Friday, February 23, 2007

Hello to Parents of Children with Down Syndrome


My name is Sherry Roberson. I have a 7-year-old niece, named Helen, who has Down syndrome. Helen has led me to a potential business idea. I've learned from my sister, Helen’s mom, that she is challenged in finding clothes that fit Helen properly. I’ve always handed-down my daughter’s clothes to my sister for her girls and I noticed that Helen wears those clothes at an earlier age than my daughter did. My sister explained that because of Helen’s relatively larger waist, she wears a larger size than do most girls her age. But because the size is larger, the arm and leg lengths are usually too long.

It occurred to me that there was an opportunity to produce clothes specifically for this group of children, made specially for them and their body types. I would like to fill this need. I intend to develop a line of clothing designed and manufactured exclusively for boys and girls with Down syndrome. The clothes will be fun, stylish, durable, and - most importantly - they will fit well.

I recently sent out a communication to Buddy Walk coordinators across the country sharing my idea and asking them to pass it along to their support group members. In addition to an explanation of the business idea, I asked for insights and specific information from parents - so that I can better understand your needs. The feedback has been strong and gratifying. Some of it brought me to tears. All of it made me determined to go forward.

That decision is what prompted this blog. While I am thrilled with the response I received from that mailing (and keep those coming!) I need more! Every insight, nuance, set of measurements that you, parents, are willing to share will get us that much closer to clothes that are just right for your children. So, please jump in and comment on this blog or email me directly.

There are two different areas that I need to understand. The most important issue is developing the sizing system for these clothes, specifically for your children. That requires a number of measurements, such as neck, waist, hip, leg length, arm length - and many more. This information is not available in any existing database, but is critical to developing clothes that fit. So, I need to ask you to take those measurements and share them with me.

The other area is product and market specifics. What items of clothing do you have the biggest issue with? What are those issues? How do you address the issue now? What brands do you buy now? Why? What type of style do you prefer? etc....This will help me understand where the greatest need exists, so that we can prioritize correctly.

I've developed a questionnaire and a measurements worksheet to provide a structure for feedback. I'll post those in future blogs, but because this entry is already mighty long, I don't want to post them now and overwhelm you! I'd be happy to email them to you - just let me know that you'd like them. My email address is:
sherryroberson@earthlink.net

I'd also be thrilled to talk to you directly. My number is 847-401-5832.

I'm new to this blogging world, so I'll be figuring it out as we go along. But, that feels right to me because I think we'll all be figuring out this clothing line together as we go along. I plan to blog two or three times a week, and my sister will blog twice a week.

Until next time, thanks for taking time to read our story and please, please share your thoughts.

Best regards - Sherry.







23 comments:

Anonymous said...

My son is 14 and currently wears size 10 jeans (really needs a size 11, but can't find those) and size 12/14 tops. Short sleeve tops work better than long sleeves because of the length of the sleeves (too long if we get the right size for trunk length).

To give you an idea, my son is about the size of your average 8 or 9 year old boy but needs clothes for a 14 year old. I think it is probably easier for those of us with boys because worse case senario we can put them in t-shirts & shorts in the summer and t-shirts and jeans (when we can find some that are easy to fasten, an adjustable waist (so, for me, we can make the waist small enough while ensuring we have the proper length) and getting them the right length.

Good luck!

downsyndromemom said...

My son is 11 and currently wears a 16 husky but needs a 18 husky. The problem is even the husky pants out on the market do not fit correctly. For instance, he needs an all elastic waist which is really hard to find once boys grow out of a size 10 pants. The elastic waist also enables him to be independant with dressing/bathroom needs as he is in middle school and needs to change for gym class every day.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is 9 years old, and I just bought her some 12 1/2 plus size jeans. I had to have about 4 inches caught off the bottom. They do have an adjustable waist, but no matter what I do-they never stay up. I also would like to have jeans and pants with an all elastic waistband; however, you cannot find those. She is at the age where she wants to dress like the other girls in her class, but that is not possible. She wears dresses w/leggings a lot! We also try to buy the plus sizes in shirts, but again I have to have the sleeves cut to make them look good! I have always told people, that someone needs to start a line of clothing for children with Down Syndrome. I think that this is just fabulous!! Please let me know, if there is anything that I can do to help.

Sherry said...

Thanks for the feedback and for sharing your experiences with sizes and adjustments. I would love to delve into more detail and ask you a handful of questions about your needs and preferences. I don't have your contact information, though. So, please do email me at s.roberson@itllfitll.com or call me at 847.401.5832 so that we can talk (either live or electronically!)

Thanks and I'll look forward to hearing back from you!

Sherry.

Mary Youmans said...

Oh my gosh, I just found this website in our DS group newsletter.It would be so wonderful to have someone to make clothes to fit my daughter. She just turned 14 and has started to develope. The toughest part has always been pants. She has no bum. I would like that problem,but it is hard for her to keep pants up. We've always gotten her elastic waist pants, i have even found jean, but they are usually either to long or to short.
I was just in the junior dept at Macy's yesterday, just to look for tops for her,everything is so form fitting. I would love more info on your business! maryyoumans@yahoo.com

Jane said...

