Embroidered Badges 101 – Chapter 4 (Badge Design)

Badge Design

We have seen that designing a cloth badge entails more than just creating an image. Having looked at the material, borders and type you now have a better understanding of the limitations and possibilities of what can be achieved with cloth badges. Now let’s look at the design itself.

Branding Guidelines

Often the most important aspect of the design is whether it needs to conform to any specific standards.

Scouts branding document outlines all the logos and colours that should be followed where Girlguiding have gone a step further in producing a badge design guide. This sets out the wording you must follow and its placement. For example, as the rules are currently, there is only one colour trefoil allowed so no sectional trefoils. Wording must contain the area, unit or district name otherwise you’d be giving the impression it was a nationwide official badge; and you must not change the trefoil in anyway to incorporate it into the design.

So you cannot change the trefoil into a face or add it to the uniform on the design, it must stand alone and be clear. All designs should be sent to and approved by a commissioner, area PR or emailed to HQ. Otherwise you’ll risk the design not complying and you won’t be able to use them.

Level of Detail

Particularly with Embroidered badges the level of detail should be kept to a minimum due to the limitations of the stitching as this doesn’t allow clear and sharp edges to the shapes. With woven you can achieve a far more detailed image such as our London badges where we have many different patterns and details.

Minimum Colours

Each manufacturer has a different range of threads available but often you can let them match the threads to your colours unless you have something specific. For example let them know the Pantone colour of the trefoil and any other branding colours. With woven they can often match to a pantone very well.

Always try and reduce the number of colours as much as possible. It helps if you are using a vector based software such as Illustrator as you can see how many colours you’ve used. Try and combine similar colours together as it’s often unnecessary to include small variations.

Remember the background is also counted as a colour and any white spaces or black outlines as well. An overlocking border however doesn’t count as this is not part of the main stitching process and is added afterwards.

Font Style

Trebuchet FontThere are two aspects of fonts to consider. Firstly does your branding guidelines state a specific font to be used? In Scouts there are a number of different fonts for each section but with Girlguiding Trebuchet is the main font that you should use.

The second thing to consider is the limitations of the stitching and how readable it will be. Try and not to use any elaborate fonts such as scripts or anything in italic. These don’t tend to show up very clearly. Capital letters can sometimes look boring but are the best way to have clear text on the badge.

It’s always a good idea to print your design at full size before having it produced to check everything looks good at the scale it’ll be made at and that fonts are not too small.


When thinking about what to actually show on the badge try and think about your audience. Are you just making a badge for your unit or specific event; or are you selling them to a wider aspect of people?

When it’s a unit badge you can make the information very specific to the event but if it’s a challenge badge that you intend on selling think of what you’d like or dislike to see when buying other peoples badges.

Keep it clear and simple with a main image at its centre. Often a cute or unique iconic image will grab the attention of people and make it something they really want to display on their campblanket.

Copyright and Trademarks

copyright-trademark-logoA very important thing to remember is whether you have permission to use the images contained on your badge. Trefoils are often trademarks and if you have permission to use them you often are restricted to how. Sometimes if you’re struggling to comply with all of these demands it’s easier to remove them and any references to any organisation and make it more generic, thus giving greater freedom of design.

Getting Clipart from the internet can be a minefield and you should always find out what license comes with each image used and save a copy of it. Anything such as Disney characters are a no go area and these corporations have been known to chase individuals who are making money selling unofficial items containing their trademarks. Beware also of grabbing snippets of other peoples work. Contrary to popular belief just changing same of the colours, details or only taking parts of an image is still copyright theft.

The type of license is also important. You can usually find images that are Royalty free for personal use, however if you’re planning on selling items with the image on you’ll often need an Extended License which is more expensive. Check the small print though as you can sometimes find that Charities are allowed to use the items but this would be specific to each vendor. If you are unsure don’t use it!

Don’t be tempted to just grab an image from a Google Search as often the blog or website are using the image without permission, instead go to clipart and vector stock image websites such as VectorStock and Shutterstock. Or better still get someone to draw an image for you; it’ll be unique to your badge and you can be sure you’re allowed to use it. There are companies who regularly run searches across the internet automatically looking for images similar those in their libraries so don’t chance it.

Final Word…

Making your own badge is a fun and rewarding experience. Often you can raise a good amount of funds for your units if you create a well thought out and useful challenge with a good looking badge.

Get designing and seek professional assistance from badge manufacturers who are always happy to take your drawings and tweak it into a badge you’ll be proud to display for years to come.


