Adapting existing clothing from your wardrobe.

If I had to choose one area that is overlooked for tube fed adults, especially women, it is clothing on the market that works well for tube feeding.  Styles do change over the years, and for quite some time, clothing that opens in the front with buttons or snaps, is not what a woman is going to find much of, when she shops.

Even if there were more selections readily available, not many would be inclined to invest in an entire new wardrobe.

In most cases it is easier to make something from scratch by adapting a sewing pattern, than it is to create an opening in clothing you already own.  But, what if you like the clothing you have?  What if you don’t want to go through the whole process of picking out fabric and a pattern, then adapting the pattern, then cutting fabric out, etc etc?

Know that it is not impossible to have it both ways.  You can use the clothes you have, and you can wear them when you have a meal 🙂

The first thing you have to do, is think about where your tube is on your abdomen, is it close to mid-line? Is it over on the right or left?  How high is it?

One method to get it right, is to put the garment on, and mark where your tube hits with a fabric marker with ink that either evaporates in a short time, or will wash out.

Keep in mind that when you’re looking at what you are altering when you don’t have it on, that the left/right orientation is going to be in reverse.  If you have a top laid flat on the table in front of you, you either need to turn it upside down, so that the neckline is toward you, and the hem away from you, or, you need to remember that “left is right” and “right is really left”.  Does that make sense?  I hope so!

That’s why it helps to mark where your tube is, while you’re actually wearing it.

If you are not the person who will be wearing it, but rather sewing for someone who has a tube, there are some principles to keep in mind.

  1. If the tube feeder will be handling meals by herself, then the opening should be so she can see where the tube enters her body.  In other words, if the opening is not exactly centered over the tube,  then the view from above is key, and most of the opening needs to be above where it hits on the abdomen, not below it.
  2. Feeding method matters. A) If the tubie uses a pump, and feeds over long periods of time, then, most likely a right angle extension set, or low profile “dangler” tube is being used.  These don’t project out as far as a straight “bolus” connector, or regular dangler tube.  This usually means the tube is laying flatter, and not having to be hooked up, then disconnected frequently, and an opening in a garment can be a little further away from where the tube actually enters the body, and the opening can be lower than the tube placement.  A person who uses a pump or continuous feed method will want to have the opening to allow the garment to appear closed, with just a tiny space for the tubing to exit it.   B) If the tubie uses the bolus method, then, bigger opening = better.

A good resource to learn more about sewing and might help you come up with creating discrete openings, is the Craftsy website.  They offer many online classes.  There is a class (I’ve not watched yet in entirety) called Patternmaking + Design Creative Darts and Seamlines. (taught by Suzy Furrer)   This is one that I think would be helpful for adding openings into seams that fall other than expected places in a garment. and would be perfect for installing a zipper or other closure in.

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