge of your own.

  9. After similar struggles with those hard-earned badges, I discovered the “store” at Boy Scout headquarters off Liberty Park exit sells sheets of patch adhesive; imagine peel/stick glue circles. Well worth the saving of your psyche!

  10. I have twins. Both in Scouts. Oh, and my husband is the den leader.

    Recently, I paid $60 to get everyone’s patches sewn on. I’m embarrassed to write that, but I couldn’t see an alternative. Like you, I was in PATCH SEWING HELL trying to get the suckers on.

    It would be a great side business for someone in the neighborhood…patch sewing! I would have loved to pay someone a dollar a patch. Even two. I paid the cleaners $4.

  11. Sophie, get thee to your scout store and buy BADGE MAGIC. It’s a lifesaver! No sewing required.

  12. Amen to Badge Magic! It can be found wherever you buy your son’s other Cub Scout apparel. I bought my 6 year old a size 8-10 shirt b/c I didn’t want to have to re-sew the patches in a year or two. Then the lady showed me Badge Magic and it was one of the happiest moments of my life!

  13. As a mom of a girl scout, I can completely relate! Those badges are of the devil; they must be stopped! I don’t believe Badge Magic was available in the 90’s. Praise God!

  14. I have a Boy Scout, a Cub Scout, and an American Heritage Girl, and these badges are terrible!!!!!

    Go to the Scout Store off Liberty Parkway, get some Badge Magic. It will change everything. It’s like double stick tape, but super-strong.

  15. I wish I’d known about Badge Magic. I learned how to use my sewing machine so I could sew badges on. Seriously, it was the overwhelming reason that I finally learned to use it.

    Now they are pretty easy for me to do. Of course, I don’t have much more to do, since my baby is a Life Scout and working on his Eagle badge. Sigh…

  16. Oh, one more thing – I found out last year that our Scout store has a sewing service. I wish I’d known about it years sooner!

  17. Well I’m feeling all antiquated now, but back when I was a girl scout, oh, 20 years ago, my mom just hot-glued them on!

  18. Staple. When he gets to the wheel of progress and he’s bringing home a tiny little arch shaped one dang near every week staple those little buggers on the wheel. :)

  19. Boy, and I thought my girl’s Daisy Scout patches were a pain – and they iron on! I can’t believe they don’t make the Cub Scouts iron on too. Are you sure they aren’t??

  20. Ditto what some others have said…BADGE MAGIC! We got some at the place where we got his uniform. No sewing required, so easy! Thank goodness!

  21. This is why we dads do all the heavy lifting like hiking and hammering and pinewood derby-ing, leaving the accoutremont attachments to mom.
    Only, in our case, we have found the perfect solution – we get my wife’s mother to attach them!

  22. Oh,Boo Mama. What you need in you r life is a bottle of wonderful fabric glue! Just hop on over to your nearest craft store and you should be all set! :)

  23. Oh my goodness – thank you for posting this so that I could learn about Badge Magic in the comments. I have 3 kids in AWANA and have to sew on tiny badges on their little vests. And have about the same amount of sewing skills as you. So THANK YOU!

  24. As a former Girl Scout Mom, two words: hot glue!

    And I hate to tell you this but it gets worse. Letter jackets in high school! There was no way I was gonna get various patches( from drama competitions, volleyball tournaments etc.) on those leather sleeves, so I paid a tailor to do it.

  25. I know others are singing the praises of Badge Magic but I don’t care for it. If you dry the shirt in the dryer the Badge Magic softens and lint, etc from other items can stick to it. You end up with some icky edges around your badges. Also, if it is a badge that will be taken off and replaced at some point like the Boy Scout rank badges, getting the Badge Magic off cleanly can be difficult. I’ve chosen to sew my son’s badges by hand. You just need a really good thimble to save your fingertips. (Proud mom of a Life Scout that is well on his way to Eagle!)

  26. I was going to suggest the fusing tape. Comes in a roll and you just put it between and iron. I use it for everything. I have seen them use it on HGTV for hemming curtains.
    When my son’s ship was commissioned (USS Ronald Reagan, CVN 76) I went to Virginia to see the ceremony. He had a new emblem/insignia that needed to be attached to his dress uniform. So as we were sitting in the hotel room I sewed those suckers on for him. Now that was nerve-wracking. If it’s wrong, it’s not good!
    Joke on us. As the boat was not quite finished no one really had their own job to do yet. So he got stuck in the galley the whole day and missed the ceremony as well as Nancy Reagan and Dick Cheney. He wore his utilities (work clothes, blue)
    I called him from the flight deck 27 stories above where he was toiling. lol
    And that’s my boy/badge/emblem story.


