How to alter jackets with shoulder pads

Shoulder pads were a popular way to alter your profile in the 1980s and early 1990s, but now silhouettes are more organic and shoulder pads are no longer the fashion. If you find jackets with shoulder pads in the back of your closet or while shopping thrift stores, you may think they're a lost cause. Luckily, removing those shoulder pads is an easy task, and once you've done it you can use the jacket in a more modern ensemble.

Attached shoulder pads

Turn the jacket inside out so that you can see the shoulder pads and seaming more easily. Evaluate how the shoulder pads are attached. If you can clearly see the thread where the shoulder pads are attached, you need to cut the threads to remove the pads.

Utilise your seam ripper and find the last stitch holding the shoulder pad in place. Rip it upward with the seam ripper. Continue on to the next stitch.

Rip all of the stitches until the shoulder pad comes loose. Remove it completely, and then follow the seams with a pair of sharp scissors to clip any remaining threads for a neater look. Turn the jacket right side out and try it on for a perfect fit.

Sewn-in shoulder pads

Look for signs that the shoulder pad has been sewn in. With a sewn-in shoulder pad, a small pocket is sewn to the jacket with the pad inside. You can remove it by providing a way to get the pad out without tearing a hole in the jacket.

Poke the seam ripper into the backside of the small pocket. The hole should be smaller than the size of a quarter.

Thread the seam ripper into the hole and use it to hook the pad inside. Pull the pad slowly through the hole, taking care not to enlarge the hole. Rock it back and forth until it is freed.

Discard the pad. Sew the hole back together with a simple straight stitch for a cleaner finish. The pocket will remain on the jacket, but the pad will be gone, giving you a more modern silhouette.

Altering shoulder size

Try the jacket on to check the fit. If you removed substantial shoulder pads, then you may find the shoulders are too big once they are removed.

Pin the shoulder while wearing the jacket to mark how much the jacket needs to be taken in. You may need to have a friend do it if you cannot reach to do it yourself. Fold the fabric over at the shoulder seam to take in the jacket.

Cut away the excess fabric on the shoulder, so that the shoulder is split into two pieces. Re-sew the shoulder back together with the excess fabric removed so that you decrease the size of the shoulder. Try the jacket on again to test the fit.

Things You'll Need

  • Seam ripper
  • Needle
  • Thread
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About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.