Chapter 1 – Manufacturing Types
Chapter 2 – Borders and Threads
Chapter 3 – Badge Backings 

I hope you’ve found this article on cloth badge backings useful and final chapters will be uploaded very soon. If you are looking for custom cloth badges there are many good UK based companies around which can be found by searching custom embroidered badges uk in Google.

Don’t forget to visit BadgeFreaks for all our ready-made cloth badges and pins!

Embroidered Badges 101 – Chapter 3 (Badge Backings)

Cloth Badge Backing Options

A number of options are available for the backing of cloth badges which include iron-on, Velcro or even no backing at all. In this article we explore these different options and whether they’re worth adding them.

Standard / No Backing

Cloth Badge Backings

Cloth Badge Backings

The most common backing is surprisingly not to have anything at all. As your badge will be sewn onto something it won’t therefore be seen. Prior to sewing with embroidered badges you’ll see all the threads poking through and tied off. With woven badges the standard is usually to have a plain fabric otherwise the badge can be very thin.


A very popular backing, particularly in America, is to have an iron-on fabric. In essence this is a glue applied to a plain backing fabric which will melt and stick the badge to a cloth when heated with an iron. This of course makes applying your badges to clothing or a blanket very easy but can detach particular when washed.

A top tip would be to use this method to position your badges and hold them in place while you then sew them on.

None of BadgeFreaks’ badges are iron-on as we find it hardens the feel of the badge unnecessarily. Most people don’t particularly like the iron-on backing and you can always use a fabric glue to apply your badges such as Copydex or Hemming Tape.

Iron-on backing usually adds around 7-8p per badge to custom orders.


Not as popular as the other backings but Velcro can be very useful for badges with need to be interchanged or taken off temporarily. Often these are used for military and police badges.

Velcro does tend to be more expensive at around 25p extra per badge.

PVC (plastic backing)

A plastic backing is quite rare and is usually added for specialist badges. BadgeFreaks’ Blank Craft Badges have this backing to stop any fabric pen ink from bleeding through the badge. It looks very similar to the iron-on backing however rest assured we’ve designed them to allow high temperatures without melting so that you can use iron-on transfers.

Next … Chapter 4 – Cloth Badge Design

Chapter 1 – Manufacturing Types
Chapter 2 – Borders and Threads

I hope you’ve found this article on cloth badge backings useful and final chapters will be uploaded very soon. If you are looking for custom cloth badges there are many good UK based companies around which can be found by searching custom embroidered badges uk in Google.

Don’t forget to visit BadgeFreaks for all our ready-made cloth badges and pins!

Embroidered Badges 101 – Chapter 2 (Borders and Threads)

Badge Borders and Shapes

There are 2 options for the edge of a cloth badge, merrowed and heat cut.

Overlocking or Merrowed Border

Overlocking Merrowed Border

Overlocking Merrowed Border

The most popular and standard edge is an overlocking border which is also called merrowed border. After the badge has been cut out a thread is continuously looped over the edge all around the circumference. This is a really nice finish and protect the edge of the badge.

Heat Cut Edge

Heat Cut Edge

Heat Cut Edge

Occasionally a merrowed border is not possible if the shape of the badge is a custom shape following the edge of the design. Often in this case a Heat cut border is the only option which is where the badge has been cut out using a laser tool to form the custom shape. We’ve found this actually helps when sewing the badges onto clothing or blankets as custom shapes can be quite difficult so without a ridge border sewing around the edge is much easier.

Which border is best?

Generally a merrowed border, when possible, should always be chosen but this must be weighted up against having an unusual custom shape. We’ve found with custom shaped embroidered badges such as our bag packing badge that not having a border looks very good. With woven, as the surface is very flat, a border can help give it some 3D texture however when the custom shape is more important such as our fundraising badge we feel the uniqueness of the design warrants the shape over changing it to say a circle just to allow a border.

Thread Colours

Embroidery Thread Card

Embroidery Thread Card

The thread colours available will differ between manufacturers and they should be able to send you a sample book to choose from. With embroidered badges you’ll normally have a chose of a couple of hundred threads and you just need to match them by eye to what you require. Woven threads can often be matched to a Pantone colour.

Word of caution though, if the sample threads are an image sent to you by email the colours can look very different depending on the monitor settings. The best option is to create your design on the computer using CMYK setting (not RGB) and print it out for a final check. The colours can still differ depending on the printer but unless you’ve a professionally configured printer this is your best option. Then get the manufacturer to match the thread to the CMYK colour.

