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Local quilters make ‘fidget quilts’ for memory care patients

Spiral Piecemakers made and donated 21 “fidget quilts” to memory care residents at Oak Ridge Assisted Living. Pictured in the front row, from left, are two residents and Barb Elliott, Spiral Piecemakers member and president of the Oak Ridge resident council. In the back are Spiral Piecemakers Diane Olinger, Mary Jo O’Brien, Carol Forrest and Marsha Keene. (Star Gazette photo by Katrina Styx)1 / 3
Fidget quilts have all sorts of tactile features. This one includes lace ribbon, puff balls and dangling fish. (Star Gazette photo by Katrina Styx)2 / 3
This quilt features a zipper, beads and a pocket with a stuffed animal. (Star Gazette photo by Katrina Styx)3 / 3

The Hastings Spiral Piecemakers, a local quilting group, recently made several small, unusual quilts. Some have buttons. Some have hair scrunchies, suspenders or pockets with little animals that pop out of them.

As odd as they sound, the quilts serve a specific purpose. They’re called fidget quilts, and they’re intended for people living with memory loss. Memory care patients need things to keep their fingers busy, said Ann Krauth at Oak Ridge Assisted Living.

“They want to be constantly doing something with their hands,” added Mary Jo O’Brien, the head of the charity committee for the Spiral Piecemakers.

Fidget quilts provide just that; quilts are decked out with tactile fabrics and objects so patients always have something to do with their hands.

The project launched as Spiral Piecemaker members started looking for a charity opportunity here in Hastings. They found the fidget quilt idea through Pinterest and decided to make them for the three memory care units in Hastings, located at Oak Ridge Assisted Living, Regina Senior Living and Augustana Care.

Each quilt is unique, in many cases made from leftover pieces from other quilting projects. It was a process that was not only useful for many residents in Hastings, but also gave the Spiral Piecemakers a new project that engaged their creative process.

“We as quilters love that,” O’Brien said.

They presented the first batch of fidget quilts, a total of 21, to residents at Oak Ridge Assisted Living on Thursday, May 26. The quilters plan to make about two dozen more, to be divided between Augustana and Regina.

“We feel extremely grateful,” Krauth said as the quilts were presented last week.

The Spiral Piecemakers include about 40 members, although not all do the sewing. Some contribute materials and other resources for the group. The group gathered at the Pleasant Hill Library to make the quilts. They meet regularly at The Hastings United Methodist Church on the third Thursday of each month.