We have been working on this project since January 2018. We have had the honor and pleasure of working with a strong community of those affected by CRPS. Check out our research and process below to learn more about how we came to this final pattern!
We started with talking to our users. The only people who understand what is like to have CRPS are people with CRPS! We talked to over 30 different users with many different experiences, and the one issue that kept coming up time and time again was CLOTHING.
It is so incredibly hard to find clothing that doesn't hurt/irritate the skin and it often makes CRPS symptoms worse. The only clothing that really works most of the time is loungewear or pajamas, not what you want to wear out of the house. You just want to wear normal clothing to not draw attention, and since normal clothing is often painful, as a result you end up isolated in your house.
We learned that pants, especially for women, are the worst. Most women never wear pants at all because of the pain, forced to wear dresses and shorts even in the winter. We came up with the idea of creating a pair of women's slacks that actually feel comfortable and don't hurt the skin. We knew from our need finding that we wanted to keep a few design guidelines in mind when creating our product.
+ Use the SOFTEST fabric possible
+ Eliminate the feel and rubbing of any seam
+ Eliminate any buttons, zippers, or bulkiness
+ Change the waistband to prevent any sort of pinching or pressure on the waist/hip
Next we sent out different fabric samples to our users, asking them to rank in order of comfort. We ended up with a clear winner, which we used in our prototyping.
Important note: we found these insights based on our user interviews, but we do not want to say in any way that this is the exact experience of everyone with CRPS. We acknowledge that there is a huge range of different experiences within the community. If you have an insight to add, we would LOVE to hear from you and incorporate it into our learnings and product. We love feedback!!!)
We created multiple prototypes for both the seams and the waistband.
After receiving feedback, we settled on a full inner liner, which we were told eliminated the feel and rubbing of the inner pant seams, as well and create a softer fabric feel on the skin. For the waistband, we removed the original pant waistband, replacing it with stretchy and pressure defusing waistband with soft fabric, which hugs the skin while eliminating any pressure or pinching, and can be folded over and adjusted based on preference. And of course style.
Pattern / Open Sourcing
After creating our final prototype, our team discussed what the best deliverable would be for our users. Creating our own clothing line, as we originally wanted, would be incredibly expensive for both us and for the purchasers, as well as take months to create. (We are all graduating this June, and moving on to new jobs). We eventually came up with the idea of open-sourcing a pattern/instructions. Open-sourcing means putting it out on the internet, available for anyone to download completely free. In this way, you can take your own pair of pants to your local seamstress and have them modify them easily based on our specifications. Additionally, by putting it out for free, we (hopefully) will be able to reach as many people who would benefit as possible!!!