couture sewing

Luxury RTW and More

To celebrate a friend’s birthday we did a “girls day” in NYC. Although none of my friends are sewers we all enjoyed the current exhibit at the Anna Wintour Costume Exhibit. The theme was “Death Becomes Her”; a display of mourning wear through the last couple of centuries. We were lucky enough to plan our trip for opening day and were treated to a private showing of the exhibit. My photos were terrible and no flash allowed; much better shots here. The moire fabric in photo 7 was spectacular.

After the museum we wandered our way up Madison Ave. and stopped in a very upscale resale shop. Chanel dominated the racks! Even at resale prices, my shopping splurge in Paris for Chanel fabrics looked like a downright bargain. I was able to get some shots of garments and even got inside a few.

Black Chanel Jacket

White Chanel JacketHoundstoothBlouse and RoseRose
I’m working on a clone of this flower pin. Here’s a back view.
Rose Back
Inside Houndstooth
The houndstooth jacket was lined only in the sleeves. Seams were turned so they were hidden by the lining. The seams in the jacket body were serged and turned under, making a very clean finish inside.
Blouse Back
The black silk blouse had a back neck opening constructed like a shirt sleeve placket.
Lining Seams
Seams, even in the linings, were generous. The garment sections had all been serged before sewing together; makes for easier alterations and with the generous seam allowances, the salesladies assured us that the jackets could be altered three sizes up or down.
Chanel Braid
Chanel braid looks like a bias strip of fabric frayed and sewn on as trim.
Valentino Ribbon
A Valentino design with amazing pleated ribbon detail. Crystal drops were sewn in between each pleat.
Zipper Finish
Even zippers were carefully finished on the linings.
Jacket Shoulder
The jacket sleeve seam and shoulder pads were impeccable and created the shoulder line Chanel is known for. Note how the shoulder seam is pressed open at the top. The shoulder pads have a unique shape. I managed to dissect a couple of different ones.
Pattern 1
Here is the pattern for one. These are not bulky, oversized pads but provide just subtle lift and shaping for the shoulder, Notice how the pad is constructed to extend into the sleeve and provide support. I tried to convert the pattern to a pdf file but the sizing got wonky no matter how I did it. I think it will print at the correct size if you just print the photo on a 8.5 by 11 inch sheet and don’t allow scaling. Let me know if this doesn’t work and I will email you the file, hopefully in the correct size.

I used cotton quilt batting. Pieces cut and marked with placement  lines.P1000229
Mark the shoulder pad back and notches.
Stitch piece 1 and 2 together. I used a 5.0 mm wide three step zig-zig stitch. Start and one end, butt the edges together and sew, butting the edges together as you sew. The pad will take on a curved shape.
Section 4 will fold with the edges offset. Place the folded edge along the placement line on piece 3 with the narrower side up towards you. You want the layers to be graduated with the larger parts towards the outer side of the pad. Open the fold and stitch on the line. Fold back in place. Your piece should look like this:
Position sections 3 and 4 along the seam line of 1 and 2.
Turn and place a few pins on the outside of the pad to hold the layers together.
Stitch the darts closed on piece 5 using the three step zig-zag stitch. Place it on the underside of the pad.
Stitch the dart in piece 6 and add it to the underside of the pad. Be sure the edges are staggered.
Place the pad on a ham and steam. The steam will compress the batting and start holding things together.
Using a length of doubled thread, stab stitch the layers together. Don’t pull the thread tight as you don’t want dimples in your shoulder pad.
Add a line of stitches along the seam line where you have multiple layers. You don’t want this coming apart inside the finished jacket.
Put back on the ham and give it a good steam to meld the layers together. The finished pad. Notice how it isn’t huge and gives support to the top of the sleeve.
Another style I discovered. This one is even easier to make.
Pattern 2
Pattern 3
Sew pieces 1 and 2 together with the zig-zag stitch, matching notches. Notice how the neck edge is longer in the back.
Piece 3 is placed inside and then piece 4.
Sew the dart in section 5 closed and place.
Steam over the ham, stab stitch the layers together, and steam again.
Notice how the shoulder pad extends to the neckline seam.
A few readers have asked about adding shoulder pads to a Chanel style jacket. The jacket construction does not allow for internal pads, but you could cover a set with the lining fabric and tack them into the finished jacket. Some figures just look better with a little more lift at the shoulder.
I did see one quilted jacket at the shop. I couldn’t snag photos as it was carefully guarded by the salesladies. From what I could tell it was well within the skill level of many home sewers. The silk charmeuse lining was a vibrant print and the colors in the lining echoed the boucle. The trim was constructed using fibers from the jacket fabric.
We ended our “girls evening” with dinner and a painting class. We were required to purchase two glasses of wine during class so the paintings are being saved for an appropriate event.

Notes on downloading the shoulder pad patterns:
Printing directly from the photo won’t give you the correct size. Right click the pattern photos, save as a jpeg file. Open with a program allowing you to resize. You will have the correct scale if Piece number 1 measures 4 and 13/16 wide for the first pattern and 5 inches for the second.
I tried several pdf converters but nothing gave the correct scale. I’m open to suggestions if you have experience.

