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Thread: dolls and stuffed animals for dementia patients?

  1. #1
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    dolls and stuffed animals for dementia patients?

    My group was asked if we could make dolls and stuffed animals for a local assisted living facility that specializes in caring for those with alzhiemers and dementia. And, since dolls used to be my speciality before I realized that children don't really like dolls any more-but I digress.

    I've done some searching on the net, and therapy dolls seem to be the new thing to help those with problems with memory.

    I've been playing phone tag iwith the lady who requested this project. All I know is she want's them to be washable, at least on the gentle cycle.

    Have any of you made dolls that will go into the wash? Which pattern should I be looking at? I'm not sure if the dolls I made in the past would be good after they washed-more for the yarn hair then the sewing

    Thanks
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 06-25-2013 at 05:18 PM. Reason: pm to member

  2. #2
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    There is a QB member named wordpaintervs who makes dolls for very sick kids. I'm not sure if they would be washable but you might send her a PM with your question.

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    Thank you so much, I knew I saw photos of her dolls but couldn't find them when I did a search before I posted my message. I just checked, and her dolls might be washable. I'll send her a PM about her pattern.

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    You might want to find out if the people like them squishy or firm? or maybe that's an individual preference?
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 06-25-2013 at 05:20 PM.

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    Super Member tesspug's Avatar
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    Maybe for hair you could sew on a short bob of applique fabric, stitched to the head. Therapy dolls also need zippers, snaps, velcro, etc. Things to fiddle with and fabrics with lots of texture. You could put beans or lentils in the dolls feet. Everything needs to be sewed on tight. Alzheimer's and autistic people also love lap quilts with textures and things to fiddle with. Thank you for thinking of them.
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 06-25-2013 at 05:21 PM.
    I promise not to buy any more fabric until I see something I really like. Or it's on sale. Or I think it might match something.

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    I know, the hair is the problem. I had donated about 50 dolls a few years ago to an organization that supports young cancer patients and their siblings. (I had surgery and had 6 weeks of recovery. I cut out several of a pattern while I was in bed and I'd sew for a few minutes until it hurt and then go back to bed. By the time I went back to work I had dolls all over the place) One develpmentally challenged boy picked one of the dolls up and immediately stuck the yarn head in his mouth. Then his mother glared at me like it was my fault he stuck yarn in his mouth.

    Things to play with-how about tassles? Our group received a donation from a design studio. One of the things they gave us was a book of about 3" samples of different tassles and decorative trims. They are so small that we havne't figured out what to do with them. But sewing them to doll clothes might work if they'd wash well. I guess the best thing to do is create a little, see what works and what doesn't.

    I can't wait to get started. This is going to be so much fun. And a great way to use up my stash.

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    If I remember correctly, there are some baby toys that have things to touch and feel. Some were just triangular tabs of fabric, probably doubly thick, and well sewn on. They also had a crinkle fabric that made a little noise when "crushed" in your fist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tesspug View Post
    My daughter works with special needs children and your dolls would be perfect if you could change the hair.. Maybe for hair you could sew on a short bob of applique fabric, stitched to the head. Therapy dolls also need zippers, snaps, velcro, etc. Things to fiddle with and fabrics with lots of texture. You could put beans or lentils in the dolls feet. Everything needs to be sewed on tight. Alzheimer's and autistic people also love lap quilts with textures and things to fiddle with. Thank you for thinking of them.
    I think that you are on the right track about things to "fiddle" with and lots of texture. But, I don't think beans or lentils in the feet of the dolls would wash very well.

    Maybe doing some sewing of strips of fabric on the dolls' heads (think rag quilts or chenille) might work. I think that satin ribbon "taggies" would be a nice texture on the dresses.
    Sue

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    I wonder if using corduroy or velveteen would work for the hair. Of course, it would be a 'short haircut' look - - - -

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    I had a link to my flickr photos, but it was removed by mods. I didn't realize that photo links count as a personal website. Sorry about that.

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    Super Member donnalynett's Avatar
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    One thing you need to remember.....they will put the hair in their mouth and suck on it like an infant would do so it must be cropped short. They do the same things with buttons, etc. Just think "safety first" and then go for it! They love these items. We stuffed the dolls with polyester stuffing and they wash fine. We used Micron pens to draw faces and it doesn't wash out.
    Last edited by donnalynett; 06-26-2013 at 08:44 AM. Reason: wanted to add more info

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    I also did not know that. You certainly had made stacks (literally) of dolls.

