Thursday, March 24, 2016

Kid-Approved Knee Patches

Continuing with how to save money on kids’ clothes, today we have a tutorial on how to extend the wear of pants with worn out or thinning knees. The first pair of pants I patched up held up extremely well. Eventually the fabric did wear thin at the knee with the flower embroidery (without the patch), but I was able to reinforce the area by adding more embroidered designs.  

The patches pictured above were done without a sewing machine, so don’t let that stop you! Below I go into how I extended another pair of my daughter's jeans with worn out knees. I hope this gives you some ideas on how to get more wear out of your kids’ pants.

  • Paper backed fusible web - I used Pellon Heavy-Duty Wonder Under 725R
  • Iron
  • Wash cloth
  • Press cloth
  • Pencil
  • Marking pen
  • Bottom (Heavy) weight fabric for the knee patch itself - I used a twill I had purchased in the remnant pile at Joann. Any fabric will do as long as it is sturdy.
  • Other fabric if needed for design - I used a green quilting cotton for the frog
  • Knit fabric - an old t-shirt works great
  • Embroidery floss
  • Embroidery needle
  • Sewing machine (if you choose, this can all be done by hand too)
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins

Here’s how I did it:

  1. Create a design that you would like for the knee patches. If drawing isn't your strength, try this website for help! For these pants one knee had a hole and the other was wearing thin. I decided to patch one knee and reinforce the other with embroidery. Try to use scraps or fabric you already own for the fabric choices to save money.

  1. Working on the wrong side of the pants (inside), determine the amount of fabric that needs to be cut away from the knee. Draw the shape onto the pants, patch fabric (green twill), and fusible web. I used a cleaning bottle to create the circle seen. On the patch fabric and fusible web add ½” to the circumference of the circle, you can see this in the picture below. This ½” is important, it is the part that will actually be fused to the pants.  


  1. This next part can be done a couple different ways, but the method I do here is what I have found to work best for me. Cut out the fusible web template with the added width. Still working on the wrong side, match up the circles on the pants and fusible web. Place a pressing cloth inside the pant leg, to prevent the two side from accidentally becoming fused together. Fuse the webbing onto the wrong side of the pants, following manufacturer instructions. Leaving the paper on, (I accidentally took mine off too soon, as seen in the picture) cut out the inner circle through all layers.

  1. Remove the remaining paper from the pants. You should be left with something like this.

  1. Cut out the patch from fabric (with the included width to the circumference). If you choose, finish the edges of the patch to prevent fraying in the future. I used a zig-zag stitch.

Side Note: Here’s the part where I learned a lesson. I wanted to do an applique to the patch this time, normally I hand embroider a design. Without thinking I fused my patch onto the pants. When it came time to stitch the applique on it was a pain in the butt to get the sewing machine into position. I would recommend doing the embroidery/applique to the patch first, then attach it to the pants.

  1. Embroider/Applique the patch as designed. Please note that I made my life difficult by attaching the patch before embellishing it, hence why my pictures are they way they are. The way described below is how I should have done it, and how I will do it next time!
    1. To continue the theme of the jeans I designed a frog applique for the patch. Transfer the design to paper backed fusible web. I traced the entire body of the frog (minus it’s feet) and then traced the four legs (with feet) separately.

    1. To save fabric, cut out the applique templates loosely. If the piece is big enough you can cut it out following the drawn lines. I loosely cut out the legs and followed the lines for the body, see the pictures below. Fuse the pieces onto the coordinating fabric.

    1. Cut out the applique pieces.

    1. Fuse the pieces onto the patch. Remember, if you are doing this the easy way the patch won’t be fused to the pants yet!

    1. Sew around the edges using either a zig-zag or satin stitch.


    1. Embellish the patch with any other design elements. If doing hand sewing, it helps to draw these on first, I drew on the eyes, nose, mouth, and tummy. Follow the lines using your prefered stitch (I used a backstitch). Remember, if you are doing this the easy way your patch won’t be fused to the pants yet.

    1. Embroider, darn, or patch up the other knee. I used a chain stitch to create the flowers. I drew a circle where the fabric was worn thin and followed this loosely.

  1. Time to attach the patch to the pants! With the pants still inside out, place the patch over the hole. Ensure the design is placed how you want on the right side. Fuse patch and pants together following the manufacturer's instructions.

  1. The first pair of jeans I patched ended up fraying a little around the cut circle, nothing serious but something I wanted to avoid this time. Going around the perimeter of the cut circle, I did a stab stitch using a dark green color. The stitches are small and hard to see in the photo above.

  1. To give the area some extra reinforcement and protect the stitches, I fused a knit fabric to the back of the patch and embroidery. Working from the wrong side of the jeans, I placed fusible webbing over the patch and loosely traced the shape for both knees.

  1. Cut out the circles from the paper backed fusible webbing and fuse to a knit material. I used an old stained shirt. Cut out these freshly fused circles.

  1. Fuse the knit circles over the knee patches.

  1. When I fused the knit fabric to the pants last time, it started to pull away from the jeans after a couple of months. To reinforce the fusing I added some hand stitching to the perimeter of the knit patch. For the frog patch I used running stitches and yellow thread. For the flowers I used a thread that matched the jeans and did a variation of a running stitch, just barely catching the right side of the jeans so that the stitch was invisible from the right side. The stitching will be done through all layers.

  1. That’s it, you are all done! I know this looks like a lot but I was able to do this in about three hours. I would have been done a lot faster had I embellished the patch before fusing it on.

If  you have any other creative ways to extend the wear of pants with worn out knees please share!

Written by: Shawna

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