Do you find that your kids have lots of clothes that are perfectly fine except for a small stain or some other spot you want to cover? Or are you always looking for ways to give new life to clothes you’ve grown tired of without spending tons of money on a trendy look? If the answer is “yes,” now is the perfect time to grab some fabric paint and revive some fall basics with DIY elbow or knee patches.
We love the idea of elbow and knee patches, which are popping up on designs big and small this season. They’re simple to make (no advanced sewing degree needed) and easily customized to suit any style—classic, edgy, kiddie, and even holiday themed. To turn last season’s sweat pants into cool toddler threads, we created an “Honestly” inspired skull and crossbones knee patch. And while this DIY is just in time for Halloween, we hope you make it your own by having fun with colors and shapes that best reflect your personal style.
1. Old clothing of choice. We used toddler sweat pants, but we don’t think our kids are the only ones who can rock this look. Blazers, cardigans, sweaters, long sleeve T-shirts, and even tights would look chic with elbow or knee patches. We’re planning to makeover grey sweaters from years past with a neon skull elbow patch. Fun, right?
2. Fabric paint. We used neon green and silver paint for a funky Halloween-ish vibe. Next time, though, we’d use matte paints to get the look. Or, if we were handy with a needle and thread, we’d consider cutting and sewing a patch made from extra fabric scraps instead.
3. Stencil. Find a design that excites you and use it as a template for the stencil. You can download our skull and crossbones (and resize it accordingly for your needs) or you can make your own stencil using anything from cookie cutter shapes you can trace to a homemade potato stamp to a free-hand image you create. To make the physical stencil, you’ll need a blank sheet of stencil plastic or a thin, cuttable piece of cardboard (cereal boxes are great for this!).
Step 1: Using a pencil, trace the inner edges of the skull and crossbones on your blank sheet of stencil plastic.
Step 2: With an X-Acto knife, cut along the lines of your tracing to create the skull stencil.
Step 3: Secure the stencil to your clothing using tape and use a sponge stencil brush to apply fabric paint. Allow to dry. Then paint additional layers until you achieve your desired color and opacity (we applied two layers of green paint, so the knee patch popped against the black fabric of the pants). Repeat on the other leg.
Honest Tip: If you prefer a minimalistic silhouette for an elbow or knee patch, you can hang up your DIY apron here because the simple stencil looks sharp on its own.
Step 4: While your painted knee patches are drying, create your second stencil by tracing around the skull and crossbones outline and cutting along the lines of your tracing.
Step 5: Align the second stencil with your painted knee patch, secure it with tape, and use a contrasting color to paint the skull’s details. While we only used this stencil to create the eyes, nose, and teeth of the skull, you could adapt it to your liking. For example, you could make an elbow or knee patch with the outline alone. Or you could just use it to add the eyes. Or apply paint over the entire stencil to add dimension to the skull and crossbones. Get creative and have fun!
Step 6: Allow your knee patches to dry according the fabric paint’s directions.
Step 7: Step out on the town (or into to preschool) with your fresh fashions!