Sunday, November 16, 2014

Successful Sew-in

Another fun and successful sew-in yesterday. The weather outside was cold and rainy, but we were busily sewing. We finished 11 mats and 4 went home with volunteers who had friends or family with Alzheimer's.

Thanks to everyone who came out to help.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Santa's List Correction

We should have been more specific when asking for names for Santa's List of activity mats. These are for individuals in the Austin area only.

If you are wanting a mat outside of the Austin area, you might want to contact your local church or sewing center to see if they would be interested in making the mats using the instructions in earlier posts on this blog.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Santa is Making a List

Make a special Christmas present for a special person. Santa is making a list of people with advanced Alzheimer’s, children with special needs, etc. If you have a person who would like one of our mats or texture books let us know and/or come to a  sew-in and help us make activity aids.

These aids are designed to safely comfort and entertain Alzheimer's patients. Each mat contains a zipper, buttons, a pocket for a family photo, and a variety of textures. They can be used on a table, in a lap, or tied around the patient’s waist as an apron.

Texture books have  pages with a variety of fabric textures and designs.

We will provide supplies, instructions and snacks. You bring your enthusiasm, your machine with standard feet, (walking foot  optional), manual, bobbins, scissors, seam ripper, etc. – or just drop in and help.

Help us make these to donate to local care givers. Our next two scheduled sew-ins are Saturday, November 15th and Saturday, December 13th. Times for both events are 1:00pm-4:00pm. The location is North West Sewing Center at 5448 Burnet Road, No. 1 in Austin, Texas. Phone 512-459-3961 to register.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sammi's House to Test Activity Mats

We are so delighted that Sammi's House in Austin, Texas, a day program for children with special needs, will be testing our activity mats.

Marcia (on the left) is seen here with Isabel Huerta, founder of the school, and Teri Dee Martin an enthusiastic volunteer. Teachers and therapists at the school will modify the attachments to the mats to meet the needs of their children. Marcia enjoyed a tour of the school and got a warm hug from a young man in a turtle t-shirt.

Thanks to our volunteers we were able to deliver 7 mats and lots of goodies to attach.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Next Austin Sew-in

The next Austin Sew-in for texture books is this Saturday, October 25th from 1:00pm - 4:00pm. We will be at Northwest Sewing Center located at 5448 Burnet Road #1.  Call 512-459-3961 to reserve your spot.

Texture books are large squares of textured fabrics (like corduroy, fleece, chenille, etc) sewn together and and strung on shoe strings. They help calm and entertain those with Alzheimers. They also provide tactile and visual stimulation for other individuals.

Come out on and join us making these wonderful items that will be donated to local nursing homes and other facilities working with the elderly and individuals with Alzheimers.

Marcia is Interviewed by Nancy Zieman

Exciting news.  A couple of months ago Marcia was interviewed by Nancy Zieman for an episode of "Nancy's Corner" and it is now available for viewing. It was a great opportunity to get the information out on Activity Mats.

To watch the interview go to:

Nancy also posted information (along with some great photos) on her blog at

We want to thank Nancy for helping to get the word out on the activity mats. We know with the exposure from her interview and blog there will be a lot more activity mats making their way to those who can benefit from them.  Thank you Nancy!!

If you make mats for a loved one or have a sew-in, let us know.  Send us your pictures and we will post them to our Blog. Let us know if you have any suggestions for the mats. We welcome your feedback.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New Idea

Unadorned mats are easier to stack and store.
Our sew-ins produce lots of mats that I have to store until I "find them homes". With all the attachments on (beads, stuffed animals, etc.) they seemed to take up quite a bit of room. I couldn't stack them very deep because it could smush the stuffed animals and yarn items.

After a one of our sew-ins we had several mats that did not have the attachments on yet. I found that they were much easier to store and I didn't have to worry about the attachments flattening from being stacked. The mats are designed so that the items are clipped on so they can be removed for cleaning. When I get ready to deliver mats it only takes me a few minutes to get them ready by clipping on the attachments.

