My sweet, adorable, feisty toddler son has had a central line catheter (Broviac) since he was two years old. Lately, he has developed a talent for pulling off his dressing, exposing the site where the catheter enters his body and putting him at risk for a blood infection. Onesies are great for many reasons. They have been very helpful in keeping his dressing and the end of his line hidden, but their neckline and the usual stretchiness have become problematic. Time to find a solution.
I tried “Hickman Hiders” from Etsy, but they were too tight, too difficult to put on and too hot for him. After searching online, I found a vest on Etsy by CuddleMeButtonUps. Unable to afford to buy as many as I wanted (though justly priced for the work this person puts into these custom vests!), I studied the pictures and came up with a design that I thought would work well for our son.
If you know anyone with a child who has a Broviac, central line, Port-a-cath or G-tube, consider sharing this tutorial. I could not find any free plans on the internet. We have got to help each other out.
I would say this is a medium difficulty project. The vests I made are far from perfect. Nevertheless, here we go!
I may not all the sewing terms. In the absence of a video, I have provided many many photos. Good luck! You will also see three different fabrics in my project. That is because, at this point, I am making three at a time to try to get the project done!
100% cotton quilting fabric (or any non-stretch fabric) – 1 yard makes two vests
I wanted 100% cotton fabric for ultimate breathability. A fabric that does not break will cause him to sweat, which will cause his dressing to loosen. I though cotton quilting fabric seemed easy to work and does not stretch. Graphic prints are recommended because lines in the print help immensely!
KAMsnaps 20-color starter pack – Up to 14 per garment
Pacifier clips – two per garment
Sewing machine with usual sewing accessories
Iron and ironing board
1 safety pin
Now the steps in different phases: straps, body, snaps
- Wash and dry fabric (if very wrinkly then iron)
- Cut two 2×12 inch stripes
- Fold in half lengthwise and iron crease
- Sew along raw edges
- Pin safety pin to one side of the end, push head inside the strap, and turn strap right side out
- Iron strap flap with seam in the center of one side
- Feed through clip, seam side down, half way
- Holding raw edges together, feed through the adjustable rectangle piece.
- Fold top end twice and sew to secure raw edge.
I discovered the order to these steps matters quite a bit because some pieces cannot be put together in a different order. Heed my words, even if you have some better techniques up your sleeve.
- Using your child’s tank top, draw a template on paper. Since this vest needs to be snug, do not make a seam allowance and simply trace the tank top.
- Extend one side in the shape of a rectangle which will wrap around your child’s body to create a custom, adjustable fit.
- Cut fabric around the template.
- Use that fabric for the template for another piece. Fabric usually has a “wrong” side and a “right” side. Make sure to cut on the opposite side so either both right sides are facing out or that both wrong sides are inside out.
- Pin the two pieces together so both sides display the wrong side of the fabric.
- Trim to make nice even edges. Hold up against child to make sure it is generally the right size.
- Sew around fabric beginning at the corner of the very long side (again, wrong side out!), pivoting needle as you meet the corners. Cut the corners when you finish.
- At the long end, turn the corner. Do not sew all the way to beginning stitch. Leave a hole big enough for your arm.
- Reaching through the opening, turn fabric right side out.
- Iron flat
- Sew a French seam to help the garment lay neat and flat on its own. This will reveal all your stitching imperfections, as it did mine. Good luck with that. I tell myself, only my grandmother will look closely at my unstraight seams. Better crooked seams than an extra dressing change each week.
- Wrapping vest around your child, determine where the first snaps should be for the snuggest fit.
- Mark fabric to allow for five snaps in one row. You will apply two rows of snaps on each end. This will make the vest adjustable. (My photos will show a variety of snap numbers on each vest, the total number you use is up to you).
- Follow directions in KAMsnaps pack or online to apply snaps.
- Attach the white plastic clips to create the shoulder strap.
- Pin unfinished end inside the back, fit on child to make sure the placement is good
- Sew unfinished end place, folding to hide raw edges. I use a zig zag pattern for this.
One last detail: A tab to hold catheter end in place
- Cut another strip of fabric 3×2 inches.
- Fold in half lengthwise and sew. Fold one raw edge under and attach to the inside of the vest.
- The location will be based on your child’s needs. For my son’s Broviac, we curve the catheter to exit the dressing on his left side. I attached this tab on the left side of his vest, sewing one end to the vest.
- On the other end, attach one snap to the tab and the vest interior. This will prevent your child’s catheter from hanging out the bottom of the vest.
Note: another tab could be added on the opposite side to guide the TPN tubing around when in use.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. I would love to hear your modifications and improvements on this tutorial in the comments below!
See it in use: