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Sensory blankets have been trending for quite some time now and have only increased in popularity since the covid-19 pandemic. I first came across the idea by searching Pinterest for activities for the seniors I was caring for as a hospice volunteer. Many of those seniors were affected with Alzheimer's or Dementia. Anyone who has cared for someone with these ailments can attest to some of the symptoms, including restlessness and repetition.

Seniors with Alzheimer's and Dementia who have restless hands use sensory blankets, also called fidget blankets. The blanket allows the seniors to use their hands and alleviate agitation by giving them something to focus on. The sensory blanket allows this energy to be redirected into something familiar and in the comfort of their own home or nursing home. The purpose of this program is to reach out to families with seniors who have these conditions and give them something that may help their family member de-stress, especially during these times.

My favorite aspect of this program is that it involves repurposing with a purpose. You can easily make the sensory blanket with items from around the house like an old zipper or button. Additionally, you can use the library's sewing machine in the Techzone; just remember to bring your own materials! Also, don't forget to check out the articles below to learn more about fidget blankets!

Materials List

  • Sewing Machine (sewing machine can be used for free in the Techzone at the Main Library) or needle and thread
  • About one yard of fabric (36 in. or 3 ft.)
  • Roll of thread, any color
  • Materials to be used as fidgets (can be things from around the house like old zippers or an old washcloth, different textures, and things that can be moved with the hands)

Cost of Materials

  • Yard of fabric (can be less than $10)
  • Roll of thread ($1-$2)
  • Needle (set is about $5)

Instructions

Basic Sensory/Fidget Blanket:

  1. Cut two equal-sized pieces of fabric into a square. The one made in the video is 10X10; however, you can adjust the size to you or your family's needs.
  2. Once the fabric is cut, use the reverse side of the fabric to sew the sides together. Try to sew all the way around, leaving a 3-inch unsewn opening for turning.
  3. Trim any corners before turning.
  4. Turn right sides out, making sure corners are out, and make a stitch 1/8 inch from the edge to secure the 3-inch unsewn opening.
  5. The final product should be a one pattern 10X10 "blanket" that fidgets will be attached to. Any remaining fabric can be saved and included on the blanket as a fidget.
  6. Instructions for different types of "fidgets" or sensory items that can be either hand sewed or machine sewn onto the fabric:


"Quilt" Version of the Sensory/Fidget Blanket:

  1. Cut 4 different types of fabric into equal size squares. The one made in the video has 4 pairs of 6x6 squares.
  2. Place the squares together so that the ends match up with each other, begin to sew the backside of each piece together, using the reverse side of the fabric.
  3. Use pins to attach each side and hold in place while they are being sewed together, again using the reverse side of the fabric to be turned inside out. Try to sew all the way around, leaving a 3-inch unsewn opening for turning.
  4. Trim any corners before turning.
  5. Turn right sides out, making sure corners are out, and make a stitch 1/8 inch from the edge to secure the 3-inch unsewn opening.
  6. The final product should be a one pattern 12X12 "blanket," that fidgets will be attached to. Any remaining fabric can be saved and included on the blanket as a fidget. See instructions above for different types of fidgets.

by Daphnie Neal