I've been busy sewing up some small - but useful - projects over the past week or so. First up, a friend asked me if I could make a little pouch that her son could wear to carry his Epi-Pen under his clothing while he's at school (her sweet boy has a severe egg allergy). They are moving to a different city this week, and hence a new school, and while he's settling in to his new Kindergarten class the safest place for his Epi-Pen is right with him at all times.
I'd heard of anaphylaxis before, but I'd never known anyone who suffered from it until my friend's son was diagnosed as a toddler. And, man oh man, has it been a difficult road for them. On top of the terrifying physical realities of a severe allergy (in his case, being exposed to eggs - raw or cooked - causes a life-threatening reaction), there are all kinds of day-to-day challenges, such as figuring out how he can attend school and eat lunch safely each day, and dealing with the acceptance of his needs (and, sadly, sometimes lack of acceptance) from the school, other kids and parents.
One of the major social challenges for kids who live with life-threatening allergies is coping with the feeling of being "different", whether it's due to perception or actual exclusion from fun events (i.e. food-sharing or classroom celebrations involving food). Imagine: you're 6-years old, and it's Valentine's Day. Your teacher hands out delicious heart-shaped suckers to every kid in the class, except you. You're left wondering why your teacher likes all the other kids more than you, why you're different from all the other kids, or what you did wrong to warrant being left out. Ugh.
All of this is a long way of saying that even though he needs to carry and Epi-Pen, he doesn't want to stand out any more than he has to. My friend's request for the case was that it be as small and discreet as possible, buckle around his waist so that he can wear it under his shirt, and be blue (his favourite colour). She also gave me a "trainer" Epi-Pen (the brand name is actually Allerject) to make sure it fit.
I absolutely love the challenge of figuring something out that I've never made before! Especially when it's for such a wonderful kid.
So, I started with a standard lined zipper pouch. I used this free Craftsy zip pouch tutorial, and adjusted the dimensions to fit the Allerject pen. The finished pouch measures just 4.5" x 3". I added a double layer sleeve to the back of the pouch for the belt to slide through. I used 3/4" nylon webbing, and plastic buckle and slide to make the belt adjustable. The only thing I'd do differently next time is to make the sleeve a little wider so that the buckle can slide through it (I made it so that it's only wide enough for the strap to feed through, so the pouch can't be taken off the belt if need be, which I think would make it more versatile).
Since the pouch is going to be worn against the skin, I used the softest organic cotton I could find, which ended up being Cloud9's Cirrus Solids. This fabric is yarn-dyed, which gives it a great look. Honestly, I loved working with this fabric! I'll definitely be buying it again. And those cute little fishies inside add just the perfect hint of cuteness, non?
The end result turned out as well as I'd hoped. And I loved doing all the math and figuring out how to get the perfect fit. Once I refine the pattern, I think I'll add it as a "Made to Order" item in my Etsy shop. Not because it'll be a huge seller, but because the best part of being a maker is having the opportunity to create things that make somebody else's life a little easier and a bit more beautiful.