How to use iron-on elbow patches

Updated February 21, 2017

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


Do not use iron patches to repair holes in non-woven materials such as leather. The heat applied to activate the patch can damage leather.

Things You'll Need

  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery floss
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