How to use iron-on elbow patches

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How to use iron-on elbow patches
Once the sartorial preserve of geography teachers, elbow patches have made a fashion comeback recently. (Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images)

First aid for worn out elbows on jackets and shirts can come in the form of iron-on elbow patches. Pre-treated with a heat-activated adhesive, these small squares of fabric cover holes and reinforce damaged fabric. They are easy to find and even easier to use when repairing your clothes.

Things you need

  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery floss

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  1. 1

    Put on your damaged shirt or jacket or enlist the help of a friend to act as a model as you fit the patch to the elbow in need of repair.

  2. 2

    Place the patch on the elbow while the arm is straight and pin it in place.

  3. 3

    Check that your movement will not be impeded once the patch is ironed on by bending your arm at the elbow. If necessary, you should re-pin the patch to achieve easy movement without creating a rippled effect in the fabric of your shirt or jacket.

  4. 4

    Remove the shirt or jacket and place it right side up on an ironing board.

  5. 5

    Confirm that the patch will not affect the lining of your jacket. To avoid causing a distorted sleeve, unstitch the lining at the cuff and pull it out of the arm of your jacket before proceeding.

  6. 6

    Set your iron to the manufacturer's recommended temperature and steam setting. Most patches will require medium-high heat, such as the cotton setting, as well as light steam to activate the adhesive.

  7. 7

    Insert a pressing cloth into the arm of your shirt or use a sleeve-pressing insert to create a layer between the area you are patching and the other side of your sleeve.

  8. 8

    Baste the patch in place with the tip of your iron before removing the pins. Once the pins are removed, you may iron on the patch completely.

  9. 9

    Add a decorative touch to your repair by using an embroidery needle threaded with coloured floss to make a buttonhole stitch around the edges of the patch. You could also embroider simple patterns on the patch itself after pressing it into place.

Tips and warnings

  • Repair your knit tee-shirts and other knitwear using needle and thread, instead of an iron-on patch. These fabrics are very stretchy and you may create a rumpled appearance if you try to apply a woven patch to a knit material.

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