How to Make an Elbow Patch for a Sweater
You want to learn how to make felted hearts?
So you want to make a felted heart elbow patch? Needle felting is all the rage and why not add a felted heart to your elbow to spruce up those solid sweaters?! I made this felted wool heart elbow patch and now I can’t stop needle felting my entire wardrobe!
Last week I started my needle felting unit with my teen classes. If you’ve been following along, you know that I LOVE needle felting. Over the years, we’ve made pouches and animals using felted wool, but I really wanted to explore needle felting shapes onto clothing. I was shocked at how easy this is! Did you know that you can needle felt patches on just about anything? I will be spending the weekend digging out some ripped jeans from my closet…but in the meantime, here is my felted heart elbow tutorial:
Are you overwhelmed with starting this felted heart elbow patch sweater? Fear not, you don’t need much to begin and the end result will amaze you. I’ve linked the supply list below.
I’m going to teach you step by step how to make a felted heart elbow patch. Follow along for step by step instructions and if you have any questions, let me know – I am always happy to help!
Affiliate disclaimer: Although I stand by all of the products I use, I can receive a small commission from any products purchased via my affiliate links.
What You’ll Need to make a felted heart:
- A sweater (wool or cashmere work best – but cotton seems to work well, too)
- Felting needles (I like to use a single needle plus a multi-needle tool, so this kit has it all). You’ll want to always have extras on hand because they break…often! Only purchase the right gauge needles because these are made specifically for tufts of wool. Do not attempt to use a straight pin or safety pin.
- Crafting foam or felting mat
- Heart cookie cutter (around 3”)
- Red or Pink roving wool or just get the whole rainbow!*
*Roving wool with actual wool fibers work best.
Felted Heart Elbow Patches!
Felted hearts are no-sew! Every time I mention this project, the response is typically, “but Kim, I don’t know how to sew!” While it does use a needle, it doesn’t require any thread! In my experience, felting a hole in an old sweater sleeve is much better way to mend than sewing! Also, no sewing machine necessary!
I’ve seen felted heart elbow patch sweaters in stores over the years and I’m always shocked over how expensive they can be. Little did I know that these are beyond easy and anyone can make them! Making your own felted heart elbow patches won’t break the bank plus…they’re super relaxing to make! Now let’s get into the nitty gritty and make some of these beautiful handmade hearts! Ok, so now that you’ve got the lowdown, grab one of your old sweaters, your favorite sweater or a new sweater – this project works great with just about any wool sweater!
Felted Wool Heart Elbow Patch – step by step!
Here’s the breakdown on exactly how to make your felted heart sweater. You will need about 1-2 hours to make this from start to finish.
Prep and begin needle felting your heart
- The first thing you will do is to put the sweater on and determine where you will want the elbow patch to go. Typically this would be where the bare spots are if you are doing this to repair a hole. Put a piece of washi tape or mark it with some chalk. This step is important – do not assume you know where your elbows are! Try to avoid the sleeve seems if possible. Also, make sure you are on the right side of the sweater – meaning it shouldn’t be inside out. If you are working on the wrong side, simply flip it over and begin again.
- Insert the felting foam block into the sleeve. Since there is a cookie cutter under the bottom of the cookie cutter, you do not need to add a piece of cardboard – the felting pad is more than enough
- Take your cookie cutter and place it where you want the patch to go. Make sure that the outer perimeter of the cutter doesn’t sit on any uneven spots like a seam. These little details matter!
- Take a chunk of roving wool and pull it apart into thin wispy pieces. Place some wool inside the heart. The final shape of the patch will be entirely dependent upon how closely you follow the cookie cutter. Using your felting needle, begin stabbing the wool into the sweater. Be sure to only work in a vertical motion. If you begin to hold the tip of the needle at an angle, the needle will break – be prepared for breakage as you learn to felt. Watch out for your hands – the needles are sharp and they can really hurt! Pay careful attention here – sometimes when trying to gather stray fibers; you can totally prick yourself!
- Once all of the wool is flattened onto the sweater, add more wool. For the middle sections it is easier to use the multi-needle tool. For the areas near the cookie cutter, use the single needle for more precision. Be especially careful around the curved edges of the cookie cutter. As you continue to fill in your space or mend your hole, be sure to cover the edges of the hole as well as the inside. If your felting tool breaks at any point, grab another – this is why I typically buy a large base of all felting needles.
- Continue adding felt until there are no bald spots. Use the single needle to add precision and to clean up any blurry edges. Once you have clear margins, feel free to remove the cookie cutter and do some patching of any spots that need filling. Repeat on the other elbow.
Finishing touches to complete your felted heart
- Once the heart is complete and flat, flip the sweater inside out and carefully pull the felting foam from the sweater. It will seem like it is stuck, but if you pull slowly, it will separate from the back of the heart – I promise!
- Once you are finished and happy with your elbows, mist them with some water and iron on gentle heat or wool setting. This will set your patch into place. Important tip: Do not put your felted heart sweater into the dryer! It is ok to put the sweater into the washing machine – as long as the fabric is machine washable.
Still need more help making your felted heart-shaped elbow patches?
To watch my full video tutorial, watch here
To see more needle felting ideas, watch here
PRO TIP: Never hold the needle at an angle – the needle will break! Be sure to use an up and down motion each and every time!
So you loved making your felted heart?
So you loved making your felted heart elbow patch and you want more ideas? Perhaps try stars or flowers, or animals. Who wouldn’t love a needle felted animal sweater? Perhaps you might want to make some other fun elbow patches. You can also felt the edge of the cuff or in short rows along the collar or sleeve seams. How cute would this be on little girls sweaters! The possibilities are endless if you follow these simple steps. Just be careful with those sharp burrs – trust me; when you prick yourself; it is far worse than the pain of a safety pins. And can you believe that you can do these sweater patches on an old t-shirt also?! Follow along on Youtube or Instagram for more crafty fun!
Feel free to practice first on a piece of fabric. Check out the back side, too – it looks super cool from inside!
Step 1: Put the sweater on and determine where you will want the elbow patch to go. Put a piece of tape or mark it with some chalk. This step is important – do not assume you know where your elbows are!
Step 2: Insert the felting foam into the sleeve
Step 3: Take your cookie cutter and place it where you want the patch to go.
Step 4: Take a chunk of roving wool and pull it apart into thin wispy pieces. Place some wool inside the heart.
Using your felting needle, begin stabbing the wool into the sweater. Be sure to only work in a vertical motion. If you begin to hold the needle at an angle, the needle will break – be prepared for breakage as you learn to felt.
Step 8: Once you are finished and happy with your elbows, mist them with some water and iron on gentle heat. This will set your patch into place. Dry clean only!
How long does it take to make one of these bad boys? In my experience, if you have the proper gauge felting needle, the right wool roving and lots of patience; the whole process can be completed in under an hour and a half.To watch the full tutorial, watch here
Want more winter crafts, check out this no sew sock snowman project!