How to Make Your Own Shoulder Pads

by Leigh Wittman ; Updated September 28, 2017

Many people think about making their own shoulder pads but do not follow through because they think the process will be too complicated. Creating your own shoulder pads is a simple project that results in pads that fit and that enhance your garment to help you look your best.

Items you will need

  • Pair of compasses
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Fusible fleece
  • Fabric
  • Tailor's ham
  • Iron
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors
  • Shirt pattern
  • Paper
  • Fabric pen
Step 1

Use a pair of compasses to measure the shoulder seam on your shirt pattern. Do not include the seam allowance located at the neck or at the arm edge in this measurement. Set the point end of the compasses on the neck edge seam allowance and adjust the pencil end to hit the arm edge seam allowance line.

Step 2

Draw a half-circle on paper with the compasses at the setting determined in Step 1. Decrease the setting of the compasses by 1 inch and draw a second half-circle. Decrease the setting by an additional 5/8 of an inch and draw a third half-circle.

Step 3

Cut pieces of fusible fleece using the paper templates created in Step 2. Cut two pieces of fusible fleece using the smaller two templates and four pieces using the largest template. If desired, a thicker shoulder pad can be created by cutting several pieces of each size of fleece. Half the materials will be used for one shoulder pad and the other half for the second shoulder pad.

Step 4

Cut the largest pieces from your fabric. Ensure that you add a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Step 5

Mark the horizontal center of all the pieces with a fabric pen. This can be found by folding the pieces point-to-point.

Step 6

Place the fabric over the tailor's ham. Use the curve of the tailor's ham to simulate the shape of your shoulder. Pin the cover to the ham.

Step 7

Stack the fleece from largest to smallest on the ham. Place the fusible side down. Be certain to align the center markings and straight edge of the shoulder pads. Use pins to keep the pads centered as you do this.

Step 8

Fuse the layers of the shoulder pad using the steam setting of the iron. Then remove the pins.

Step 9

Place the remaining fabric cover over the shoulder pad. Fuse these layers again with the iron to ensure that the fabric is thoroughly fused to complete the shoulder pad.

Step 10

Repeat Steps 4 through 9 to create a second, matching shoulder pad.


  • Have enough fabric on hand to make a practice shoulder pad, since making shoulder pads can require some practice. When in doubt, use a cooler setting of the iron for a longer period of time as opposed to a hotter setting for shorter. Using a setting that is too hot can scorch the pad.


  • "Sewing Basics: All You Need to Know to Begin Sewing Clothes and Home Furnishings;" Wendy Gardiner; 2003
  • "Sewing for Dummies;" Janice Saunders Maresh; 2004

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images

About the Author

Leigh Wittman has been writing professionally since 2007. She writes primarily on health, career advice, outdoor pursuits and travel for various websites. Wittman is a licensed nurse and studied nursing at Arizona State University.