If designing a badge to fit branding guidelines you should be able to find the exact Pantone or CMYK colours. Be careful when specifying Pantone colours however as the same colour can have a number of finishes, often depicted by a letter at the end of the code and this can effect the look of the colour.

Special Threads

Special Threads

Special Threads

You don’t have to limit yourself to just colour either. Some manufactures can offer metallic gold and silver, neon and glow-in-the-dark threads. These will come at an extra cost so should only be used sparingly. For example our First Aid badge is green with the text and symbol in a glow-in-the-dark thread and our Will and Kate wedding badge had a gold crown.

Chapter 3 – Cloth Badge Backings

I hope you’ve found this article on cloth badge borders and threads useful. If you are looking for custom cloth badges there are many good UK based companies around which can be found by searching custom embroidered badges uk in Google.

Don’t forget BadgeFreaks for your Ready-made cloth badges and pins!

Embroidered Badges 101 – Chapter 1 (Manufacturing Types)

Welcome to the 1st in a series of articles detailing everything you need to know about Embroidered Badges. Here in Chapter 1 you’ll learn about the different types of cloth badge.

At BadgeFreaks we’ve been designing unique cloth badges since 2007 and we’d like to share our experience and knowledge with you on choosing the right specifications as well as how to design an appealing badge that people will want and cherish.

Embroidered badges, or patches as they are often known outside the UK, come in all shapes and sizes. There are also a variety of manufacturing techniques which effect their style, shape and feel. In this article we will explore the different types of manufacturing types and the subtle details which you need to be aware of when designing and buying your badges.

Manufacturing Types

There are 3 main ways of producing a cloth badge and choosing the right one needs some informed consideration. Different types have different limitations and benefits so we’ll look at each one in detail.

Embroidered Badges

Embroidered Badge Stitching DetailThis method is possibly the most familiar one where an embroidery machine will create individual stitches through a piece of cloth. Each colour of thread has to wait it’s turn and often a machine is limited to around 8 different coloured threads. More colours can be achieved by setting up a second production run on the same badge which requires more time and setup costs thus it helps to keep colours to a minimum.Using embroidery to add a design to a piece of cloth is the traditional technique which is probably why most badges are referred to as embroidered when often they are not.

The texture has an embossed feel as stitches are layered on top of the base cloth and on top of one another. Once the design is complete the cloth is trimmed to the required shape and a border added. We will look into this more later in the series.

Embroidered badges are great for small quantities or designs that will benefit from the additional texture such as our Crazy Guider Badge where the stars have an almost 3D look. Minimum orders for custom embroidered badges are usually around 50 -100 badges.

Woven Badges

Woven Badge Stitching DetailHere a type of loom waives all the threads at the same time and builds up the badge design in rows creating one large cloth with hundreds of badges on it. These are then cut out and finished as required. As the threads all knit together equally the feel of the badge is very flat.Woven badges are becoming the norm for mass-produced, often official, badges. These can be described as being very similar to a woven tie as the manufacturing process is very similar.

The main advantages of woven vs embroidered is that they can be produced quickly and in very large quantities thus making them cheaper. The machine can handle a larger number of threads (often around 10+) and as the threads are closely packed together you can achieve far superior detail and sharper text enabling more flexibility in its design.

Woven badges are more suited for large production runs and highly detailed designs such as our Christmas 2014 Badge which has small snowflakes and a very detailed lantern. Minimum orders are usually around 500 badges but it often works out cheaper than embroidered runs of a few hundred.

Digitally Printed Badges

Examples of Printed Cloth BadgesPrinted badges are simply ink on cloth much like passing a blank cloth badge through a printer. The process is called sublimation and is the same technique for direct t-shirt printing using heat to transfer dye to the material. Inks tend to be high quality and permanent so should not cause any issues.

Personally we’re not big fans of printed badges here at BadgeFreaks as we prefer the more traditional cloth badges but in a commercial setting they have some advantages. Some large companies such as Girlguiding and Scouts often produce they’re badges in this way as they are a lot cheaper, and sometimes more importantly quicker, in the huge quantities required.

There are also fewer limitations with printed badges as colours can be blended and therefore gives an unlimited colour range. There are fewer companies providing this type of badge but you can sometimes find them offering a no minimum quantity requirement so they could be considered for one-off single badges. Turnaround can be within a matter of days rather than around 4 weeks for cloth badges.

Looking for more… Chapter 2 – Borders and Shapes

If you are looking for custom cloth badges there are many good UK based companies around which can be found by searching custom embroidered badges uk in Google.

