Sewing Clothes for G-tube Access, Part Two: BLANK CANVAS

Lots of easy-to-sew patterns for children (and adults, too!) are made of flat pieces of fabric. One-piece sleepers, A-line dresses, and some overalls and jumpsuits are designed like this. These make a nice “blank canvas” for adding a g-tube access opening.
In addition, some designs sewn with soft, flat seams can be treated as a single piece of flat fabric.

Here are some examples:
To sew welted pocket flaps on this style of garment, we’ll be borrowing much of the same technique used in the tutorial for our g-tube jammies. You can either use our pocket flap pattern template or create your own. I’ll explain how! If you need inspiration for pocket designs, check out the imaginative, informative pocket tutorial series by LiEr at Ikat Bag.
In addition to the supplies needed to sew your garment of choice, you will need the following for each pocket flap:
--a 6 x 9” (or larger, depending on your personal design) piece of fabric, either self-fabric or a contrast color
--a 6 x 9” (or larger, to match changes you made in the fashion fabric size) piece of tricot iron-on interfacing
--3/4” Scotch tape
--a button
--optional trims:  ribbon, braid, lace, ruffles
A note on terms: The edges of this opening are called a welt, just so you know what I am referring to when I say “welt opening.” The fabric that binds the edges of the opening are the lips of the welt; the decorative flap covering the opening is the pocket flap.
Belly button would be about where the dotted red lines cross.
The red circle is about where the g-tuis is located.
1. Mark the position for your g-tube opening after you have cut out the pieces for your garment. If it helps with planning, know that a child’s natural belly button falls generally at or just below where the “waistline” marking on patterns meets the center front. Unfortunately, many pattern companies don't mark the waist on pattern, but the "lengthen/shorten" line is often located at the waist. Transfer the length and angle of the slit onto the garment piece with a wash-away marker or dry sliver of soap. DO NOT CUT OPEN.

2. Prepare the welt and pocket flap pieces. Iron the tricot interfacing to the back of the piece of coordinating fabric. The directions with the iron-on interfacing will give you specific heat and time settings for the brand you are using.
If you use our downloaded pattern, cut out the pieces; you should have two pocket flaps and one welt opening. Across the center of the wrong side of the welt opening fabric, stick one 4” piece of ¾” wide tape (Scotch tape is fine...I outlined mine just to help with the photography).
4" strip of 3/4" Scotch tape stuck on the interfaced side
of the welt fabric

Note: If you design your own pattern, draw the rectangle for the welt pattern the width of your mark PLUS 1.5”. It will be 3” high. For your own design, use a piece of ¾” wide Scotch tape the length of your marking, centered in the rectangle of the welt fabric.

3. Sew the welt opening. In most cases, you will want to apply the welted opening before sewing the garment. This allows you to work on a flat piece of fabric, which is easiest. If you will be applying the welt opening over a seam sewn flat, note that you want to join the garment pieces that make up this seam first and then complete the welted pocket flap opening.
Center the welt fabric, right side together with the right side of the garment fabric, along this line. Pin in place and stitch a box along the outer edge of the Scotch tape, using shorter stitches at the corners. Peel away the tape.

Carefully slit the fabric in the center of the box in a line along the center of the box you just stitched, stopping about ½” from each end. Cut in an angle from each end of the slit to the corners, coming right up to but not through the stitching (see the pattern for a cutting guide). Press flat.
The blue lines show where to slit the welt and garment fabric.

Turn the welt opening through the stitched box to the wrong side. Smooth the fabric so the seam allowances meet at the slit and the welt fabric folds around the seam allowances. Press flat.

This view shows the inside of the garment, where the
folds of the lips meet at the center.

Fold the garment piece back at one end so the triangle of fabric formed when you slit the stitched box is extending out.

Stitch carefully right over the stitching at the end of the box through the end of the welt, being careful to hold the main garment fabric out of the way of your stitching.

Press the welt flat. Stitch with a zigzag (I prefer the “double zigzag stitch” that takes a stitch halfway along each let) about 1/8” away from the outside of the welt.
For  a more tailored look, you might prefer to stitch right in
the well of the seam where the welt and garment fabrics meet.
Another option would be to topstitch 1/8" away from the seam edges,
creating a tidy box around the welt.
Trim the long ends on each side of the welt and round the corners.