Just found this blog and wanted to comment on my daughter Anna (4) My problem with Anna is that she is small (I know that as DS children get older they tend to fill out rather than up) but as a toddler many tend to be small. She would probably wear a 24 mos waist but 3 T length. When we buy 3T pants they fall off. We have a heck of a time finding pants for her to wear. I do believe that I'm not the only one with this problem.

Good luck to your business, I can't wait to buy some clothes for Anna. I would love to add the link to your site (when the clothes are available) to my site (www.snanimals.com) I hand paint children's shoes in memory of my daughter Emma.

Magvath said...

Hi I have just found your website by accident. My daughter is 3 on 24 th January 2008. She has just had her heart surgery(Nov 2007) and has come on in leaps and bounds. She went into hospital in age 6 - 9 months baby clothes and left in 9-12 months 5 days later. She has has now just grown in 12 - 18 month. She is the total opposite to other DS children we meet. I found a fantastic lady on ebay who has made "age appropriate funky clothes" but now I am going to struggle to get normal school uniform

Anonymous said...

hiii !! i'm a girl in the 12th grade .. i'm from dubai .. and i was completely shocked when i read your blog !! because my brother has down syndrome and he has that exact problem !! so.. i take business in skool .. we had a project to create our own business and i swear ro god that i had the same idea as you did before reading yours !! that was kinda wierd cuz alot of people oppesed my idea saying that they r not in need of such line and that they are perfectly normal not wanting to admit the fact that they are uniquely special .. and i just love evrything about them !! and i just want to do whatever it takes to make their lifes easier !!
soo waiting for ur reply .. and ways in which we can help each other ..
thanks ..

Anonymous said...

our daughter is 30 years, almost 31! She is 5 feet tall - 125 lbs and is a mini-me ( I am 5' 6" and 150 lbs). I really haven't felt a need for a special line of clothing as each of the children I have known through the years has a unique body problem, just like the average person. When she was younger I found a brand that fit her well, just like as an adult I have found a brand that works GREAT! Pants are the biggest challenge as shirts don't care what length your arms are.. just realize th at long sleeves are usually not a player...
But I applaud you for your challenging this area of our kids lives. Short people really have it rough... short lengths are never sort enough!!good luck
Karen and Kelly Grant - San Diego

bonny said...

My daughter is just 13 yrs old,as like most the problem i have is finding trousers to fit round her middle and to come high enough up her back to stop them falling down.It would be wonderful to be able to buy clothing to fit her,as she is the age where she wants to be fashionable like her friends.Good luck with your venture.

Anonymous said...

I have a daughter age 11 who wears a tight fitting size 14 pants. IF I can find Capri pants they fit perfectly except they are a little snug around the waist. It's hard to find Capri styles in the winter time even here in Las Vegas Nevada. In the summer, we are usually good with shorts and Tshirts. My daughter just started getting husky a few years ago, before that she was nicely trim. Now it's very hard to find clothing for her size. We are usually safer putting her in a dress with shorts underneath. But even the dresses need/should be hemmed by several inches. I'm not a seamstress and we just deal with whatever we can get.
Several years ago I thought that if I was a seamstress, it would be a smart idea to make clothing for our special needs children. But I'm not that talented and so I thank God for you! You have the talent GO FOR IT!
I've been reading from a book called: Teaching Children with Down Syndrome about Their Bodies, Boundaries, and Sexuality. It talks about how one mother would take a razor blade and cut the button holes a little longer so her Down Syndrome child could push the button's through much easier! Good tip to know I think! I also read that purchasing shoes with velco straps rather than laces is a plus as well! However, I am still putting shoes on my daughter with laces. She seems to want to learn to tie them.... in knots! But that's okay. :) I think pants with elastic waists are fine but not as fashionable as the ones without elastic. I've read in the book described above that it is a good idea to watch programs on TV such as "What Not To Wear" on cable/satellite TV channels. You can get ideas from magazines. Sit down with your child and have them pick out what they like. My daughter will be starting Middle School this fall. I am worried because it is usually then when the kids are getting more into fashion and all. I feel it's important that we try to keep our special kids in fashionable attire.

gail said...

I have many yards of knit fabric in navy, black, red, fucia light blue etc and am giving up sewing as much as I have in the past. I would love to give it to you if you would like to pay the shipping. All is 60" wide and probably from 1-1/2 yds to 5 or 6 yd pieces. Excellent condition. I need to get rid of it because we are downsizing and I won't have any place to keep it. My email address is gwilliamson@charter.net and I live in the Birmingham, AL area. Looking forward to hearing from you. Gail

gail said...

If anyone is interested in the knits I have and would like me to send swatches & yardage of each swatch I can to that. Gail

Donnajean said...

