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Custom Pins 101: Types of Pin Backs and Attachments

Also known as military clutches, butterfly clutches are one of the most popular types of pin attachments. A butterfly clutch has two metal prongs that you squeeze to fasten a pin or release it.


All About Pins attachment

Knowing Your Pin Backs and Pin Attachments

From jackets and shirts to book bags and purses, pin attachments keep your custom pins, well, pinned and make a pin a pin. However, they're too often an afterthought in the design process. With designers spending their time and energy adding line detail and polish to their pin designs but neglecting how their pin will be worn as a pin and not just a cool design. It’s a huge oversight in our humble opinion because the right pin attachment establishes your pin's perceived quality and where people are going to wear your custom pins. Some pin attachments are more secure for rougher wear on bags or coats, others are easier to display on cloth surfaces, and still, more can make a pin appear more elegant and valuable. Putting thought into the right backing for your pins helps elevate your product to the next level and creates a higher quality product. For this Custom Pins 101, we’re exploring our most popular pin attachments and the features making them unique.

Butterfly Clutch

Butterfly Clutch

Also known as military clutches, butterfly clutches are one of the most popular types of pin attachments. A butterfly clutch has two metal prongs that you squeeze to fasten a pin or release it. They’re one of two standard pin attachments and are quite reliable, but odd movements over clothing folds can accidentally press one of the prongs and release the clutch. Pin fact: Some military members disparagingly call butterfly clutches “dammits,” after the first words that come out of a servicemember's mouth when they go flying across the room while fastened by clumsy or hurried hands.

Rubber Clutch

 Rubber Clutch


Easy to put on and off, rubber clutches are another popular pin attachment which is simply pushed into a pin’s needlepoint to fasten and release a pin. They’ve gained popularity in recent years with the rise of enamel pins and can come in different colors to match a pin’s plating or paint job. Rubber clutches are one of our two standard attachments and are more comfortable to wear for pins intended to be worn against the skin. Pin fact: If you’re using the same clutch over and over again, it’ll eventually start losing its grip but rubber clutches are quite easy to replace.

Jewelry Clutch

Jewelry Clutch

Featuring a metal locking mechanism that latches onto a pin needle, jewelry clutches hold on much more securely than butterfly clutches or rubber clutches. To attach a jewelry clutch, simply push the metal nub of the clutch up before slipping the needle into the pinhole and releasing. These clutches are popular for their elegant design and secure hold against most any fabric or jostling from the wearer. Pin fact: Jewelry clutches are also used to keep tie tacks in place, though the ones used for pins don’t have the attached chain.

Deluxe Clutch

Deluxe Clutch

Similar to jewelry clutches, deluxe clutches, known also as flathead locking clutches, also feature an internal locking mechanism that grips a pin’s needlepoint to fasten a pin into place. Deluxe clutches are very secure and ideal with pinning onto outerwear such as jackets or onto surfaces that can expect to get some rough treatment, such as bookbags or purses. Pin fact: Deluxe clutches and jewelry clutches are both known as button clutches due to their rounded design.

Magnetic Backing

Magnetic Clutch

This type of backing is best for fastening the pin to thinner materials and consists of two magnets, one installed into the pin itself and another to help it attach to materials. Magnetically backed pins are technically not pins in the traditional sense, instead of piercing fabric or material to pin into place it relies on the attraction between two magnets to keep in place. Magnetic backing allows you to attach your pin to clothes and other surfaces without poking holes in the material. Pin fact: The magnets used in magnetic backing are called rare earth magnets, which are also used for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI.)

Safety Pin

Safety Pin Back

Similar to the attachments used for buttons and, well, safety pins, most people are likely familiar with using this type of pin backing and it’s sometimes preferred because it’s much harder to lose a safety pin implanted into a pin than it is to lose a detachable clutch. Pin fact: Safety pin attachments were much more popular with older antique pins and finding an old pin with this type of backing is likely a telling sign of vintage quality.

Choosing a Pin Attachment


Choosing a pin attachment is often a matter of personal aesthetics, but it’s a good idea to consider where your pins expect to be worn and who’s going to wear your custom pins. Some pin attachments are ideal for certain apparel for example, while others hold better against rough wear. Putting thought into your choice of attachment can go a long way to making a custom pin uniquely suited to your needs Here are a few quick tips about each pin type to help you decide:

  • Simple rubber or butterfly clutches are serviceable enough for daily wear on shirts and sports jackets but are also more liable to slipping or accidentally releasing their pins under rough conditions.
  • Jewelry and deluxe clutches increase a pin’s perceived value and hold to a surface more securely than the standard options, making them especially good for thick garments like parkas or heavy coats.
  • Magnetic backing is perfect for school pins, after all, there’s no harm in having one less sharp object around the kids.
  • Safety pins might seem bit old-fashioned, they’re actually ideal for hat pins since you pin them sideways and the attachment won’t jut uncomfortably into a worn hat.

If you have any questions about pin attachments and which one might be best for your own custom pins, don’t shy. You can contact All About Pins at info@allaboutpins.com or call us 1-866-604-9462. Our representatives are more than happy to help give you advice or guidance.

Interested in learning more about designing custom lapel pins? All About Pins Custom Pins 101 articles explores the basic language and design options behind every custom pin.

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