Adapting Clothing

When I am able to spend more time developing this site, I will add some detailed photos depicting how to do some alterations.  Below is a general overview with some basic ideas.

Adapting clothing for easy access to a feeding tube is not at all difficult.

Issues I’ve had as a woman—which most likely is less of a factor for men—is that I don’t really wear that many button up, or snap front tops and dresses.   I also did not want to have to replace my entire wardrobe, so I looked for ways to alter what I already owned.

I’ve noticed that adaptive clothing sites catering to children with feeding tubes, tend to offer designs featuring small, discrete or “cute” opening for access.  If you’re a bolus  feeder, or the person you are sewing for is, then a bigger opening = a better opening.

However, if you, or your tubie, is a continuous feeder who uses a pump, then a small discrete opening will work for you. If this is something you’re interested in looking into more, here is a link to a sewer’s blog on adapting children’s clothing for g-tube access, and this type of opening would work well for right angle extension sets, or low profile dangler tubes.

Personally,  because I bolus feed, I prefer a larger opening in my garment, and vertical openings tend to work better than horizontal.  A slit that is six to nine inches in length works well, it gives adequate maneuvering room when fabric is pulled apart to access the tube for a meal.

The simplest alteration, cutting a slit into an undershirt  or camisole  requires  little to no sewing skills. For clothing worn as an under-layer, this may be all you need.

Some fabrics tend to fray very little even without any treatment.  Many knit fabrics, especially those  used for t-shirts and sweatshirts, are good candidates for “surgery” with no post op sutures.  If you don’t sew, or don’t want to sew, stick with jersey type knits (think t-shirt material) and you can cut openings that will not fray, even through many machine washings.

Two of the tops I have  from the online clothing store, Venus, have  a drapey ruffle going down the front of them.  I’d originally planned to create a snap opening going right down the front, but, their actual construction didn’t make this an easy path.  So, instead, I cut an opening right next to the center mark (hidden by the ruffle) and created an opening that is closed with snaps.  Very quick and easy!

These tops did not photograph well for me, so I am adding a screen capture of them worn by models,  Just know that the opening for my tube is under the ruffle!

With a top in this style, if it was in a fabric that would not fray, you could get away with just cutting a slit and leaving it at that.

venus top for blog 2

model is wearing a top from the online clothing store Venus

Venus knit top for blog

model wearing a sweater from Venus clothing store.












Creating a hidden opening calls for some sewing; and this is where invisible zippers, and KAM snaps make it possible without  having  tailoring skills.

If you sew, you may have inwardly groaned when you read the words “Invisible zipper”.  Let me tell you, they are not that hard to master!  Really.  I know some sewers insert them using a regular zipper foot on the sewing machine.  This was not easy for me, but, by using a special “invisible zipper foot” attachment, I had “invisible” results, with my very first try.    Here is a link to a good video tutorial.

When I insert an invisible zipper into my clothing, I like to have the top opening be at least an inch above where my g-tube is.  Two inches is even better.   If altering an existing article of clothing, such as a turtleneck sweater, it will be necessary to gradually taper the width of the opening from the neck down, so that it does not distort the neckline or the upper part of the sweater.   It works, I’ve altered several of mine, and the zipper can barely be  noticed, as all that shows is the little pull tab on the zipper.

Starting from scratch, instead of altering an existing garment has advantages.

Almost any dress or top pattern can be made with a front seam. Even if the pattern doesn’t call for a front seem, one can place the pattern piece on the selvage edges rather than the fold, and use this as the seam to have an opening for tube access.


I made the  retro “late 60’s – mid 70’s”  shift dress pattern in the photo  (below) with wonderful results.  I chose this pattern because it already has a  front seam from under the bodice down to hem.  The zipper I added was a short one, about 9″.  It turned out very well, and was appropriate for  occasions requiring  having discreet meals via the tube in public venues.  I liked it so much,  that I made more than one dress with it, just changing the neckline a bit with each dress. It is a bit floatier and looser fitting than  artwork on the  pattern envelope depicts.


Dress pattern with center seam

Dress pattern with center seam


The next dress was made from New Look pattern # 6302  The main difference between it, and the other two shown above, is that there is no separate bodice seam in the front.

new look 6302 dress blog




blog dress 3

invisible zipper installed