Clothing & Accessories Tips

Can't Sew? If you come up with a terrific idea for adaptive clothing for your child but can't sew a stitch, contact your local high school Home Ec Sewing Class for help. Buy the materials they'll need and treat them to an outing or pizza when they're done with the project.

Neck Coolers for Heat Intolerance: Supplies needed:

* a piece of fabric (tightly woven, colorfast cotton) long enough to wrap around neck and tie in a knot or to tuck beside child.
* hydrogel crystals (colorless, odorless, chemically inert crystals that absorb water, available at most garden supply stores or

With fabric wrong-side out, fold in half and sew the long side and one end shut. Optionally: Use a bandanna, folded in half right-side out, and seam it a couple of inches out from the fold to make the tube, leaving the points hanging free.

Turn fabric right-side out, and pour in one-quarter teaspoon of gel crystals. Don't overfill. The crystals expand when wet, and if too much is used, the gel will ooze out the pores of the fabric. Sew up the open end.

To activate, drop the cooler into a container of cool water and let sit 2-3 hours until it swells up. Place wherever needed or keep in refrigerator when not in use.

Socks for Ankle/Foot Orthotics: Purchase tube socks (no heel) a little larger than needed so they stretch up to the knee. ~ Cheri

Coat for Wheelchair User: Buy a coat just a little bigger than your child needs. Cut a straight line up the center of the back and zig-zag the edges.  You can zip up the front of the coat and your child's back won't get cold because it's against the back of the wheel chair.  The coat can be put on over any straps. ~Michelle

Sun Protection: Try clamping a beach chair umbrella onto a wheelchair.

Bibs: Thanks to the wonderful people on the Our-Kids listserv, here are plenty of ideas to choose from.

  • Alligator clips on a chain ~ Take a tip from dentists. Attach each clip to one side of a napkin (linen or paper) or a hand towel, which you can often get cheap at a discount store. ~ Karin Gray
  • Buy heavy, clear plastic by the yard in a hardware department and self-adhesive Velcro. Cut the bib shape you desire and attach Velcro to fasten behind the neck and 5 or 6 inches up from the bottom for a catcher.
  • Old over-sized T-Shirts ~ These work well for kids who want to look cool. :) Also great in a pinch. If you want, you can cut the back of the shirt up as far as the neck ribbing and sew a washcloth to the inside of the front for absorbency. Good idea for wheelchair users!
  • Cloth Placemats ~ Place a cloth placemat on a flat surface. Lay another placemat across the first one, about halfway down. Bring the bottom of the second placemat up and sew or use fusible webbing around the underlying edge of the bottom U-shape, connecting the pieces together. At the top of the first placemat, attach a cord to each side. You now have a bib with extensions, plus the open pocket catches drips. For a variation, sew a seam down the center of the pouch to make two pockets. ~ Barbara Bechtel
  • Bandanas ~ Sew a terry cloth lining (inexpensive towel) to the back of half a bandana (cut at corners) and tie around the neck. These can be color-coordinated with the wardrobe.

Onesies: It's virtually impossible to find inexpensive "onesies" or t-shirts that snap at the crotch. A popular online adapted clothing catalog charges almost $15 for ONE. So, I bought boys' packaged t-shirts in a larger size (10-12 for my daughter who wears a 6x) and a package of non-sew snaps and saved $38! Just need a hammer and a thread spool. There's a female part and a male part to the snap, but each part has to have a ring which has little teeth to hold it on. I measured the middle of the bottom of the t-shirt and put 3 male parts on the front (facing backwards, of course). I folded the back part and put 3 female parts, equally spaced with the male parts. You use a wooden thread spool to pound the parts together with a hammer because the little male part goes right in the hole of the spool. ~ Naz

Blanket Sleepers/Feet Pajamas: To keep the feet of the sleeper from sliding down off your child's feet, use athletic sweat bands around the ankles to hold them in place ~ Chris Seeber

Drool catcher: Put athletic sweat bands around a child's wrists to "catch" saliva. First ask them to swallow, then wipe. ~ Chris Seeber

To keep kids' hands out of their diapers at night, cut the arms and legs off of winter sleepers to make a summer sleeper. Cut the arms to be a short sleeve and the legs to be long shorts and then hem where cut.

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