About Fashion Freaks

Meagan and SusanneMeagan Whellans is originally from Australia and has a degree in textiles from R.M.I.T. a Melbourne university.

Susanne Berg is co-director of Independent Living Institute, a freelance writer and analyst from Sweden and a wheelchair user for 30 years.

“During the quarter of a century I have used a wheelchair I have sewn and altered clothes en masse without finding the ultimate solution. In 2001 I met Meagan and almost immediately we started to talk clothes.”

After a while our talks extended to trials. We started to test altering patterns and found it harder and more time consuming than we expected. We realised we needed a home and a sponsor for our project.

Independent Living Institute liked our idea of functional DIY fashion and became our home on the Internet

The Swedish Inheritance Fund has funded our projects.

You can reach us through fashionfreaks@independentliving.org

Fashion Freaks 1.0

During our first project we tried to design basic patterns enabling wheelchair users to sew clothes adapted to a seated position. This resulted in a number of basic patterns – jackets, pants, skirts – which all were shaped to fit a seated body. Of course we were looking for solutions with the best functionality but we have never forgotten the vanity aspect. On our website you will not find skirts without back parts or bag-looking sheets of fabric. Also, we do not aim for garments made purely for how easy they are for others to assist us dressing and undressing. If you are looking for these type of solutions you will have to go elsewhere.

Rather immediately we realised that modern man – at least us westerners – mostly buys ready-made clothes and generally is quite useless at sewing. Therefore, detailed sewing instructions with large amount of illustrations are available for download. Everything, you need to make it as easy as possible for the users of the information on our website, is done.

Fashion Freaks 1.0 ended 2007.

Fashion Freaks 2.0 – Remade, Recycled, Revisited

At the end of 2010 we applied for funding to generate extended information on clothes for wheelchair users. Experiences from our first project and feedback through the website told us that in spite of sewing instructions etc. it is still too hard and problematic for many wheelchair users to sew well fitting, well functioning and stylish clothes from the basic patterns. In all honesty, it is not always what you want to do. Even wheelchair users have a right to be lazy.

During the new planned 3 year project we plan to:

– develop and provide instructions on how to adapt ready-made clothes for a seated position;
– develop and provide instructions on how to use pieces or whole parts of ready-made clothes to create other types of garments (No mattern how good you are at sewing, some graments simply can not be done with good quality at home. It can also be important to look like you bought your clothed from the “posh” stor.);
– provide knitting pattern and instructions for sweaters etc for a seated position;
– develop partial garments that can be used together with other for the best functionality;
– give tips on existing garments and accessoirs which can be combined for function and vanity;
– try finding solutions for easy and srylish outer cclothes for wheelchair users who use balance aids like belts, rod etc.

Fashion Freaks 2.0  finished in 2015.

The Swedish Inheritance Fund granted us funding for the first project year in april 2011. During this year we are in the process of developing solutions for adapting ready-made garments to a seated positions.

35 Responses to About Fashion Freaks

  1. laurel Zuberi says:

    please let me know how i can get a pattern for wheelchair using women! thank you so much, laurel zuberi

  2. Erika says:

    I want to thank you so much for the patterns.
    I was looking long time for it.
    Now i sew a trouser for my housband and it fits very well.

    With kind regards from Austria

  3. Henriksen says:

    En fantastiskt bra sida. Informativ och trevlig. Den behövs. Ni fortsätter väl att utveckla den. Har lagt upp Fashion Freaks som en länk i vår nätbutik för sytillbehör och hoppas fler hittar till er.
    Vänliga hälsningar
    Charlott o Rolf Henriksen

    • susanne says:

      Vi försöker göra så gott det går men har haft litet probem med annat. Men det är mer i pipeline som kommer framöver.

      Tack för länken. Vi kommer förmodligen också att lägga till en länklista framöver så jag har lagt in er i mappen för “favoriter”.

  4. Diana says:

    You guys are AWESOME! 🙂 I sew for my 12 year old mulitlpy disabled daughter and it is great to see people doing this! Now, if you invent a training bra that is easy to get on and off a person with Cerebral Palsy, you’ll tell me, right? 😉 I’ve been struggling with pants for a long time, especially with having enough room for a diaper and still looking great. I can’t thank you enough!!