35 thoughts on “Luxury RTW and More”

  1. Fabulous post, and I cannot wait to try the template for the terrific shoulder pads. This is the best example I have seen. I have made my own in the past, but I love the construction of this, actually going into the sleeve head too. Sure it will be wonderfully smooth. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    1. I don’t put them in my jackets but some figures look better when even a small shoulder pad is added. I’ve done sewing for my mother-in-law and her figure looks more balanced with a small pad. She also has uneven shoulders, so making the pads different thicknesses compensates. The Chanel jackets I saw with shoulder pads had bagged linings. If the classic quilted and unstructured style dosen’t compliment your figure why not add a shoulder pad covered with the lining fabric.

  2. Great post! I am intrigued with the shoulder pad which extends into the neckline. Not sure I have ever seen this, but it would make perfect sense in certain applications. I am a big believer in making shoulder pads instead of buying the ones available to the mass market… Sounds like it was a wonderful day!

  3. What a lovely, interesting post. The Valentino collar is super, isn’t it?

    I have only once made shoulder pads (in a tailoring class) and it was such a palaver with several layers and types of interfacing being built up, one side at a time so that the back was slightly denser than the front. Now I just buy ready made (less than £1 in cheap shops). But for a really great, personal fit, I agree and your tutorial is tempting and much easier than I made before. So I will give it a try. I noticed that Vogue used to sell a pattern for them most decades, but no more.

  4. I have the old Vogue pattern and used it when big shoulders were in style. What I like about these is the subtle shaping a smaller pad gives. I’m working on duplicating the Valentino ribbon trim; it’s something I hadn’t seen done before.
    Your husband’s butcher shop is is so creative and well done. Your posts always have something new and interesting. I’m looking forward to christening photos. Your new grandson is so adorable.

  5. Oh, my. Thank you, thank you. I need a shoulder pad in almost everything. I have little bird shoulders. These patterns are going to be a great help for me.

  6. Hi there again Mary

    May I ask, I am always loosing valuable articles, I thought I saw a share button previously, and wonder if I could put this post in one of my folders on pinterest?? Lately its my go to place to store all things sewing!!

    Thank you again.
    Marysia. aka Smockerlady.

  7. The shoulder pad instructions are great! How ’bout you pitch it to Threads and see if they’ll do your article w/ patterns to scale?

  8. What a lovely and interesting post! Thank you! I have square shoulders and rarely use shoulder pads but I do add small ones to jackets. I think the great thing about this post is that the patterns and constructions allow you to think about the WHY of the shoulder pad as well. I have just been recommended to your blog – lovely high quality and will be reading you often, I hope.

  9. Wow, Mary, I’m glad I didn’t miss this post! I was just over in Paris at Janssens thinking “where the heck is Mary?” Those shoulder pad patterns are great! I definitely have another jacket in my future, so those patterns will give me some options. I’ve used sleevehead in my other quilted jackets, so now I’m wondering how the pads would work. I may give it a try.

  10. Thanks for the shoulder pads patterns! They were easy to adjust and print (mainly because you gave us the scale image) and so far I’ve used them in 2 projects (a coat and a jacket). I don’t think I’ll be buying these pads anymore – your pattern is awesome, again many thanks!

  11. Thank you so much for the detailed tutorials on the two sets of shoulder pads. I managed to make a PDF of the patterns you kindly posted. They are as close as possible as my software will allow me to get to measurements you specified.
    Please do let me know if you would like a copy of these PDFs, and if so, where I should send them?

    1. Thank you. If you have generated a pdf file which allows readers to print these I will happily add the link to the post. You can email me privately at MF953 at aol dot com. Glad you found them useful.

      1. hi maryfunt! just found this post! awesome! please can you state the measurements for each one? (I mean for the first shoulderpad.i dont have acces to prplaces that print that size.thanks

  12. Hi Mary,

    I just came across your blog and fascinated with the detail as I’ve just began making clothes again. I’m particularly interested in the Channel custom made shoulder pad. I printed your pattern but it’s not the right size. You mentioned that if this happened that you could send on the pattern. Could you?

    I’m making a dress now and would love this pattern as I’ve narrow and slanted shoulders and have been using the shop bought ones but they are awful compared to these. I live in Dublin, Ireland!

    Many thanks ,


    1. Sorry to hear you are having difficulty printing the pattern. There is a post from January 20, 2016 with a link to the pdf file. Be sure to “print at actual size” not “fit to page” in your printer settings. If you would like a printed copy email m at MF953 at aol dot com and I will send you my mailing address. You can send me an addressed, stamped envelope and I will send you a hard copy. Thank you for letting me know.

  13. Hi Mary,

    An absolutely life saver post. I live in a compound in the middle of the Saudi desert, and just getting to Jeddah is a nightmare and hours of travel. I forgot to buy shoulder pads for my french jacket with I was in the UK recently and couldn’t finish all the handsewing of the lining until the shoulder pads were inserted. I found your post with the pattern pieces attached. I made two fantastic shoulder pads with some quilting battering I was able to get and the result was so much better than with bought pads. The jacket is nearly finished and looks great. Thanks for your blog and all the wonderful posts and tips.

    1. Thanks for letting me know that this was helpful. I have an article appearing in the next issue of Threads Magazine which covers this topic. You may have difficulty getting a copy but the magazine is available online. I don’t know how much of the information will be available to non-subscribers. I’m also planning a post to coincide with the publication and you may find that interesting. I would love to see your finished jacket. Thanks for following.

Leave a Reply