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Quilting For Nursing Homes

Updated on May 30, 2013

The Joy of Giving

Dad's in a nursing home

Three times last year my Mother and I were told Dad was not going to make it. In one of the depressions this caused my Mother, she decided to give away everything in her sewing room. (She had not done any sewing or quilting for a number of years at this point.) There were many many quilt tops ready to be made into quilts and each one I held up she would pause and say "oh, I started that for you 10 years ago..." or something very similar. I told her it was not hers to give away then, she had to either finish it or teach me to quilt.

Last June I began to learn to quilt. Mom and I work on quilts together. She does most of the piecing, I do most of the quilting. We noticed in the nursing home a woman who never seemed to have any visitors, and always seemed very very frightened and confused. We will call her Sarah to protect her real identity. We learned from the nursing staff she indeed never had visitors and was always afraid, depressed and confused. We made Sarah a lap quilt to have over her legs when she was in her wheelchair.

When I gave her the quilt, she did not want to take it, but after all, her name was on it, and I told her it was so she would know that someone cared about her, and it was to cheer her up. Something rather remarkable happened next. Sarah for the first time began to participate in some of the activities provided by the nursing home staff. She always has a very big smile for me and for my Mother, and usually greets us even if it is only to tell me that she is a little confused today. Seeing how she responded to this attention of getting a gift caused someone else to give her a Christmas present which she joyfully showed me.

Other patients saw the quilt and started dropping hints ..some subtle, some not so subtle that they too would like to have a lap quilt. Since I started learning to quilt, I have worked on 19 quilts. Most of them lap quilts for patients at nursing homes.

It seems the more we make, the more folks want one. It is a joy to do these quilts for these people, but there is one problem that we are about to face in our own personal charity. The costs are going to become prohibitive as our stash of all cotton materials dwindles.

The average cost of a yard of all cotton material is around $10 these days. If you are a quilter you know that sometimes it takes more than a yard for the back of a quilt, even a laptop one. Mother wants to keep doing the quilts as do I. It is not just the joy of giving them, it is such incredible good therapy for my Mother and gives her life purpose.

Mom said I should put it on the internet somewhere that we will accept donations of all cotton material if anyone is interested in helping us to continue our own private charity. We are not a tax exemption, and not likely to become one any time soon since it is just the two of us, and the paperwork to do that would take us away from quilting. Material needs to be 100% cotton as that is what we work in , and most nursing home facilities have laundries that boil everything so no synthetics would hold up for long.

If you are interested in donating material, please contact a local quilt guild or other local quilting charities, like the Linus project, the quilters for others of the local guilds, or the quilts for veterans groups that are always quilting for hospitals, nursing homes, veterans, wounded warriors and others.

If you are a quilter and just want to feel good, want to give back to the community, consider doing some quilts for local nursing homes.


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      natalie 3 years ago

      I do charity quilts myself and with other sisters at church..A mentor suggested once to buy clearance cotton or flannel sheets you can cut to size for backing. We have a Fred Meyers store so sometimes sheets go on clearance then a percentage off the clearance price. Another idea would be fabric depot online from Portland oregon...they carry 108" wide flannel backing for around $12 & if you live locally they have sales in store at times for 30% off.

    • silvatungfox profile image

      Maurine Dodge 4 years ago from Southern California

      check with your local quilt guilds, they usually will have something set up to donate quilts to local hospitals and would probably honor a request for quilts to a local nursing home.

    • silvatungfox profile image

      Maurine Dodge 4 years ago from Southern California

      Wow, I need to pay more attention here. I have been mourning the loss of my Mother, who started me quilting, and looking for a way to fit into the new world without her. Currently my energies are mostly going to quilts I am selling at the second Saturday Art Faire in San Juan Capistrano. I donate quilts to hospitals and nursing homes through my guild, I have inherited a stash I will probably never run out of... but thanks to all who have offered stashes and materials.. I hope you can find local to you quilters where it would make sense to donate.

      This month I will have over 40 quilts for sale in San Juan Capistrano.

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      darlene 4 years ago

      I used to do quilting but now have lots of supplies looking for a good home. Let's figure out how to connect. I also have a standing quilting frame you are welcome to. You can email me at

      I like what you are doing.


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      Gayle Thrasher 5 years ago

      I have sytarted a visition to the nurshing home in our aera i have been ask for quilts from some of the patients if any one out there can help me get some lap quilts please contact me at g_thrasher I want to make some dreams come true I don't sew or have any knowledge of this please help

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      julie 7 years ago

      Wonderful I work at a nursing hoem and our friends who live with us really enjoy getting special gifts. We don't realize how much you have to give up to live there in a small room usually with someone you don't know. Every little bit helps.

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      silvatungfox 9 years ago

      Hi Moonlake,

      We have found that 36 x 36 seems to work well for the majority of the people in wheelchairs, not hanging down far enough to get tangled in wheels, not needing to be folded a lot and they cover from about the ankles to the waist. I am calling Mom and I the Philanthropic Quilters Association (I don't think the name is taken, I guess I should check on that.)

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 9 years ago from America

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 9 years ago from America

      Hey good idea about nursing home quilts. What size do you make them? The ones I made that are on my hub could have been used for table topper or a lap quilt. All my aunts that I gave them to were between 80 and 93.

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 9 years ago

      GREAT first Hub SilvaTungFox!! Thank you for sharing!! Thank you for giving back to the community!! I loved your story and your efforts!! Keep up the GREAT work!! Keep writing!! Blessings to you and yours!! Earth Angel!!