elbow patch tutorial

i first posted this tutorial for elsie marley‘s fall 2011 kid’s clothes week challenge (right here), and now that fall is right around the corner, i figured it’s an appropriate time to bring it home!  


Hi, I’m Kristin from skirt as top and I’m here today to talk about elbow patches!  I’ve been spotting lots of elbow patches on adult shirts and sweaters heading into this fall, and I love the trend.  I thought it could be fun to add them to homemade kids’ clothes for a little “mini-professor” style, too.  Problem is, kids’ sleeves are very narrow and that means it’s pretty much impossible to sew the patches on after the garment is already completed.  That makes finding that right placement for your elbow patches a bit tricky.  In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to add properly placed elbow patches when you’re making a shirt from scratch.

elbow patch tutorial


  • Tailor’s chalk or water-soluble marker
  • Clear ruler
  • Elbow patch pattern (draw an oval shape onto a piece of paper – mine is about 2.75″ tall x 2.25″ wide and works for about 6-12 month – 3T sizes, though you can make it whatever size you like)
  • Cut (but now sewn) sleeve pieces from your shirt or sweater pattern (shown is the Oliver + S sailboat top.  Maybe try Dana’s free 90 minute shirt tutorial!)
  • Scraps of fabric for the patches (try a small floral for girls, or suede if you’re daring!)
1.  Wrangle your kid while they’re wearing a long-sleeved shirt from their wardrobe.  Mark an X on their elbow with chalk or water-soluble marker.
2.  Take the existing shirt off of your child, measure from about .5″ above the shoulder (to account for the seam allowance) down to the X that you marked earlier.  Write down this measurement (for my 10 month old, it was 5.5″).  We’ll call this the “Elbow Measurement” because I’m super original.
3.  Go to one of your new garment’s sleeve piece.  Fold it in half to determine the center line, and press.  Mark your seam allowance from the cut side of the sleeve with water-soluble pen or tailor’s chalk, then find the center point between the folded center and the seam allowance mark and draw a vertical line (just guess approximately where the patch will hit on the vertical axis).
4.  Measure down from the shoulder edge along the vertical line you marked in step 3.  Mark your sleeve with a horizontal line at your Elbow Measurement (remember mine was 5.5″) so your markings form a +.  I shifted my ruler over to the edge for clarity, but you should line it up through the middle of the ruler to make the + shape.
5.  Trace the patch pattern onto your scrap, cut out the patches, and find the center of each patch by folding it into quarters and pressing slightly.  Apply fusible web if desired (the patch is essentially an appliqué).  Match the center of the folds on one patch with the + marking on your sleeve and pin into place.
6.  Lay your other sleeve piece down, aligning both sleeve edges side by side.  Using your clear ruler as a guide, place the second patch on its sleeve to mirror the one you already pinned on.  Make sure they are mirror images so you don’t apply the patch to the front of a sleeve!  Pin the second patch into place.  Be generous with pinning if you didn’t use fusible web.
7.  Sew around the edge of each patch using a straight, zig zag, or blanket type stitch.  I used the blanket type stitch here (number 11 on my machine).
8.  Repeat for the other sleeve.  Your patches are on!  Finish your garment per the pattern instructions.

elbow patch tutorial

I hope this helps you add a little extra punch to your little one’s long sleeved shirts and cozy fall sweaters.
Thanks so much for having me, Meg, and happy KCWC sewing, everybody!

elephant balloon skirt

elephant skirt

so i was talking on sunday about how Em likes most of the things I sew for her…as long as they’re dresses (thanks for commiserating with me, by the way)!  and remember how she needs to start wearing a uniform to school, so i need her to wear more than just dresses?  well, this was my test to see if i could get her at least wearing skirts again.

elephant skirt

looks like she likes it, right?  it’s got an elephant (her favorite animal), it’s got pink (her favorite color), it’s got sparkly silver thread, it’s comfy…gotta be a winner…right?

elephant skirt


she doesn’t like it…because it’s a skirt.

this darn thing has been sitting waiting for a photoshoot for THREE WEEKS and she hasn’t wanted to put it on.  i finally bribed her to wear it for these photos.  i mean…seriously?

elephant skirt

this was my inspiration, an adorable print called jumbo bubble by terry fam, which i spotted and immediately bought for her revamped bedroom.  i appliquéd my design onto the kona snow skirt (loosely following the lazy days skirt tutorial with no ribbon hem).  instead of having the elephant blowing the bubble like gum, i cut out a pink balloon and used metallic silver thread as the string.  i thought it’d be a winner, the skirt to get her wearing skirts again, but i was wrong…for now anyway.  she’ll probably insist on wearing it the minute it’s too small.

