Fidget Quilts

There was a question on the facebook page about fidget quilts.  I kind of knew what they were about, but it got me a bit more curious, so I took a look around and found some great resources and ideas.

What is a fidget quilt?  It really doesn’t have to be a ‘quilt’ but the idea is: giving the fingers and hands something to do.  These are great for little kids, or olders who have alzheimers, dementia, or need some help keeping busy.   It’s all about texture and one must keep in mind that these articles must be able to withstand hot water as they’ll be washed frequently.

Bonus—-> Precise piecing and stitching isn’t necessary so it makes it a perfect project to practice new stitches, if you are a beginner or just want to sew crazy fast and not worry about perfection.

fidget blankets ideas and how tos

They feature zippers, ties, ribbon, strings, buttons, snaps, closures, different textures – like minky, stretchy, pom poms, buttons, pockets, braids…you name it!

Anything that can keep the fingers busy and can be washed will work.

They are similar to a quiet book, but are larger- can be an apron even or just a mat that is laid across your lap.

There are a few local organizations that you might find that could use a donation or two.  This would be a great project for your quilt guild to do as a group project or focus for the year.

fidget quilts pattern and tutorial

How to make a Fidget Quilt~

Your top will need to be the size of a placemat– or really any size that will fit across your lap.  Around a fat quarter or 18″ X 20″.  Feel free to customize this to what you need!  There is no right answer or size here.

It will need a stabilizer in between the layers.  You can use batting, peltex, or multiple layers of flannel.  Again keep it simple. You want this to not be floppy, but not crazy firm.

  1. Layer the quilt top and backing fabric – right sides together.
  2. Lay this on top of the batting or stabilizer
  3. Sew all the way around the outside, leaving a 3″ opening for turning
  4. Snip the corners, turn right sides out and stitch 1/8″ from the edge to secure the layers and close the opening
  5. Grab your supplies and lay them out on top of the fabric.
  6. Pin in place the items and start stitching them down by hand or machine.  Because your stitching will go through all the layers, this will keep them more secure and quilt the layers together, making it wear better through washings and use.

Busy Fingers, Fidget Fun Mats & Quilts Tutorials~

fidget quilt for boys

Alzheimers fidget quilt

Alzheimer’sDementia-Fidget-Lap-Blanket

Dementia Fidget Lap Blanket

BusyHandsApronMainBlog

Busy Hands Fidget Apron

fidget fun mats

Fidget Fun Mats

fidget quilt with hankie

Simple fidget quilt

sensory blanket

Sensory Blanket

Fidget quilt pattern + it rolls up!

These busy blankets are perfect for using your scraps from projects that are finished.  Those odd ball supplies that are just hanging around and not doing much in your sewing space but taking up space.

Take a look around– you know what I’m talking about.  Start making little quilt kits with your fun dodads and when you have enough….sit down and stitch them up.

* Make sure that everything you use is securely stitched down.  You don’t want things to pop off and get lost.

* Don’t overthink this.  Keep it simple.  They are supposed to be busy, but don’t make it sooo busy it’s overwhelming

* Involve your kids!  Have them help decide or layout the mat and stitch things down.  Perfect for youth groups!

What kind of things do you put on your fidget quilts?  Any suggestions for us?

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  1. Bernadette Webre

    15 March

    The “Fidget Quilt” could also be adapted for Alzhemer’s patients. This would have been great for my dad.

  2. Becky

    16 March

    yes Bernadette– great idea! I bet he would love it.

  3. Pam

    17 March

    The most important part of the quilt is the mix of textures. In all likelihood the recipient will only fidget or “worry” a couple spots that they find calming. More stuff just to fill it up is not better, think simple. I made the first fidget on your examples, it has flannel, denim, cotton, mesh with marbles trapped under it, zipper, buttons that work, snaps, rope and the rubber key chain. This was our manly version because the men were turning down any with flowers or fru-fru stuff. It was a great guild project donated to a division of our hospital who worked with alzheimer dementia patients, they cant get enough.

  4. Debra McHugh

    26 April

    One great resource for ‘fidgets’ is the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. Finding fidgets for men’s quilts is especially challenging. I buy plastic plumbing parts the can be strung on ribbon and screwed together and unscrewed while attached to the quilt. I also find rubber, plastic and light weight metal rings, washers etc. for sliding activities.

  5. Karan Brown

    19 June

    Love this! Just a heads up for your Dementia project bright colors are more stimulation and not too small with the activities as vision is often affected. Love the giant braid on the apron! Love that they are so pretty and not toddler-ish! Thank you!

  6. P. Garcia

    28 July

    Great idea! Only comment I have is that if it is for a baby or toddler, make sure there are no small parts that can cause choking.

  7. Jenny Fish

    28 July

    A group I know knit or crochet fidget muffs – a loose fitting tubular piece with different yarns, buttons etc. Great for those who are prone to pulling out drip lines etc – can be pulled across the line and connection point so they don’t see them and play with the muff instead.
    https://www.facebook.com/CraftyFrog/

  8. Jenny Fish

    28 July

    Here is the direct link to the post. Check out the photos in the comments as well.
    https://www.facebook.com/CraftyFrog/photos/a.449380525086312.109585.194492030575164/1215530661804624/?type=3&theater

  9. Becky

    3 August

    you are right on that! thanks for the reminder.

  10. Marge

    12 August

    Thank you for this,will have to make some for kids

  11. Toni

    3 October

    I wish I had known about these when my beautiful senior relatives were still alive. I had responsibility for three who all had some form of dementia. I too am facing a similar future with Parkinson’s. I have asked God to guide me and to make the best of what I have so far to work with, and I believe this is the answer. I just spoke with one of our associate pastors and we may just take this on as a mission project, not only for us experienced sewers but to help teach sewing to those who want to learn “the basics”, win, win, win!

  12. Rose

    13 November

    This is a great article!! I like to try to find things at Goodwill that can be upcycled

  13. Karla Randazzo

    18 November

    What a wonderful idea.

  14. Mary Ann

    22 January

    Can you use plastic pellets between the top and bottom layers.
    Made some weighted lap pads for autistic children and have some pellets left over

  15. Carol

    19 February

    I stitch a piece of extra soft fleece (about 5″ square) down before sewing a pocket from jeans on top of it. It gives the sensation of slipping your hand into a glove. I position the pocket sideways so it is easy to slip a hand inside.

    I also drop a marble inside the quilt then stitch a “maze” of a couple of rows along an edge. Similar idea to that of mazes that I have seen.

  16. lyn lewis

    3 March

    I make waistcoats, cushions and lap quilts for kids with visual or physical impairments much like the fidget quilts.
    Our need is generally so the children to learn to use zips, fasten buttons, tie laces, use poppers or hooks and eyes, in the hopes that they can learn to dress themselves, but in a less formal and more entertaining way.
    I use different textured fabrics as well to stimulate the senses and conversation.
    I’ve made those maze pouches too that Carol above mentions and they are always popular.

  17. Beata Myhill

    26 March

    I found your website tonight, and thought I’d add my two cents – hope you don’t mind. I started making lap quilts when my mother was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. Now I continue to make them for nursing homes as a free gift (paying it forward). Locally, we call them “touchquilts” but the idea is the same. Here is what I have learned through experience:
    Focus on as many different textures as possible. While the other senses fail, touch is often very sensitive.
    Every quilt should have some soft plush fake fur – that’s a favourite for almost anyone. Satin is too.
    Be wary of furs that look too realistic – especially black. They upset some residents.
    Squares should be big enough for a whole hand to rest on.
    Use bright colours – vision is often impaired. Ask about favourites if it is being customized.
    Not too many prints – they are hard for a dementia sufferer to figure out. That is not the best place to put figit items. Things you find endearing may just be frustrating if it is hard to make out a simple picture.
    If objects can possible be worked loose or broken off (some plastics) they will be. These patients are very persistent, and they have an abundance of time. Buttons should be big enough to grasp easily – and firmly sewn on with buttonhole twist – and backed with an extra layer of very firm material to make sure it isn’t ripped out of the material.
    NO HARD OBJECTS (like belt buckles, large wooden beads on a ribbon etc.) – anything that can hurt someone if the quilt is whipped. It happens. Watch out for metal zippers.
    Fasten an easy to grasp ribbon loop on zipper pulls. (It’s nice if the zipper opens to reveal a surprise fabric.)
    No activities to develop fine motor skills for this generation. Forget learning to do laces.What’s gone is gone.
    Prewash all materials in the hotest water you have – I add a couple of kettles of boiling water to the washing machine – laundry machines in nursing homes are brutal. The dryers are worse – everything must be sanitized at 160 degrees. (Not sure if foam beads like in beanbag chairs will pass this test.)
    Use half-inch seams rather than the standard quarter inch for quilting. These quilts will see some rough use. (I cut my squares to 7″.)
    Fleece makes great ruffles – very soft.
    Adding a muff to hide hands in is very popular – their hands are often cold. Fun to add something inside it to discover e.g. a pull with a knot at the end, made out of 2″ x 12″ spandex.
    Make sure your backing is not slippery. No fun if it continually slides off a lap – and the staff will not love you. Add a velcro tab in one or two places on the edge to attach it to a wheelchair. Make sure the ribbon (I use strong grosgrain) for this is not long enough to fit around a neck and choke someone.
    Velcro pulls on a 1″ wide ribbon are great.
    Mesh, zippered pencil cases from the dollar store can be sewn down and are great to put things in to be discovered and talked about.

  18. Bev

    4 May

    I have been teaching classes on these. Some of the things I use, are zippers, velcro, prairie points, a marble maze, buttons, beads, a large snap, fabric yoyo, a very small pillow with cut up plastic bag that makes a sound, a jingle bell. I also bought beads with #`1 to 5, put it through a ribbon and add 1 wood bead to #1 bead, 2 wood beads to #2, etx. With buttons, I sew them down with upholstery thread and then also glue them. I also add a wooden ring to one side and add a long tie to it soit can be tied to a bed rail, wheel chair, or a chair.

  19. Becky

    15 May

    Thank you for sharing things that work for these. Great ideas and the wooden rings is wonderful!

  20. Jeannine eden

    24 July

    These ideas are wonderful. I have also made some and find that if I put the mesh that you use for lining shelves and drawers on the back, it prevents the pad from falling off their lap or table top. Thank you for sharing these things.

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