Fidget Quilts for Alzheimer’s patients

Have you ever heard of a Fidget Quilt?  They are lap quilts, the size of oversized placemats, with different textures to feel, and things to open and close to keep hands busy.  Our local quilt club is doing them for a couple of local facilities. These are really easy, I made both of these in an afternoon. All you need are some items that can withstand hot water washing and drying in a dryer.

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt Finished

I started by taking a couple of my husbands flannel shirts where the sleeves were worn but the back was still good, and cutting them to get a rectangular piece of flannel for the back. These quilts don’t need to be warm or quilted. The flannel helps to keep them on the patient’s lap so they don’t slide off.

Flannel shirt recycle5

I put this wrong sides together with a larger piece of quilting cotton in a neutral color. This is so the items on the front can be easily seen.

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt 4

Fold the cotton over about an inch all around the edge, then again to fold over the edge of the flannel, and pin in place on the back side.

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt 5

Stitch down through all the layers on the back to finish off the edges.

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt 6

The idea is to provide textures for the Alzheimer’s patient to fiddle with, giving them something to do with their hands. This is a great place to use small bits of crochet, or damaged pieces. These were sent to me by fellow blogger, Kathy in Ozarks, who was happy that I had a use for them.

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt 27

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt 11

If you use buttons, they must be large, able to withstand heated drying, and well secured.

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt 12

Dementia patients will do repetitive things with their hands, so zippers become a great way to provide an activity. Zipping and unzipping is tactile, and provides a bit of sound too.  And where else am I going to use this zipper with no pull in fire engine red?  I sewed some print fabric to each side to make it larger, then topstitched the piece to the quilt.

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt 10

I added ribbons to the zipper pulls to give a better gripping area, plus another texture to the quilt.  This pink one has been sitting around my craft room forever.  Yes, that is a selvege fabric edge, adding another texture to feel.  This one is set at an angle, and just stitched down without any additional fabric.

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt 26

Then I took a hand towel, never used for more then decoration, and cut it in half. I put half on each quilt, one with the satin butterflies flat, and the other was gathered with a ribbon to cover the raw edge. Terry cloth adds another texture to the quilt.

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt 7

I read online that Alzheimer patients love velcro, and the suggestion was made to put it along opposite sides creating a ‘book’ out of the whole quilt. Interesting idea, but I didn’t have enough Velcro to do that. So I made two little ‘books’ out of fabric and put the velcro on them.

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt 2

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So, here is the first one –

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt 14

And here is the second one –

Alzheimer's Fidget quilt 24

I want to add that if you want to do this with your quilt club, be sure you ask at the facility first to be sure you provide what they need. We did two facilities, both with very different rules. You may find that at some facilities buttons are allowed, but not in others. In some, each resident will be given the fidget quilt for their use alone, so they wouldn’t get washed that often. In others, all fidget quilts might be washed frequently, and the recipients receive different ones each time they are brought out. Just check first, so there are no misunderstandings.  I am happy to support this worthy cause, and find a way to use some things that would otherwise get donated or thrown away.  I hope you enjoyed seeing how some interesting items can be recycled into something very useful.

To see more Alzheimer Fidget Quilts, see my post from early 2016- More Fidget Quilts.

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Happy sewing!

31 thoughts on “Fidget Quilts for Alzheimer’s patients

  1. Carole Johnson

    Thank you so much for posting the instructions with “reasons”. I have been thinking of making one of these for a long time, but needed some more specifics. Well thought-out, and clever use of pieces/things in my sewing room!
    Carole Johnson

  2. Rosemaryflower

    Hmmm. I will look around my community of Northern Virginia to see if any clubs or guilds are doing this.
    Carole this is such a great idea. I remember my first experience with Alzheirmers patient in my very very first job. Oh my, fresh out of nursing school, I was given the responsibility for the second floor of extended care at a large hospital. A variety of patients. I was very short staffed and had to dispense by hand 3 shifts of medicines, and manage LPNs and Nurse Aides. Hardest job ever. I lasted 10 months there. I kept getting reprimanded for staying past the time I was to clock out and go home. I had so much work to do.
    I was 22 years old.
    Well, there were a lot of the most adorable and sweet patients on that unit, and most were waiting for permanent placing.
    They just needed protection, and a lot of supervision.
    This is such a great idea

  3. Mildred Plaskett

    Great idea. Thank you for sharing. My Mom had Alzheimer’s 35 years ago and at that time nothing was available.

