How to Sew on Elbow Patches

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether for decorative or functional purposes, patching the elbow of your favourite jacket or jumper requires only basic sewing skills. With the right preparation and supplies on hand, you can extend the life of your garments or create a stylish new look in a matter of minutes.

Assess the size of the hole you wish to repair and cut a piece of closely matching fabric about 1.25 to 2 cm (1/2 to 3/4 inch) larger.

Observe grain lines and the pattern of the fabric when cutting out your patch. These should match the area where you will be sewing it on.

Pin the patch to the wrong side of your jacket sleeve, making sure that the right side is visible through the hole you are repairing.

Use a needle with matching thread to sew into both your jacket sleeve and the patch. Straight stitches that mimic the warp and weft threads (running horizontally and vertically in woven fabric) are the most effective.

Tie off your thread on the inside of your jacket to avoid leaving an exposed knot.

Cut decorative leather patches for the outside of your leather jacket.

Secure the patches to the elbows of your jacket using minimal pins. Remember that once leather is punctured, the hole will remain.

Make sure that the lining of your jacket is not puckered or bunched up after pinning your patch. Any puckering may distort the appearance of your jacket.

Use the appropriate needle and thread on your sewing machine to sew on your patch, using a scant 0.5 cm (1/4-inch) seam allowance. You will be sewing on the right side of the jacket, so it's important to keep your stitch placement even.

Prepare a decorative leather or suede elbow patch for your jumper using a hole punch to make even holes around the circumference of your patch.

Sew it on using rayon embroidery floss in a buttonhole stitch. Make sure that the knit of your jumper does not become distorted as you sew.


Choose the thread you use based on the patch you are sewing on. Since chemicals like tannin, which reacts negatively towards cotton, are used in tanning leather, it's important to select a polyester or nylon thread for sewing on leather patches, while woven fabrics can be sewn on with 50/50 cotton-poly blends.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric or leather scrap
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Small fabric hole punch
  • Embroidery floss
  • Sewing machine equipped with sleeve arm and leather needle
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