Monday, October 11, 2010

Theuraputic quilting

This is a fidget quilt.  It's small (this one is 20x16-inches), intended to be held on the lap of an Alzheimer patient.  With a variety of fabric textures, beading, buttons and trims it can help provide a sort of calm for nervous plucking and stroking fingers.  I'd never heard of the idea till it was presented for this year's annual charity project at my fiber guild.  Our meetings are held in space kindly provided by a Charlottesville retirement community which happens to have an Alzheimer unit.  So our fidget quilts didn't have far to travel when we turned in the completed quilts at this month's meeting.

Everyone participating in the charity project came up with a unique block.  One member opted for a completely knitted quilt, using a variety of brightly-colored yarns and knitting patterns to produce a color-block of multi-textured surfaces.  Another member sewed her quilt but included gorgeous fringe trims that made me want to run my fingers through them even when viewed from across the room.  Zippers, pockets, woven and braided trims, beads and ribbons rippled across the completed quilts.  Corduroy, velvet, flannel, felted wools, and damask appeared on some of the blocks.  Other than size, the ability to stand up to commercial laundering was the only other constant for the quilts.

I recycled three fabrics from my stash for the basic block.  One, a white linen with bright blue polka dots, was from a set of kitchen curtains that came in a box at an estate auction.  Another, a blue flower print fabric was a woven cotton remnant from the same auction but out of a different box.  It looked like it had been cut from the bottom of a housedress or apron.  The backing for the quilt was a solid white woven wool-linen blend with a small raised fleur-de-lis design.  I used it wrong-side out as the texture was most prominent on that side.  (It came from the now defunct Stillwater Worsted Mills outlet in Craigsville --I miss that place!)

Laying out the fabric on my cutting board helped me decide on a color arrangement I found pleasing.  I used the suggested size, 20x20-inches, as a guideline keeping in mind I intended to use 3-inch polyester satin blanket binding as the edge finish for the block.   I don't know why I was so drawn to the combination of these fabrics but I'd decided to use them as soon as I heard of the planned project. Call it kismet -- certainly wasn't because I had no other fabrics to choose from...

Next up came the choice of trims.  I found that much harder.  Several things I wanted to use, particularly some lace trims, didn't seem able to hold up to long-term fingering.  I've made a few fabric books for toddlers over the years and sometimes the trims and textures I most want to include are the least likely to withstand small fingers tugging and stroking them.  I figured the same problems would occur with the fidget quilt.

 So I went with easily secured items like buttons and appliques with only three narrow polyester ribbons holding a bead each dangling from the surface.  When it came to the last section, I knew I wanted to use a piece cut from a striped wool sweater I'd felted.  I chose to cut a mitten shaped to my hand and only wish I could have attached a full mitten capable of having a hand slipped inside as DH suggested. But I'd already sewn it to the fabric when he offered the suggestion.  Since the project was due the next day, I didn't feel up to a rush job of removing and then figuring out the mechanics of the switch and re-applying.

I always have some sort of handwork project close by because otherwise I fidget when watching a video, waiting for appointments or to pick up DS at his activities.  In this case, the fidget quilt while in my hands served to quiet someone before it ever made it to it's intended recipient.  I hope whoever uses it enjoys it as much as I did.


Charisa said...

I LOVE this!!

Platinum Fox said...

Ah, that's beautiful! That should make someone very happy. Your color choices are perfect for that.