Learn how to make a felt flower elbow patch to repair the worn sleeves of a favorite sweater! Why be boring when your repairs can be fun and beautiful?
This holiday season was the perfect blend of crazy, zany commotion and quiet, relaxing down time. During one of the busy days, Michelle noticed I had a hole in the elbow of one of my favorite sweaters! Yikes! I tend to get attached to clothes… or at least certain clothes. When I find something I love the wear, that seems to love me back, I am hard pressed to give up on it without a fight. I took the sweater off with plans to make repairs as soon as I had some free time.
On my first quiet day, I pulled out my sweater and a handful of blue felts from my stash. My original intent was to simply add a patch to the elbow. I picked out a blue that was slightly lighter than the sweater color and sewed it on. Well, how boring! I cut a second oval of felt and on it went. Hmm… Yes, it definitely needed 1 more oval! Well, one thing lead to another and in the end there were felt flowers in the center plus a bouquet of flowers and vines encircling the patch! Unnecessary Note: I tend to get carried away sometimes!
In the end, not only was my elbow patched, but the sweater was now unique and downright fun! Of course, I had to make a patch for the other elbow, and what was supposed to be a half hour project turned out to be a whole day affair. But it was a labor of love, and gave me a wonderful excuse to sit stitching by the fire on a cold December day!
Although I didn’t start out with a pattern, I wound up making one so I could duplicate the patch on the other elbow. I am sharing the pattern for the Felt Flower Elbow Patch in case anyone else has a favorite sweater that needs repairs and wants to add a little fun to your sweater’s life!
NOTE: I made up the pattern as I went along. It was a bit awkward sewing it on because I had to fit my hands in the sweater sleeve. When I made the second one, I did much of the appliqueing and needle work BEFORE I sewed it on to the elbow. This made the whole process much easier!
FINALLY… a note about felt appliques. If you are working with wool felt, remember it will shrink when washed unless care is taken. Also, many of the felts, especially the dark colored felts, can bleed when washed. If you wish to add felt to clothing you want to wash yourself, here is what I do. First, I use the wool blends on clothing. These are 15% – 20% wool, the rest of the fibers are a synthetic blend. (I do not use the 100% acrylics or craft felts, because I do not believe they hold up well with use. Also, I do not use the 100% felts because they shrink more, and seem to continue to shrink with every wash.) I pre-wash the felt blends on the “hygienic” setting on my washing machine. This is VERY hot. I am intentionally trying to shrink the felt before I use it. I then place the felt in the hottest setting in my drier. I repeat the process a second time. When the felt is done, you will notice it will have shrunk about 20%. Also, the felt will now have a “nubby” look it it. What happens is the wool fibers felt and shrink and the acrylics do not. I then steam the felt flat and use it like normal. I find I can then machine wash my clothing with wool appliques with little shrinkage. I do wash clothes with felt patches on my delicate cycle, and use the gentle cycle on my drier.
FYI: If the item you are adding felt patches to is an expensive or especially dear item, you may want to have the item dry cleaned. You always run the possibility that felt will still shrink after all and ruin the item it is sewn to. My basic feeling is by the time I am patching an item, if I ruin it, at least I tried! For the most part, however, I have had much success with this method.
Felt Flower Elbow Patch
- wool blend felts (check out Prairie Point Junction for a great selection of wool felt blend colors!)
- 6 strand embroidery floss
See note above about pre-washing felt if you want your finished garment to be machine washable.
Make a copy of the pattern. Cut out felt and transfer markings.
Begin by placing the three ovals on top of one another and baste together.
Applique on the 2 flowers in the center.
Embroider the vine and flowers on the patch. DO NOT embroider the running stitch around the outside edge to the ovals!
To determine where to put the patch on the elbows, put the garment on. Bend your arm and mark the spot on the sleeve at the elbow. Center the patch over this spot. Pin or baste the patch to the elbow, making sure to go through just the outside layer of the sleeve. You do not want to sew the sleeve closed!!!
Sew the patch to sleeve with a running stitch on the outside edge of each oval.
Wear with pride knowing you saved a much loved friend!!!