Shoulderpad Stellan

The Claudia tank has been all the rage lately, plus I was already primed for shoulderpads because I’ve been watching, for the first time, the 1980s TV show Moonlighting. Gorgeous Cybill Shepherd plays Maddy Hayes, a woman with a shoulder line so strong (and furs so luxurious) she occasionally approaches the rectangular. I have an abiding love for stern yet warm blondes who pal around with jackasses, so this was basically a perfect shoulderpad storm. I also love free things, so I decided to try adding them to the Stellan tee.

Weirdly, I sewed poly again. I swear I’m not a poly pusher, but it’s what I can find locally and I’ve mentioned before how much I hate shipping, especially since this only needed 1 yard of fabric. That small yardage is one of the excellent selling points of the Stellan. I use ‘selling point’ loosely because it’s also free! So yeah, this is a poly lycra – maybe not ideal for summertime, but cheep cheep cheep.

Even if it was good for Mama Earth, though, it was a pain in the butt to sew, so I think I’m done now. I tried a brand-new jersey needle, a brand-new stretch needle, and then two other brand-new jersey and stretch needles (the difference? I don’t know, ask the label on the bitty plastic tray thing) and I still got a lot of skipped stitches. My serger had no trouble so I eventually switched to using just that! For me, serging a pinned seam means staring wild-eyed at my serger blade while thinking don’t forget to pull out the pin don’t forget to pull out the pin NOW NOW NOW DIVE DIVE DIVE oh thank god wait here comes another one don’t forget to pull out the pin…it’s generally not worth the bother. So you know it must have been a frustrating experience on the regular machine to get me to switch.

It was worse when there were only one or two layers of fabric. The hem was particularly impossible to sew; I’d get one zigzag for every inch of loose thread. A straight stitch worked, so I don’t know what the deal was there. Luckily the bottom hem doesn’t need to stretch.

The neckline gave me the most grief. I would have described the Stellan as having a high neck, but not I guess compared to a properly high crew one. It just feels a little scoopy and pretty in this drapey knit. Because of how I sewed the armhole facings, I had to add the neckband in the round, and at first I made it too long so everything drooped. I unpicked and resewed it more like bias binding; I left the first inch loose, so when I met it again I could trim the band, join the band ends unfolded, and then sew the last bit to the neckline. I got a better result stretching by feel, but the gains of tightening the neckband were somewhat mitigated by all that unpicking. I didn’t think knits could stretch out but maybe this did? I kept missing stitches when topstitching, but this pass was the most successful, with just a few unexpected straight stitches amongst the zig-zags.

If I ever decide this should be a regular Stellan, I have enough fabric left to cut sleeves. I anchored the sleeve facings in the neckband, but I could just trim them away if needed. I was worried they would flip out since they’re only sewn at the shoulder + neck, and tacked at the underarm, but they stay in place surprisingly well. I came up with the shape like this:

I removed the shoulder seam allowance so I could merge them into one piece each. They’re about 2” wide at the base of the armscye, and theoretically wide enough to cover the pad at the shoulder (though in practice they barely do).

I did consider not sewing the shoulder pads in place, just tucking them in or maybe adding snaps, but they’re easy to unpick if I ever change my mind. Also, 99¢ a pair! I’m never makin’ my own again!

I’m glad I started with an inexpensive fabric, because there’s definitely room for improvement. I’d like to raise the neckline to a butcher crew neck, narrow the front, and pinch some excess from the front armscye. Also I’d like it to be cotton and navy blue. That said, most of those things bugged me during my initial try-on, but not while actually wearing the shirt.

Honestly, I couldn’t be happier if shoulders become a thing again. I missed them the first time around. And since most of the more playful/exaggerated elements of fashion right now don’t appeal to me, it’s nice to spot a trend I’m excited to participate in! Plus it makes me look way, way stronger than my noodle arms really are. I paired this my greeny-brown Papao pants the other day and was definitely showing off my Earthbender side. Kapow! Punch! Stomp! Etc.

Earth, bent!

Pattern: French Navy Stellan tee

Pattern cost: NA

Size: M

Supplies: 1 yard of polyester lyrca, $4.99, Sewfisticated; shoulderpads, $0.99, Sewfisticated; thread from stash

Total time: 3.25 hours

Total cost: $5.98

8 thoughts on “Shoulderpad Stellan

  1. Looks great on you Lia! I’m wearing a Stellan Tee at the moment, and agree the shoulder line is perfect for this hack. Given the way the sleeve fits on me, I’d definitely take a tuck in the front armscye though.

    Moonlighting, eh? Those were the days. I loved that show. I loved shoulder pads too, though not really huge ones, because they took the emphasis off my bust, and made me feel sexier somehow! Odd when you think it through.

    Highlight those arms while they are young and lovely. Maybe you’ll be lucky and they will be lovely forever 😉.


    1. Aww haha thank you! 😊 Next time I’d like to take a tuck too. The nice thing about sewing repeats is you can tweak, tweak, tweak!

      Sexy is one of those things that’s so hard to pin down – like, more skin, more visible outlines does not necessarily sexy make. Feeling it seems to be the magic ingredient. ^^ Also why did it take me so long to learn about Moonlighting?? It’s so kooky! I love it! The Shakespeare episode made me smile so much my face hurt.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kapow! Lovely Stellan! Ingenious facing…
    I think that the Lodo (True Bias) would also be a good candidate for 80’ising with shoulder pads.
    Kapow! (Love those trousers. They go with all kinds of action-adventure wear!)


      1. Ooh I bet you’re right! True Bias has some real gems, I should remember to look at them more. I remember *hating* shoulder pads in high school and trying to pull them out of my coats. How the worm has turned. ^^


  3. !!! This is so great! Love the fabric and love how the top turned out. I also came across the Claudia Tank and was very intrigued but didn’t want to buy the pattern bc IDK if shoulder pads is my look but also kinda wanna try it. I am totally copying you when I finally get back to sewing after my big move


    1. Yes dooo it! I’m sure it works with homemade shoulder pads too if you really want to not buy anything. I plan on stocking up next time I’m at the discount sewing store, because I am STRONG FOR FREE when I wear them and I don’t want to give it up.💪😁


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