Sewing for treatments & post-op

Before April 2017, I had been full hourglass shape (or an 8), and I had a very reliable set of patterns that I used for dresses, jackets, t-shirts, etc. A huge percentage of my wardrobe was handmade, and  I primarily wore fit-and-flare dresses in a knit or betzina p104woven for work and at home. Most of them were based on a shoulder princess seam design (so easy to sew the bust curve) with different necklines. I had a few skirts, too, which were a faux-wrap style based on a Sandra Betzina concept in Power Sewing. Those were very important during my medical appointments and chemo treatment phase. It’s much easier to take off a top verses a whole dress when you need an exam.

During chemo, I wore button down tops (made from knit) so that the nurses could easily access my port. They said that they could access my port in pretty much any top except a turtle neck! I didn’t want them stretching out any necklines on my handmade clothes, but so many people probably don’t even think about that.

I knew that it would be challenging to modify my dresses to wear after surgery, so I cut off my summer knit dresses and made them into tops to wear throughout the autumn and winter. The skirt section provided fabric to make button plackets (for port access).

The next thing I needed was something to wear post-surgery.  After meeting with my post op topsewing teacher, Marla Kazell, I realized we’d be able to use some of my existing patterns, and we started out by altering a t-shirt pattern that fit the 38DD me by taking out the dart. I made a couple of front-opening, sleeveless t-shirts to wear right after my surgery. I put in drain pockets, inspired by the Pink Pockets concept. These were serviceable, and when I started to feel better after surgery, I decided to make a few more things to wear.


I focused on making knit garments that I felt would be more forgiving in the fit    departmfirst dressesent, and I again used a shoulder princess design. I also added a center front seam. It seemed that this style would allow me several seams to adjust if I needed to take things in or let them out. In general, this worked pretty well. It took several weeks before I could put my hands far enough over my head to put on a regular t-shirt or dress. Then it took a while to get the drains out so I could really see if these would work or not. Stay tuned!

Sewing is a really important part of my life – it provides stress relief and joy in handling the fabric. The bonus is that I have something to wear! I was so glad to have a few projects to do when I felt up to it during chemo treatments.

2 thoughts on “Sewing for treatments & post-op”

  1. What a wonderful blog. I to am looking to make clothes for the flat chested woman. But I’m looking more for cover-up type clothes. will keep following your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d like to know a little more about “cover-up” clothes. What does that mean to you? For example, many of the Japanese sewing books (such as the Stylish Dress Book series) have loose fitting tops. Is that what you’re looking for?


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