  27. My first attempt at attaching badges to Scout sashes 20+ years ago was hilarious. First I sewed the badge to the couch, then I sewed it to my jeans. I vowed it would not get the better of me and eventually became quite the pro.

  28. Bring them when you come home. I have the hook up for you. She can do them all in about 3 minutes!!

  29. At my sons first meeting, the head guy (cub master, whatever his title is) took a look at my sons patches on his shirt, looked at me and said “that one there is a little crooked. You get another try at sewing that on.” I know how to sew but you are correct naming those badges as impenetrable. If looks could kill that cub man would no longer be with us. The very first badge they should have to earn is a sewing one because the scouts LOVE their patches!

  30. Miss Tammy says:

    You are NOT alone, child…definitely get you some of the iron on stuff the ladies are talkin’ about!

  31. To sum up the drama in the words of my 10 y-o niece, “Nana, do you know why brownies are better than cub scouts?” – no child, why?
    “Because brownies just have to Iron on the patches. Why do the boys have to sew?”

  32. Two words: Liquid Stitch! My cub scout uniform savior!

  33. Mary Kat's Mom says:

    The same thing happened to me only with Pioneer Club sash badges and after getting numerous pin sticks someone told me they were iron on! ! I like the Liquid Stitch idea! ! !

  34. Strawberryrose says:

    A hot glue gun is how I survived.

  35. Keri Always says:

    2 words: hot glue

    The Daughter’s Dr Seuss costume was assembled with it and it has held up to washing.

    My brother, on the other hand, swears by staples, but you’ll agree that no ordinary stapler will handle a Cub Scout badge.

    HOT GLUE!!!

  36. Go to the Girl Scout store and buy “Badge Magic”. Best stuff ever invented!!! You won’t be sorry – makes all the badges iron on.

  37. I wonder what the difference is, because my daughter’s Brownie uniform badges are iron on. Is this a girl thing? Why can’t the boys’ badges be iron on?

  38. I have a Girl Scout. I bought clear thread at Walmart (about $1). It won’t matter how tiny your stitches are since they won’t be seen. I use it with my sewing machine and you can’t tell at all that I sew all over the patch with crooked lines.

  39. My girl scout badges were iron on, my Mama didn’t sew, and if they had not been iron on, I can guarantee that fabric glue or duct tape would have been involved. And completely agree with you on 3 being worse than 2, hands down!

  40. Hey! I remember having to do Will’s badges several years ago (before he quit) and I know I used some type of stick on product, but I don’t remember which one. But guess what! I had my first sewing lesson the other day!!! Yes, my 41st year of life will (hopefully) contain 2 major accomplishments that I can mark off the list: learning to sew, and my first marathon!

  41. Oh my, I can so appreciate this. I don’t have experience with Cub Scouts badges, but I am in my fourth year of trying to put Cubbies patches on AWANA’s vests and I can only confess that my daughter has less than half of her patches on because the blasted things are made with the intent of testing and trying ever mother’s patience worldwide. They are made to ensure that we keep our minds filled with scripture lest we stood to the ways of the world and utter that which is unpleasing to the Lord.

    They are not made for mama’s like me who struggle to merely thread the needle much less actually do something productive with it.

    I feel for you! :)

  42. Our AWANA program is using Badge Magic this year and I really think that it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Ours come ready-made to fit each patch and it’s basically peel and stick. Like you, my son’s vest was covered in safetly pins, but no more! You need to inquire about the Badge Magic!

  43. Girl, I am feeling your pain (and maybe even a jab or two). I have suffered through the anxiety of wondering if my son’s badge would make it through the night (different club, same tough badges). Notice I’m not worried about my child, just that dang badge.

    I have lived with the humiliation of “hemming” jeans that were to big with duct tape or masking tape, and sending them forth with a word and a prayer and a belt.

    You just take a deep breath and tell those badges “You aren’t the boss of me!” Then go drown your sorrows in some chocolate. Works every time.

  44. Not to take away from your safety pin success, but I have two words for you: BADGE MAGIC. You need it. You will love it. I felt silly buying an adhesive at the scout store, but I’m telling you, it is worth every penny to not deal with the frustration of sewing or ironing on Brownie patches.

  45. Gotta love the Badge Magic! I avoid the above commenter’s problem by cutting the adhesive about 1/4″ smaller than the badge, so that when I iron it on, the adhesive does not come out around the edges of the badge. Also, when I wash his uniform shirt I hang it up to dry.

  46. 2 words: Badge Magic. Buy it at the Scout store. AWESOMENESS. No pins needed. Just a pair of scissors and, voila, badges stick on!!!

  47. I used iron-on stuff that I bought at a Cub Scouts dealer when I purchased my son’s uniform. Much better than sewing!

