Slippery sleeves

Have a question or want to show off your project? Post it! No Registration Necessary.  Now with pictures!

Threaded View
I was walking home from the swimming pool today when I came across an
elderly gentleman having problems with his wife.  He had parked in an
awkward spot and she lost her footing trying to get out of the car.  He
was trying to help her up, but she couldn't straighten her legs - she
walked with a cane/walker and had virtually no leg strength.

I went over and assisted, trying to lift her up.  However, her woollen
coat was lined with slippery material and I could not get a good grip.
Due to the position of the car door - blocked as it was by something on
the sidewalk frozen in the snow/ice - I could barely get a hold.  The
three of us were crowded in the space afforded by a half-opened car
door.  She was too frail to just grab by the arm and lift, so I had to
make sure I had her securely under the armpit - I was afraid I'd break
her arm if I held her any other way and leveraged her weight (she was
not petite).

Two other gents came and between the four of us, we were able to move
her to a clear spot on the sidewalk - I had so much trouble with her
coat that I had quickly pulled the sleeve off her arm so I could hold
her without it slipping around.  She then collapsed and we had to get
medical help.  I stayed and supported her head as we waited for
assistance and wrapped her coat over her.

Now my mother is similar, though a bit stronger than this woman.  She
also uses a walker and needs assistance in/out of cars.  However, she
doesn't wear such a coat.  My brother is often around to help her and he
could lift her singlehandedly.  But it did get me thinking - for someone
with frequent need for support, a coat with such a slippery liner seems
like a bad idea.  It makes it easier to put the coat on or take it off,
but I think that support is more critical.

Would you, as sewists, take something like this in consideration if you
were making a coat for such a person?  Do you think I'm out of line
suggesting that clothing that allows better grip for a caregiver should
be considered more important than some arbitrary fashion?


Re: Slippery sleeves
Michael Daly wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Mike, You are so right. The problem is that manufacturers don't take
these things into consideration and that's where most coats come from,
not someones sewing home sewing machine.
I must commend you on your willingness to assist the woman. To many
people will just walk by not wanting to get involved either because they
just don't understand the problem at hand or even worse don't care or
are afraid that if an injury occurs they may be sued.

Re: Slippery sleeves
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Yes, I'd consider you somewhat out of line, but thank you for your
thoughts.  You're correct, though, that a grip on an arm is probably not
the best way to lift someone who is frail and elderly.

There's a fair chance that someone that frail would be unable to get a coat
on without a slippery lining, assisted or not.  The reason for slippery
linings is to 1) make the coat easier to get on and off, and 2) to keep it
from "grabbing" the fabric of the clothing underneath, possibly causing
loss of balance as the coat "grabs" during walking.  Not difficult for a
person of ordinary strength to deal with, but it takes very little
to undo the balance of someone who is a bad walker.


Re: Slippery sleeves
Kay Lancaster wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Kay, It's true that someone who is frail may fall if that person tries
to put a coat on without a slippery lining,however, I should think that
their are more people in that condition who are being assisted with
putting on a coat than not. If you are that frail, as Michael seemed to
think this woman was, it's unlikely that the person would be going out
alone. Some one is probably assisting him/her in dressing. I'm not in
the least bit frail and yet when I injured my shoulder I could not put
my coat on without assistance. I just didn't have that kind of mobility.
As far as gripping someone by the arm to assist, it is never the best
way to help. You should always grip under the arm and up to the shoulder
if possible. It will save your back.
The other thing is that many coats with a zip lining only have slippery
material in the arm not in the body of the coat so there is still the
possibility of the coat grabbing when walking.
I just checked my closet and found that every coat in there  (6)was made
in just that fashion.

Re: Slippery sleeves
Juno wrote:

Quoted text here. Click to load it

In this case, if I put my arm under her armpit, her arm lifted up and
the coat slid off.  I had to hold her arm down while lifting.  If her
husband had been willing to let me lift her alone (he seemed terrified
at the thought of letting her go) I could have put one arm under each of
her armpits, but I could only work from one side while he held the other.

I considered wrapping my arms around her lower rib cage, but the coat
was so slippery that it wouldn't have stayed put.

As it was, she spent so much time with her arms up supporting her weight
that I was concerned with positional asphyxia.  That may have
contributed to her subsequent collapse.

