Our Family

Altering clothing to add velcro side closures

Billy's Spine Page
Billy's fusion surgery
Billy's Leg and Foot Page
Life with a fixator
Make a fixator cover
Gastroparesis and Billy's GI story
What is CRS/SA - Caudal Regression Syndrome/Sacral Agenesis?
Littlest Heroes Project photos
Make A Wish trip pictures
2011 VACTERLS conference
2009 VACTERLS Conference
2007 VACTERLS conference
CRS gathering January 09
Old updates
Contact Me

A crash course in altering undies to add velcro for those that don't sew!

I tried in vain to find any instructions on how to alter the underwear to add the velcro, with some pictures, but did not have any luck...  I don't have any sewing abilities beyond some basic hand stitching, so I was pretty terrified about the whole process.  All the pictures are thumbnails, and if you click on them, they will open up to full sized pictures so you can see all the details.
I hope someone can use this information to gain some confidence, and to help them not be afraid to try this on their own :)  I know that I would have had a much easier time with some step by step instructions with pictures to help me visualize what I needed to do.  Thankfully, function is the aim so it doesn't have to be award winning sewing!
The first thing you have to do is hope that your child likes briefs, instead of boxer briefs like my son, LOL... Less fabric means less work!  Other than that, you would take a pair of scizzors and split open the side of the underwear.  IF you are lucky enough to have a "real" seam, a seam splitter can help you undo the stitches instead, and you have a MUCH neater and more professional look.  Unfortunately, we were not this lucky with the underwear or swimsuit (although I did get lucky with a pair of gym shorts!) so they do look a bit ragged.   Since there was no actual seam, I used one of the sewing machine's wider embroidery stitches to create a barrier next to the edge so that the material would not fray... 

After you stitch the rough sides, you need to add velcro.  You can buy this at a sewing store like JoAnn Fabrics, or most likely a craft store like Michael's or AC Moore.  You need the sew on type, the sticky kind will not stay on.  I got the 3/4 inch wide tape, and cut it to the needed size.  Because I didn't feel like wasting too much, I only  made the velcro long enough to cover from the waist down to the top of the leg, and let the bottom of the shorts open.  So far, they are holding up okay in the wash :)
You want to put the hard plastic velcro side on the piece of fabric facing AWAY from the skin, and put straight pins on the left hand side of the velcro to hold it in place while you sew.  Then, using the straight stitch on the sewing machine, you start your stitch just above the right hand edge of the velcro, run it a bit down the "bare" edge of the velcro, then hit the back button to go back over the stitch to "tack it" and then complete the stitch down the bare edge of the velcro down to the bottom.  Then you want to back your stitch up again and then complete to bottom of velcro to tack it "closed" also.   Then, you can take your pins out and do the left hand side.  If you are wondering why I did the right, then the left, it is easier to not get the pins tangled under the "foot" of the sewing machine when they are on the left hand side of the velcro ;)
After this, you pin your soft velcro side in the same position (hold them side by side) on the INSIDE of the underwear.  Then sew the right side of that, followed by the left side.

Another thing I did is add snaps to the side of a pair of gym shorts... the gym shorts had a "real" seam, so I was able to rip the stitching out while preserving the edge of the fabric.  After ripping the thread out, I used straight stitches (by hand this time, since the edge was VERY narrow) to rebind the individual seams.  Then I got some small snaps, and hand sewed them into place.  At the very top, you can see a large snap.  That one is a four part snap.  There is the inside of the snaps, that connect together, and then an outer ring with sharp prongs.  You would place the inner snap part on the inside of the fabric, and from the outside of the fabric, place the outer ring with the prongs going through the fabric and into the inner ring.  Then you would use a craft hammer to bang the edges of the outer ring INTO the inner ring to "fuse" them together.  (I used a real hammer the first time, but it was overkill, and hard to control.)  Then, repeat with the other side.

Here are some pictures of the steps in the process... Warning, I am NOT a "sewer" by nature, so it's not all "pretty"... but it works.  This is the first time I've ever used a sewing machine (it's actually my daughter's machine).  If I can do it, so can you! 
You COULD try and do these steps by hand sewing... I did one pair of underwear and one swimsuit that way.  It took SO MUCH longer to do, and my poor fingers were so sore from pushing the needle through the velcro, not to mention all the holes in my one thumb from "catching" the needle after I pushed it through.  I STRONGLY recommend borrowing a sewing machine from someone if you don't have one, or even buying one just for this occasion... You may really love sewing and discover a new hobby, haha!

I "edged" the cut edges with a wide embroidery type stitch to prevent fraying

The velcro lined up side by side, the rough part on the outside and the soft part on the inside

Here is a close up of the "tacked" stitching done at top and bottom

The finished product

Modified gym shorts (almost done, LOL)

As soon as I figure out how to make a fixator cover, I'll post it here...