Make Your Own Shoulder Pads: Tutorial

Happy Wednesday, sweet peas!

I thought that I would take a break from working on my newest sewing projects to write up a short tutorial on how to make the queen of all retro garment features – shoulder pads! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that shoulder pads live and die with ’80s fashion. Journey back a few more decades and shoulder pads were all the rage, as evidenced by my recent Big Vintage Sew-along make. V9127 was, in fact, my first run-in with real life shoulder pads and, despite my fears that they would give me an American football player vibe, they elevated the 1930s silhouette to a totally new level of authenticity. And, believe it or not, they are so easy to make from scratch.

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I worked with a pattern provided through V9127. But after measuring up and reading through my various sewing manuals, I’ve managed to condense the process into a few simple steps that should be workable for any garment.

What You Need:

  • Cotton Batting – I got a pack of 45″ x 60″ from Sew Essential which worked perfectly.
  • Lining Material
  • Thread and an embroidery needle

1. Measure Your Seams and Make Your Pattern

The key measurement that you’ll need for this project is the length of your shoulder seam – from neck to arm hole. You’ll want to take about half an inch off of this measurement as the total width of your shoulder pad (so, if your shoulder seam is 4.5 inches, you’ll be working towards a 4 inch wide shoulder pad).

Once you have this measurement, you’ll need to construct your pattern pieces. The first thing you’ll need is a circular base – draw a circle that is twice the length of your intended shoulder pad width (so, using the measurements above, your circle would have a diameter of 8 inches, and a radius of 4 inches).

Now for the confusing bit. You will need 4 semi-circles of decreasing size, with the first the same diameter and radius as the circle you’ve already made. The next three will be 1 inch smaller in diameter (essentially taking 0.5 inches off of either side of the diameter – when we place the pieces together, you’ll see the importance) and 0.5 inch smaller in radius than the previous.

So working with the above measurements, your first (and largest) semi-circle would have an 8 inch diameter and 4 inch radius. Your next largest would have a 7 inch diameter and a 3.5 inch radius. Your next semi-circle would have a 6 inch diameter and a 3 inch radius. And your final, smallest semi-circle would have a 5 inch diameter and a 2.5 inch radius.

Ultimately, you should wind up with a set of pattern pieces that looks something like this:

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2. Cut Everything Out

Pop your pattern pieces on the cotton batting and cut out. Remember that you’ll need two of each piece, since you’ll (hopefully) be making two shoulder pads!

You’ll also need to cut out two pieces of lining fabric that you will use to cover your shoulder pad. You can use the large circular pattern piece to do this but will want to make these pieces of fabric a little bigger than the base piece. This is because the lining will need to cover the shoulder pad and be stitched down (so essentially, you need a seam allowance) – I would suggest adding about 0.5 inch total to the diameter of the circle for this purpose.

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3. Pin Your Pieces Together

This is super easy. Start with the circle as your base. And proceed to place each semi-circle along the diameter of this circle, lining them up so that they are stacked pretty centrally. You’re basically constructing a tower out of your pieces. Once pinned in place, it should look something like this:

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4. Stitch The Pieces Together

You’ll need a thickish needle and any spare thread that you have lying around. Then work your way around the outer-edge of each semi-circle, stitching it down to those underneath. You can use any kind of stitch that works for you, as long as it’s secure. I used a basic cross stitch.

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5. Fold And Cover

Now you need to fold the loose half of the circle over and place the padding on top of you lining fabric, ready for stitching.

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6. Machine Stitch The Lining Over The Padding

Fold the lining over the top of the padding and pin down. You’ll then need to stitch around the edge, keeping nice and close to the padding, using whatever seam allowance you gave yourself when cutting out the lining fabric. I would suggest doing an additional line of stitching close to the edge of the seam allowance, for extra security. You could also use a bias binding on this outer edge if you’re concerned about fraying.

The finished product should look like a cornish pasty!

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7. Insert Into Your Garment

Place the shoulder pad along your shoulder seam so that the width of the pad runs centrally along the seam. You can then hand stitch along the seam, securing the shoulder pad in place, and keeping the stitches invisible by using the ditch that already exists. It’s also a good idea to tack the corners down somewhere – this will depend upon the shape of the garment, but tacking to the armholes is a good method. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t want to do this, it’ll just mean rummaging inside your dress/jacket when you put it on so that you can get the shoulder pads in the right place.

