Shoulder pads 1 – from fabric to basic construction

Have you ever made a nice pattern but still didn’t receive the result in the shoulder part that you expected ?

Well – maybe it was because of a minor fitting shoulderpad or the wrong workmanship. In this article I would like to give some hints and details about a quite often underestimated trim piece. For sure these are only personal experiences and do not stand as “the golden rules” to find a proper shoulder fit and so, if you want to add some of your experience, please do.

So lets start with the basics. There are three main shapes in formal jackets that shoulderpads support,

– the natural shoulder

natural shoulder(source :


– the regular or normal shoulder

Einfarbiges Sakko Anthony - Sakkos Herren - Ralph Lauren Deutschland - Windows I_2015-01-05_15-10-39



and the pagoda shoulder.

pagode shoulder

(source: unknown)


For casual and raw treated jackets you will only use some thin layers or nothing like in the example from Boglioli below.

Boglioli - supersoft shoulder


Not only will you need thinner and thicker layers but also you will want different feelings in these jackests. Therefor it is recommended to really understand the final result you want to achieve.

Otherwise you end up with some nice curved shoulders but unfortunately the customer will feel uncomfortable in it.That’s not good because he is the one who decides about success and failure and sometimes will not even recognise why he opted for another jacket.

So once you are sure about the final result stylewise and in terms of the feeling – soft, supportive or safe, you can start with the shape, the pattern if you wish. My personal advice is to try to work as much as you can with the real jacket pattern, front and back panel and then develop the main shape of the shoulder pad from there.

So you close the shoulder seam from the neckline to the outer shoulder and leave the rest of the fullness of the back panel to the outside (picture).

Then you start drafting a front line which is in respect with the shoulder bone a bit curved to the inside. At the back panel you will need to find a proper ending below the elbow seam notch of the sleeves and at the neckline you can end around 3 cm behind the finished shoulder line. (picture) If you have a rather curved shoulder then you will have to cut the shoulderpad cover into two pieces and insert the form of the fabric.

Last but not least you should consider the usage over several sizes. To assure that you can lengthen the inner part of the cover into the neckline like you see in the picture. Thinking about some 3 mm extension per size of the shoulder line it can fit around 5 sizes.

shoulderpad cover

Now, you will have asked yourself why I have drafted the line in the back panel a bit inwards, some 1.5 cm – well that is to support a rolling effect of back sleeves and back panel and to “close” the look of the upper shoulder part.

Bildschirmfoto 2015-01-03 um 20.43.20

So far so good until here – now we’ll concentrate on the inner construction of the shoulder pad – in the part 2.



Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. technical trims – Shoulderpads | Pattern design analyst - January 3, 2015

    […] Shoulderpads – how to use and how to develop – part 1 […]


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