Tuesday 21 February 2012

How to Make Elbow Patches

I have had this cardigan for probably about six years and it has gone through a lot. Several trips overseas, two Montreal winters and lots of accidental felting in the washing machine. It had been on my darning pile for ages due to holey elbows, so I decided to take some time to make a tutorial. It's my first time, so please let me know what I could improve on in the future!

Step One: Cutting out your patches.

You want to make sure that you choose a nice strong fabric for the patches. I have used some upholstery weight crushed velvet from some old curtains. You can be inventive with this part- you could use vinyl, leather, felt, velvet, Mexican oil cloth or even canvas.

The second fabric is for the back of the patch, it needs to be something thin and easy to manipulate, like this lightweight blue cotton I have used.

Depending on how big the holes or weak spots on the elbows of your garment are, you can make the patches as big or as small as you would like. I just used an oval shape, but you could do love hearts or triangles or squares or circles!

 Step 2: Pinning your fabric.

I am a big advocate of pinning before sewing, especially when you are working with two fabrics of different weights. Just pin around your pieces, right sides facing as you will be sewing them together and then turning them inside out.

Step 3: Machine stitching!

Machine stitch around the edge of your pieces- making sure to leave an opening about 6cm long, so you can turn your patch inside out.

Step 4: Pinking or alternatively, cutting notches.

Because I am all for shortcuts when I am sewing, when I need to give my seams a little bit of allowance, instead of going around cutting notches into my curved edges, I just cut them with pinking shears. I find that when I am working with heavier fabric, it provides a more streamlined shape.

Step 5: Turning your pieces.

When you have cut your "notches", turn the pieces inside out, and smooth them down. You will find that the lighter fabric conforms to shape of the heavy fabric.

You will also notice that you still have openings in each patch.

Tuck the opening into itself as demonstrated here:

And pin it down.

Step 5: Placing and Pinning.

Have a look at the area you are patching and place the patch over any holes or weak spots that appear, pinning with quilting sized safety pins.

Step 6: Hand stitching.

Thread your needle with an appropriate (or inappropriate) colour of cotton and stitch around the patch, mainly sewing through the lighter fabric, and letting the heavy fabric sit on top. Be sure to slip your free hand through the sleeve and hold onto your stitching from the back, so as not to sew through both layers of fabric! Stitch around each patch and tie your thread off on the inside of the garment.

And there you have it! 

Now you can lean on stuff with your elbows to your heart's content.


  1. This tutorial is great! Thanks for the tip of using pinking shears - I'll try that in the future.

  2. ps. your photos are lovely - so detailed and pretty too.

  3. Oh I love your blog! So many cute ideas and beautiful photos, I'm going to put you on my feed reader right now! :)

  4. Love this. Thanks for visiting my blog :)

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  6. Thank you for your tutorial! This is my favourite out of all the elbow patching tutorials I came across. I followed your tutorial for my own patching project which I documented on my blog (and linked back to you): http://fulltimevixen.blogspot.ca/2013/06/spiffy-elbow-patch-mending-project.html