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Tactile Textiles

Tactile Textiles 
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"Providing comfort for people living with dementia and their carers".
Tactile textiles are blankets, mufflers, scarves etc. designed to provide a tactile soother for people with advanced dementia.
Research shows that these can have a calming and reassuring effect, as well as the practical benefit of providing warmth.

They can be made easily and are a great way to use up bits in every needle worker's "stash" of sewing supplies.

The projects below have been designed and made by members of the Blackpool Embroiderers' Guild working with Blackpool
Dementia Support (part of local charity "Empowerment"). Empowerment will make sure that any TTs are sent to local hospitals
and day care centres where people with advanced dementia are supported.
Things to Think About
1. Practicalities
  • Only use fabrics and embellishments which can be washed easily - hopefully the TT you make will be heavily used.
  • Make sure that all embellishments are attached very firmly.
  • Make sure that you do not use anything that could trap people's fingers.
  • Avoid anything that may degenerate if "worried" by persistent playing with it - repetative actions can be a feature at an
    advanced age.
  • Add embellishments to both sides of the TT. As you will see below we have designed the basic pattern to button up to
    form a muff, so it is good to have something inside the muff to play with as well as the embellishments on the outside.

2. Fabrics

For the main pieces you will need fabrics that are soft and warm to the touch. You may be able to recycle old fleeces,
blankets, or other worn out clothing which not only have the advantages of being soft to the touch, but have been proved to be
washable. If you do not have anything that you can recycle, you can use any of the following:

  • Fur fabrics
  • Fleece
  • Flannelette
  • Cotton velvet
  • Corduroy
  • Textured fabrics

3. Embellishments

The embellishments are a good way of using up small scraps of fabric and odds and ends of knitting yarn.
Some ideas are:

  • Strips of fabric and ribbons with different textures e.g. hessian, velvet, net, leather
  • Small pieces of shiny fabric
  • Sealed pockets of fabric with buttins or marbles inside
  • Soft balls that can be squeezed and stroked, attached by a ribbon
  • Securely attached buttons, d-rings
  • "Rosettes" of textured fabric or crocheted flowers
  • Fabric strips with ridges sewn in (take a strip, fold after an inch, close zigzag stitch the fold, fold again and do the same
    a few centimetres along and so on, then stitch the whole piece down
  • Tassels
  • Flaps of fabric e.g. with different textures on each side
  • Zips - so that they can be opened and closed; and
  • Anything else you can think of!

4. Colour

If you know the person you are making one for and they have a favourite colour then it makes sense to use that. Generally
reds, pinks and oranges are more stimulating and blues and greens are more soothing.

The Basic Pattern
This TT can either be used as a small lap quilt or buttoned to form a hand warmer. Embellishments are sewn to both sides so
that people can benefit from tactile stimulation however it is used.

1. You will need:
  • Two rectangles of washable fabric approximately 28x16 inches (roughly the size of an A3 piece of paper - or two pieces
    of A4 placed together. See diagram below) 

    TT image 1

  • One rectangle of wadding 28x16 inches
  • Three large buttons and three pieces of ribbon, cord or similar to make loops for the buttons
  • Thread
  • A range of embellishments

2. Leave about three quarters of an inch all around as a hem allowance.

3. Decorate the right side of each piece of fabric with your chosen embellishments. Try to give a range of experiences - smooth,
    rough, soft, hard etc. and make sure that everything is attached firmly.

4. Once everything is securely attached, place one piece right side up, place three loops of ribbon or cord along one of the
    short sides as below, place the second piece right side down and the piece of wadding on top. Sew through all the layers
    leaving a gap as shown below. Turn right sides out.

          TT image 2

5. Turn in the raw edges on the short side and either hand stitch or machine stitch to close. Sew the three buttons along this
    edge to match the loops.


