How Not to Let Your Weakness Define You
Are you struggling with being able to do something well? Have you settled to your fate at being poor or substandard at a particular skill? You don’t have to.
I’m always amazed when people compliment my stitching and I’ve talked about that here before. But the one thing I’ve learned from my ability to effortlessly “draw” with thread on my artwork is that anyone can make their weakness their strong suit. And here is why I say so.
When I got into textile art a couple of years ago, I wasn’t very good with free motion stitching. No strike that out. I had no idea what it was. I hadn’t tried doing it before nor had I seen it being done. As you’ve heard me say often, reading is one of my favorite pastimes and I learn a lot by reading. So I did what I know to do easily- went to the Internet and books to read about free motion quilting.
Honestly, most of the books and blogs I read talked about how tough it is to master the hand-eye coordination. Some even said you need to build certain contraptions to make it easier for you to move the fabric around the sewing machine. It all sounded so daunting but I wasn’t deterred. I knew it was an integral part of working with fabrics so I needed to know how to do it and I wanted to know how to do it very well.
So this is what I did, I created tons of 10 inch practice fabric samples. Every morning at 6:00 am I woke up to practice free motion quilting.
In the process, I broke several packets of sewing machine needles, I wasted money trying out various expensive threads and I spent countless hours reading about sewing machine tension. As though that wasn’t enough, on a daily basis, I was confronted with not knowing how long it was going to take for me to get it right.
But finally (after 6 months of daily practice), I started seeing rays of hope – my work was improving. I began to enjoy thread drawing. I even learned to sign my name with the sewing machine. Of course, I haven’t yet arrived. There still are lots of things I want to learn – like how to make good use of the negative spaces in my compositions. But I’ve become very confident about my work and above all I am truly enjoying what I’m doing and it shows.
In a Fortune magazine article titled, “Why Talent is Overrated“, the author, Geoff Colvin, explains that it is a deliberate practice that makes great performers, not an inborn talent. He goes on to say that focusing on a particular skill, stretching yourself beyond your comfort level and doing the hard work of practicing repeatedly is what improves your game, not inborn skill or talent.
The lesson here is that if I can do it, you can do it too. You can make your weakness your strong suit. This is how to do so in 7 simple steps:
- Determine to Make the Change
- Focus on One Skill at a Time
- Be Consistent
- Don’t Quit Even When You Can’t See Results
- When You Start Seeing Results Acknowledge Your Progress
- Challenge Yourself Further- Don’t Stop (Yet)
- Celebrate- You Made It!!!
So now what skill is it that you’ve been struggling with? It certainly isn’t a match for a determined you. Go take it on one more time with this new attitude and see if you’ll not succeed.
Go now!!, make your weakness your strong suit.
Share your experiences, thoughts, comments and advise. As always, I love to hear from you.
Janis Doucette says
LOL! Your beginning efforts at free motion stitching sounds exactly like mine. I finally bought a new sewing machine because I couldn’t lower the feed dogs on my old machine. Now, I find myself doing just fine even when I forget to put the feed dogs down!
Clara Nartey says
I know, right? All those rules about keeping the feed dogs down and then when you really get into it……even if you forget the rules you still can make it work without following the rules. Go figure! I guess it’s all about practice, practice, practice!!!
I read this article a couple of months ago and was inspired to try thread sketching. I was delighted to learn you were not so amazing at first. I just had to refind the article as progress is slow but thank you for inspiring me. I love your work and I have just subscribed so I do not miss future articles. I realise I need to work on bigger pieces . Do you have any tips how to frame/display your fabric artwork. .? Please excuse if you have covered this as I am trying to read your blog from the beginning .
Clara Nartey says
Welcome again. It always warms my heart to hear stories of how people are getting inspired by my story. I tell the story of my creative journey for that very reason – to inspire others to believe in themselves that if one person has done it they can too.
I usually stretch smaller pieces on wooden frames. And no, I don’t have a tutorial on that yet. I’ve taken pictures of me doing it but I haven’t written up a tutorial for the process yet. It’s on my to-do list. I’ll get to it soon……