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May 2021: Fidget Mats for Dementia Australia

Date Posted:1 May 2021 

May 2021: Fidget Mats main image

Dementia Australia represents a bolder, stronger voice for people impacted by dementia. They are committed to building an inclusive future where all those impacted by dementia receive the care and support they need and choose.

Dementia Australia works with individuals and families, all levels of government and other key contributors to ensure people of all ages suffering from dementia have the appropriate support behind them. They provide support services, education and information regarding dementia to address the issues that are faced every day.

 We're joining Dementia Australia and their vision by sewing fidget mats for dementia patients. These mats provide gentle sensory stimulation with different fabrics, textures, colours and objects attached to it. They are used as a calming tool and to give the user a relaxing tactile experience.

Sewalongs are a great way to get inspired by what everyone creates, while giving to a worthy cause. If you’re new to sewing or embroidering this is a great chance to get involved and have fun no matter what the outcome. Any excuse to put your sewing and embroidery machines to good use is a great one.

Dementia Fidget Mat

Finished size: 18" x 18"

Please note: The following materials are what we used to make our fidget mat. We encourage you to use your own stash of fabric and accessories if you wish.

Fabric Requirements

  • 7 x Plain fabric (varied colours) background squares - (6½" x 6½")
  • 6 x Additional plain fabric squares (varied colours) - (6½" x 6½")
  • 1 x Minky square (6½" x 6½")
  • 25" strip of 1" bias tape
  • 6 x Zipper tabs (1½" x 1¾")
  • 1 x Clear vinyl piece (3 ¼" x 6½")
  • 1 x Felt piece (6½" x 6½")
  • 3 x Squares of white tulle (6¾" x 6¾")
  • Backing fabric 18.5" x 18.5" (we used Flannelette)

Stabilizers

  • 9 x Medium Cutaway (6½" x 6½")
  • 9 x Fusible See-Through Cutaway (6½" x 6½")

Tools

  • Pins or small Echidna Clips
  • Needle and thread
  • Rasant thread

Accessories

  • 3 x 5" zips
  • Snaps or Press Studs
  • Variety of beads
  • Assorted buttons
  • Cord
  • Assorted ribbons - different textures (eg. Ric Rac, Satin, Organza)
  • Shoelace
Click on the image of each square below to view instructions.
fidget quilt block
fidget quilt block
fidget quilt block
fidget quilt block
fidget quilt block
fidget quilt block
fidget quilt block
fidget quilt block
fidget quilt block

Project Steps

Fabric preparation for the 9 x background squares

  1. Iron the Fusible See-Through Cutaway onto the back of your 7 x plain background squares and your minky and felt squares
  2. Then, place a piece of medium Cutaway underneath each of these squares, backing onto the See-Through Cutaway

Sewing tips

  • Use a ⅛" seam when attaching the fabric to the stabilizer
  • Use a ¼" foot F057 and seam when piecing the squares
  • When using a variety of colours in a project, a grey thread blends well with most colours. We have used Rasant thread Grey 0191
  • Lengthen stitch length from 2.5 to 3 if the fabric is difficult to feed
  • Stitch vinyl with a Roller Foot F006 or Teflon Foot F007N
Square 1: Minky
  1. Pin the Cutaway stabilizer to the back of the Minky square.
    Minkee
  2. Using Rasant thread, a ⅛" seam and a Teflon foot, sew around the outside of the square securing the Minky fabric to the stabilizer.
  3. Set aside until the remaining squares are completed.
Square 2: Tulle & Buttons
  1. Place 3 layers of tulle on top of a background square, keeping the edges of the tulle square with the background fabric. Using Echidna clips or pins, clip the tulle to the background fabric and Cutaway, leaving a gap along one side to insert buttons.
  2. Using Rasant thread, a ⅛" seam and a regular foot, sew around the outside of the square securing the layers to the stabilizer - leaving a gap open to insert buttons.
    Tulle and buttons
  3. Pour a handful of buttons between the tulle layers and the background fabric.
  4. Stitch the gap closed making sure not to catch any buttons.
  5. Set aside until the remaining squares are completed.
Square 3: Ribbons, Braids and Tassels
  1. Pin another background square to the Cutaway stabilizer placed underneath.
  2. Measure up different sizes of the variety of selected ribbons, and pin to the square. We have used 5", 6" and 9" pieces. Trim the ribbon so they are flush with the outside edge of the background square.
    Ribbons, Braid and Tassel
  3. Using Rasant thread, a ⅛" seam and a regular foot, sew around the outside of the square securing the fabric to the stabilizer.
  4. Set aside until the remaining squares are completed.
Square 4: Triangles with snaps
  1. Pin another background square to the Cutaway stabilizer placed underneath.
  2. Using Rasant thread, a ⅛" seam and a regular foot, sew around the outside of the square securing the fabric to the stabilizer.
  3. Select 4 of the additional plain fabric squares in two different colours. Fold in half on the diagonal and press, fold again to create a small triangle and press. Repeat with the remaining 3 fabrics.
  4. Place and pin the 4 fabric triangles on the background fabric with the points facing the centre of the square. Using Rasant thread, a ⅛" seam and a regular foot, sew around the outside of the square securing the fabric triangles to the stabilizer.
    Zips
  5. Mark the position of the snaps near the triangle points and attach. Mark the base of the snaps on the background fabric underneath the top snap, attach.
  6. Set aside until the remaining squares are completed.
Square 5: Buttons and buttonholes

