Various clutch backings are the most common on lapel pins, but you can also find magnetic, bent leg, and safety-pin backings as well.
What kind of backings do lapel pins have? There are three main types of materials for backings (e.g., metal, plastic, and magnetic) and various backing styles, including clutch, pin, and bent legs. This article will go over the different materials used and summarize each type and when it would be most useful.
The backing should mostly be determined by how and where you intend to wear the pin. For example, if you are wearing it with a costly article of clothing, then a magnetic backing might be best to decrease the risk of damaging the material. If you will be very active, then a bent leg backing would provide the strongest hold.
Most backings involve either metal or plastic clutches. Rubber clutches are incredibly popular at the moment for most accessories and fashion pieces as they are easier to make in bright colors to match the pin image. Metal is used for most professional pins as it is the most elegant looking.
Other backings come in hard plastic, rubber, magnet, or metal options. There may be multiple types of materials with varying affordability. Usually, metal and plastic are the cheapest.
Below are the pin backings that are most commonly used. If you are designing your own pins, you will want to make sure you choose the backing that goes best with your preferred use (e.g., deluxe clutch for expensive pieces, bent leg for highlight ensemble pieces, or safety-pin style for temporary pins).
The most used backing for all pins worldwide is the butterfly clutch. It comes with two parts. The small nail-like prong attached to the back of the pin is then pushed through the material you want to fix the pin to, and it is caught by a circular clutch that must be squeezed to accept and release the prong.
Although this is the most commonly used backing, it is not as reliable as others. Butterfly clutches tend to weaken over time, and if they are not correctly fixed, the grip is incredibly easy to lose. They can also be hard for some people to put on due to their tiny size.
These are great for bright colored, fun pins because they can come in virtually any color so you can have the backing match the image. They are similar to butterfly clutches, except they are made of thick rubber. Plastic options are also available.
These are essentially upgraded butterfly clutches. They are brushed metal and look very beautiful, but they are also built to last. This clutch is designed to stay in place over long periods, and it is one of the most stable backing options available. It is more expensive to add to your pin but well worth it for a pin you definitely do not want to lose accidentally.
These make suitable backings for gifts and are often seen on higher quality pins. If you are ordering pins for your employees or a special event (e.g., anniversary, etc.), they are ideal. The brushed metal gives it an expensive appearance.
These are the same as a standard clutch except the prong that goes through the material is much longer, and the sharp tip is usually capped by rubber or metal. These are ideal for pins that must go through a weighty fabric or multiple thick layers.
One of the most secure options is the flathead, which has an internal locking mechanism. They are not foolproof, but when compared to butterfly or rubber clutches, they are superior. These are mostly used to protect very expensive pieces.
These look similar to a flathead clutch but feature a small ball on the end of the clutch. They are beautiful and sometimes called “jewelry clutches” because of their attractive appearance. They have a locking mechanism on the inside, which keeps the pin secure.
This is one of the most popular backings currently used. They are easy to put on, tend to stick together pretty well, and will not damage any clothing the same way that a puncture would from clutch and pin backings. These are usually smaller in size to make sure the magnet is strong enough to keep it in place regardless of movement.
Whenever possible, you want to use two-piece magnets with thin materials that have some texture. If the material is too smooth, then the magnet might slide down it because it is not physically adhered to the material in any way. They are best used on articles of clothing that will not endure too much movement.
A bar magnet is usually added onto pins that are quite large. There will be two strong magnets, one attached to the pin and one for the inside of the material you are sticking it to. They can withstand more pull due to their size and strength.
This option is ideal for wearing pins with clothing that you do not want to puncture with a traditional clutch or safety-pin backing. You will want to avoid this option if you will be wearing a lot of hanging metal (e.g., necklaces, ultra-long earrings, etc.) as it might be caught up. They also will not work if you have multiple thick layers between the magnets (e.g., coat, shirt, undershirt) so try to keep it between only one layer of average thickness.
The safety-pin backing is more common on button pins, but they are found on enamel lapel pins as well. They look like a traditional safety-pin. There are several ways they can attach to the back of your pin depending on the preference of the company producing it or if you are hand making them, what kit you choose.
Safety-pin backings are not as reliable as clutch pins and should not be used on materials that will have a lot of movement as this can accidentally cause the pin to unlatch. Most of the time, these are the preference for pins meant for one-time events like temporary name tags. They can be a bit easier to put on for most people.
Easily one of the most sturdy backings, the bent leg is meant to hug around a button that serves as the base for your pin. You can also curl the legs around thin bands on hats and belts. These are usually seen on decorative pins but can be used for ranking or logos ones as well. The legs are made of metal. They are not as common, and the bent legs can become unattached if they are not handled carefully or are bent too many times. Most of the time, pins with bent leg backings are for accent pieces that match an ensemble or uniform.