Which Special Dates in 2014 will you be Celebrating?

National Holidays in 2014

Special Dates where we celebrate or reflect on a specific subject is a great time to organise an evening or event.

We’ve already had enquiries asking which event badges we shall be producing as stock badges and whether they are availability.

We shall be producing 2014 versions of all the badges we made this year. Plus we’d like to add new designs and would appreciate your help. If you have 2 mins (probably won’t take that long!) please email us with any suggestions.

Special Dates in 2014*

We’ve included all the main national holiday dates below, in chronological order, to help you in organising your activities. We’ll be providing badge for many of them so please tell us which would you like an embroidered badge for?

  • Robert Burns Night (25 January 2014)
  • Australia Day (26 January 2014)
  • Chinese New Year (Horse 31 January 2014)
  • Valentine’s Day (14 February 2014)
  • Thinking Day (22 February 2014)
  • St. David’s Day – Welsh Daffodil (01 March 2014)
  • St. Patrick’s Day – Irish Shamrock (17 March 2014)
  • Mother’s Day (30 March 2014)
  • Easter Sunday (20 April 2014)
  • St. George’s Day – English Rose (23 April 2014)
  • Father’s Day (15 June 2014)
  • Independence Day (04 July 2014)
  • Harvest Festival (19 September 2014)
  • Halloween (31 October 2014)
  • Diwali (03 November 2014)
  • Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night (05 November 2014)
  • Remembrance Sunday (09 November 2014)
  • St. Andrew’s Day – Scottish Thistle (30 November 2014)
  • Christmas Day (25 December 2014)

International Awareness Days

  • British Sandwich Week (16th May 2014)
  • Volunteer Week (6th April 2014)
  • World Environment Day (5th June 2014)
  • Queen’s Birthday (21st April 2014)
  • Armed Forces Day (28th June 2014)
  • Talk like a Pirate Day (19th September 2014)
  • Roald Dahl Day (13th September 2014)
  • World Blindness Month (October 2014)
  • World Architecture Day (3rd October 2014)
  • International Day of Tolerance (16th November 2014)
  • World AIDS Day (1st December 2014)


Our end of year badges are already available such as Christmas Day, Remembrance Day Poppy, Halloween and St. Andrew’s Day Thistle.

Before Christmas we will make available our Australia Day, Chinese New Year (Horse!) and Valentine’s Day.

In January we shall provide all the Patron Saint and thinking day badges.

New Badge Designs

We also intend to add some new badges throughout the year such as some more Owls (Wise, Eagle and Elf) plus some more fun badges.

Some of those previously suggested are Trooping of the Colour, Generic Happy Birthday, Thank You, Geocaching, Attendance Award, More Nights Away, Outdoor Cooking, humorous camping badges, Seasonal camps, QM, UK international, Theatre.

Which days will you be Celebrating?

Here are our current Event Badges

* Please note these dates are correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication and could change.

Crime Prevention and Fire Safety Badges

Two new embroidered badges will be available from 7th October. These are our Fire Safety badge and our Crime Prevention badge. Both badges are embroidered, 2.5” diameter in size with a overlocking or merrowed border.

Fire and Crime Badges

The Fire Safety badge features a female fire fighter, American style. These can be used for a fire safety evening, perhaps where a member of the fire service has given a talk, or to represent a visit to a fire station.

The Crime Prevention badge features an image of a policeman. These can be used for a crime awareness and prevention evenings, perhaps where a member of the police service has given a talk or put identity marks on their bicycles’, or to represent a visit to a police station.

Would like your Unit name added?

An alternative to our ready-made cloth badges are our unit name pin badges with both these designs available as button badges and can be customised at no extra cost, priced at just 50p each. We can also change the name of the badge to something else such as Fire Station Visit or Police Station Visit.

Check out all our Event Badges

Christmas 2013 Badge

For those early planners out their Christmas is less than 100 days away and it’s a good idea to start thinking about your plans.

If you are doing any Christmas activities such as a challenge, church service or carol singing then this Badge would be perfect for your event. Or why not just give one as a Xmas gift!

Our Christmas badge is also great as an award for a craft night and is very popular with our Scouting and Guiding groups but equally great for schools and stocking fillers or a secret santa gift.

Merry Christmas 2013 Cloth Badge

This colourful and festive woven badge has excellent detail and has the words ‘Merry Christmas 2013’ with and an image of an girl Elf and sprinkling of snowflakes. This badge is specific to 2013 and is the 3rd version with previous years depicting a reindeer and Santa Claus. The size is 3″ square (approx 75mm x 77mm) with an overlocking border.