elephant skirt

four year olds.  opinionated little things.

anyway, here’s a slightly wider shot of her new pink bedroom walls.  she likes those!  once i make a new quilt for her bed, i’ll do a full room tour.  honestly i didn’t expect to like the pink as much as i do; i’ve been dodging her requests for so long.  but heck, it’s just paint and she really loves it, so i just needed to let go and embrace it.

elephant skirt

the poor kid doesn’t realize the sea of navy blue, white, and khaki she’s about to plunge into come school-time, so at least she has her pink retreat at home!  and if the skirt ends up getting gifted to a younger friend/cousin later, that’s fine with me!

appliqué boy bib tutorial and pattern

i’m  bringing home this guest post, my first tutorial and guest post ever, while I “recover” from KCWC and prepare for Em’s fourth birthday party.

this originally went up on Sparkle Power! as Candace took a blog break to welcome her new baby boy.  the bib pattern is a simple design, easy-to-sew and functional, and the appliqué templates can be used on anything that needs a little embellishment.  if you make something based on this tutorial, please add your creations to the flickr group!      


I was so excited when Candace asked me to guest blog for her while she’s on maternity leave, and I am happy to share my pattern for a simple infant bib and some fun boyish appliqué templates with you today.

applique boy bib tutorial and free pattern // skirt as top

I’m a mostly self-taught, part-time working mama of two little ones, a 3 year old girl and a 9 month old boy, and I absolutely love to sew.  After learning on toddler skirts and dresses for my daughter, I wasn’t sure what I would sew when I found out I was having a boy.

applique boy bib tutorial and free pattern // skirt as top

I also come from a family of four girls, so the whole boy thing was very new to me!  I quickly discovered that it’s just as fulfilling to sew for boys, since commercial clothes for little guys tend to be a bit…plain.  Knowing how to sew makes it very easy to do something about that!

My bib template works for young infants (spitup happens), but it’s also big enough to work for older babies messily trying out solid food.  It’s a quick bib to make, and a great use of scraps or fat quarters.  I’ve drawn an old timey handlebar moustache, paper plane, whale, and fox templates for you to trace and use.

Appliqué is great for livening up plain onesies, baby blankets, and burp cloths.  Baby boys deserve fun threads too!


bib pattern

appliqué templates


  • Main fabric for front (quilting cotton or flannel works great)
  • Thicker absorbent fabric for back (I like using terry cloth/old towel or minky)
  • Coordinating fabric scrap for appliqué
  • Velcro or snaps
  • Double stick fusible web
  • Point turner, chopstick, or knitting needle
  • Bib pattern and appliqué templates (see links above)
Cut out bib template, trace shape onto main fabric on the fold (I traced mine onto cardboard since I use it so often).  Cut out the bib front.
Place bib front right sides together with backing fabric, pin, cut out the backing in the general shape of the front bib.  This allows for a little margin of error while sewing, since terry cloth tends to shift a little bit.  It’s also quicker because you don’t need to be as accurate while cutting out the backing.  Pin around the edges, marking a 2″ opening to turn.
Sew together with a 3/8″ seam allowance using the bib front as your guide, backstitching at the opening.
Trim seam allowance to 1/4″ except at opening.  Clip into curves around neck line and bottom edges.
Turn rightside out, using your point turner to poke out the neck tabs completely.  Finger press, then press with an iron on the front side of the bib (terry-cloth and minky don’t iron well).
Topstitch around the outer edge of the bib 1/8″ from edge.
Sew on velcro.  Sew 1.5″ of the fuzzy side on to the backing side of the left neck tab, and 1″ of the scratchy side onto the front side of the right neck tab (or add snaps, if your little one is prone to compulsively ripping off their bib).
Trace your appliqué onto the fusible web paper.  Cut out the general shape.  Remove the backing paper, stick it to the wrong side of your scrap, then cut out your shape (I have a pair of sewing scissors dedicated to this purpose).  Don’t cut the inner lines of the paper plane.  They’re provided to guide your stitching later.
Remove the other side of the paper backing, and place appliqué where you’d like it.  Iron it to fuse to the bib, then machine stitch close to the edge to secure, using whatever stitch you’d like (straight, zigzag, blanket, etc.).  The web prevents it from fraying, but if you use a straight stitch it will get a little fuzzy around the edge after a few trips through the wash.  I like that look.
Add details to the appliqué.  For the whale’s eye, I use fabric marker, but it could also be embroidered.  Appliqué small scraps of the terry for the fox’s face and tip of the tail.  Mark the paper plane’s “folds” with disappearing fabric pen and use contrasting thread in your machine to stitch the detail.
Put a bib (or three) on your little fella, and enjoy the cuteness!
Thanks for having me, Candace!  I’m so happy for you to have a little guy of your very own – they are such fun.
Enjoy those wonderful newborn snuggles!

