Thursday 28 June 2018

The School Dress Dilemma for Little Insulin Pumpers

You've just got your lovely, shiny new insulin pump.  It's amazing, and you love not having all those injections ... then you suddenly realise that you have no idea how to wear it with your school uniform dress!  Can it be done without flashing your knickers to the world?  Yes, it can.

The simplest thing to do is to wear a pump belt under a dress which buttons at the front.  Simply undoing two buttons at the waist will allow you to reach in and get to your pump.  No alterations required.

Some shops recently started selling gingham uniform separates, which mean that you can wear your pump in a pump belt around your waist, and the blouse can be lifted up without any problem to access your pump belt.  Unfortunately, they're not so popular this year, and a lot of the shops are selling all-in-one playsuits instead, which aren't helpful to anyone!

I'm going to show you a few simple ways that you can easily alter standard gingham uniform dresses to accommodate a pump.

1 - Button-Front Dress - Tubing Through the Gaps!

If you have a button-front dress like this, you can just pop the tubing through the gaps between buttons and put the pump in your chosen pump belt over the top of the dress.  This is a quick fix, but does come with a few problems.  If your child is younger, PE lessons may be a problem, as they will struggle to get changed quickly if they have to take off their pump belt, then remove the dress, then replace the pump belt, etc...  In hot weather, it also means the pump tubing is out in the sun, which is not great, as insulin that is subjected to heat/sunlight can degrade and not work properly.

2 - Tubing Through a Buttonhole

This one is much like the above, but you can make a buttonhole anywhere you choose in the dress, and thread the tubing through.  In my opinion, this is even harder for a child to manage, as they have to unclip the pump to get the tubing back through, and may have problems re-clipping it (or may even forget!).

3 - Chop it up!  Also known as "convert two dresses into a blouse and a skirt".

These dresses often come in packs of two in supermarkets, so it's not too expensive to buy a two-pack and create your own blouse and skirt set.

Blouse - Option 1

If you are lucky enough to find a dress in this style, you can do a very simple slice across under that handy waistband, and if you snip close enough to the band, you may even get away with being able to leave it like that as a blouse, and not hem it.  If it looks a bit tatty after you've chopped, just fold over and create a nice little hem.  Hey presto!  Instant blouse.


Blouse - Option 2

If your dress is this style instead, find the child's usual waistline, measure about 3" below that, and cut across.  Fold up twice, and hem.


For the skirt, cut the second dress about two inches above your child's natural waistline.  Measure your child's waist and subtract one inch.  Cut a piece of 1" wide elastic this long.

Fold the top of the skirt down half an inch and press with an iron to set the crease.  Fold it down another 1.5" and press again. 

Stitch along the bottom edge of this crease, remembering to leave at least a 2 inch gap when you finish stitching.

Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic and thread it through (remembering to keep hold of the end of the elastic, so it doesn't just disappear inside the skirt!).

Stitch the ends of the elastic together.

Stitch the elastic casing closed.

Sew in your ends of thread.

One skirt and blouse set!

The blouse in the photo above was created by cutting the bodice from a dress, and a 4" strip from the bottom of the same dress, gathering the top of the 4" strip and stitching it to the bottom of the bodice to create a little peplum blouse.


Of course, you can then make a matching pump belt or two from the remaining fabric, or send it to someone like me who can make you one.  I charge £1 less for my custom pump belts at if you send me the fabric to make you one, and I always send back any unused fabric scraps.

I also know people who have cut holes inside dress pockets and threaded tubing through, but this is not always a great option for small girls who like to run around and do cartwheels, as the pump can bounce about and fall out of the pocket.  I much prefer the pump in a waist belt, and a top and skirt combination.

I hope you have found this helpful.