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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Quilty Pleasures-When Someone With ADHD Takes Up Paper Piecing

At Threadbear, my local quilt shop, we are working on a Block of the Month project from the book, Hard Times, Splendid Quilts by Caroline Cullinan McCormick.

It's paper piecing, something new and kind of daunting especially for me, an early Ritalin junkie.

The term back then was hyperactive, and I was an easily distracted, always needing something to do, smart-mouthed trial to my parents, my brother and my teachers. As I matured, I learned to channel that energy into productive projects, a successful consulting business and a fun job helping teens to get ready for college. And to keep it interesting, I made clothing and quilts in my spare time.

Paper piecing is good for me: It satisfies a need for order. You see, I was the kid who did her algebra homework on graph paper, one digit or symbol per square. It helped to make sense of what was happening and if I made a mistake, it was easier to find in all its linear neatness. It was a successful coping technique for a hyper kid.

Sewing little fabric bits helps to train my mind to focus: One Step at a Time. But it is also maddening, because the opportunities for error are there, right in front of me, if I lose that focus.

Case in point:

The triangle with the pretty 30's fabric should actually be black pindots, plus, it shouldn't be joined to the black pindot square.  I'd been binge-watching Scandal and allowed myself to be distracted. After sewing the units together, I realized, "Hey! This isn't right!"

Since paper piecing requires the stitch length to be shorter, using the seam ripper becomes a Zen experience.

"Be in the moment, Grasshopper," I say to myself, picking away at the teensy stitches.

There. Now they are correct.

Eventually, the tiny pieces of fabric are placed accurately on their paper foundations, the tattered paper underneath repaired with tape, but still falling apart after all that taking apart and putting it back again. The units are sewn into their correct places and they finally look pretty good. You wouldn't know what a wreck it is underneath, would you?

At our paper piecing group yesterday I volunteered that it would be an amazing feat if I could put together at least one block without having to do any unsewing.

And I realized that maybe it wasn't my ADHD causing the mistakes, because almost everyone admitted to making at least one mistep in each of their blocks.

So it's good to know that I am not alone. The paper piecing continues.
Caroline Cullinan McCormick

1 comment:

  1. Oh, my... I, too, was a hyper kid, with zero patience! For years, I balked at sewing because if I made a mistake I had to rip it out, and that just drove me nuts! What I found out for me is that I do better with projects that don't require following a specific pattern. So I became an art quilter instead of a traditional quilter, and it works very well for me! But I do love a beautifully made traditional quilt, like my Grandma and Great Grandma made... can't wait to see your finished piece!


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