This badge is now on sale for just 25p each. Click here for your Christmas 2013 Badge

If you’re not an Earthling and need to know what it’s all about… Christmas Day in the majority of Christian western countries is on December 25th and celebrated all across the world commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Often a national holiday it is also celebrated in January in many Eastern countries.

This is a limited edition, exclusive badge and quantities are limited.

Happy Halloween 2013

Are you holding a Halloween Party, Sleepover or perhaps a Ghost walk? This Badge would be perfect for your event as a gift for your guests.

There are many misconceptions regarding the origins and reasons behind Hallowe’en which is often mistaken as a holiday that perhaps shouldn’t be celebrated. Possibly due to modern depictions in the movies. However it was traditionally called All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve and was observed by Western Christians on October 31st as a feast originally influenced by the Harvest Festival. Other influences are possibly pagan and Celtic. The current celebration of Halloween however has become something darker and isn’t generally celebrated by the Church with more enthesis placed on All Saints Day.

Our Halloween badge is also great as an award for a themed craft night and is very popular with our Scouting and Guiding groups. It would be equally great for schools and spooky children’s sleepovers on the night.

Happy Halloween 2013

This spooky oval woven badge has the words ‘Happy Halloween’ in horror type font, with an image of an Owl within a bright orange moon. The badge also has the year 2013 on it in blood dripping writing. The size is 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall (approx 75mm x 70mm) with an overlocking border. Produced as a woven badge to give a much greater quality in image allowing sharpness to the funky Halloween font.

Get your spooky Halloween Badge here for the sale price of just 25p each

This is a limited edition, exclusive badge for 2013 and quantities are limited.

Harvest Festival 2013 Embroidered Badge


Harvest Festival in the UK is celebrated in late September.

It is a celebration of a successful harvest and is on a Sunday around the autumn equinox, this year being 22nd September 2013.

The idea of the Harvest Festival as we know it dates back to the 1840’s when the church would be decorated with flowers and home grown produce and hymns such as “We plough the fields and scatter” and “All things bright and beautiful” would be sung.

This festival is often celebrated in Scout and Guiding and we’ve received many requests to include a special embroidered badge.

Harvest Festival 2013 Badge

I’m happy to announce that we have a fantastic oval embroidered badge depicting ploughed fields and a sunrise with an ear of corn. The badge also has the year 2013 on it. The size is 3″ wide x 2.5″ tall in diameter (approx 75mm x 60mm) with an overlocking border.

As this is a year specific badge quantity will be limited so please if you’d like this badge purchase early and not wait until the Sunday. We will of course be providing this badge again next year and hopefully include an activity pack for craft ideas.

This badge is now sold out however you can now get your new Harvest Festival 2014 badge here

Malvern Challenge

Malvern Challenge Stall

BadgeFreaks at Malvern Challenge

BadgeFreaks at Malvern Challenge

Just got back from our first camp as a stall seller at The Malvern Challenge this weekend in Cheltenham. BadgeFreaks was well received by both Guides and Scouts and we all had a fantastic time.

The Malvern Challenge is a large camp of over 3000 Scouts and Guides, run over a weekend the main challenge is a 7 mile hike with activity stops. The camp was very well organised with everything you’d ever need and plenty of entertainment.

BadgeFreaks provided the official Malvern Challenge 2013 cloth badge which is awarded exclusively to participant of the challenge. We thought as we were attending the camp anyway with our Guide group we thought why not have a stall selling our fun embroidered badges.

New Badge Designs

We produced two new stock designs specifically for the camp. The first being the rather bright and funky ‘Eat, Sleep, Camp’ woven badge which everyone loved. The second was our ‘Free Hugs’ woven badge which was so well received we almost caused complete chaos on the first night with hundreds of boys running around giving out Free Hugs to any willing girl who crossed their path.

Eat, Sleep, Camp

We also had great feedback on our generic Nights Away badges which fit together like a jigsaw. Plus a lot of leaders had a good chuckle at the ‘Cleverly Disguised as a Responsible Grown Up’ badge.

Free Hugs

One thing we will be adding in the coming months are more Scout themed cloth badges so watch this blog for new editions.

It was a fantastic atmosphere and we will definitely be going again next year which is the last ever Malvern Challenge and Sun Run. By which time we’ll have even more great badge designs. Lets hope the organisers can’t bring themselves to let go of the event and hopefully find an alternative venue for 2015!

The new badges are available from the BadgeFreaks shop.