Sewing isn’t my thing. Think goodness, the fidget blanket or busy blanket didn’t require me to actually use a sewing machine.
I first published this post in November 2016 and was just re-reading it today. My Mom passed away from Covid in December of 2020 and this post brought back so many memories of her Alzheimer's journey. I haven't changed the post in any way to republish it today. I have the feeling someone needs this post.
When I post an update on my Mom’s Alzheimer’s disease, you guys always leave the kindest comments for me. Some of you are dealing with the same thing with parents, other relatives, or friends. My good blogging friend, Marie of The Interior Frugalista, commented on my last family post about the busy blanket she was making for her mom.
I have to admit I never heard of a busy blanket. After investigating (Googling), I found out they are also called fidget blankets. I had noticed in past visits that my Mom sometimes “fidgeted” with the edges of her throw. She is cold-natured and always has the throw on her lap when sitting in her recliner.
Well, I decided to try and make a busy blanket. I went to Hobby Lobby and bought two pieces of colorful fleece and gathered a bunch of items from my junk stash in the shop. I planned to make the blanket before going to Arkansas last week but that didn’t happen. I threw everything in a bag and took it with me when I went to visit my parents.
After they went to bed at night, I sat at the kitchen table and made the blanket. I worked on it for two nights for a total of 4 hours. It would have taken less time if I knew what I was doing.
I winged it the whole way. It's difficult to work on projects when out of my natural environment. I didn’t measure anything…..just cut the fabric and stitched the items onto it.
I found one tutorial that showed how to get the fringed ends together without that big knot of fabric.
I sewed all the bits and pieces on one layer of fabric before tying the two pieces of fleece together—no ugly sewing to see. I found a small inexpensive ring in my stash and tied it to the blanket.
I also added this silver heart. Isn’t it pretty? I made the blanket so that all the non-washable pieces could be removed before washing the blanket.
Just bits and pieces of ribbon and buttons.
The blue tassel fringe is so colorful. I get the love of bright colors from my Mom.
You can’t have a busy blanket without a touch of vintage pom-pom fringe.
For the past two months, Mom’s Alzheimer’s has been rapidly progressing. For the past two years since her time in the hospital, the changes have been really slow, until now.
I spent a week with my parents and now I better understand what Dad goes through daily. He has Hospice two half days a week and hired help four half days a week. So every day, but one, there is a helper there for 5 hours a day.
But it’s not the same as someone being there as backup around the clock. Dad is doing a wonderful job of taking care of Mom, but I can see the toll it’s taking on him. He is 86 years old.
Yep, I took just a few photos of the farm. I couldn’t resist the rusty barbed wire.
I will be going to Arkansas every month for at least a week at a time. The drive is 7 hours each way. That doesn't bother me, I don't mind driving or traveling by myself. The JTS was in the Army for 27 years, so I'm pretty independent. When I'm in Arkansas, he's home holding down the fort. Thanks honey.
Had you guys heard of a busy blanket or fidget blanket? Leave a comment please. I read them all although sometimes I don't have time to respond to all of them.
The next installment of the Arkansas Story is here....Grandma's Banana Cake Recipe and Alzheimer's Update
To read my Mom's Alzheimer's story and Arkansas stories from the beginning, start here...….Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone | Getting Personal (Nov. 2014)
Author: Kathy Owen (Petticoat Junktion)
Kathy is the founder of PetticoatJunktion.com, a home décor blog focused on repurposing and upcycling furniture, old hardware, rusty stuff, and thrifty finds into unique home décor. Kathy’s projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Read more about Kathy here.
Thank you for sharing your story, I wish I had known about a fidget blanket when my mom was here with me for the last 3 months of her life. So hard losing your mom. My mom passed away 4 years ago and I still find myself going to call her to talk! ((Hugs))
What a wonderful idea to have a version for Alzheimer's! I could imagine it with family photos ironed on it & decorated with mementos like that ring & locket you put on your moms. That is so personal & special! I JUST discovered the busy blanket when looking for a present for our 3rd grandchild with autism. It's a weighted lap blanket with all kinds of textures attached for the child to experience. It was made by a local school teacher for her special needs students. It was so popular she started making & selling them in a local shop in our area. Gee, I could even envision one for children made from a favorite baby blanket or quilt style from baby clothes & rattles, toys, buttons & laces attached, to learn how to tie their shoes & button their clothes, etc. The possibilities are endless!! Thank you for sharing your made with love story, it truly is inspiring. <3
Thank you Wendy for sharing your story. I think you have some great ideas for blankets too! Kathy
All thou late sorry for your loss and what you mother went through no I have not heard of this blanket but I can see the perpest .....quiting runs thou my family......
We thought about making mom a fidget blanket, too, but she died of Covid in January 2021 just when her dementia was very noticeable. I think it was merciful that she died when she did. I miss her.
Fonda, It's good to hear from you again. I am so sorry about your Mom. I miss mine too. Yes, I think it was merciful. My Mom went through so much during her years having Alzheimer's and although we didn't want to do it we had to put her in the nursing home. She was there almost 4 years before she got covid and passed away. We were not able to see her in the nursing home the last few months of her life because of the lockdown and no one could be with her in the hospital the last days of her life. Truly heartbreaking, Kathy
I'm part of a sewing group in a small Baptist church here in eastern NC. We are in the middle of making 30 fidget blankets to donate to a care facility. They're Funtime make in a group setting
That's wonderful Audrey. It's so nice of you and the group to do something that will mean so much to so many. Sending hugs.
