MN2208 Dawn / MN2211 Ash / MN2303 Briar / Sewalongs / Tips & Advice / Tips & Tutorials


Sweater: Briar sweater sewing pattern + FREE elbow patch patternleather patches tutorial

Since posting about my leather patched Briar last week i’ve had a lot of questions about how to wash clothing with leather patches. So here is a little refresher on how I wash clothing with leather patches – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find how easy it is.

It’s worth noting that i only add leather patches to clothing that isn’t washed (or worn) too regularly, such as sweaters and jeans. I’ve had very good results with these, but haven’t tested what would happen if you added them to a piece of clothing you need to wash after each wear.

Ok, tips after the jump! Please feel free to add your own tips if you have any!

How to wash clothing with leather patches


  • I treat my clothing with leather patches the same way as i would treat any other delicate fabric – i  handwash using this process. I recommend you re-read that post – but the basic gist is, use a delicate wash (i recommend Delicare or eucalyptus wash), hand wash in tepid water, rinse and roll up in a towel to remove the water.
  • After i’m done and the garment is laid flat, i then check whether the patches are aligned correctly and make sure they haven’t warped or shrunk in the process. Sometimes if i need to i’ll reshape the leather patch whilst it’s wet bring it back to it’s original shape. If i’m worried i’ll come back a few times while its drying to check that the leather patches are still okay – but to be honest, i’ve never had to reshape them again, that first time does the charm for me.
  • After the garment is dry we’re good to go! The leather patches may feel a little stiff, but they’ll soften up with wear. You can iron the inside of the garment gently to soften them up if you like.
  • Bonus tip from Anneke Caramin: If the leather starts to dry out or stiffen despite of these precautions you can always use a leather conditioner to keep them nice! Basically treat them like you would leather shoes after getting them soaked.


  • Never hang a garment with leather pockets to dry. Always flat. Always flat. Just speaking from experience. I tried to hang my leather pocket Briars to dry a few times, and it was awful – the weight of the leather hung forward, and gave the pockets a weird shape. So i’d stick to the method i share above :)
  • Also, never ever tumble dry leather. If you do i will yell at you, ok? That’s probably about one of the quickest ways to ruin those lovely patches and any clothing you attached them to. So hands off that dryer people!
  • And very last don’t – stay away from harsh laundry chemicals. I avoid sprays, bleach and even my regular laundry detergent and softners. Just stick to a delicate wash

I hope that helps! I’m not an expert, but this method has worked really well for me and my leather patches still look excellent. The orange jumper that i used in the photos above was originally made two years ago when i first posted about this, and it’s still in my wardrobe rotation and the leather still looks and feels good as new. If you have any questions or tips to add – let me know in the comments!


About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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miss agnes
8 years ago

Very interesting and useful, thank you!

8 years ago

If the leather starts to dry out or stiffen despite of these precautions you can always use a leather conditioner to keep them nice! Basically treat them like you would leather shoes after getting them soaked.

8 years ago
Reply to  annekecaramin

Anneke, how do you care for your leather shoes? I have been looking for good tips.

8 years ago
Reply to  Abigail

I keep it simple: brush off dirt with a shoe brush, use a polish if needed. Try to keep them from getting soaking wet, if it does happen, don’t put them near a heat source but let them dry slowly at room temperature. I use a leather conditioner once in a while to keep the shoes supple and to prevent cracking. Finding a good cobbler is definitely worth it as well! It’s better to replace heels and soles before they have gotten worn down completely and it will save you money in the long run. I try to make it a habit to get my ‘good’ winter boots fixed up when spring starts!

8 years ago
Reply to  annekecaramin

Thank you!

3 years ago

Hi Meg,

This is absolutely interesting! Thank you for sharing. I actually found this article very helpful.