Hi, I have a son 10 yrs old with DS and he has a 35 inch waist and is only 4 ft 3 inches. I have the hardest time finding pants to fit his waist because they are huge everywhere else. He stopped eating when he had his MMR shot at age 16 months and lived on baby formula until age 7 and ate pretzels and poptarts. After an extensive year with a behavioral specialist he is now eating grilled cheese, chix fingers and occassionaly cheerios. He got the large stomach from not eating like the kids that are malnurished. I am hoping that it will go down eventually, but in the meantime it's really hard to dress him. I think your idea is FANTASTIC. Kudos to you!!!!!!!!! Pls keep me posted. Thanks your another one of Earth's Angels. Donnajean

Anonymous said...

After two frustrating days of shopping for winter clothes for my 7 year old without much success, I found your site. My daughter is just leaving the comfortable confines of the 6X world for the size 7 world. What a difference. Even if she did not have DS, the clothing in the size 7 department is dismal. If I see another shirt with Hannah Montana or High School Musical on it, I think I'll go crazy. I know at 7, some typical girls are into Hannah Montana or HSM, but my 7 year old still loves Dora, Diego, The Wonder Pets, etc. I'm a decent seamstress, but winter clothes are always difficult. I can shorten a sleeve or hem a pant. She is still working on becoming 100% potty trained, so pants are the biggest problem for us. She needs elastic back pants to accommodate the pull-up and not show her whole backside when she sits. I want her to dress stylishly, but modestly. That combination and trying to find something that will fit is impossible. Also, if I do find something, there can be no embelishments at the hem or I cannot hem them. It's very difficult and frustrating. I hope you pursue this venture. I think it would be successful. - Joan Magnacca (jdmagnacca @ aol . com)

Becky said...

My daughter is 15 months old and wearts 2T clothing which fits snug around her beer belly. However, her sleeves are a mile 2 long and pants are too long but not as bad and at least you can roll them up. Kassidy loves to hook her thumb in her sleeves and play with them in her mouth making a horrible wet mess! He necklines are usually 2 large and look sloppy on her - she has a tiny little head - so snaps at top in back work great to get it over her head and yet fit nice around neck line. Good luck with you business!!!

Anonymous said...

Have you already started the line? I was also thinking of doing the same thing. I have always had a hard time finding clothes for my son. He is 15 now and it is still hard.Thanks. Cindy from San Antonio

Anonymous said...

I just posted.....if you want to respond my email is cboynton@hotmail.com. Cindy

Anonymous said...

My daughter is 8 and she weighs 40 lbs and is 40 inches tall. She wears a size 6 on top and a size 4/5 on the bottom. She is thin and doesn't have the bigger waist that you talk about. One issue that we've had is that no matter the size, we've had to roll up the sleeves and cuffs. I look for 3/4 sleeves and capris - these seem to work out fine. Another issue is that we can't go to the store and buy a set (ie. matching top/bottom that comes together) because of the difference in size on top and bottom. Hope this helps in your endeavor. Good luck.

Leah said...

This is driving me CRAZY!!!! My daughter is almost 13. She wears a women's size 6 waist, but only has a 26" inseam. She CANNOT do fasteners! Finding pants that are age appropriate (and don't look like old lady pants) that don't have fasteners is impossible. Last night I was with a group of mom's who's kids all have DS. All of our kids are different sizes. One boy is very slim, and at age 10 is the size of your average 6 year old. One is turning 13 and wears a women's size 10 waist, with a 25" inseam. ALL of them said their kids can't do fasteners. She does have "regular" jeans she can wear (she wears a size 6 women's small petite) but she can't wear them to school or she'll need help in the bathroom. I just finished telling my husband to buy me a sewing machine so I can start making clothes for my daughter that she can be independent with (no fasteners) yet look like she's 13 and not 70!

Anonymous said...

My daughter is 10 with Down Syndrome. It is a struggle to find her clothing that fits. I cut her Jeans off each school year and it costs a lot of money. Then they gap in the waist in the back. The long sleeve shirts fit in the body but the arm hang off. I want her to be able to dress trendy while keeping her pants up and not having her sleeves rolled up to her shoulders. I would be EXTREMELY if you would do this. I would be one your customers

Austin'sMom said...

I just found this site on Google. It's time to shop for school clothes again and the frustration has begun. My biggest problem is finding my son, 18, pants that don't fall down. He cannot fasten a button or snap, although he can zip most zippers okay. If I find pants that fit the waist, then the seat is too tight. If I fit the seat, the waist is swimming and the length is too long.
An elastic waistband is ideal IF they don't look old-fashioned. I still want him to look stylish so that he fits in that way. They draw enough negative attention just having DS; don't need their clothes to contribute.

anniboop said...

Am having trouble with a training bra. Cup size is A but chest size is 18. Sports bras have to be taken up at the shoulders which isnt easy as it is a big amount. Singlets with hold dont have sturdy shoulder straps and thin ones fall down and annoy.
Need elastic waist pants but also belt to prevent pulling down when inappropriate.
All sleeves are just too long, and body of t shirts too tight.
My daughter is nealy 12. Hipster jeans are no good as legs just join to tummy.
Would be interested in a age related line of clothes - especially bras.
annette (aust)