“Sew Your Own Ostrich-Feather Shoulder Pads”

“Sew Your Own Ostrich-Feather Shoulder Pads”

Sew Your Own Ostrich-Feather Shoulder Pads


Have you ever admired the glamorous silhouette of vintage styles from the 1980s? Those strong, angular shoulders were often achieved by using ostrich-feather shoulder pads. While ready-made ostrich-feather pads can be found online, making your own allows you to fully customize the shape, size, and feather colors. With some basic sewing skills and ostrich feathers, I can teach you how to sew DIY ostrich-feather shoulder pads.

Selecting Your Ostrich Feathers

The most important component is choosing quality ostrich feathers. I recommend purchasing feathers specifically sold for crafting, rather than plucking them directly from an ostrich. The feathers should have long, fluffy barbs and a sturdy quill.

When selecting feathers:

  • Look for feathers approximately 8-12 inches long. Shorter feathers won’t create enough volume.

  • Choose feathers with barbs extending 2-3 inches from the quill. Fluffier barbs create more fullness.

  • I prefer feathers with white or black barbs, as these create a classic 1980s look. However, any color feather can be used.

  • Purchase 10-15 feathers per shoulder pad. More feathers create a fuller shape.

Additional Supplies Needed

In addition to ostrich feathers, you’ll need:

  • Upholstery or stiff craft foam – This creates the pad’s base shape.

  • Fabric for covering the foam – Aim for a lightweight cotton or polyester blend.

  • Thread – Polyester thread works best.

  • Basic sewing supplies like needles, pins, scissors, etc.

  • Hot glue gun + glue sticks (optional) – This helps attach feathers before sewing.

Creating the Base Shape

The base shape gives your shoulder pads structure. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Cut your upholstery foam into an oval or rounded triangle shape. The foam should be approximately 1/2 inch thick.

  2. Trace the foam template onto your fabric and cut out two identical shapes.

  3. Pin the fabric pieces with right sides together.

  4. Sew around the edges, leaving an opening.

  5. Turn the pad right side out through the opening. Push out the corners and edges.

  6. Stuff the foam base into the fabric shell and hand stitch the opening closed.

Attaching the Ostrich Feathers

Once the base is complete, you can start adding feathers:

  • I recommend first hot gluing feathers onto the pad in your desired layout. This keeps them in place while sewing.

  • Sew each feather directly onto the pad by hand-stitching near the quill. Use sturdy stitches and polyester thread.

  • Arrange feathers evenly around the top and sides of the pad. Place feathers pointing upward or outward.

  • Layer feathers slightly over each other for a full, fluffy look.

  • Add feathers until the pad feels dense and luxurious. Don’t be afraid to really load them on!

Finishing Touches

The final details take your DIY ostrich pads to the next level:

  • I like to accentuate the top edges by gluing on extra feather barbs. This creates a fur-like fringe.

  • For added luxury, glue small rhinestones or beads among the feathers. This catches the light beautifully.

  • Once all feathers are securely attached, gently fluff and shape the pad to your desired voluminous silhouette.

Now you have bold, beautiful ostrich-feather shoulder pads ready for any glamorous occasion! With some creativity and sewing skills, you can customize these pads to match any outfit.


Sewing your own ostrich-feather shoulder pads is a satisfying DIY project for intermediate sewers. With the right materials, techniques, and flair for drama, you can recreate the coveted 80s shoulder silhouette. Express your unique style by customizing the feather colors, shapes, embellishments and more. Strut your stuff with bold handcrafted ostrich pads!