As fashion trends evolve, those rigid 1980s-style shoulder pads can make even the sharpest blazer feel dated. If you’ve got a beloved Zara jacket that’s perfectly tailored except for the awkward shoulder padding, don’t send it to the donation pile just yet. With a few simple steps, you can easily remove the shoulder pads and give that blazer a fresh, modern look.
I recently found myself in this exact situation. I had treated myself to a chic black fitted blazer from Zara that quickly became my go-to piece for both work and weekends. The only problem? Those boxy shoulder pads completely overwhelmed my petite frame. Once I figured out how to remove the dreaded pads, my blazer went from frumpy to fabulous.
If you’ve got a similar dilemma with a Zara or other brand blazer, don’t despair. Removing shoulder pads is a surprisingly simple adjustment that can give new life to an outdated jacket. Today, I’ll walk through the step-by-step process so you can ditch those shoulder pads for good. Let’s get started!
Why Remove the Shoulder Pads?
Removing shoulder pads slims the silhouette for a more modern, minimalist look. Padded shoulders can overwhelm petite frames. Removing them helps restore balance and proportions. For larger-busted women, minimizing shoulder width draws eyes down, balancing the upper body.
Steps to Remove Shoulder Pads from a Blazer
Removing shoulder pads from a blazer or jacket requires just a few simple tools and some patience. Here are the step-by-step instructions:
What You’ll Need
- Seam ripper
- Small, sharp scissors
- Tweezers (optional)
Step 1: Turn the Blazer Inside Out
Examine the inside of the blazer to find the shoulder seams where the pads are sewn into the lining. Turn the entire jacket inside out to access these seams. Having the wrong side facing out makes it easier to remove stitches and manipulate the material.
Step 2: Locate the Entry Points
There will be 1-2 short entry stitches that anchor the shoulder pads into the seam. Use the seam ripper or small scissors to snip these stitches so the pad can be released. Be careful not to cut the lining!
Step 3: Remove the Padding
Once the entry stitches are clipped, the shoulder pad should pull out easily by hand. You may need to gingerly pull back the lining around the seam to finagle it out. Use tweezers if you need extra grip to remove small remnants of padding caught in the seam allowance.
Step 4: Close the Seam Allowance
With the pads fully removed, you’ll have an open cavity along the shoulder seams. Fold under the seam allowance inside this cavity and hand-stitch it closed. This gives the jacket shoulder a smooth, tidy appearance once turned right side out again.
Step 5: Add Support Stays (Optional)
For additional structure, you can add dressmaker shoulder stays once the pads are removed. These provide light shaping without excessive padding. Hand-stitch them into the shoulder seams, similar to the pads.
Step 6: Steam and Press
Before turning the blazer right side out, give it a good steaming to relax the material and seams. Then, turn it out and press along the shoulder seams to smooth any wrinkles. Your freshly pad-free blazer is ready to wear!
And that’s it – with just a few snips and stitches, you can banish those bulky shoulder pads. Taking the time to carefully remove them and neatly close up the seams will give your blazer a crisp, tailored look.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
While the shoulder pad removal process is straightforward, here are some common mistakes to watch out for:
- Cutting the lining. Be very careful not to snip or damage the fashion fabric lining when removing stitches or pads. Go slow.
- Removing too much padding. Start by just removing the main shoulder pad. Leave any supplemental shoulder roll padding for lightweight shaping.
- Creating a messy seam cavity. Take time to neatly fold and secure the cavity so it lays flat when turned.
- Forgetting steam and press. Don’t skip the finishing touches! Steam, press and tidy up the shoulder seams for a crisp finish.
- Rushing. Removing pads requires patience. Take it slow to avoid irreversible snips to the lining or sloppy seams.
Follow the steps closely and avoid these common pitfalls for best results removing shoulder pads from your Zara or other brand blazer.
Sewing Tips After Removing Pads
Once the pads are out, a few additional sewing tweaks can help perfect the fit:
- Taper the sleeves. With the added drape, sleeves may appear wider. Taper them by taking in the seam allowance for a slimmer fit.
- Narrow shoulder seams. For more shape, stitch a new seam at the shoulders in 1/4″ from original seamline.
- Add darts. Darts at the back shoulders and behind the bust provide subtle shape without pads.