Let the recipient select the attachments
Recently I was contacted by a woman from Sammy's House which is "a special place for special children". It is is a not-for-profit agency that provides services for children who are medically fragile and/or developmentally delayed in inclusive learning environments with typically developing peers. She wanted to have a few mats to see how well they would work with the kids. I took a stack of mats and a box of stuffed animals, yarn bundles, squeeze toys, and other attachments. She selected and attached the items she felt would work best with these kids.

So, you might want to try letting recipients "build their own" mats. Let them pick out what they want to attach.

Successful September Sew-in

We had another successful sew-in last Saturday. Thanks to all who came to make fidget mats. A special thanks to the husbands who came and helped by stringing beads. It was a fun afternoon for all. Unfortunately I did not get any photos.

Our next sew-in is scheduled for October 25th at the Northwest Sewing Center at 5448 Burnet Road in Austin from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Upcoming Austin "Sew-ins"

We have scheduled two more sew-ins in Austin at the Northwest Sewing Center at 5448 Burnet Road, No. 1 in Austin, Texas. On Saturday, September 27th from 1:00pm - 4:00pm we will be making Activity Mats. Then on Saturday, October 25th from 1:00pm - 4:00 pm we will be making Texture Books.

We provide all supplies, instructions and snacks. You bring your enthusiasm, your machine with standard feet (walking foot optional), bobbins, scissors, seam ripper, etc. Or you, if you don't sew, you can come in and help with some of the hand work like clipping on ribbons and stuffed animals.

There is a limited amount of space so reserve your spot by calling 512-459-3961.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fidget Mats Coming to Nancy's Corner

Last month Marcia joined Nancy Zieman via Skype to talk about fidget mats for an upcoming segment on Nancy's Corner. It will be posted on their website in October. We will share more information as it becomes available.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Event Reminder

Just wanted to remind everyone that we are having another sew-in this Thursday, June 12th, from 10:30am - 6:30pm at The Quilt Store, 2700 West Anderson Lane #301, Austin, Texas.

This is a drop-in event so you can come whenever and stay as long as you like. Grab a friend or two and come as a group. It's a great time for visiting and making new friends.

If you find yourself in the area, stop by. If you have your machine with you, you can sew.  If not, you can help with hand-work like making ribbons. Or you can just get more information on what we're doing.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Upcoming Events

We have two FREE sew-ins scheduled in the Austin area for making Alzheimer Activity Aids . It's a great opportunity to volunteer your time to help make items that will benefit others. Mark your calendars so you don't forget.

The first will be Saturday, May 10th from 1:00pm - 4:00pm at the Northwest Sewing Center (Singer Shop),  5448 Burnet Road #1, Austin, TX. Call 512-459-3961 to reserve your spot.

The next will be Thursday, June 12th from 10:30am - 6:30pm at The Quilt Store, 2700 West Anderson Lane #301, Austin, TX. This is a drop-in event. You are invited to come by whenever you can and stay as long as you want. There are nearby restaurants so you can make it a sewer's day out if you like.

Bring your sewing machine if you sew, if not, you can help with hand-work. Bring a friend. Light snacks will be provided.

If you schedule a sew-in event in your area, let us know and we will post it on our blog. If you have an event and want to share your photos, send them to us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Making Texture Books

Texture books is another great tool for use with those with Alzheimer's as they calm and entertain. They provide tactile and visual stimulation for users. These ‘books’ consist of fabrics with a variety of textures, colors and designs. Fabrics are edged as needed and strung on a shoe string.

Click here for PDF instructions on how to make these wonderful texture books.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Make Your Own Activity Mat

If you are ready to make your own activity mats, click here for the PDF instructions. These instructions provide ideas to get you started. You can modify them as needed for the individuals you are creating them for.

