Sewing Adaptive Patterns

Boy, talk about getting humbled…

I have a friend who is wheelchair-bound with MS.  She is having an anniversary party, and I am sewing a dress for her for the party.

Think about all the things you would need to do to make a pattern fit:  measuring bust, waist, hips; pin-fitting the tissue to see where alterations to the pattern need to be made; cutting the fabric and then pin fitting as you sew.

Now imagine trying to do all that for someone who is unable to stand, has to stay in a wheelchair all day, has very limited mobility in the torso and arms, and is unable to dress themselves.

Talk about challenges!

And here I was the other day, whining and complaining because I wanted to camoflauge my big hips.  Next time I do that, just smack me and tell me to grow up.  I should remember to be truly grateful that I have so few challenges with clothing, in comparison to all the people who are in wheelchairs.

Alright, so the good news is that my friend has a custom pattern already.  The bad news is that she really, really liked this pink microfiber fabric, but it’s a woven and her dress pattern is for a two-way stretch.  Hmmmmmmm.

We’d talked about doing a zipper and bought one.  But the more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I felt with the idea of putting a zipper in the back of the dress.  She’d have to lean against that all day.  And that could present rubbing issues, at a minimum.

I did some reading on message boards about making woven garments for people who are in wheelchairs, and they did give me some ideas.  One idea I did like was to make a wrap dress, but the foldover fabric wraps around in the back rather than in the front.  I saw some cute styles at a website that sells this type of garment.  A bit old fashioned, but adapting details like necklines and sleeves are easy once you have the basic pattern.

So I proposed this idea to my friend, and we’ll see what she says.  I go over to her house tonight to talk about what needs to happen to her custom pattern in order to create an additional custom pattern that is for woven fabrics.

If my friend likes the idea, then I’ll be getting some help from this wonderful blog post: Sewing Adaptive Clothing – Mom’s Wrap Back Dress.

Update, Peggy’s anniversary outfit

Here she is, with her beautiful smile, getting a fitting on her dress.  She’d decided to choose an oriental style with mandarin collar and buttons.  It was a shirt pattern that we’ve elongated into a dress, and now we’re doing the taking-in so that the dress has mock princess seams, fitted sleeves with mock buttons, a 22″ zipper down the back, and a 90″ bottom hem.  I’m almost done with it, and the party is in two days – October 1st.  More updates to come as I finish the dress, the shawl, and Peggy’s husband’s matching necktie.



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. JillyBe
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 13:08:43

    Hi Charlene – I found this in sort of a roundabout way, since I responded to your email this morning but it bounced back as undeliverable. I sent a copy of my response to you at your clay arts website; hope you get that!

    I’m about to take off for the day; if I can be of any help let me know & I’ll get back to you later.

    Thank you for your wonderful comment about my blog post! 🙂



    • Charlene
      Aug 30, 2011 @ 13:16:47

      I see you found my blog! I’d just finished sending you a reply via email. I did get the one you sent through my main website, thank you!

      I’ll be seeing my friend tonight and we will be discussing options together, so I’ll have more information to work with then. I’ll be sure to let you know how things go.


  2. Trackback: Heather’s Light Box « Fimo Fanatic: Charlene's Blog

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