Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Leather Elbow Patch for Sweaters and Jackets

This month when I was unpacking the last bag with winter clothes, I came across a beautiful lambs wool sweater by Burberry. It belonged to my husband, but he stopped wearing it, because a small portion of the knit on the elbow was damaged.

I am a big fan of leather patches on sleeves and love Ralph Lauren jackets and sweaters with leather patches, so, I thought, I will revive this sweater by adding suede elbow patches.

I went to a notions store in Garment District which carries Dritz leather patches, pre-cut and pre-punched, but they had only two colors, black and beige. So, I decided to go to Mood Fabrics and buy one leather skin (usually between 4 and 7 sq. ft.). I found one for $4,50 per sq. ft. and was able to select a skin that was 5 sq. ft .(Mood doesn’t cut the leather, so you have to buy the entire skin).  Since I work with leather every now and then and am planning a tweed jacket for myself, I had no second thoughts about paying the amount.

This projects takes appr. 2 hours to complete.


Tracing wheel (preferably 'needle-point')
Leather sheers or a smaller rotary cutter (don’t use fabric scissors, the leather will dull the blades)
A strong needle (or, preferably, a Glover’s needle)
Buttonhole twist or topstitching thread, preferably 100% polyester , nylon, rayon or waxed silk thread (never use cotton thread, the chemicals used to tan leather destroy the thread)
Leather remnants, little less than 1sq. ft.


Place the patch template (without cutting) on the leather and trace the cutting line with the tracing wheel. When you remove the template you will see that the right side of the leather has light impression dots. Cut the leather along these dots.

Place the cut-out template for the patch over the leather patch, align the edges and secure the layers with a Scotch tape.

With an awl pierce holes at the start and the end of each dash. When sewing suede, if you put the right side of the leather down, your awl marks/ holes will be more visible providing guides for sewing. The marks are hardly visible once the patch is applied (But be careful with finished leather, each hole will pop out if it is placed incorrectly). Remove the template from the leather.

Place the patch on the sweater sleeve and once you are sure about the exact placement mark the sleeve around the patch with a piece of chalk. (The patch should be covering elbow area on the back of the sleeve)

I recommend putting something sturdy between the layers of the sleeve to make sure that the lower layer is not picked when sewing. I used a medium-size chocolate box.

Stitch the patch following your awl marks. Use running stitch or backstitch, whatever you prefer, and try to sew without moving the sleeve or the patch too much.

Once you are done secure the thread under the patch and, voila, the sleeve is done.

This is just one way of doing it. I hope you will be able to use this tutorial to repair your favorite sweaters.


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