Quick tip: Check out our video on how to use a Button Sewing Foot (M foot) to attach your buttons →

  1. Pin another background square to the Cutaway stabilizer placed underneath.
  2. Using Rasant thread, a ⅛" seam and a regular foot, sew around the outside of the square securing the fabric to the stabilizer.
  3. Using the bias tape, cut the following lengths: 1" x 4.5", 1" x 6" and 1" x 10". Fold in half width ways and iron. Stitch around each piece.
  4. Mark the start point for the buttonhole. We have measured ½" up from the folded edge. Stitch the buttonhole then cut through the centre of the stitched buttonhole, repeat for all pieces.
    Zips
  5. Place the 3 strips onto the fabric square with raw edges aligned. Using Rasant thread, a ⅛" seam and a regular foot, sew across the top of the square and over the strips securing them in place.
  6. Mark the button placement on the background square, and stitch in place with your sewing machine or by hand.
  7. Set aside until the remaining squares are completed.
Square 6: Lacing
  1. Pin Cutaway to a plain fabric background square.
  2. Using Rasant thread, a ⅛" seam and a regular foot, sew around the outside of the square securing the fabric to the stabilizer.
  3. Pin the shoelace to the centre of the background fabric 1¼" up from an edge. Secure in place.
  4. Take 2 extra pieces of bright fabric and fold in half, iron.
    Zips
  5. Cut 2 pieces of medium Cutaway 6½" x 3¼" and place in the middle of the folded fabric.
  6. We have used the eyelet stitch to create the lacing holes. Measure 1¾" from the top of the fabric and place a dot. In 1" increments, place 4 dots for positioning of the eyelet. Stitch 4 eyelets on the folded side of the fabric and cut open each eyelet for the shoelace to thread through.
  7. Using Rasant thread, a ⅛" seam and a regular foot, sew around the outside of the square securing the eyelet fabric to the background fabric and stabilizer.
Square 7: Beads
  1. Pin another background square to the Cutaway stabilizer placed underneath.
  2. Using Rasant thread, a ⅛" seam and a regular foot, sew around the outside of the square securing the layers to the stabilizer
  3. String together the assorted beads you have and attach them to the background fabric by hand or machine.
    Beads
  4. Set aside until the remaining squares are completed.
Square 8: Felt & Vinyl
  1. Place the clear vinyl on top of the felt square. It should cover half of the square.
    Felt and Vinyl
  2. Using Echidna clips or pins, clip the clear vinyl and felt to the Cutaway stabilizer underneath.
  3. Using Rasant thread, a ⅛" seam and a Teflon foot, sew around the outside of the square securing the layers to the stabilizer.
  4. Set aside until the remaining squares are completed.
Square 9: Zips
  1. Pin another background square to the Cutaway stabilizer placed underneath.
  2. Using Rasant thread, a ⅛" seam and a regular foot, sew around the outside of the square securing the fabric to the stabilizer.
  3. Place the three zippers in the middle of the square ensuring the zipper pulls are not in the seam allowance. Using a matching thread and a regular foot, stitch the zippers in place on the outside edge of each zipper.
  4. Cut 6 x zipper tabs measuring 1½" x 1¾". Fold and press to create 6 x squares with the raw edges flush with the outside edges of the background square. Place zipper tabs over the top and bottom of each zip. With matching thread, stitch in place.
    Zips
  5. Set aside until the remaining squares are completed.

Completing the fidget mat

  1. Square up each block to 6½" x 6½", trimming off the excess stabilizers.
  2. Place the squares together in rows of 3. Tape the ribbon and lace to the centre of the background to prevent them from getting caught in the seam. Stitch each row together with a ¼" seam.
    3blocks
    9 blocks
  3. With right sides together, sew the backing fabric onto the squares, leaving a gap of 2" to turn through. Machine or slip stitch closed.

How long do I have to create the project?

This sewalong will run from 1st – 31st May 2021.


Things to remember

Sewalongs are a great way to get inspired by what everyone creates, while giving to a worthy cause. If you’re new to sewing or embroidering this is a great chance to get involved and have fun no matter what the outcome. Any excuse to put your sewing and embroidery machines to good use is a great one.


Sending in your donations

The fiddle mats can be dropped in or posted to any of the Echidna stores during the month of the sewalong. Please send any donations made after the sewalong month directly to the charity:

Dementia Australia
PO Box 8141
Woollongabba QLD 4102 Australia


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