    • susanne says:

      We will add links and thoughts on using clothes available on the mainstream market in the future. So if we find an easy on easy off training bra we’ll let you know for sure 🙂 Hopefully one that stays on when on too. I don’t think we have enough invention or skill to make one ourselves. LOL

    • Deborah says:

      I too would love a pattern for a bra that’s easy to get on and off, i.e. front closure NOT back!

      Terrific site with super help – thank you, girls!

  5. melanie mckenzie says:

    please send me patterns for my brother in law he has mnd many thanks

  6. Jenifer Williams says:

    I am a 35 year old woman with several disabling conditions, three of them being different forms of Arthritis. I’ve had Rheumatoid Arthritis since the age of 7 and since then it has put me into a wheelchair for good due to deformations in joints.
    I have been looking for a website that sells fashionable clothing for woman, men and children in wheelchairs. I have yet to find a site that’s affordable and fashionable. if you know of any will you please send me the information via my email.

    • susanne says:

      Eventually we aim to provide links but as you already seem to have experienced it is not easy to find places that provide fashionable and affordable adapted clothes.

  7. Jaci Gibson-Henrie says:

    I am a custom seamstress/designer in the US. I agree that there aren’t enough RTW clothing addressing the wheelies let alone patterns that work for custom mfg.
    I can sew well and have a custom business and my number of clients of this persuation is growing by word of mouth and crying need.
    Please add me to your group and if you are looking for testers, I have people!
    Jaci Gibson-Henrie
    San Diego, CA USA

    • susanne says:

      Thanks for yur kind offer. We’re having a short paus just now but I will get back to you later in the project.

  8. nancy young says:

    Do you have any ideas for making a one piece garment for my godchildren who like to pull out parts of their diapers and expose the top parts of their bodies? I am thinking about a “onesie” for young adults with multiple needs [both are wheelies and need sanitary protection. I look forward to your ideas!
    Thank you


    • susanne says:

      Hi, have you tried any ´solutions like these http://en.fashionfreaks.se/adapting-ready-made-clothes/simple-adaptions/jackets-holding-in-place/ I’m thinking more of the elastic with button holes which could be sewn onto the outside of the tops at the height suitable to match buttons on inside of pants’ waistband. I know it might not work as your godchildren still could get a hold of the end of the tops and maybe even rip the buttons out if the elastic held.
      We are not planning on looking into this at the moment but I wonder if you could use some tips from how they sew men’s shirts in latin dancing. I don’t know how practical it would be – would probably look good though.
      If you find a solution please share.

    • susanne says:

      I’m always on the hunt for adaption links for FashionFreaks and today I stumbled upon something that reminded me about your comment.

      This blogger provides a great instruction on how to make a pattern and sew a onsie for bigger kids. Maybe it’s something for you to try.

  9. saad says:

    this site is really great …….
    I am studying architecture.(i am from bangladesh)…..
    i have my own sewing machine and sew my own bag and pants….. .
    i dont have any kind of training or even any book with clear instruction of how to take measurement and draw the patterns using those measurements.. can you help me?

    • susanne says:

      There are instructions on how to take the measurements under the tab “Important to read …”. Our patterns are downloaded in printable pdf-file. Please, check the links.

      If there’s something specific that is unclear, we need to know what this is, as we are located in Sweden and can only provide information via this website.

  10. Deena says:

    I came upon your site while looking to find clothing patterns for myself . I used to use a wheelchair and I wasn’t too badly off in terms of my clothes needing alteration. However, after getting a prosthetic leg, all hell broke lose when it came to pants. I have issues with the pants leg constantly bunching up at the thighs or the pants itself being too tight or too loose, or too short . I am extremely eager to try out your patterns.

    • susanne says:

      Please, let us know the outcome by sending us an email. It would help us see if we need to adapt patterns for prosthetics but also leg braces.

  11. Rosalie says:

    hej vilka supermönster …jag är personlig assistent och har sytt många byxor som passar utmärkt

  12. Elisabeth Sjögren says:

    Jag hittade den här sidan då jag letade enkla kjolmönster. Så enkelt!!
    Men till saken hör att jag är gående. Kan jag som inte är rullstolsanvändare sy från samma mönster?
    Hur blir kjolarna på mig?

    I övrigt så är det en fantastisk sida med lättförståeliga råd för mig som är nygammal vid symaskinen =)


    • susanne says:

      Du kan använda syinstruktionerna men mönstren fungerar bara i sittande ställning. Undantag är möjligen kavajerna utan den böjda ryggen.


