Aug 182011
My shorts with seams removed, ready for hemming, velcro, etc.

My shorts with seams removed, ready for hemming, velcro, etc.

For the past few years, putting on pants has been an hour-long process. Because I can’t stand, I would start the pants over my legs, then return to bed to finish getting them up. By the time I was through pulling, trying to roll, and cursing, I was almost too exhausted to get back out of bed.

Then a few months ago, I lost the ability to slide into bed and started using a ceiling lift. Don’t know why it took me so long to think of this before, but I simply ripped out the seams of a pair of jeans shorts at strategic locations. I removed the stitches along the inside of both legs and then up from the crotch to the beginning of the zipper. Then I removed the zipper itself and replaced it with Velcro. I also added a bit of fabric to the inside of the legs and put Velcro there. I added a fleece panel for comfort and privacy.

My shorts, waiting for me to drop in.

My shorts, waiting for me to drop in.

Now I no longer have to return to bed to dress.  I simply lower myself (overhead lift) to the wheelchair where I have the pants laid out flat and then close them up. Takes a couple of minutes instead of an extra hour. I also no longer have to struggle with pulling my pants out from under me when going to bed or using the toilet.
Wearing my shorts

Not a fashion statement - more like a declaration of independence.

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.