I will talk about this on my podcast this week, so if you want all the background and more detailed information about (1) how this project came about and (2) why I went the direction I did with it, give the episode a listen (whenever I manage to get it posted). Meanwhile, in a nutshell, my father-in-law has a rare form of Alzheimers. Like many people suffering with dementia, he has a habit of constantly fidgeting with things in his hands--napkins, blankets, handkerchiefs.... So, as quilters tend to do, when they see a need, they figure out a way to turn it into a quilt. "Touch quilts" or "Fidget quilts" for those suffering with dementia are a thing.
I did some research on fidget quilts but ultimately I decided to keep mine really simple. He isn't looking for things to do, so much--in other words, buttons, velcro, ribbons, and the like usually included on fidget quilts. He just crumples and smooths, picks and pokes. So I went for physical texture through using very touchy-feely fabrics and good visual texture and contrast in color. (Gallery of fabrics below.) He's a life-long Buffalo Bills fan, so that was my thematic jumping off point.
It finished to about 36x36", give or take. It's as close to square as something with such a huge variety of fabric types was going to get without me making myself crazy. Also, I was trying to get it done quickly enough that I could get it to my father-in-law in the hospital so he'd have something more interesting than just the hospital blankets to mess with. I didn't mentally commit myself to giving it to him, though, until it came out of the wash as with so many different types of fabrics involved it could've turned into a hot mess. Different shrinking rates, possible color bleeds--the opportunities for it going horribly awry abounded. Fortunately, it's workable. Not my finest work from an accuracy perspective but it didn't need to be--just fun and functional.
One of the nurses was walking by his hospital room when I gave it to my father-in-law, and she immediately popped in to see it, saying, "Oh, I just love these quilts!' So that was a nice unexpected affirmation. My mother-in-law called me yesterday to let me know that my father-in-law has been using the quilt exactly as I'd hoped and won't stop messing with it. He's also the one who keeps reminding her to take it home with her when she leaves the hospital each night so it won't get taken. I'm really glad it's meeting its purpose and has brought some joy although, as quilters understand, just the process of making it was therapy for me.
Next on the agenda: Getting out the vacuum. That red furry fabric made my sewing room look like a teddy bear crime scene.