Role reversal: quilting for Grandma

This is a quilt for my grandma. 

It’s not actually role reversal. My grandma was never the quilting type. She was more of the take you to the mall and buy you a sexy bathing suit type. 

She did knit though, when I was a kid. Sounds like she’s picked it up again recently. Most recent project: pussy hat. She’s pretty fantastic. 

So what’s the deal with this quilt, right? What’s with those weird black ties? 

Well, I was thinking about this post on Refashionista about fidget blankets, and thinking about this post over here on Kestrel Makes about quiet books, and this other post over here on ThriftMakeSew about quiet books, 

(All of these are activity toys, to keep hands busy and develop/retain fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination. Fidget blankets are for the elderly, quiet books are for little kids, although really they could play side by side, there’s a lot of overlap.)

And I was thinking about how my grandma is getting right up there in age and might actually benefit from something to fidget with, much as it kills me to think of her sassy ways being diminished, 

But also thinking how she is super opinionated —I’m pretty sure her (loud) opinion will be the last thing to go— 

And I started thinking that if I make it too obvious that this is a fidget blanket she might totally reject it and be insulted. Or, more sadly, she might not be insulted because of Diminishing Sass Levels. This was kind of a hard, sad-making project, before I really got into the construction. 

But anyway, I thought about zippers to zip open and shut, and maybe having each zipper as a pocket, revealing a different fabric with a new texture inside, and then began to worry, in that way that parents can predict what bizarre (horrifying) new use a kid will come up with for a toy, that if given pockets she might squirrel things away in them. Like, candy, and other contraband. So I abandoned zippers and buttons and snaps and everything else and went with super simple black cotton Lycra strips, tacked on and then tied, that she can knot or stretch or just completely ignore. 

Above, the backside and tack, below, the front and tie. Black Lycra for high contrast and visibility. It’s basically a tacked quilt with a decorative tie, rather than a quilted quilt. It’s like throw blanket size, the batting is unbleached cotton in crib quilt size. 

I’m happy with this. Reminds me of this chenille blanket we used to have on the couch, with a fringed edge, and how I used to loooooooove untangling the fringe. Like just sitting there, mindlessly untangling the fringe. I don’t mean as a kid, either, this was within the last ten years. Maybe we could all benefit from a fidget blanket, no matter the age. 

The fabric in this is super charged with love, I like to think. The green gingham was an old baby blanket of my son’s, that funny lichen print of the backing was a gift from a friend, and the green fleur de lis print is a table runner from a friend’s wedding. 

Last thing I did before washing, was to chain stitch her full name in the corner. So all those other grandmas better keep their biscuit hooks off it! I posted a picture on instagram with the HEL and asked what word I should spell out, my favorite of the answers was HELLION. 

So that’s it, a little blanket for my Hellion. 


14 thoughts on “Role reversal: quilting for Grandma

  1. That`s just beautiful. I have never heard of a fidget blanket, but when my partner`s father was going through Alzheimer`s (he was cared for at home by the family), he loved to fold and refold napkins. Even though it was a difficult and sad time, there were also so many cheerful and lovely moments as he enjoyed simple pleasures like this. If I could bring anyone back from the great beyond, I have to admit that it would likely be my grandmother. She died too young, which I suppose had the advantage of me never having to see her decline. She is frozen in my mind as the hellion that she truly was. Great post!


    1. Folding napkins as a soothing, muscle memory type thing is interesting to me, in that it makes me realize I don’t fold napkins often enough for it to be an automatic gesture. We use unhemmed squares of fabric for everyday meals, which we keep loose and unfolded in a drawer in the kitchen for quick access. For guests, sometimes the big bowl of cloth napkins, sometimes the funny aluminum restaurant-supply paper napkin dispenser, sometimes a big stack of bright paper party napkins.
      So the napkin folding as an ingrained gesture makes me smile, it seems to speaks of a happy life of big meals and a degree of everyday formality at the table that is unlike my own life.


  2. Wonderful gift and fantastic post. I don’t give you enough compliments on your writing style. It’s always a pleasure to read not just about your creative process but also to follow your thoughts and associations unfolding. Good prose.


  3. What a wonderful and thoughtful gift! Plus, it’s handsome, so she must love it. Thanks also for talking about fidget quilts, I had no idea! Also, I have to say, I too loved untangling the fringe on your couch throw! I never even thought about it until I read that, and I immediately remembered doing it with one hand, while the other held a glass of wine! Man, I need to reincorporate some tangly fringe into my couch-wear!


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