8. Be Bold, Bright, and Very Boxy!

Wooohooo! You’re done! And now you can rock that vintage style with appropriately square shoulders. Enjoy!

How To Make a Bow Tie – Tutorial

Happy Sunday, lovelies – and a happy Mother’s Day to those of you in the US!

My brother finally arrived into town on Friday, motivating me to get the bow ties sewn and finished up. Fortunately, they went down very well, making the effort more than worth it!

In the end, I referenced a few different tutorials and found that I had to muddle them together in order to get the best results. For those of you who are interested in making this simple, but truly effective, nod to vintage fashion, the rest of this post is a tutorial detailing the steps that worked for me.

Pattern:

  • I used the Men’s Bow Tie pattern from Sew Like My Mom, available for free through Craftsy.

Materials:

  • 1/2 yard (or 1/2 metre) of fabric – this should be a medium weight fabric and non-stretchy. I used cotton poplin.
  • 1/2 yard (or 1/2 metre) of medium-weight, iron-on interfacing
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Fabric marker (tailor’s chalk, or even a biro will do – shock horror!)
  • Hand-sewing needle
  • Fabric scissors
  • Chopstick/blunt ended skewer/knitting needle

Instructions:

Step 1

Step 1

Cut out your pattern pieces (fabric and interfacing). If you use the pattern I linked to above, cut out all pieces on the fold of the fabric (despite what it says on the pattern). This will leave you with two pattern pieces from your fabric, and two matching pieces of interfacing.

Step 2

Step 2

Pin your interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric pieces and iron on. Be careful not to get the interfacing glue on the ironing board (and don’t, as I did, iron over your plastic pin heads and melt them).

Step 3

Step 3

Pin your fabric pieces together, right sides together.

Step 4

Step 4

At the centre of the length of your bow tie, make marks 7cm apart (that’s roughly 3 inches). This will serve as a gap for pulling your bow tie through to the right side.

Step 5

Starting at one of your marks, sew around the length of the bow tie, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. If it helps, mark the seam allowance prior to sewing. When you reach the corners of the bow, raise the foot and pivot to help keep an accurate seam. Finish sewing when you reach your second mark (preserving the gap).

Step 6

Step 8

Snip off the corners of the bow tie and cut notches around its length (without cutting through the seam line!). Try to keep the notches as equal distance as possible from one another. This will help the bow tie lie flat when you turn it the right way round. I won’t lie, this was by far the most time consuming part of the whole process. But it’s unavoidable if you want the finished product to look as crisp and shapely as possible.

Step 7

Step 9

Now for the tricky part! Start feeding the ends of you bow tie through the gap that you left open. It can take a while, particularly since the length of the tie is so narrow in comparison to the bow. Use a blunt-edged tool to help feed it through (I used the blunt end of a skewer, because I’m a scavenger when I’m in Missouri). Use the tool to help push the corners out, making sure they have a shape and definition that you’re happy with.

Step 8

Step 10

Now slip stitch the gap closed. This can be fiddly. If you aren’t sure how to slip stitch a gap like this (my previous experience was only with slip stitching a hem), take a look at this great tutorial from Professor Pincushion.

Step 9

Step 11

Iron! Now I know that this violates the law of sewing that says pressing is always the right way. But I found a method that worked excellently for getting the perfect shape: iron along the seams of the bow tie and, while still hot (not so hot that you burn yourself!), rub the seams between thumb and finger. This ensures that the bow tie doesn’t come out completely flat (it basically gives it a little volume, which helps the shape when its tied), and also gives a really defined curve to the tie and the bow.

Step 10

Step 12

Done! Enjoy your gorgeous, self-made bow tie!

*Any questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email at laura@sewforvictory.co.uk*

Making Your Mark

Happy Monday, loves!

I hope that you are all having a good start to the week. I’ve made good progress with my dress – the zip is in and the lining pieces are together. All that’s left is to attach the lining to the shell and get the hem done (plus maybe finish the seams, if I haven’t lost the will to go on by that point).

One thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about while making this pattern is methods of transferring markings to fabric. When I worked on the Belle Curve dress, the 30 + side darts meant that I had to take a hard look at the best way to move the process efficiently – and accurately – along. I’ve been through a variety of methods, with chalk pencils and tailor’s chalk seemingly the go-to for most sewers.