  13. Eveline Klose says:

    what a great site! you don’t know how long i have been looking for exactly this detailed instructions to adjust pants and for a pattern with a suitable suite-style jacket! JUST GREAT GREAT GREAT! thank you so much for your good idea and the work you do with this website! 😀

    • susanne says:

      Actually, I think I have a pretty good idea as the impetus for the project/s behind the site was my wish/need for an adapted suit jacket. Ooooh the number of ridiculously bad trials I did before I met Meagan and we – after initial equally ridiculous trials together – decided to apply for project funding. 🙂

      Still, not really happy with the present solutions but we have some more in the pipeline – as well as a couple of ideas as to how to recycle the nice design features/pieces of bought jackets and add adapted pieces to make the show stopper we all want (well at least you and me i think).
      …. and I still haven’t ordered a leather jacket – made from my adapted pattern – from the bike shop.
      Keep up the looking-good-work / Susanne

  14. Lenore Domanko says:

    Do you have a pattern for open back pants for wheelchair patients?

  15. sharelyn says:

    I have just been asked to sew some pants for my cousin who is in a wheelchair.
    I’m so happy to have found your site.
    I was curious to know what the basic alterations that have been made (or would need to be made) for best results.
    I’ve noticed extra room in the seat and knee tucks. I was just wondering what other things would be helpful to adjust.
    Thank you!

  16. Debbie skeil says:

    Dear fashionfreaks
    thank you for your great work on this. I work in India and we would like to teach the local tailors how to do these adaptations and use the patterns. This would not then be for personal use. It may be that they cannot actually use the patterns as generally they draft their own and most cannot read patterns. But if they can use the patterns, would this be OK. Generally they are making clothes requested by a person, not pre-making them and selling them.
    We work in a hospital providing rehabilitation services. This request comes about as the OTs would like to get clothes made up that are suitable for the patients groups we see. We will get these made up so they can practise dressing with them. Then the individuals can ask the tailors to make clothes for them to take home.
    The tailors are all persons with disabilities who are being trained to be tailors – a vocation that works financially here. They are trained at the Mary Verghese Trust
    If you need any more information, please get back to me.
    Thank you for considering this.
    Debbie Skeil
    Rehab Physician

    • susanne says:

      Debbie, I am relly sorry but your comment slipped to the back and I didn’t realise that it was even there. Of course you can teach them how to use the patterns. It wouldn’ät be for their personal use but it wouldn’t be production line either. and it would benefit them as well as other disabled people.
      I hope you have gone ahead and done this already even though my answer was delayed. If you see this and there’s any help we can provide please contact me at susanne@fashionfreaks.se directly. That way, it will not go amiss the amount of comments we get.

  17. Carole says:

    My Aunt (87 years old) is wheelchair bound and living in long-term care.

    I have found a great store in Toronto that sells open-back adaptive clothing.

    The staff at the home seem to like the dresses best.

    The only problem is they are costly and I would like to try sewing a dress for her myself.

    I did not see any information or patterns on your website for dresses.

    Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

  18. Lucy Wynne says:

    I was directed here and I’m delighted to have arrived.
    I’m currently in my chair just over half of my day but that is heading for full time.
    It’s frustrating (as you know) finding clothes that fit/work if you then have a “plus
    size” figure eeek!
    Though oddly enough I’m discovering that the same is true if you’re of a small build.
    Having spent my adult life plus size, my conditions are causing me to lose height/weight.
    So that at 58 yrs old I need hats for a child 9 months – 3 years (my sunglasses are for a 3 yr old). Likewise gloves. Thankfully due to water retention I can wear shoes at size 5. My real size is 3.5
    Oh, well challenges make us stronger and I’m looking forward to using your site to help in my challenges :~)

  19. Lori Andrews says:

    This site is awesome! My husband has been in a wheelchair for 25 years, and from here I got ideas of how to alter his Wrangler Stretch jeans to expand the waist a little due to his seated position. Now I’m looking for a way to tighten the cuffs on sweaters.

  20. Patricia Stockbrocks says:

    regarding clothing that is easier to put on by caregivers, that is also easier for the person trying to get dressed, being twisted repeatedly to adjust properly on their bed, is no fun for anyone. It’s a design that is a win win. I commented before, looking for suitable patterns/fabrics for my tall son in a wheelchair.
    Sincere thanks

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