Changing shoulder padding

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by johnnynorman3, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    Seeing [email protected]'s suit made me wonder -- how big of a deal is changing shoulder pads? Seems like it is bigger deal than just opening the lining a smidge and snipping it out -- the pad covers the entire armhole basically. If you have a tailor change the shoulder pads, does this require taking the sleeve off? How much does this cost? And do the shoulders have to be recut to accomodate the smaller, different shaped pad?
     
  2. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Changing them at the basted stage is not a big deal.  That's what (in part) basted fittings are for.  On a bespoke coat, there should be enough excess cloth (inlays) to make whatever adjustments are necessary to the rest of the coat.

    On a finished coat, this is all much harder.  For the operation to be a success, the sleeve does have to be removed and resewn.  (Not everyone will do that, but they should.)  But that's the least of the problems.

    Some (not all) of those inlays will have been trimmed away as the coat's "permanent" stitches are sewn in.  Reducing the size of a shoulder pad is going to affect the balance of the coat in a number of ways and areas.  The question is: are there sufficient inlays left to correct those imbalances?  For instance, reducing the pad is, as likely as not, going to increase the size of the armhole.  A small armhole can be cut bigger, but a big armhole cannot be made smaller unless there is sufficient inlay at the bottom of the scye to raise that lower seam.

    Just about the worst thing that can happen: each side of the coat may "shift" downward and inward, affecting the balance, casuing the back to buch along the center seam, popping the vents, and closing the front quarters.  Perhaps not by a lot, perhaps not noticeably ... but perhaps so.
     
  3. understated

    understated Member

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    I've actually had something like this done, but I requested that the padding be taken out completely as the jacket's shoulders were quite built up. Upon receiving the garment and trying it on I noticed that the new shoulder line extended too far past the natural shoulder line. It cost about $40 to do and being a finished jacket, the sleeves had to be removed. Not quite sure if I want to go through the trouble of attempting to shorten the shoulder seam [​IMG]
     
  4. montecristo#4

    montecristo#4 Senior member

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    Among the other issues noted by Manton, it will also make the jacket longer. This is a pretty major alteration -- $200+ and you need to find a good tailor.
     
  5. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    I don't see how that could be. The position of the collar won't change at all, and therefore the neck down measurement won't change.
     
  6. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    The position of the collar might change. That depends on how thick (top to bottom) and how wide (deltoid to sternocleidomastoid) the pad is.

    Even if the collar position does not change, the length down the center backseam may stay the same, but the length on the sides will drop.
     
  7. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    That seems clearly true, but I imagine that pulling up the bottom of the armhole would correct it (assuming that could be done). In other words, you wouldn't have to trim from the bottom of the coat.
     
  8. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Just pulling the coat up at bottom of the armscye is likely to screw up the back balance. The result is that you have excess cloth at the blades, but not vertical folds (which can be good) but horizontal ripples (very bad). The armscye and the upper back have to work in harmony.
     
  9. armscye

    armscye Senior member

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    May I comment from the perspective of actually having been there and done that?

    1. I have an exceptionally broad, unsloping shoulder that REQUIRES the removal of most shoulder pads. Hence I have performed this particular operation at least 30 times.

    2. On every RTW suit I have ever opened up, there are felt pads-- triangular pieces rather lightly basted into place with a heavy thread. I average about ten minutes per side to open the inner sleeve lining, reach up to the shoulder, pull it out through the aperture, and snip the basting stitches. There may also be thin canvas outer pads, as well as a vertical felted "epaulet" piece that holds the sleeve head's outer face flat. But these are fastened into the shoulder seam itself, and therefore are unaffected when I pull the felted pads. I usually do this so my tailor won't have to when I go for a fitting.

    3. Depending on the construction, this operation may or may not open up the inner lining at the shoulder seam. It NEVER opens the outer shoulder. Restitching the lining is probably a 30 minute process for me. How this could amount to $200 is beyond me. On occasion I have had my tailor pull the shoulder pands and restitch the lining while I waited. For a pro, it's a 15 minute operation all told, both sides.

