Sewing kit on the table

Who could ever forget shoulder pads? The silhouette was all the rage in the 1980s and early 1990s, and the look still pops up when you browse vintage and thrift stores. If you want to remove shoulder pads from a vintage jacket to give it a more modern look, here's how.

Attached Shoulder Pads

Turn the jacket inside out so that you can see the shoulder pads and seaming more easily.

If you can clearly see the thread where the shoulder pads are attached, you need to cut the threads to remove the pads. Use a 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 the shoulder pad 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, et voila.

Sewn-In Shoulder Pads

With a sewn-in shoulder pad, a small pocket is sewn to the jacket with the pad inside. You can remove the pad 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 rip and enlarge the hole.

Sew the hole back together with a simple straight stitch for a cleaner finish.


If you removed substantial shoulder pads, then you may find the shoulders are too big. If you don't have a lot of sewing experience, it's best to take the jacket to a tailor for alterations.