You can make them for a family member or friend or, if you really want to have fun, get a group together. Prior sewing experience is handy but not necessary. There are plenty of tasks that don’t involve sewing such as cutting fabric, stringing beads, and organizing supplies for group assembly. Young people can learn to sew and experience the fulfillment of volunteerism.

Contact your local nursing homes or adult activity centers to see if they would like some donated to their residents.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Where It Began

In 2010 as I visited at my mother-in-law’s rest home, I watched the restless fidgeting of some of their residents with dementia. I enjoy sewing and wanted to make them something helpful. Many people have helped.

The goal has become to --
  1. Design activity aids to soothe agitation, stimulate memory and exercise the hands of people with advanced Alzheimer’s or other cognitive challenges.
  2. Make patterns for the aids available. Make sewing ideas flexible to allow anyone with basic sewing skills and equipment to be creative and design their own mat for under $10.
  3. Encourage you to join in, sew one mat or gather some friends and make many.Give them to a friend caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s or a school or facility for children with special needs. The need is great. Your gift can help.
I have learned there are 5 million people with Alzheimer's or dementia in the US alone (according to In addition, mats like ours also help various people with autism, ADD, vets with traumatic brain injury, as well as people recovering from strokes.

Many professional and family caregivers of people with dementia have helped. A local rest home suggested “mats” – allowing people with Alzheimer's to have a table activity during BINGO. Removable apron ties were added to the mats for use as aprons or lap mats. One nurse with 15 years of experience with Alzheimer’s clients told me, "Use it on loose it” is no joke. Hands and fingers stiffen if they are not exercised. Memory and other senses also atrophy without use. Our mats encourage exercise and can be customized by caregivers, therapists, etc. We have received positive feedback from caregivers.

Mats provide stimulation and agitation relief for people with dementia.
  • Zippers, buttons, strings of beads and bells, objects to squeeze and stretch,  yarn or braiding ribbons provide tactile stimulation and exercise for arms,  hands, and fingers.
  • Soft toy animals, furry pockets, and yarn bundles provide soothing relief for sore hands or agitation.
  • A vinyl pocket for photos or memory notes, and use of familiar objects such as button closures provide memory and therapy stimulation.
  • Different colors, textures, pictures, and light-up toys provide visual stimulation.
  • Bells and squeeze toys with squeakers provide auditory stimulation.

Purpose of the Mats

Our activity mats are designed to safely stimulate and soothe people with  Alzheimer’s and other cognitive challenges.
They help users have a better quality of LIFE. Mats or bright and fun. They:
L - Lift spirits and entertain users while relieving caregivers.
I - Interest  users in items on mat. This stimulates senses and reinforces memory.
F - Focus users attention during therapy or conversation with caregiver. Helps visitors and staff find topics of conversation with users.
E - Exercise hands and fingers.

Mats are easily customized to user needs and interests. Flexible instructions allow for minimal equipment and varied supplies. Customize your Activity Mats to suit your intended users and favorite sewing methods. Do keep safety for users in mind. Secure items to withstand constant pulling. Use durable, washable supplies.  (Note: We did use some cold water, no chlorine bleach, cool or gentle cycle dry materials.)

Important notes regarding mat safety:

Mats are easily personalized with clip-on items that best suit the user. The mats are safe when used with caregiver supervision. (Especially note user sensitivity to blinking lights, danger of  swallowing hazards, etc.) The mats are not intended for use by children except in therapy settings.

Making activity mats is a great volunteer opportunity

  • As a group activity, this project is a fun, creative, social opportunity activity.
  • Making mats is a great way to help people with dementia and their caregivers.
  • People with mild dementia can join in and feel welcome and productive.
  • Prior sewing experience is handy but not necessary, and there are plenty of tasks that don’t involve sewing, such as cutting fabric, stringing beads, and organizing supplies for group assembly.
  • Beginning sewers should have no fear as volunteers are willing to share their experience.
  • Young people can learn to sew and experience the fulfillment of volunteerism.