V8307: Shoulder pads and sleeve heads

The purpose of shoulder pads is to help shape the jacket into the square line that visually, we associate with tailored garments. Shoulder pads came about in women’s fashion during the forties – following the boyish then floaty looks of the previous decade, probably due to women’s increased participation in the workforce. Tailoring took on a more androgynous look for women. The 40’s then gave way to the extremism of shoulder pads for the 1980’s look. 

Thankfully, shoulder pads these days are a lot more ‘subtle’. I’ll be using some to give my jacket some shape.

Sleeve heads are a little different though – attached to the seam between the sleeve and the shoulders, their purpose is to prevent the sleeve cap from collapsing into itself, preventing dimples and giving a smooth finish. 

I’ve had a nightmare trying to find pre-made sleeve heads – so after some research and rather a large amount of reading, I’ve decided to draft my own, which I’ll explain right now…


I bought some quilter’s cotton batting – but only because I couldn’t find any flannel/fleece (the recommended material) without a garish print on it. I couldn’t bear the thought of my beautiful jacket having innards with some kids superhero printed on it. This stuff is about 2-3mm thick.

After tracing my sleeve pattern and including the grain line marking, I changed this to a bias line. To do this, I drew a 2.5×2.5cm square sitting on the grain line – drawing a diagonal line down the middle of this represents a 45 degree angle (the bias) and is a right angled triangle. You can see I’ve drawn a jelly bean shape at the top of the sleeve cap – this will be the pattern piece for the sleeve head. I’ve quite literally just free hand drawn this – based on the shapes I saw over at the Sewing Diva’s blog post on the topic (see here):
Make sure you transfer the centre point from the sleeve pattern to your sleeve head pattern. 


Pin and then sew your sleeve head on by sewing directly onto the existing seam allowance (I’ve got the sleeve head on the underside):


After playing around with the positioning of shoulder pads on one side and comparing to the non-shoulder padded side – I’ve decided to go without. The jacket appears to sit rather nicely without them: 

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