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Jean Johnson of Hoosier Favorite Quilts, New Haven, learns about the Touch Quilt project from Appleseed Quilt Guild members Kathy Bogert, Shirley Pratt and Project Chair Beth Rajcany.The Gathering of Quilters at Wayne High School was an astounding success. Over 800 quilters and quilt enthusiasts enjoyed the exhibits of 138 quilts 20 quilts of Valor and 100 Camp WatchaWannaDo quilts that will be given to children surviving cancer this summer. 37 vendor booths hummed with activity as quilters snapped up the latest in fabrics and gadgets. Quilt Show Chair Anne Tinkel and her committee made The Gathering a stellar event. Anne gives kudos to Wayne High School Principal John Houser, Assistant Principal Ashley Geron and Head Custodian Kathleen Benner who provided top notch facilities and to the ROTC and JAG students who lent their muscles in measuring, marking and setting the vendor tables.

The “Touch Quilts” booth attracted a lot of attention. Touch Quilts are small lap-size quilts that function for people with Alzheimer’s disease as a source of comfort and calm. Touch Quilts are made of a variety of fabric types such as burlap, corduroy, velvets, flannel, and fake fur. Some are adorned with highly secured buttons, lace, ribbons and zippers to provide relief for restless fingers. In some instances touching a certain texture can stir memories… touching fake fur grounds one man to the memory of his dog. A retired farmer is calmed when he touches a piece of burlap. Caregivers note their love one is less agitated when they have their Touch Quilt on their lap.

Project Chair Beth Rajcany went to the Internet to find information on the project to discover it is huge in Canada but couldn’t find anyone locally making them. Quilter Bees a subgroup of the Appleseed Quilters Guild started making them and soon the entire Guild embraced the project. Beth shares with me her desire to serve people with Alzheimer’s because they are so often forgotten. It is so difficult for family members to visit a relative when their love one not only doesn’t recognize them but, often become agitated by the disruption of their routine.

The project struck a chord with many attendees as all of the Touch Quilt kits were picked up well before The Gathering ended ensuring that many more will be created. Beth’s sister and special project co-chair Marcia Neeley dropped by Born Again Quilts on her way home to pick up a garbage bag full of nice pieces of appropriate fabrics to help replenish the fabric stash.

To date 60 have been donated to individuals and Alzheimer/Memory Units in Fort Wayne. Residents at Lutheran Life Villages were among the recipients. Lisa Moore Neighborhood Coordinator for Magnolia Place their memory care unit shares the resident’s reactions, “The Sensory Lap Quilts donated by the Appleseed Quilters are so very special. Each lap quilt has its own unique texture so they carrying them around. The quilts have provided extra comfort for a resident who may be having a bad day. They have created many smiles and quotes from residents such as ‘oh, how beautiful’ and ‘look at how soft these are’. One resident rarely responds to any type of stimulation and when the quilt was placed on her lap her hands immediately started rubbing it and she smiled ever so sweetly. We are so grateful that the Appleseed Quilters thought of our residents and we look forward to future projects with them.”

Next year’s gathering is sponsored by the Elkhart Heartland Quilters, but you don’t have to wait that long or travel too far to enjoy the Harlan United Methodist Church’s 4th biennial quilt show April 11-12 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. This year’s theme is “Blessed are the Piecemakers”. Admission is $5 or $10 if you want to include the meal deal. Door prizes, a quilt raffle, quiltmaker Kent Mick’s trunk show on Saturday at 2 p.m. and the presentation of the “Public Choice Award” rounds out the show’s activities. Proceeds benefit the church’s operation fund. The dedicated church ladies do a terrific job and encourage quilters from outside the church to exhibit their quilts. For more information call 260-657-5364.

Lois Levihn Eubank is the owner of Born Again Quilts restoration studio and quilt gallery located at 4005 South Wayne Ave. Contact her at bornagainquilts@frontier.com or 260-515-9446.

Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer