Fidget quilts are small tactile and pictorial quilts made to engage, comfort and soothe people living with dementia, or young people with excessive anxiety. A friend and I have established a group called FiddleFingersQuilts with the aim of creating a network of crafty people across the country who would make these quilts and forge links with their local care homes.
The main aims are firstly to provide colourful appealing small lap quilts which have textures such as velvet, satin, corduroy and manipulated fabrics which can occupy restless hands and provide harmless occupation. Secondly, to use pictorial feature fabrics or constructed images with topics which relate to the person, such as sports or gardening, pets or flowers, so that there might be a starting point for a conversation and a prompt to earlier memories which can then spark other memories. Quilts can also be constructed around the recipient, with their name and aspects of their life illustrated.
I was delighted to be invited to St Helen’s, where my daughters were at school in the 1990s, to help the Textiles Club make some of these quilts for the care homes they have contact with. The students have been so enthusiastic, rushing in to make the most of their 35-minute slot and full of great ideas. With a bit of help from me, Mrs McCullugh and Mrs Alpers they have created inspiring and ingenious fidget quilts. Every idea sparks another and I have learnt several new tricks and leave after every session with my head buzzing! It has been thrilling to see their imaginative involvement and joyful creativity!
‘I’ve enjoyed figuring out the best place to put everything on the quilts, the best textures to use and coming along with my friends every week.’
‘Being able to play around with lots of different textures on one surface and not having to do just one technique.’
‘I like the challenge of learning lots of skills, and putting everything together, seeing the finished results.’