1. This basic shape can be made larger to provide a table top TT which can be used in group work.

2. Animal Heads can be made and attached with a flap of Velcro, at one end of the main body.


Sensory Scarf
Sensory Scarf
Made from fleece/velevet with soft cotton lining
How to make
1. Cutting
Cut main scarf piece 16" x 40"
Cut two pocket ends from contrasting fleece 10" x 22"
Cut piece of lining 10" x 84" (this can be several pieces joined together to make correct size)

2. Internal Pockets
Make two internal pockets from cotton each to measure approx 6" x 6" (leave top open to fill)

Fill each pocket with beads, marbles, polystyrene beads etc and stitch up the tops

Sensory Scarf Step 1

3. Stitch pocket ends to scarf

4. Attach the two internal pockets (one to either end) to the inside (wrong side) approx 2.5" down from the end of
pocket end and so it will be at the back of the scarf as it is worn. (These will eventually be encased between
the scarf
and the lining)

Sensory Scarf Step 2

5. Decide on exterior elements to go on opposite edge to internal pockets and on right side of scarf. Attach as many 
as possible before adding lining. Do not stitch these too close to the edge as there will be some allowance for the
lining to be attached.

Sensory Scarf Step 3

6. With RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER attach the lining to the scarf and machine all around the outside edge leaving at least
an 8" gap on one of the ling sides to turn through later. Make sure none of the attached elements get caught up in the

Sensory Scarf Step 4

7. Trim any excess fabric from edges, and turn scarf right side out. It may be helpful at this stage to lightly press the 
stitched edges.

8. At this point add any other elements which will be on the inside of the pocket once it is turned up. (These will be on
the opposite side to the internal pockets which are now trapped in the lining)

Sensory Scarf Step 5

9. Stitch up the gap in the seam which was left for turning.

10. Turn up pockets and stitch across near the seam where pocket is joined to the main scarf

Sensory Scarf Step 6

11. Finish off by adding buttons and ribbons to cover any stitching which shows on the right side.
 TT dog

You will need:
  • An extra rectangle of fur or fleece for the head
  • A piece of Velcro, both hoop and loop, about 4 inches long
  • Toy stuffing
How to make:

Make the main piece up as before (shown above)

Make up the head as follows: Trace off the pattern pieces, transferring all the markings.
Cut out the fabric pieces, being careful that, if the fabric has a nap, that all the pieces are cut in the same direction.
You should have four ear pieces, two gusset pieces and two side pieces. In addition cut a piece of fabric approximately
4 x 2 inches to act as the tab which will attach the head to the mat.

TT dog step 1

Transfer markings on the patterns pieces to the fabric pieces
Place two ear pieces right sides together and sew together. Repeat with the other two ear pieces. Turn right sides out
and stuff lightly.
Pin the ears to the right side of the side pieces, matching markings. Sew the ears and side pieces together.

TT dog step 2

Sew the centre front seam.
Pin one gusset, right sides together to the top of the head with the point at the centre seam and sew together making
sure that you catch the ears as you sew. Stop sewing at the marking on the side pieces. This makes the head easier
to stuff.

TT dog step 3

Repeat the process with the bottom gusset. Turn the head right sides out.

TT dog step 4

Stuff the head firmly with toy stuffing.
Position the nose (using a scrap of leather or felt) where the top gusset and the centre seam meet, and use two buttons
for the eyes.

TT dog step 5

Turn in the raw edges at the back of the head and firmly hand stitch together.

TT dog step 6

Attach the rough (hook) side of the Velcro to the fabric tab and pin the Tab (right sides together) to the end of the top
gusset and stitch together.

TT dog step 7

Stitch a matching length of soft (Loop) Velcro to one of the long edges of the mat.
 More designs coming soon...
Blackpool Embroiderers' Guild
Blackpool Embroiderers' Guild is the local branch of a national organisation which promotes all aspects of embroidery and the
textile arts. We meet on the second and last Monday in the month at the Art Society Studio, Wilkinson Avenue, off Woodland
Grove, Blackpool, FY3 9HB starting at 7.15pm.

We are a friendly and lively group and welcome anyone who has an interest in embroidery and textiles, whatever their level of
expertise. Our meetings are a mix of talks from textile artists and practical sessions so there is always the opportunity to
learn something new.

If you would like to know more, please contact:

Seonaid - 01772 722057, elliot@mailathome.me.uk or;
Judith - 07500 208027, judith.rigg@btinternet.com

To find out what we are currently doing go to our blog - www.seasidestitchers.blogspot.com
Page last updated: May 2015