But after some discussions with fellow crafters, I decided to give the tracing wheel and carbon paper method a go. I haven’t looked back! It has now guided me through many a dart. I’ve been umming and ahhhing over whether posting on this topic would actually add any value to your lives. But remembering that I originally began this blog with the intention of talking through my progress with the basics of sewing – and hopefully helping out other beginners in the process – I decided that a brief explanation of how to transfer pattern markings might be in order. If you are already well versed in this, please bear with me!

  1. The first step is obviously to identify any markings that need to be transferred onto your fabric. There are the absolute necessities – darts and tucks being essential. However, also consider other markings that might help you in the process of sewing and fitting. I sometimes decide to transfer bustline/waistline/hipline markings, if I’m concerned about the shape and fit of the garment.
  2. Whip out your carbon paper and tracing wheel. I have a pack of yellow carbon paper, bought on Amazon I think. You can get packs containing multiple colours – obviously you want to be sure that you select a colour that will show up on your fabric. Fortunately, yellow shows up on pretty much every fabric colour that I use. Tracing wheels can be bought online and in sewing shops.DSCF1236
  3. Pop your carbon paper against the WRONG SIDE of your fabric. If you’ve cut out a pair of fabric pieces (or have cut on the fold of the fabric), you can insert the carbon paper between the two pieces of fabric. When you use the tracing wheel, it will transfer the markings onto the wrong side of both pieces. Quick and easy! Make sure that your pattern piece is well-secured onto the fabric, with pins or weights (basically, make sure that it can’t move around while you’re using your tracing wheel).
  4. Move the tracing wheel over the marking you want to transfer. I usually do this quite firmly and sometimes go over it a couple of times to make sure that the marking has taken to the fabric.DSCF1238
  5. And voila! All done.

This is by far the quickest and most accurate method I’ve used so far. The only method I’ve not tried is tailor’s tacks – this is one that I will definitely be trying in the near future, for that authentic vintage feel to the sewing process. Any tips are welcome!

What method do you use for transferring markings? I’m always open to advice on anything tried-and-tested!

Laura x

 

My Vintage Life: 1940s Hair Roll Tutorial

Hi loves!

I have been away in PhD land for the past week and my sewing has gone sadly unattended. It is staring at me from my sewing table and making me feel extremely guilty. Fortunately, I have a free week until I fly off to the U.S. on Saturday – so fingers crossed my Joan dress will get some love and attention!

Since I don’t have much to show you in the way of sewing progress, I thought I would stop in with a little hair tutorial. So much of the vintage style is in the details and, while I like to throw in my own twists (I am OBSESSED with cowboy boots and work them in to a whole host of outfits), I do like to try to take my hair and makeup as vintage as possible. A recent mishap with some scissors – I won’t go into this here for fear that you will never trust a word I say again – left my hair drastically shorter than it was. To my delight, I discovered that the fabulously simply 1940’s roll works just as well on short hair as long. Since it’s such a quick and easy style to put together, I thought this would be a good place for us to start!

*Disclaimer: This is the first ever hair tutorial I’ve attempted. Hopefully the photos are detailed enough (thank you to my lovely fiancé for his help)! But don’t hesitate to email me if you need any elaborations!*

Step 1: Separate off a section of hair on both sides of your head. I usually follow up from behind my ear and to my parting.

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Step 2: Take the remainder of your hair and put into a ponytail. Slip the band down slightly so that the ponytail is relatively loose (this will allow you to create the little nest needed in step 3).

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Step 3: Make a little ‘nest’ in your hair.

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Step 4: Pull your ponytail up and tuck it into the nest. Depending on how much hair you have, this may take quite a bit of effort (and a bigger ‘nest’ to fit it all in).

Step 5: Secure this roll with bobby pins (how many you need will depend on the length and thickness of your hair. I have a LOT of hair, so it takes many many clips).

Step 6: Taking one of the pieces of hair at the front of your head, twist tightly and pin into your roll. Repeat with the piece of hair on the other side of your head.

Step 7: Tidy up as needed (secure any stray bits of hair). Give it a spray. And voila! Parfait!

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Super easy and super vintage. I am in love.

L x