4) Add the pocket flap. The pocket flap serves a number of functions:  to cover the opening, to keep the welt from gapping (br-r-r-r), and to provide a decorative accent. Whether using the pocket pattern or a design of your own, sew around all sides but the top with a ¼” seam allowance and clip the corners or curves. Now is the time to sew lace or a ruffle between the layers if you plan to insert it.
Sew pieces right sides together; clip corners.

Turn right sides out, press flat, and topstitch a scant ¼” from the edge. If you are applying braid, rickrack, lace, or other trims on top of the flap, sew them down now. Mark the buttonhole placement and stitch out the buttonhole. Pin the pocket flap right sides against the top edge of the top welt, pointing away from the welts. Stitch across what is now the bottom edge of the pocket flap with a ¼” seam allowance.

Anchor down the pocket flap seam allowance with a zigzag stitch. Fold the flap down, press thoroughly, and stitch down a generous 1/8” to hold the flap flat. Mark for the button placement and sew on a cute button.
Ta-da! A finished welted g-tube opening with a pocket flap.

An APPLIQUE FLAP is sewn in much the same way. You will follow steps 1 and 2 above:  mark the garment and prepare the welt fabric. Step 3, sewing the lips of the welt opening, is nearly the same, with the addition of a small button and button loop. The other materials you need remain the same, except you’ll be substituting an appliqué in place of a pocket flap.
You can purchase an appliqué or create your own. It simply needs to be large enough to cover the lips of the welt opening. Purchased appliqués can be used as is. If you make an appliqué, be sure to a combination of fabric, interfacing, and heavy leave-in stabilizer to give it enough body. Cut cleanly around the edges.
Also, you can use a fake patch pocket as an appliqué. Get some great design ideas at the pocket tutorial series on Ikat Bag. Since this pocket will be “freestanding,” being anchored on only two sides, the simplest way to create the pocket is to sew two same-shaped pieces right sides together. Interface if needed for body. Stitch around ALL sides, clip the corners, make a small slit in the lining piece. Turn right sides out through the slit and whipstitch the slit closed by hand. Add ornamental trimming and topstitching. Later when you attach the pocket, you can also stitch a line for a false “hem” at the top if you like.
3. Sew the welt opening with slight adjustments for the appliqué.  While the main steps for sewing the welt opening will follow the process outlined for pocket flaps, you will need to add a small button loop and button to hold the welt lips closed. For this, use a small ponytail band  (about 1” circle) and a small flat button.
This size ponytail band works well. But
CAUTION! Cut off that metal clamp!

Before you attach the welt piece to your fabric, pinch the ponytail band into a 1.25” loop and anchor at the center of the mark on your fabric with a piece of tape. [Note: if your elastic band has a metal closure, clip it off before trying to sew. No point in breaking a needle!!] The end that will loop around the button should face UP from the mark. When you sew on the welt piece, you will stitch right through the elastic band. Backstitch and trace your forward stitches several times over the area where the band extends upwards to be sure is it caught.

The loop is taped in place for sewing. On this sample,
the ends could have been cut shorter.
Continue sewing the welt opening as explained in the previous section.
When you slit the welt open, you can cut through the ponytail band but be sure to leave about ¼” tails.
After the welt is complete, add a small button to the lower lip.

Completed welt is ready for the applique over the top.
4. Apply an appliqué in place of the pocket flap. The appliqué will center over the welt opening to cover it. Secure the appliqué by stitching along the edge of its upper half. Follow the shaping of the edge. For a false pocket, stitch across the top of the pocket an inch or so below the edge to create a false “hem.” Be sure to backstitch at both ends of your stitching!

Pins mark the backstitching at either end of the line of stitching
that holds the applique in place.
The appliqué lifts at the lower outer corner. To secure the flap when not in use, sew Velcro under the corner of the appliqué. You can stitch the hook side by machine to the garment. Use invisible hand stitches to attach the loop Velcro inside the appliqué.
Here's a peek under the applique. A square of Velcro
sewn to the point of the heart and the garment fabric
will hold it flat when not in use.

I hope you are inspired to sew up some welted g-tube access openings on clothes for your little cutie! Let me know how it goes...

Other posts you might find helpful:


Anonymous said...

So cool. Im a nicu nurse and now Im so inspired!! Thank-you Babechick04

Rose-Marie said...

I'm so happy this is something you can use! There are probably lots of kiddos headed home with g-tubes (or other types of's a pretty adaptable technique). But parents still want to be able to dress their precious kids in cute clothes, which is what we're aiming to do here. Thanks for taking time to read!

andrewhudson said...

Your post is very informative.
Blank Apparel

Giselle said...

Do you happen to have a video demonstration instead??