Introduction: How to Create a Hard-wearing Knee Patch for Your Kid's Pants!

About: The team behind Sugru, the mouldable glue that makes fixing and making easy and fun. Do-ers of the world it's time to get excited.
This Instructable was inspired by the lovely Ellen's post on gurus about How to save a favourite pair of trousers.  Thanks Ellen!

The knees are always the first bit to go on kids pants - and it's a similar situation with the elbows on shirts.

This project provides a fun and easy way to add knee or elbow patches to your kids clothes. They'll provide protection for both your kid's knees and the clothes. 

Sugru is ideal for this project because:

It's really flexible
It can survive rough and tumble due to its hard wearing properties
It's waterproof - so no more muddy knees! (It's also machine washable)
It's available in colours that can be mixed, whether you want your patch to blend in or stand out!

If you need to stock up on sugru, you can buy it here and also from the Instructables store.

This project is a great one for the kids too - they can help think of colours and designs to put on the patches. 

So lets get started!

Step 1: What You Need

For this project you'll need:

- A pair of pants or a shirt that you're happy to customise.
- 1 minipack of sugru per large patch (this'll be about the size of the bottom of a mug). 
- Something round (a roll of tape or a mug work really well)
- Elastic Bands
- Something to add texture to your patch! (we used a plastic dinosaur :)

The texture and colours are where the kids ideas can come in! You can use pretty much anything to add texture to sugru - you just need to give it a coating of soapy water, which acts as a release agent. You could use your kids (or your own!) model dinosaur to add tracks across it, or the end of a pen to make polka dots. The possibilities are pretty much endless.

See step 5 for texturing, I recommend that you have a texturing tool to hand from the start.

COLOUR MIXING: we have made a handy guide to show you how to create a range of new colour with sugru,

You can mix sugru to create new colours - sugru is available in primary colours which allows you to make loads of great new colours.

Sugru bonds to itself so you can build on your repair over time.

Although sugru can be easily removed from most nonporous materials it is not removable from fabrics. This is good in some ways, because it means that it will survive wash after wash in a washing machine.

Step 2: Preparing the Fabric

First, you need to make sure your fabric is clean, so that a good bond is achieved from the sugru to the fabric.

Then, grab your round object and place it inside the leg of the pants where you want the patch to be. Get an elastic band and wrap it around the object, on top of the fabric. If you're unsure of where exactly to put the patch, just get the owner of the pants to put them on and put a tiny dab of sugru where the middle would be as a marker. 

Check to see if the fabric is on straight, and is fairly tight, but no so much that the fabric warps. 

Step 3: Starting to Add the Sugru

The first thing we're going to do is fill out the border of the patch with sugru. After this, the round template object can be removed from under the clothes. 

The technique with this is to almost knead the sugru into the fabric to get a good bond. You can do this by getting a small pea sized bit in between your fingers and slowly pushing it in, smearing it across the fabric. The tip of your fingernail is also very useful - if you run your finger, nail side down (so backwards) over the sugru, you can work it into the fabric, thus creating a strong bond. This is particularly important for the edges of the patch, so they don't start to peel back. 

You can run the edge of your finger at a 45 degree angle to the edge to clean it up if needs be. 

Once you've completed the outer edge, you can remove the rubber band and round object. Remember to clean your hands before you do this! You might find it easiest to get a grip on the elastic from under the fabric, and then ease it off the top. 

TOP TIP:The easiest way to get sugru off your fingers is with dry tissue paper. 

Step 4: Filling in the Patch

Now that you have a good clean circle, you can fill in the centre.

To start, work your way inwards with the back of your fingernail, to blend the edge further and ensure your patch doesn't end up lumpy.

We're going to fill in the centre with the same kneading technique - push down, and then smudge out with your nail. 

When you're done, use a dry and then soapy finger to smooth it all down and even out the sugru. 

TOP TIP: make the sugru very thin, this will make the patch nice and flexible. As a guide, one mini pack (5g) of sugru is enough to create one large patch (the size of a mug)

Step 5: It's Texture Time!

Ok, now you have your patch, you could stop here. But if you want to get creative and make it look pretty as well as be practical, it's easy to add a texture. Sugru doesn't cure for half an hour, meaning you have plenty of time to create a texture if you want. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Use the sole of a shoe for stripes
Score lines into it using a scalpel
Get a favourite toy to leave marks
Lightly write a message or name with a blunt pencil - maybe label one L and one R for left and right. 
Mix in a bit of different coloured sugru to create a marbled effect
Make mini craters with the bottom of a pencil.

Once cured, you can infill your texture with other coloured sugru, like the Converse toes below. This can be a great way to use up leftover sugru from other projects.

If you have any ideas, leave them in the comments!

I've personally used the sugru office dinosaur, Greg, to leave marks using his tough outer skin. I've given him a soapy water bath first to make sure he doesn't get stuck to the sugru. (it works as a release agent.) 

Step 6: Finished Patch

Now just leave your patch to cure overnight, preferably hung up somewhere so it dries nice and flat. By morning you'll have your very own protective knee-pads.

TOP TIP: your pants will be machine washable :)