Have you ever studied an original 40s garment and noticed how firm the shoulder pads are? I have and for this tutorial I am going to show you how you can make one that feel like the originals. But first, why would you want a firm shoulder pad? A firm shoulder pad helps you give your garments that angular shoulder line that was in style during this period. A firm shoulder pad also will hold its shape much better than the soft foam ones you can buy in store or make by yourself with stuffing. My original shoulder pads were a square of fabric folded into a triangle and then stuffed. They were o.k. but I was really unsatisfied with them because once they were sewn onto a garment they did not look right. They looked soft and gave a soft shoulder line. Not what I really wanted. I tried stuffing them more. . . quilting them even. I tried different stuffings even but I was not happy. One day I decided to try layering felt together. Success. At last! The felt layered together not only gave me the shape but the durability I needed for a wearable garment. Today I am going to condense all my trial and error into this easy as pie tutorial.
To start you will want about 2 or 3 sheets of crafting felt any color you want (I suggest a color to match your garment). How big do you want your shoulder pad? Figure that out and then cut a nice large square. Next, cut a square just a bit smaller than your first square and then cut it in half like you can see below:
Next, to finish, take your shoulder pad outside square and turn it over to encase all your felt layers. Before you do sew, make sure all your felt layers meet or line up at the fold of the first square. That will help you get that clean tailored look when you go to sew in the shoulder pad to the garment. Sew together. At this stage you can add a few tacking or quilting stitched to keep all the layers from shifting. I did not. I felt I did not need it (pun intended). Now a shoulder is not flat, it is curved. To get that slight curve I folded my finished shoulder pad to get that slight curve and gave it a squeeze. You could also press it with a hot iron.
To add to your clothes, the folded edge is the sleeve edge and the triangle point should point towards your neckline edge. I tack my shoulder pads in to my seam allowances. Viola!