Warmth, Comfort, Smiles = Lap Quilts

Written by: Linda Maendel on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

After sewing for more than two months last winter, it was extremely gratifying to see a stack of 250 simple, yet beautifully pieced lap quilts, which the Alzheimer Society distributed to local senior’s homes. Just recently we received thank you notes from Lion’s Prairie Manor and The Douglas Campbell Lodge, both in Portage and Third Crossing Manor in Gladstone, expressing their heartfelt gratitude: “Thank you for participating in this project. You have enhanced the quality of life and brought smiles to the faces of those who received these lovely quilts.”

This is an ideal project for Hutterites for a number of reasons: Hutterites are avid sewers, consequently there are always lots of leftover pieces around that are just too good to throw out. What better way to use them, than in quilts! Furthermore, we were in the middle of winter, where there’s more time for indoor activities like sewing. There’s just something warm and cosy about a few women getting together to create quilts with the wind howling a sub-zero song outside. Most importantly though, this is a very worthwhile project and would benefit residents of senior homes for years to come.

“Each quilt should have an assortment of fabrics, such as corduroy, flannel, terrycloth, satin, cotton – the more textures, the better.” Anna Maendel, a teacher at Fairholme Colony instructed. She had come to Elm River last winter to tell us about the quilt project after learning about it at a Special Area Groups (SAG) conference in Winnipeg.

Altogether there were about twenty seamstresses creating lap quilts in their homes and some also contributing fabric. “I’m so happy that I’ve finally found a way to use those little pieces that keep piling up!” One mother proclaimed. “Of course, I can’t just throw them out.”

Huge pile of Blankets ready to ship

This is definitely a project where all ages can be involved; one little girl diligently stacked and sorted the pieces. “I have a dress like this!” she informed my sister, Shirley, an avid quilter sewing nearby. “And this one is like the quilt on my bed.”

“When you’re done, bring the quilts to the living room and I will sew on the buttons,” My mom offered, not allowing the ‘grandmother’ label to slow her down much or stop her from offering her own well-practiced touch.

This year we’ll once again help the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba with their Lap Quilt Project.  These quilts are found to be therapeutic for elderly people, especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s.  They are created out of a variety of distinct textures and colours which can have a calming effect, besides providing warmth and comfort to the seniors. The quilts are about 90 cm square to fit nicely on the lap of someone in a wheelchair.

This is an ongoing project. Should you be interested in volunteering your services, you may contact the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba: [email protected]


Showing 7 comments

Ric Seymour said:
On: 11th May, 2012 at 21:43

Have you given any thought to selling the quilts over the internet?

Linda said:
On: 12th May, 2012 at 00:39

No, we haven’t. Why are you asking?

heather said:
On: 13th May, 2012 at 17:36

How would an individual like myself be able to purchase one of your made quilts?

    Linda said:
    On: 13th May, 2012 at 17:48

    We’ve never sold any, Heather. We donate them to the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. But if you’d like to discuss this, email me: linda(dot)maendel(at)gmail(dot)com

Diane Siniard said:
On: 14th May, 2012 at 09:23

I think these lap blankets would be great for people suffering from a disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/Reflex Sympathetic Distrophy also called CRPS/RSD. It is a neurological disease that causes the body to feel pain when there is no apparent reason for it. Ice and cold weather cause the disease to spread quicker through the body so many sufferers use blankets practically all year long. I suffer from CRPS/RSD and I always have a blanket (or two) with me when I go out to keep me warm because even with air conditioning it can get cold and to keep from suffering with more pain I will wrap up in the blankets. I would love to discuss purchasing some blankets from you as well as possibly making them available for others that suffer from this diblitating disease. Please feel free to email me direct at ncgeniehunter at yahoo dot com Thank you so much for sharing this story!

Sylvia said:
On: 20th May, 2015 at 11:42

Hi, could you tell me what the strings are for that are hanging down in the picture?
Also, my brother has that disease and your post has made me think I should make him one if it would bring him comfort. Could you tell me what purpose the different textures are for and the buttons? Is it a stimulation, kind of awakening the brain to the sensation kind of thing? I would like to help my brother any way I can and this is something I could do, thank you and it is wonderful work you ladies are doing.

    Lindamaendel said:
    On: 20th May, 2015 at 13:12

    Sylvia, each quilt has strings, buttons and different textured fabric. People suffering with Alzheimer disease have ‘busy hands’ who love to fidget and having a quilt like this on their lap is therapeutic as it gives them something to fidget with, besides keeping them warm. Sometimes some of the textures evoke happy memories for them as well. For example flannel could take them back to when they were raising babies or furry fabric will remind them of a pet they’ve had.