Jan 062011

close-up view of Brother CS6000i sewing machineI took up sewing because I couldn’t find ready-made solutions to many of my special needs. For example, when I was no longer able to put on a belly bag by reaching behind my back, I needed something different – a bag that would attach to the sides of my wheelchair using Velcro.

But of course there were a couple of things in the way of turning this idea into reality. For one I didn’t know how to sew, and for another, I didn’t have a sewing machine.

When I began shopping for a machine I soon realized I had yet another problem – most of them rely on a foot pedal for operating the machine and I didn’t have the use of my feet. Fortunately, I discovered the computerized Brother sewing machine that you see pictured in the Amazon ad at the bottom of this post. It has pushbutton operation located conveniently near the needle.

One button starts and stops the machine, another lets you back up, for locking stitches, and the third raises and lowers the needle. In addition there is a slide switch that controls the speed of sewing so you can start out slowly and, once you have everything lined up properly, increase the speed.

My Brother CS6000i sewing machine plus some unique accessories.

My Brother CS6000i sewing machine plus some unique accessories.

I also make a great deal of use a special implements such as a pair of needle nose pliers for manipulating the thread, a pair of vise grips that helps me turn the small screwdriver needed to change the presser foot, spring loaded pinking shears, a glue stick for temporarily putting hems and seams together, and a magnet for holding and picking up pins.
Two views of my custom belly bag showing velcro straps and roomy vinyl pockets.

My custom made belly bag has a place for everything I need. The straps have velcro ends that attach to the frame of my wheelchair. I it with roomy pockets to make it easier to take out my wallet, cell phone, keys, etc.

Here is the belly bag that I designed and sewed: I placed strips of heavy duty velcro on my wheelchair, and then sewed velcro onto the bag straps. I made pockets for all of the items that I typically need to take with me whenever I leave home.

Since I began sewing, I have created many other items uniquely suited to my situation (and perhaps to others as well). Some of the items I have made include a unique “robe”, an art apron, a cooking apron (with hot pad material inside), and a worktable with a removable wooden insert so that I can throw it in the washing machine when it becomes soiled. I will describe these items in more detail in a later post.

Future projects include making my own shoes to fit my edema – swollen feet, and a padded strap to help lift me from a lying down position to a sitting up position in bed, using my overhead lift.

  2 Responses to “Why (and What) I Sew”

  1. Mike, I think you’re fantastic, to be so forward thinking and optimistic in your circumstances. I hope I will draw from your inspiration many more times. My husband, Eugene, who has IBM, three years diagnosed, and who I feel so sorry for, even though he doesn’t feel it for himself, has gone today from home (Ireland) to Sakhaline Island, Russia, to work. He does 8 weeks on and 3 weeks off but is very tough, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, but guess that’s good in the circumstances. He seems to think so. All that concerns him is how long more he will be able to do it for. So, for now, he is lucky to still be able to do that even though as he left today his big concern was to get there without falling and not injure himself or otherwise he won’t be able to earn a living to support me and our two kids who are in College. Best wishes to you and your wife for 2011. Keep the faith.. Karen..

    • Thank you Karen,

      Your husband is a real hero! I kept working for a little over three years past my diagnosis but I just had a desk job running an advertising agency and could return home and rest each evening. We also had two daughters in college at the time which gave me incentive to keep working. My best to you and Eugene and I hope you will keep in touch.


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