Fidget Quilts


Planning is key to making a fidget quilt for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia.  Debi Warner explains the disease to make an awesome fidget blanket.

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Fidget Quilts

People with Alzheimer's often have what is called "restless hands". The anxiety or agitation they may feel is expressed in the need for their hands to be doing something. They may be aware of changes in their environment, and they may not be able to continue with hobbies they have enjoyed for a lifetime.

Fidget Quilts


Fidget quilts are also called "sensory blankets". Their purpose is to offer concentration, reinforce memory, and help with emotions. The size of the quilt is not critical, but because it is usually used in the lap or on a table in front of the person, a table mat size of 18x20 is often recommended.


A quilter who is making a fidget quilt needs to keep all this in mind during planning. In addition, the quilter must always think about safety. Some fidget quilts have a general theme with different types of fabrics and materials and engagement items such as zippers, buttons, and pockets.



You can also choose a theme that might recall memories of a loved activity. This quilt features a couple of flies suitable for fishing. It is decorated with fishing lures, buttons, and stones. The fishing devices have all been altered to remove the hooks and other metal pieces for safety. I thought about adding pipe cleaners but remembered that the inner part is metal. If busy fingers were to remove all the fuzz, there would be metal underneath.



Other safety suggestions that I have recently read is to make the fabrics into a pillowcase before adding the activities. This prevents the binding from being removed and it secures the activities to several layers of fabric. As much as possible, please machine stitch your activities to the quilt for extra security. Please make sure all activities and fabrics are washable. Some homes wash the fidget quilts almost daily.


The fidget quilt in this demonstration has the theme "Cats". I started with a cat square from Missouri Star Quilting Company but added a zipper with a pocket underneath to house a mouse. The mouse's tail is sewn into the pocket, so it doesn't become loose when used. The zipper is plastic, so as not to "bite" fingers. My cat, Samantha, was happy to donate some of her old toys for a great cause. They were washed and dried in my household machines.



The cats on the sides are cut from a velvet texture fabric. The ears are lined with a fancy stitch and the eyes are buttons. One cat has a fish toy in its mouth and sports a lace collar. The other sports a ribbon collar that can be tied and untied. Another fish with multiple textures tempts the center cat.


A family member who has cherished cats her whole life might become attached to a fidget quilt such as this one. It can be created from fabrics and toys that invoke pleasant memories. Your local nursing home or assisted living center will be thrilled with your donation!


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Binding is used as both a noun and a verb. As a noun it is the fabric that's used to cover the raw edges of the quilt sandwich after it's quilted. This edging fabric is referred to as the Binding (noun). As a verb it is the process of putting on this fabric, and it referred to as Binding a Quilt.
A large central star, made up of diamond shaped fabric or a square with right triangles, to form the star points from the center out.
Debi Warner
Author and humorist, Debi Warner, retired after many years as a clinical librarian and information specialist. She has her Master’s in Library and Information Science and achieved a Distinguished level in the Medical Library Association’s Association of Health Information Professionals. She has worked on teaching physicians to use computers and electronic resources. She also worked on several grants teaching the public how to use the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus public database and is co-author of several articles on health literacy. She took up quilting after retirement in 2012 and chaired the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show in 2019. She currently teaches several quilting classes over Zoom and writes for QuiltingHub.
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