No longer the preserve of the 1970s Geography teacher, elbow patches are making a comeback.

This tutorial shows you how to make elbow patches for your own piece of knitwear, as inspired by cardigan at ASOS, Zara and H & M. I've gone for a more quirky approach, by making them heart-shaped and leopard print.

Although these elbow patches are designed to be decorative they can also be practical. I used them on a cardigan which had developed a hole in the elbow, so this was a great way to cover the hole and give the cardigan a new lease of life. It would also be a nice way to revamp charity shop knitwear.

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When choosing what material to use for the elbow patches, keep in mind the weight (thickness) of your fabric. Cord and similar heavy fabrics have a lovely traditional look and will be hard wearing although they might be a little heavy on fine knitwear. Printed cottons, like the leopard print I chose, provide a large range of designs and colours to choose from.

What you will need:

Your garment – jumper or cardigan

Needle and thread

Scrap fabric

Paper and pencil

Paper scissors

Fabric scissors


1. To begin you need to draw a pattern on paper for the shape of your elbow patch. To draw a heart, fold the paper in half and draw half of the heart. This way you will be sure that the shape will be symmetrical. Ideally you will have scissors specifically for cutting fabric – do not use these for paper as this will blunt them quickly.

2. Check the size of your template on your sleeve

3. Pin the template onto doubled fabric/two pieces of fabric to cut it out – this way you only need to cut once. Cut around the template, leaving about a 1 cm border.

4. Separate the pieces of fabric. On each one, iron the fabric border back over the template so it is folded over the paper. You will need to snip some small triangles out of the fabric along the curves and make a few cuts into the fabric to ensure that it is fully folded back around the template.

5. Pin each piece of fabric on the sleeve. You might need to get help with this to get the position right. Handsew the patch on.

6. The finished item!

Check out more of Kerry's tutorials:

Back to Basics: how to stitch on a button

How to make your own Peter Pan collar