hearts and plaid

my niece just turned one, and i decided to make a comfy little outfit for her to wear this spring and summer as she transitions from crawling to walking. inspiration struck late on this one, so i ended up making it the morning of her birthday party while O napped and my husband took ballet class duty with Em!

the shirt is rae’s flashback skinny tee pattern in 12-18 mo. it was my first time making it, and now i’m kind of in love! it came together SO quickly and turned out great! it’s made with an old but not-worn-much jersey knit shirt of mine from old navy (i think it was one of those shirts that i got early in my pregnancy with Em – too big for non-maternity, not big enough for maternity). the lighter purple trim is a tank top that was too small and also never worn, and i added a little heart appliqué to the chest for extra cuteness.


i took rae’s tips and sewed most of the shirt with my walking foot, using a narrow zig zag stitch. the walking foot made sewing jersey muuuuch easier. i’m a convert.


to go with, i made a simple skirt with the scraps of the original sweet tartan dress. there’s just one seam in the back, an elastic waistband, and I added a double stitched hem. dana has a simple skirt tutorial here if you need instructions – a toddler skirt was my very first sewing project, and probably one of the easiest things to make!


and, um…i happen to have a 12-18 month size person in my house, so he got to model this soft and comfy little outfit for his girl cousin! i’m calling it a “utilikilt” while he wears it. 😉


for a kiddo that doesn’t prefer to wear clothes at all, this skirt seemed to give him a bare-legged “free” feeling that made him very happy. he was really digging it. the funny thing is, he’s a total boy with a big pot belly, and his cousin is a string bean with delicate features. this outfit just made him look like a boy wearing girl clothes rather than a girl…even though he’s just a baby! it was cracking me up.


he’s very proud of his tummy, as you can see. 🙂

i had to work on some sewing projects so the tutorial for Em’s sunshine easter dress is hopefully coming later this week. i’m so excited to show you more pictures of it!

whole cloth starfish quilt

i love my inlaws.  they’re great.  and when they decided to build a new beach house up at their spot of land on the puget sound (in the family since the ’60s), i knew i wanted to make a coordinating lap quilt for movie watching and stormy afternoon book reading.  however, my mother-in-law has very definite ideas about her decorating style, so i waited until the house was done and i could see what colors she was using before i secretly started a quilt for her.  the house was finished last month and her palette turned out to be a soothing natural-and-white scheme, so i whipped up this quilt for her birthday.


i had spotted a pottery barn pillow with starfish appliqué on one of their living room chairs, and took my inspiration from that.  the quilt is whole cloth natural linen with white kona starfish appliqués that i hand-drew.  i used basting spray to temporarily hold the starfish in place and stitched around the edge of each through all layers during the quilting process, so you can see them on the back too.  i really like the texture and rough edges – the whole quilt has a kind of rumpled, worn, beachy look.


the back is a bella solid (spring, i think?) that i picked up in the remnant bin at bolt.  my MIL’s favorite color is this shade of green, so i figured it was a safe bet and a nice complement to the natural tones on the front.


i was pretty excited when i had the idea for the quilting design (and thanks to my buddy jessica for helping talk me through it!).  i wanted it to stand out since the quilt itself was pretty simple.  i drew arches starting at each corner, increasing the distance between them at each layer, and letting the lines intersect at various points.  the idea was to mimic ripples in the water when you skip stones, which we often do on the rocky beach.  i started with a dinner plate, then used a ruler to measure out and mark the next layer, making a bunch of dashes at, say, 4″ from the prior arch, then connecting them to create the next arch.  i drew them on with water soluble marker before quilting with my walking foot, starting in the center.

the binding fabric is a perfect little imperfect polka dot from timeless treasures (Geo-C7741) that reminds me of bubbles.  i get scared that i’ll mess up while machine stitching the binding, so i always finish my quilt bindings by hand.  am i weird for really loving that part?



the quilt is 41″ x 47″ finished, but my mother-in-law is only 4’11” so i think it’ll cover her lap just fine.  🙂


it’s pretty cozy, so hopefully i can grab a little time with the quilt when i’m up there, too.  can’t wait to get up to the sound to see it in its intended habitat!