Judie Thomas creates rag wreaths in Lemon Park as a fun hobby and a way to get out of the house.

Judie Thomas has a pretty good thing going for her. This retired Walmart cashier spends her days sitting in Lemon Park and working on craft projects as she enjoys the outdoors and the occasional passerby that stops and wants to know what she is making.

"I like doing crafts because its fun and I get to see the project when it's done," Thomas said.

Her projects are rag wreaths and she has been making them for years. The projects are fairly simple. She chooses the fabric and cuts or tears them in to strips that are one inch wide and six inches long. She then ties them individually to the wreath frame.

She likes to do seasonal wreaths that match holiday themes. Currently, she is working on a Halloween wreath with two colors of strips in black and orange. August may seem like it's early to be making a Halloween project but Halloween decorations are already up for sale at some retailers in Pratt.

It takes about six hours to make a wreath. Each strip of cloth has to be individually prepared then it takes a lot of time to individually tie the cloth to the wreath frame.

Her last project had a school theme and now hangs on her front door where the Halloween wreath will eventually take its place. She likes to make a wreath at least once a month.

Thomas enjoys working on her projects in the park. It gives her a lot of time to think about things and occasionally say a prayer. More importantly for her, it gets her out of the house.

Besides wreaths, Thomas also likes to do quilts and has been making them for 10 years. She recently made a quilt using her husband's old jeans for material. The jeans were in two different colors of denim, black and blue. She wanted more variety, so she added some fabric from his handkerchiefs. She also used material with cowboy hats and boots for the backing and tied it off with pink yarn.

Her husband, Dan Peddycourt, is a resident at a Cunningham care facility and she made quilt for him.

Another denim quilt Thomas made has a lot more color than the one she made for her husband. When her daughter was in junior high, Thomas made a quilt using her daughter's colorful jeans including polka dots and plaids. The result was a very bright quilt that took a blue ribbon at the fair.

Thomas continues to make quilts for her children and grandchildren.

Still another quilt she made for a Skyline teacher, where she worked as a para, that used camouflage material with pink yarn ties.

One of her more unusual quilt projects is a fidget quilt for residents in care facilities. The quilt is an activity center for people with Alzheimer or dementia, Thomas said.

Fidget quilts are similar to children's fabric books that provide a quiet activity for children. The fidget quilt has different types of fabric, a zipper, a length of velcro, buttons on the edge, French dot fabric with raised dots, fringe, fleece and other material. People with Alzheimer and dementia love to pull the velcro apart and put it back together.

She also makes lap quilts for people in wheelchairs and baby quilts out of blue jean material. One of her quilts was queen size but it was too heavy so she cut it in two for twin size wraps that are used to bundle up in at football games.

Thomas also makes quilts for others to give to their family members and friends. Sometimes the quilts are done in memory of someone. She makes the quilts to the size desired.

Her grandson plays soccer and has lots of soccer shirts so she made a quilt out of the shirts and used a heavy backing because the shirt material was light.

@GaleR_Tribune