The extreme difficulty in finding a way to support the woman because of
the coat lead me to post this here.  As I said, my mother manages
without such a slippery coat and mom's far from flexible or agile
(almost 80 with arthritis).  Her sweaters are similarly not slippery and
she manages with those.


Re: Slippery sleeves
Michael Daly wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Let's face Mike, you were in a no win situation. I still commend you for
your wiliness to assist. I personally think there is no reason to
explain yourself. You commented on what was a very diidfficult problem
and what you saw as a problem and possible solution. I don't see where
you were out of line.

Re: Slippery sleeves
Juno wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Agreed.  Ultimately, it doesn't matter what we conclude about coats and
linings, because people will wear what they will wear, and in the case
of an older person, it's likely to be what they have and are comfortable
with.  Paramedics can regale you with tales of wrestling with difficult
clothing and situations.  Had the driver simply stopped in a place where
there was adequate access, none of this would have been necessary.
There is a reason why handicapped parking spaces are so wide.  You were
simply being a "good Samaritan" and in many states, you are protected by
law.  We carry an umbrella liability policy - cheap, but worthwhile.
stitches @
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Slippery sleeves
Kay Lancaster wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

At the schools where I work there are kids with physical disabilities
who may need to be lifted or supported by their assistants on a regular
basis.  They wear belts, harnesses, or in one case a vest, all designed
to allow a caregiver to grip and support them safely and comfortably.

Unless you come to a sewist and specifically request a garment for such
a purpose, yes indeed, it's out of line to expect "clothing that allows
better grip for a caregiver".

Re: Slippery sleeves
Kathleen wrote:

Quoted text here. Click to load it

The various munchkins I've had to babysit over the years have all had
clothes that would allow this to some degree.  I've broken up
three-year-olds' spats by just lifting one or both by the top of their

Moms no longer have to stuff hyperkinetic arms and legs into tubes of
fabric - the littlest ones have clothes that open and close like a

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Maybe "out of line" means something different in your part of the world
but I find that somewhat insulting.  Nonetheless, I'll give you the
benefit of the doubt and suggest the following:

Maybe we should rethink what such people wear.  If the problem for an
elderly or disabled person is getting an arm into a sleeve, rather than
making the sleeve slipperier than Teflon, we should look at different
designs.  The clamshell approach to infants and toddlers clothes is an
example.  While the appearance of such kids' clothes leaves something to
be desired, I'm sure many clothes designers could come up with something
that looks more fashionable.  Seams that hide a closure would allow
someone to put their arm into a sleeve and then close the sleeve in
front instead of reaching behind to put the arm into the sleeve.

Putting a reinforcement into a coat - a hidden strap(s) with closures
that ensures a coat remains closed under stress would allow one to lift
a person more easily.  This would have to be designed for easy removal
nonetheless.  These kinds of things exist in various sport and work
environments - for example, you can lift a person by their life jacket
if it's properly designed and fitted.

We consider things like Depends or handholds in washrooms to be
acceptable today.  There are loads of gadgets for kitchens or other
activities that enable elderly or infirm persons to continue to do
things.  Why not take the same approach to other things like everyday
clothes?  Mainstream manufacturers should take the lead.  These things
have to be designed so that they don't look ridiculous.  In sports,
function becomes the fashion, but that wouldn't work in everyday clothes
for others.


Re: Slippery sleeves
Michael Daly wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Works fine with somebody who weighs thirty pounds and whose bones aren't
made of chalk and spun glass.
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Do you know what happens when you have to catch a falling adult by
clothing that "closes like a clamshell"?  Unless it's designed
specifically for that purpose, chances are it will pop, rip or tear
open, possibly dumping the wearer onto the ground.
Quoted text here. Click to load it

You conveniently edited out the "Unless you come to a sewist and
specifically request a garment for such a purpose"

Nonetheless, I'll give you the
Quoted text here. Click to load it

There are already catalogs full of clothing designed for people with
various disabilities and impairments.  Google is your friend.
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Riiiight.  They're going to get right on that.  Mainstream manufacturers
won't supply a pair of women's jeans with anything longer than a 34"
inseam, but they're going to get right on board with designing old
people clothes with built-in towing capacity.

These things
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Sorry but this is totally a specialty niche item.  And IMO it's being
filled quite competently by catalogs and custom sewists.

Site Timeline