No. I wish I had so I could have made one for my aunt. It's a great idea for a gift. Safe travels. Please share your updates & any ideas that may help others with this awful disease or the caregivers.
Yes, it might. Thank you Kathy
Michelle West Singleton
My husband is going through something similar- have not heard of this but believe I too can manage this!! Thank you for always teaching and know you are in our thoughts
Thank you Michelle. I have heard of busy boards for men. I don't know how they would work. It doesn't sound like something that could sit in there lap. Maybe you can check it out.
Thank You for sharing. I'm so sorry your mom is getting worse. I had read the comment about the busy blanket and thought, much too hard, I have no time. But yours looks very do-able AND removing the things before washing- fantastic! Love that its fleece too!
Off to create one for my Group Home gal with Alz. :o)
Sounds great! It wasn't hard to make at all. If I can do it you can too Elizabeth
What a wonderful thoughtful daughter. I am so sorry that your mother has this terrible disease. Blessings for you and your father. Love and a bug hug
Thank you Frani.
so much i can say however, it still is emotional for me since my father had it I wish you and yours the best
My Father had dementia and could only remember things from the past, i really cant go on since it still makes me emotional, i am sorry that you are going through this turmoil. My heart goes out to you
I understand completely Linda. Thank you for the comment and support. I'm so sorry about your Dad. Alzheimer's is an indignity no one should have to suffer through.
I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I will keep you in my prayers. You are a good daughter, always remember that.
Thank you Joy.
This is a wonderful idea! I have two DIL's who work as PSW's in nursing homes. Making these for some of their patients is something we can do together. Sending hugs and prayers to both of your parents, and the best to you and your husband.
Thanks for the hugs and prayers Anne.
As a retired nurse who has cared for a significant number if Alzheimer's patients, a budget or busy blanket is a comfort to them. Keeping their hands busy and out of harm's way. Thanks for sharing the tutorial.
You're welcome Vicki and thank you for the comment.
This is such a wonderful solution for those with Alzheimer’s! Had never heard of this, but what a wonderful idea. Your mom is blessed to have you and so is your dad!
Thank you Linda.
Marie, The Interior Frugalista
Oh Kathy, I'm thrilled to read that you made a busy blanket for your Mom. You beat me to it as I haven't started mine for my Mom yet and Christmas is coming - yikes. I love the interesting objects you incorporated into yours! Your Dad is a trooper! Daily care for someone with Alzheimer's is an exhausting task and to do it well into your 80's is astounding! Your monthly visits I'm sure are a Godsend for him, and your Mother. Such a gift you are giving them both. Sending hugs your way and thanks a bunch for the mention! xo
Thank you Marie. I think of you and your Mom. I'm sure your blanket will be much better put together than mine!
Wonderful idea. The tactile is imp as a grounding method and know Mom will derive comfort fr this although she may not be able to xpress. Stay strong and take care. My mother in law is 100 and I cared for both my parents so know the challenges u face.
Ann Burke, LCSWR
Gosh, bless you A.
I have been looking into busy blankets but our patient is gentleman who is 95 and surprisingly strong in physical strength We have delayed doing a BB because he finds little things he can touch, pull, etc and will fuss with it until it is ripped off, torn up and destroyed. He constantly trolls his room looking for something to fidget with. I would appreciate any suggestions you may have.
Hi Lynda, I replied to a comment earlier about a busy board for men. Not sure how or where it would be used. Maybe you can check that out.
I am sorry that your mom isn't well. I went thru this with my father too. It has been about 15 yrs. since he passed away but I will never forget he time spent with him before he passed away. Daddy was diagnosed with Alzheimer's but I think it was a form of dementia. He did seem to recognize me but he called me by my mothers name. I like to think he did anyway. I wish there was a cure for this awful disease and hopefully there will be one day. Take care.
Thank you Effie, I wish there was a cure too. I'm glad I can spend time with my Mom, like you did with your Dad. There are lighter moments intermingled with the sad.
No I have never heard of a busy blanket but it's a great idea! We got our mom an imitation fish tank, no upkeep, bright colors and she just watched a fake fish swim around in a beautiful sea of bright colors.
We had on for my grandmother when she was in the last stages of senile dementia & it kept her from roaming at night because it gave her something to do with her hands. She was always taking care of someone or something her whole life so the blanket kept her busy so to speak. My mother &I I made it with ties that she could tie & untie, zippers, buttons & buttonholes, etc. The aides & nurses at the nursing home would give it to her after they got her ready for bed & it would keep her from getting up at night. It was a great solution.
Yes, Kathy - our local (UK) hospital is asking for them to be donated.... because sometimes patients don't want to leave go when they get out of hospital. I noticed that some of them had little pockets in, too, as some patients like to tuck little items away. Bless you and your Mum (and your Dad and the hubby too). x
What a loving thing to do for your Mother. May God bless you all during this difficult time. xo