On its own, the sleeve head area of a tailored jacket can look a bit limp and in need of reinforcement – that’s where a shoulder pad and some sleeve head wadding come into play!
Shoulder pads prevent the front and back shoulder area collapsing near the armhole as the shoulder starts to round off. They needn’t be large – mine are only 7mm thick and barely detectable – but they come in many thicknesses.
You need to make sure that your shoulder pad is shaped correctly for your armhole. Lay the Front and Back pattern pieces together with the shoulder seams aligned and overlapping like this:
And place your shoulder pad on top to compare the shaping. If your shoulder pad has a seamline, match that with the shoulder seam. My shoulder pad is quite similar to the armhole shaping, and I only need to trim 3mm from the armhole edge at the shoulder point. I also need to trim some off at the neckline, as it protrudes into the seam allowance here.
Remember that you need a L and R pair! Most tailored pads have a notch or small hole indicating which end is front or back.
Sleeve head wadding sits inside the sleeve head, supporting it, rounding it out slightly, and concealing the sharp edge of the shoulder pad and seam allowances. My precut wadding has a slightly different shape to the pattern:
Which is easily fixed:
The wadding should also be paired, and mark the shoulder notch if it isn’t already marked:
Now our pieces are the correct shape, let’s set them in! Start by pinning the shoulder pad at the shoulder point like this – the edge of the pad should align with the cut edge of the seam allowances:
The front and back tips of the pad are not positioned by laying everything flat, they are positioned by curving the pad and armhole seam into the wearing position like so:
In this picture below, both ends are now pinned. Note that I have bent the shoulder pad back the other way, revealing the amount of ease that was automatically introduced in the step above – you need this ease!
The shoulder pad is sewn in from the sleeve side, stitching 1mm into the seam allowance from the existing stitching line so it remains unaffected. As you are sewing flat, there will be some slight easing to do of the top layers:
The wadding is sewn in a similar manner, except it attaches to the sleeve side of the seam:
Allow it some ease in a similar manner to the shoulder pad:
Sew it in from the shoulder pad side, in the same line of stitching as the shoulder pad:
All stitched up:
From the right side, even only supported by my hand, the sleeve head looks much classier with it’s supporting layers:
Don’t forget to pin this for later! Next up we will sew the lining in – happy sleeve sewing for now!
This post was originally published as #13 of the Ready-to-Wear Tailoring Sewalong.
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