    4. The effect upon the length is interesting. It lengthens the body by about 1/2 inch, which is almost inconsequential. But it also lengthens the sleeves by the same 1/2 inch, which can be an issue if the sleeve was previously the correct length.

    5. The change in shape is dependent on the original silhouette. On a Hickey Freeman with its rounded, convex Trad shoulder, the center portion of the shoulder gets flatter, and the roll becomes a bit more abrupt. On an Italian suit with a roped shoulder, the usual effect is to give fractionally more room, and to slightly moderate but not eliminate the roping.

    6. All of the appended speculation about dire effects that distort the remainder of the suit is, to put it politely, uninformed-- at least in the case of my physique. The only tangential effect I have ever noted is that any horizontal wrinkes across the shoulder blades are moderated.
     
  10. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    With all due respect to your obvious familiarity with the single-case scenario and in defense of the dire consquences previously described, you are making presumptions not in evidence, as follows:

    You describe your shoulders as "unsloping". RTW coats are cut to fit the average shoulder slope of roughly 2.25"-2.5", not to fit a square shoulder like yours. Were you to wear the coat without removing the inner pad, the front balance would be askew due to the outer ends of your square shoulders lifting the outer ends of the coat's shoulders. This would serve to cast the lower centers of the front pieces away fron each other.

    Thus, the difficulty of shoulder pad diminishing or removal is not fairly judged by your example. Assume for a moment that the person desiring the alteration is of average shoulder slope. Assume, also, that the reason for the removal of padding is not one of fit, but one of aesthetics. In this case, removal of even the small pad you described is going to cast the lower centers of the front pieces inward. The correction for this will involve recutting the shoulder seam and, in accord, the armscye. Once done, the front is now in discord with the back which, BTW, will also need recutting at the shoulder seam to keep from ending up with a horrible vertical fold in the center rear.

    How you plan to accomplish this without removing the sleeve ...
     
  11. armscye

    armscye Senior member

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    First, let me bow to Mr. Kabbaz, who has "been there and done that" in the shirt business more than anyone. I'll accept the concept that in my odd case the process of padectomy works for odd reasons.

    However I must also note that the effect of pad removal is fairly subtle-- if you do one side, the other is only fractionally different. So I'm still struggling to believe that the result is going to throw the whole suit a kilter. However, I defer to the masters and recommend my procedure only for those with straight shoulders. My first Italian tailor, in Providence Rhode Island, once said a particular jacket on me looked like "the hanger is still inside."
     
  12. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    Yes, he was right. You square shouldered folks are a real pain in the pattern. Never understood why you can't just slouch right along with the rest of us. [​IMG]
     
  13. stache

    stache Senior member

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    I have shoulders like armscye. Quite often I remove the pads, but I make sure to tack down the canvas inside a little better than it was so it will not crease. Plus, depending on the quality of the garment, I have found that the lining may need to be redraped in the shoulder area. This really works when I am gaining weight as my shoulders get even broader, along with my gut lol.
     
  14. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    It all depends on what you mean by "dire", I guess. Â [​IMG] To me, an additional 1/2" in the coat sleeve is drastically too much. Â And I don't agree that 1/2" in overall coat length is inconsequential. Â It isn't to me, at least. Â But I am a fanatic about these things. Â I suppose, too, that it depends on the shape of the coat. Â A lean, columnar silhouette can look dramatically longer just by adding 1/2". Â The look of full cut coat won't be affected so much. The larger armhole, it seems to me, will still be a problem, causing the coat to "droop" under the arms and (worse) lift off the collar when you move your arms. Â That always happens to me when I put on a coat with large armholes. Â But if it doesn't happen to you, great. Â I admit that I have never had this done to a RTW or finished coat. Â I have had it done to one or two basted coats, and all ended well. Â I do, however, remember the experience of a colleague of mine who bought a really padded suit at a great price on the assumption that he could have the pads removed. Â This he did. Â And the effect was as I described: the sides lowered, and canted inward. Â Wonderful cloth, great detailing, but the suit looked ... off.
     
  15. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    NEWS FLASH :::: NEWS FLASH :::: NEWS FLASH
     

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