How to Sew Leather Elbow Patches onto your Cardigan and Sweater

As part of Hattie’s back to school wardrobe, we picked up this adorable cardigan from the Gap. Hattie is notoriously hard on clothes and the first time she wore it, she somehow ripped a hole in both the back and the front of her right sleeve, frustrating! I knew I could mend both with darning but I also wanted to reinforce the elbows so it wouldn’t happen again. Also, how adorable are leather patches on sweaters? So adorable! 

If you have any holes, you will want to darn those first. I demonstrate how to darn jeans here. It is basically the exact same technique.

Pick a thread or yarn color that matches and sew in and out of stitches.

For the part of the sweater that would go under the patch, I just mended the hole, quick and simple whip stitch.

I then figured out what size I would want my patch to be on the elbow. I completely free handed this part. I simply cut a piece of paper until I thought that it looked like a good shape/size and used the piece of paper to trace and cut out my leather pieces.

Now you will want to punch holes in your leather pieces.

Walk a stitch spacing tool along the edge of the leather and then punch the holes where you’ve marked.

You will want to thread 2 needles. When stitching leather, you will want the stitches to be continuous on the top and the bottom. I used 3 ply waxed linen thread to sew the leather to the sweater. You could of course use something less sturdy. 

Pin your patches in place.

Start the needles side by side, both coming up. Traditionally, you would start one going up and one going down, however because you are sewing leather to knit, you will want the stability of the needles coming up through the leather.

Tuck your thread ends under the patch, they will be covered by the sewing.

Playing follow the leader, each needle will want to pass through each hole.

Sew all around the leather patch. Be carful to not pull to tight, your patch will pucker.

Here is the inside of my finished patch. I’m going to cover my patch using a really light fusible interfacing. This will keep the rough linen thread off the skin.

Cut your interfacing a little bigger than your stitches and tuck your thread ends in.

Fuse the interfacing to your sweater using a hot iron. Turn right side out and enjoy


  1. Melissa :
    Love the leather. I've seen a couple in fabric, but I think I love the leather the most. Thanks!!!
  2. Rebecca :
    I've been wanting a sweater with elbow batches, so I may have to pick up a thrift store cardigan so I can try this out.
  3. Alison :
    LA LA LOVE IT! And you. do you even love me anymore?
  4. deirdre :
    Thanks so much for this tutorial! I was wondering if you had any suggestions for other kinds of fabric? We love elbow patches over here, but we're vegan!
  5. dandee :
    So happy about this post. Thanks!
  6. Jasmine :
    i want to try this! I just need a cardigan or sweater to do it on... such a cute look.

    Come check out FIKS*D
  7. Shelley :
    Eeee!!! I LOVE this idea :D I'm pinning this bad boy asap!
  8. Cara :
    Awesometown! I have been wanting to make an elbow patched cardigan all month, and now I have a fantastic tutorial to follow. Thanks for sharing!
  9. Kelsey :
    This is great. I have been wanting to do this for a sweater of mine. When you pin the patch down, wouldn't it leave a hole in the middle of the leather though?
  10. JWK :
    Can't wait to try this!! Great tutorial, as always!!
  11. {jane} :
    GENIUS! good job lady.
  12. Miranda :
    Best idea ever. Now I need to get some leather tools to add to my pile of craft/sewing supplies...
  13. Pamela :
    I love your color combo of camel and grey. It makes me smile. Those leather patches are to D.I.E for. I also love my new leather business card pouch! thank you.
  14. Rachel :
    love the way this turned out! wonderful.
  15. Rebecca – A Daily Something :
    I've been wanting a sweater with elbow patches for a while now. What a fantastic tutorial - and I have JUST the sweater to use.
  16. rooth :
    You make this seem so simple - I feel like this is something even I could manage...
  17. What is design lab 443? :
    How do you wash this with the leather on it?
  18. Seamingly Smitten :
    ooh! I love the colored leather! I haven't worked with it before, but you make it look fun! Can't wait to see more from your blog!
  19. Jenn :
    Love this. What about laundry? How does leather survive in washer & or dryer?

Leave a comment

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Follow

  • About

  • Newsletter Signup

    Sign up for insights and deals

  • Shop

  • Archives

  • Separator

  • Sponsors