  4. What a wonderful idea/project! I think it is fabulous that you are making these. Great information about checking with the intended facilities rules, something I would not have thought would matter. It always feels wonderful to give something back to our communities. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful creative day!

  5. catsandroses

    What a marvelous idea! Since satin feels so good between the fingers to fidget with, the satin butterflies on the towel are a nice touch; could add a block of satin to the towel on the other one, too, perhaps. May show this to my mother in law, who has quite a bit of sewing talent, and maybe she would like to make one of these for my father in law; thanks for sharing!

  6. OMG! I am so making some of these! I remember my grandmother just sitting and rubbing her hand back and forth on the table. Just imagine the fun she would have had with one of these! Thank you so much for this, L

  7. This is such an interesting post. My FIL had Alzheimers and needed things like this to calm him. It is wonderful that you and others in your guild are taking the time to make these. Especially since they just use items that you already have around the house. What a giving project.

  8. Zoe

    My sister made one of these for my mother. Since Mom has very little use of her right hand she can`t manipulate buttons and zippers so my sister used as many different textures as she could. Her little quilt includes satin and cotton and flannelette and fleece and large decorative buttons. At first the care staff kept using it as a table runner but eventually they were “trained” to understand that it belongs on Mom lap. Mom does run her hands over the fabrics and when she is feeling fidgety she folds it and unfolds it and folds it again.

  9. Kay Hendricks

    I enjoyed seeing the “Fidget” quilt and plan on making some for our Facility that will have Alhelimers patients opening soon, Thank you for sharing your project and clever idea here.

  10. Shirley E.

    I’ve see this idea before and love that you are spreading it further. So many patients will have calmer hours because of their fidget quilts. thank you. There have been a lot of books printed for making books for babies with all the feelie-touchie things and all the fastening things, but one would have to be careful not to insult the dignity of adult patients with something with too juvenile a theme. The ideas would help is you have no imagination. I love your laces and fabrics.

  11. Susan Chandler

    I met a spiritual counselor from Central Coast Hospice who was trying to make them by herself, she doesn’t sew! We met & set up a workshop and 25 people showed up and 56 were created. She has distribrruted them all to nursing homes. I am invite people to come to my church to do charity sewing 2 times a month and several have come to do this. Do yo want to see pictures?

  12. Dianne

    What a great idea. We do quilts for babies and for those receiving cancer treatments in our group. This would be a wonderful addition to our outreach. Thanks so much!

  13. Lillian

    We have a brother in law in Nova Scotia that has Alzheimer’s, I live in BC, at Christmas time our daughter came to visit so we got together and made 3 different Fidget quilts. One had the front of an old shirt that had snap fasteners on it, we found some binky material at the thrift store, along with some beautiful crocheted work that had been on a guest towel, of course zippers, also put on some satin ribbon, Velcro, large wooden beads, cut pockets off blue jeans & sewed a small binky stuffed pillow attached close by with a colorful ribbon, we made 3 in all. We put stuffing in them to make them heavier and I steppled them, Sent them by mail this week & was pleased the postage was $30.

  14. Thank you for telling me about your two posts about fidget quilts, Carole. I especially appreciate the idea of making the back out of flannel so it won’t be slippery! I’ll pass that idea along to our group.

  15. Doris walter

    Hi from Australia
    Out here we have been told not to have crocheted items on the rugs as they can get their fingers in the holes .we had one person lose a finger as they had got the finger caught in the hole and just kept winding around until the finger went blue. these are great for people but we have to just remember they do things when they are not being watched. Thanks for your great idea.

  16. N. Reagan

    Thank you so much for sharing your directions/examples for fidget quilts. My mother passed away 19 years ago after suffering from Alzheimer’s for 12 LONG years. She would have loved one of these as up until the end she was quite active – especially with her hands. So I plan on making several of these in her honor/memory, and donating them to the local Daybreak Care Facility she so loved attending – for their current participants.

  17. Pingback: Helpful Distractions: Fabulous Fidget Quilts – Stacey Holley Quilts

  18. Helena

    Thank you for sharing these ideas. Our local club is currently making fidget quilts to give to homes where there are a need for them. And as I am not very creative, these ideas came just in time.

    Keep up the good work.

  19. Judy Shamburger

    My Women’s Ministry is sewing Fidget Quilts for our local Champions for Children. They have just opened a whole sensory area for parents of autistic children to check out items and they do not have any Fidget Quilts. We are meeting Sat. 7th to make these and I really think your instructions are the best I’ve seen but I need to print it out. Could you help me?

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