- Resize buttons. Moving buttons over slightly helps account for fabric shift without pads.
So don’t stop at just removing the pads! Play around with subtle stitching adjustments to really customize the new silhouette.
Styling Tips: How to Wear Blazers Without Pads
Once you’ve eliminated those cumbersome pads, a whole new world of styling possibilities opens up. Here are some of my top tips for rocking your freshly updated blazer:
Embrace Your Shoulders
- Flash some shoulder skin by wearing blazers over tanks and camis. The soft shoulder line is perfect for showing off straps.
Layer It Up
- Pile on delicate lace, silky camis or chunky knits underneath a pad-free blazer. The layers beautifully drape without adding bulk.
Cinch In Your Waist
- Add definition at your waist with cropped blazers or stylish belts. This balances the new drape through the shoulders.
Have Fun With Proportions
- Balance oversized pad-free blazers with fitted pants or mini skirts. Play with proportions!
Don’t Forget Accessories
- Finish the look with fun jewellery, scarves and statement bags that draw the eye.
With a few thoughtful styling tweaks, your newly transformed blazer will look like you bought it fresh off the rack. Have fun playing with new shapes and looks after chopping those pads.
Conclusion: Give Your Blazer New Life Sans Shoulder Pads
Don’t consign overly padded blazers to the donation pile just yet! Take the time to carefully remove integrated shoulder pads and you can instantly modernize the look of your favourite jacket. A few snips, stitches and presses is all it takes to create a flattering, soft shoulder line.
Follow the step-by-step instructions to neatly remove pads without damaging the lining. Avoid common mistakes like cutting lining fabric or leaving raw seams. With patience and the right tools, removing shoulder pads is an easy DIY adjustment.
Once the pads are out, have fun refining the fit and playing with proportions. With the right styling, your updated blazer will look like a brand-new piece. Effortlessly transition it from season to season with layers, belts and accessories.
So give your Zara or other blazers new life by ditching the shoulder pads. In just an afternoon, you can customize the fit and transform your jacket into a modern wear-anywhere wonder. Happy blazer refreshing!
Will removing shoulder pads completely ruin the structure of my blazer?
Removing integrated shoulder pads won’t completely ruin the structure, but it will create a softer, more relaxed shoulder line. For some lightweight structure, opt to replace the pads with dressmaker’s shoulder stays. Handle the lining carefully when removing pads to maintain the overall shape.
Can I ask my tailor or seamstress to remove shoulder pads instead of doing it myself?
Yes, you can certainly ask a tailor or seamstress to remove integrated shoulder pads for you. Make sure to specify that you do not want the pads replaced or new padding added. Handling the delicate lining fabric takes experience.
What type of stitch should I use to close up the seam allowance after removing pads?
A simple tight blindstitch is best for closing the seam allowance cavity neatly. The blindstitch will be invisible from the outside. Sturdy cotton thread blended to match the jacket lining works well.
Can I reuse shoulder pads removed from a blazer in other clothing projects?
It’s best not to reuse shoulder pads extracted from a tailored blazer in other garments. The pads are specifically engineered for shape, weight and size of blazer. For other projects, purchase new shoulder padding that matches the new garment fabric weight and structure.
Is it possible to remove shoulder pads from blazers that have raglan sleeves?
Raglan-sleeved blazers do not have shoulder seams, so the pads are much harder to access and remove. Removing pads would require deconstructing and almost completely remaking the blazer. Save tailoring time by looking for styles without raglan sleeves.
Will I need to alter the sleeves after removing shoulder pads from a blazer?
Probably. Without the added padding, sleeves may appear wider and fuller. Take in the sleeve seams and taper them to match the new shoulder line. Slim the bicep area slightly for the most polished look.
Where exactly are the shoulder pads located inside a blazer?
The pads themselves are anchored right along the shoulder seams on either side. Sometimes there is also a thin shoulder roll pad that runs the length of the shoulder, which can be removed as well. Check along seams to locate all padding.
Is it better to remove the shoulder pads completely or just trim them down?
For most dramatic results, fully removing the entire shoulder pad is best. Trimming pads can create uneven shaping. If unsure, remove them fully then re-insert trimmed pads until the desired shape is achieved.