Shoulder Pads

Here’s my pattern for a shoulder pad I designed several years ago. I love the shape of this shoulder pad as it has a built-in sleeve head and you can vary the thickness according to your needs. I’ve started making these using wool felt (which is available at JoAnns Fabrics) for a very couture shoulder pad. The wool felt is not inexpensive but one yard goes a long way and it’s a perfect use for the discount coupon. Cotton quilt batting also works well.

Link to pattern: padding-layerDOWNLOAD

Link to shoulder pad cover: cover-layerDOWNLOAD

For a pair of shoulder pads, cut 4 of piece #1, 4 of piece #2, 2 of piece #3 and 2 of piece #4. This will make a shoulder pad three layers thick at the center. If you want a thicker pad, trim off 1/4” from piece #4 and cut 2 more pieces which will be slightly smaller than the original #4.

It’s easy to get piece #2 turned around so keep the pattern pinned in place until you’re ready to sew. I use a three step zig-zag, settings width 5.0, length 1.1. Stitching will be shown in black but you will use matching thread.

Zig-zag the two short seams matching point A. You will have two halves. Stitch together as shown matching points B and C.

Zig-zag the darts closed on pieces 3 and 4. If you’re making the thicker version, you will have 2 #4 pieces as shown. Thinner pad will have one #4. It’s easier to start at the tip of the dart and sew towards the edge of the fabric, butting the edges together as you stitch.

If you have two #4 pieces, stack the smaller one on top of larger piece and use a hand running stitch to join the layers. Hand sewing doesn’t take long and eliminates the risk of the layers shifting when sewn by machine. Take piece #3, arrange so it’s curving upwards like an upside down dish. Place piece(s) 4 on top. The layers should be graduated, largest layer on the bottom, smallest on top. Hand stitch around the edge of the middle layer attaching it to the largest, bottom layer.

Now place the already sewn together pieces 1 and 2 on top, match the center lines and hand stitch along the edge.

Pin the finished shoulder pad over a ham, steam and gently mold the shape with your hands. Finished!!! The zig-zag stitching line is aligned with the armhole seam and the shoulder pad extends slightly into the sleeve head. The shoulder pad can be used as is for tailoring when the lining is inserted after construction. If you’re using in a French jacket in which the lining is quilted to the face fabric, then the shoulder pad will be covered with lining fabric and inserted after construction is completed.

For a pair of covered shoulder pads, cut 2 upper covers and 2 lower covers. ***Leave at least 3/4 inch seam allowance around the outer edges***. The pattern DOES NOT have seam allowances. Note that the straight grain of fabric should be at a 45 degree angle to the center line. Mark and stitch the darts using a 2.0 to 2.5mm straight machine stitch. Press darts towards center line. Trim the single dart on the lower cover to 1/4 inch seam allowance. Take the upper cover (it’s the one with 2 darts) and place it on a shoulder pad. Match up the center line; darts are on the sleeve head section of the pad as shown. Pin the center line and smooth the cover over the shoulder pad. Pin along the edges.

Flip the shoulder pad over so the lining fabric is underneath. Stitch around the outer edge using a running stitch. I use an uneven stitch catching only a thread or two on the fabric side and more space on the felt side. Arrange the lower cover right side up matching center line with the dart in the sleeve head portion.

Smooth the layers together and pin. Trim the seam allowance to 3/4 inch beyond the felt. Fold back the seam allowances and using an air soluble pen, mark center line and a couple of registration points along the curved edges to make it easier to line things up for the next step.

Now unpin the seam. Arrange the lining right sides together. Pin the seam matching raw edges and registration marks. Stitch around the circumference leaving about 2.5 inches open for turning. Use a 1/2 inch seam allowance which will place the stitching 1/4 inch away from the felt. If you stitch right next to the felt, the turned seam won’t press flat. Trim the stitched seam to 1/4 inch. I find it easier and more accurate to cut the wider seam allowance, stitch, then trim rather than using a 1/4 inch seam allowance to start with. It’s also easier to stitch with the felt side up.

Turn under raw edges and slipstitch the opening closed. Press the outer curved edge flat. To attach the shoulder pad in a French jacket you can use thread tacks or snaps at the “X” marks. Middle pic shows underside of the shoulder pad which is next to the body. Photo on the right shows placement on the shoulder; the dashed line on the shoulder pad is where the armseye seam falls.

If you need a slightly larger shoulder pad, print the pattern at 105% or 110%. In that case, all the pieces won’t fit on a single sheet so cut out the pattern and enlarge each section on it’s own page.