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    Our guild made fabric balls with different textures, etc. - zippers, buttons and things they could fiddle with. The balls were about 8" around and stuffed with batting. That might be something else to consider.
    Margaret

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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray View Post
    I also did not know that. You certainly had made stacks (literally) of dolls.
    I had surgery that year and with 6 weeks off work I had a lot of time. I had an over the lap bed table, a bag of fabric and a box of patterns to play with. I never got bored. I'd sit up, cut out some bodies, take a nap. go sew for a bit, take a nap when it hurt then start all over. I finished ~50 dolls that year.

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    Super Member AZ Jane's Avatar
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    My Mother had dementia before she passed and my daughter purchased her a doll. The type a small child (not infant) would play with, not quite life size. She loved that baby and carried it everywhere. I would definitely check back with the lady about what exactly she wants. I'm not sure my Mom would have noticed the doll if it had not been real looking.
    Better to do something imperfectly, than nothing perfectly.
    Done is better than perfect.

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    Charity-Yes do get in touch with wordpaintervs-she is an awesome lady with an awesome talent!! Her dolls are just what the doctor ordered for the children who need a pal in their world.
    When Life brings big winds of change that almost blows you over.Hang on tight and Believe.
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  17. #17
    pal
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    How about a soft pillow with an animals head. We make them out of fleece and make the heads seperately and sew them on. We add any details that would further identify the animal, like a tail, a mane, coming out of the other side of the pillow. These are based on the pillows made for heart patients. We make them very soft and squishy. I'd like to show them to you, but I still can't figure out how to send pictures since the system changed.
    PACE - Positive Attitude Changes Everything

    "All things are literally better, lovlier, and more beloved for the imperfections that reflect the human effort that went into their making."

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    What about felt hair? These dolls are for a different purpose (domestic violence victims), but check out this link: http://www.sewnews.com/articles/comfort_dolls

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    I have seen lately the almost "appliqued" hair on dolls - like they sewed a felt or material, appliqued the basic hair style (bangs, etc) and then braided some of it (the fabric strips) off to the sides for pigtails, whatever. I have been making stuffies (animals) for kids and I embroider the facial features so there are no eyes and stuff to pull off, just try to sew everything down good. I haven't had any experience with or even thought of dimentia patients, have been trying to think along a "kids" line. But it is all fun and rewarding, and you meet some neat people along the way. :-) Best of luck in your venture.


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  20. #20
    Super Member tuckyquilter's Avatar
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    Yes, talk to wordpaintervs. She does beautiful work and is a very lovely person.

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    Do they have textured fleece? I bet something like that would work.

  22. #22
    pal
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    I know that there are different textures in felt. Jo-Ann's has them, and I have used them. Some are curly looking and some look like animal fur. They come on bolts.
    PACE - Positive Attitude Changes Everything

    "All things are literally better, lovlier, and more beloved for the imperfections that reflect the human effort that went into their making."

  23. #23
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    the dolls I make are of my own design and toddler size. the girls and boys have no hair. Only a mop-cap for the girls and knit beanie cap for the boys The girls are 2 ft tall and the boys 28 inches high. I have never heard of anyone washing them before, and think it might not be suitable. Don't know why spot cleaning wouldn't work though. I pre wash everything but the doll bodies, as they are stuffed and not likely to shrink if put into a sterilizer (for whatever reason). Right now I am pretty sick with 'bronchitis', so not up to sharing the pattern for a few days . Since it is my design, I'd appreciate if a tag were used that said DOLLS FOR SICK KIDS BY VICKEY. I could send a cloth template for each body and a template for the dresses (girls are topsy turvy). The boys wear a size 12 months clothes. The girl dolls are pricey to make from scratch. Just let me know if I can help.

    Most of my dolls have gone to kids with cancer, but there were exceptions. If there is a child in need, or exonerating circumstances for an elderly person, we'd (hubby and I) be glad to send out a doll.

    Vickey Stamps

  24. #24
    pal
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    I've been making doll hair using tee shirts. clip up the side of the shirt an inch and then pull it across the bottom. You will get a long strip (like yarn). I cut them into strips and sew them down the center, as in making a doll wig with yarn - then sew them on the dolls head. After they are sewn, pull each one and it will stretch and curl. Very cute and touchable.
    PACE - Positive Attitude Changes Everything

    "All things are literally better, lovlier, and more beloved for the imperfections that reflect the human effort that went into their making."

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