  48. Amy from Austin, TX says:

    Didn’t read all the comments, so somebody may have already covered this, but I’ve got 2 words for you: Badge Magic. It will CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!!! Carry on!

  49. I wonder if a stapler would work in a pinch? Or hot glue. Or fabric glue…that’s it! Fabric glue should keep those suckers on there.

  50. Aww…Boo…you and I could so be bffs. Girl Scouts really tried to kill my confidence as a mother. Oh, I can sell cookies like a Trump Apprentice winner, but UGGGHHHH – those darn patches!! You are a master. I bow to your prowess.

    And again – kindred spirits – I’ve long maintained that the Terrible Twos were just warm-up for the Thundering Threes.

  51. Elaine Lund says:

    Yeah, been there, done that. Those badges are made of steel!

  52. My son started karate a couple of months ago and he got a gi (his uniform) and a badge also. I was told to adhere (with an iron) the badge onto his right leg near the bottom (of the pants, not his actual leg…just for clarification) and if I needed to I could sew a few stitches around the edges just to make sure it stayed put. I knew I would need to do that, since I planned on washing it after every lesson. I ironed it on, and then I sat down to sew it on…it was so hard I cried. I was so frustrated! I finally figured out where the needle would go through more easily all the way around the dumb thing, and the next time we went to his class I saw that all the other students had their badges on their left breasts. I asked about it (for like the fifth time, since I had asked even before attaching it to his pants’ leg) and was told this time that it went on the breast of the jacket. I wanted to scream! I had to undo that job and then do it all over again. This time I was prepared for how difficult it was so I was able to conquer the task more efficiently, but dangit, you hit the nail on the head (haha) when you described that patch! Nails or a drill! :)

  53. You are totally going to love me for this one…BADGE MAGIC. It is a double sided fabric adhesive. They sell it along with the patches and badges wherever you buy them. You just cut out the shape of the badge, stick it to the badge, peel the other side, stick it to the fabric and voila, it is stuck. You then put it in the dryer for 15 mins to set it. I have never cried such tears of joy in my life, I tell you, as the first time I tried this badge magic.

  54. God knew what He was doing when He blessed you with a boy because, the Brownies? Their badges are triangular. That’s right. Some of them point up. Some of them point down. The girls whose moms clearly and visibly love them the most have them perfectly congruent. I think you smell what I’m cooking. Sewing + geometry = money in the bad word jar

  55. My son is now 14 and a Life Scout (1 step from Eagle) and started as a Tiger Cub, so I have sewn on a lot of patches and badges. My trick is to use HeatnBond, iron on adhesive on the patch. Iron the patch on the shirt, then do some tacking with invisible nylon thread. This way the patch is secure as you sew it and then doesn’t become removed when tossed in the dryer.
    I hope your son (and the family) is enjoying Cub Scouts. It is a terrific program and the boys get a lot out of it. As an Assistant Scoutmaster for the Troop and former Den Leader for the Pack (Tigers through Webelos II) I can’t tell you the satisfaction I get when “my boys” succeed at something new they are trying, or earn a new rank.
    Keep at it and be proud of those sore fingers!

  56. My husband has been a Scoutmaster for 21 years. Both our sons (now adults) are Eagle Scouts. My husband was also in the Army, and is a good ol’ Shelby County, Alabama Redneck boy, so NOTHING is too hard for him.

    In light of this, he always took care of sewing on all badges and insignia because my lick and a promise method didn’t make him happy.

    Anyway, I just asked him, and he handed me something that might change your life: Badge Magic! He got it from our local council office, but there’s also a website.

    In the meantime, enjoy the Scout experience!

  57. I have one word for you Boo, glue. When my daughter Emily did GA’s at church, she had badges galore. My sewing talents are limited to badly sewn on buttons, so fabric glue was my dear, dear friend.

  58. Heh. I have two sets of twins that are all in various stages of Scouting. The worst?? Changing packs, outgrowing shirts, and earning new badges that I have to sew on those darn shirts. OR! There’s the lovely tradition of updating patches for various anniversaries and requiring the old ones be replaced. Bleh.

    The good news is that with the older boys once they earn a merit badge it goes on a sash and doesn’t have to be moved. You only have to change out their rank badges, and that’s not as much.

    If you use the adhesive from the Scout store, PLEASE take their advice and remove it by securing the badges with pins and running the shirt through the dry cleaner. Do NOT try to remove the badges yourself, unless you want to spend some time with your fingers glued to each other. (cough) Not that I have any experience with that (cough).

    Also? I quickly learned to refuse to sew all the extra badges on to the shirt. I only sew rank badges for Cub Scouts, and all the fun badges they get are going on a quilt someday. For now they’re carefully sorted by child and safely stored in some lovely zip-loc bags.

    I think “sew your own badge on your shirt” should be the first merit badge for Scouting. Just sayin’.

  59. Oh my gracious! You have me laughing aloud and tearing up again… scotch tape! Poor Boo Mama:(

    I do solemnly vow to never allow my children to participate in anything that requires badges.

    Love, your long lost twin (I’m sure of it!),

  60. I am going to bed right now, but I WILL be back here tomorrow to find out the wealth of wisdom about this atrocity that has plagued me for countless years in the B.S.A.
    And for the record, superglue does NOT work.. (haven’t read thru the comments to see if that’s been suggested, so no offense) :)
    I’ll be back. With expectations that are so, so high, but I have faith in your internets (and I’m ever so grateful that you asked, dear one). :)

  61. I have sewed on enough Scout patches to give a girl carpal tunnel–I feel your pain. I have an easy(-ish) short cut–when I’m in B-ham, remind me and I’ll explain.

  62. There’s this miracle product, I think its called Bond-ex or something similar, that allows you to IRON the patches on. Just cut out a piece of the bond-ex-or-whatever and place it between the patch and fabric and press down with a hot iron for a few seconds. You can get it at craft stores, or in the sewing section of Walmart.

  63. I wish we could just sit and drink a glass of tea, and I’d be sitting there, sewing away for you. I would. I trust the tea would be really good…..

  64. Boomama….love your heart…..I can clearly remember having this same problem with scout badges 20+ years ago when my oldest son was in scouts. But, I can assure you that I did NOT have a sense of humor about it at all. You look at things with such grace and humor.

    I agree……the “Twos” get such a bad rap…..look out “Terrible Threes”!! My grandson will be 2 on Dec. 1. My daughter and son-in-law a supe=great parents but their time is coming :) It does a mother’s heart some good for her children to “get” her actions from their childhood.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Boomama! Is there a badge for that? I would so earn one witha turkey on it!!!:)

  65. My husband is an Eagle Scout. His mother taught him to sew his OWN STINKIN’ BADGES onto his uniform once he hit double digits. I am quite handy with a needle, BUT he won’t let me touch our boy’s badges. Hubs sews them on dutifully. Thank ALL that is good and holy. My DAUGHTER has had some iron on badges. . .he would not touch those things with a ten foot pole. The iron on attachment is BENEATH him. I’ve yet to meet a Boy Scout badge with iron on capabilities. Sorry.

  66. I have just read through the comments and have seen the suggestion of “badge magic.” I think it is GRAND. . .but I will not tell hubs because the sneering would begin. . .but I say GO FOR IT.

  67. You need Badge Magic. Someone else may have already mentioned this. They sold it at our Boy Scout store. It basically works like a sticker…very easy!

  68. Oh badges just did me in! we were living in Africa, and finally after months of my son suffering the humiliation of safety pins, I took them to a street tailor who did them all for 80 cents. Unfortunately I’d put it off so long that he didn’t have the shirt back in time for the meeting! And his leader was a Colonel in the Marines! We did not put on a good show… thanks to me…

  69. LINDA PAYNE says:


  70. I’m right there with you. My oldest started cub scouts this year and the AWANA badges are hard, but nothing compared to the cub scout badges.

    I made the fatal mistake of safety pinning his very first earned badge, the bobcat badge, on his uniform because I hadn’t had time to take it to my mom’s and whine until she sewed it for me. (yes, I’m 40 years old and my mom is 64 and yes, I can do most everything on my own, but I can’t sew.) The cub scouts went on the playground after the meeting and my son lost the badge!!! It was horrible. I got the worst mom of the year award from my son, my husband and basically all the other parents when he went to several meetings without it. The new den leader said he didn’t know how to order another one. (?) I had to drive an hour to the scout store and convince them that my son had, in fact, earned it and they sold me another one. After that I decided to pay to get them sewn on and I found a seamstress to do it for $1.50 a badge—TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!

  71. Two Words: Liquid Stitch! It helped me attach all those AWANA badges!

    Or you could just tell him, “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”

  72. Thank the good Lord for BADGE MAGIC and amen!

  73. I finally gave that up and pay a seamstress to do it. She only charges one dollar per badge and it is well worth it! His uniform just lost a little something when it was covered with blood stains from all my finger pricks. ;-)

  74. You take it all to an alterations/dry cleaners and they sew them on in no time flat. That’s what I did and never had a moments stress!

  75. i know im a little late, but im catching up on my blog reading from the holiday week. fabric glue is the best…it lasts through washings and just takes a second to do. the only negative….you have to allow enough time to dry (24 hrs) cant do it last minute. its better than badge magic, hot glue, fusible fabric…