Monday, October 7, 2013

Gavin's Famous Chest Strap - And How To Make It!...

Of all the things we did with Gavin, the thing that gets asked about, commented on and complimented the most is his homemade chest strap.  I wanted something to hold Gavin upright since he had such low tone.  It started with me wanting him to sit in a chair at our art table.  I told my Mom what I wanted - and she created this chest strap!  You can see it wrapped around his chest in this photo of him... at our art table!  It worked perfectly.
And it allowed him to sit in a chair two years in a row as we would (attempt to) make our Gingerbread house with Granny!
As Gavin got stronger, we got braver!  The strap was actually what held him onto the "famous" Fire Truck at Gillian's Wonderland Pier in Ocean City, NJ.
That chest strap made that experience... and so many more... possible for Gavin.  We will always be so grateful to my Mom for making it for him!

Tonight I will give you the instructions from Granny so you can make your own strap!  I hope we explain it well!!  If you end up making a strap (or having one made!), I would LOVE it if you would send me a photo and let me know how it's helping the child in your life!!

Step one:  Pick out the cutest fabric in the store.  You will also need thin batting - about 1/4 inch wide or so and velcro strips.

Step two:  Cut two strips - add half an inch on all ends for seam.  The length you need will depend on the person you're making it for, but this one that was Gavin's was 37 1/2 inches long and 4 9/16 inches wide - completely sewn.
Step three:  Sew the right sides together (the sides you eventually want to be seen on top) all the way around with batting on one side.  Leave about six inches on one of the long sides open so you can turn it inside out to get the right sides visible.

Step four:  Hand sew the opening together

Step five:  Sew the velcro strips on opposite ends/opposite sides - so that when you wrap it around the child, it will fasten together.
 The velcro on Gavin's strap was two inches wide... and was cut in 12 inch long strips.  
That should do it!  
They are really easy to make.  Especially if you have a talented mother like I do that will make it for you!  Then it's SUPER-easy!!!  *smile* 
 Most importantly, it will open up new opportunities and maybe even give a little bit of independence to the child in your life.  This simple strap did all that and more for Gavin... which is why I'm so happy to share the "how to" with all of you.  And, just as important - it helped Brian, too.  It allowed Gavin to have wonderfully fun experiences with his little brother that wouldn't have happened otherwise... 
...memories that Brian will never forget.  


  1. What a fabulous idea! I'm sure this will serve so many other families as well as it did yours, Kate.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am in the process of going back to school to get my Masters in Special Education and I hope to work in a Life Skills classroom one day. This is something that I might see myself needing in the future. Lots of prayers and love.

  3. I love reading your posts, Kate. And while this may be so simple, somehow it stands out. I think it's because it highlights the little ways you're dedicated. The support you have. The team. All of these things are truly beautiful and inspiring. Thinking of you. I can't imagine the grief you continue to feel, while mixed with Hope, and how complicated it all gets. Sometimes these simple reminders are so good. A strap changed his life. Beautiful.

  4. Definitely going to try and make one- can I ask whether she made a wider one when he was younger? And what do you have on the back of the dining room chair to cushion it in the top picture? My little boy is a bit of a bum slider too, did you put anything underneath Gavin's bottom to stop him from slipping forwards?
    What an incredible family you all are, and sharing all these bits of Gavin's equipment is so unbelievably helpful. Thankyou xx

    1. We always had a square of rug gripper under Gavin to keep him from slipping. We carried it with us everywhere!! And I should have explained what was behind him. Gavin tended (at the time) to throw his head back and, in that chair, he would clunk the back of his head onto the back of the chair. So we put a folded towel over the top just to cushion it. It was one of those behaviors that went away.

      My Mom originally made a thinner one, but it just didn't seem as comfortable as one that was wider. Whether it was more comfortable for him or not - the wider one certainly LOOKED more comfortable to MY eyes. :-)

  5. Gwenn Spanenberg ChristiansonOctober 8, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    What a great idea! May I just add a comment, as a nurse .... the child should never be left alone, while "strapped" in - because he or she could slide down, become entangled in the strap, and strangle. I'm sure you never left Gavin alone for a second, and most moms wouldn't leave their kiddos alone either, but sometimes the phone or the doorbell rings .... and it is really important to take the child with you or just not answer, rather than risk leaving them alone with the strap on.


  6. Kate, I just wanted to say how inspiriting your blog is! I've never commented before, but I just wanted to thank you for sharing the directions for the chest strap. I'm a stay-at-home mom of 4 and my 5 year old son has ADHD, a Speech and Language Delay and a lot of sensory and behavior challenges so when his OT recommended a weighted blanket I decided to make one myself. That little project has led to a small side business of sewing things like the weighted blanket and taggie blankets for other kids. I'm so excited to add the chest strap to my catalog once I make a sample! It's so nice being able to help others help their children :-)

  7. thanks for sharing how to make that.


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