4 things to remember when talented stitchers intimidate you

4 things to remember when talented stitchers intimidate you

Do you ever feel uneasy because of hand embroidery? Not confident, scared of failure, being intimidated by the talent of other “embroidery geniuses”? Is there a voice within that tells you aren't cut for it or you will never be as good?

I think this problem is not discussed enough in the embroidery community, although it's definitely worth talking about.

Hand embroidery is a wonderful craft and is being known as one of the ways to deal with depression and anxiety due to its meditative characteristics. The needle goes through the fabric and back, through the fabric and back, through the fabric and back. These repetitive actions calm you down and allow to distract your mind.

But what about the cases when you get anxious because of hand embroidery?

Or to be more exact, a common problem that I've noticed (and experienced myself, not going to lie) is when you get anxious because of the talented stitchers that surround you.

Fear of talent

If you've been around in the world of hand embroidery for while, you've probably already learned some big names, noted some very talented artists who produce gorgeous needleworks that leave you in awe.

Be it Pinterest or Instagram, with today's rising popularity of embroidery (thank God for that!) it's easy to get lost in the pool of brilliant embroidery works.

Just how incredibly talented can be this person??” “How do they do that??”

And if ever a thought crossed your mind “It's way out of my league” or “I will never stitch like that” then that's what I call fear of talent. Being intimidated by others' skills to the point that you lose motivation to work harder or just stop believing in yourself.

Do you feel sometimes that these artists are like humongous walls that you won't ever be able to climb no matter how hard you try?

Do you feel distressed because when you read instructions in the books or tutorials it seems easy but when you do it nothing works?

Why doesn't it look the same when I do it?” “Is it because I have no talent?”

If any of these thoughts ring a bell, then we need to have a serious talk.

1. Talent is overrated

What we call talent is a natural ability, sharpness with which a person easily gets a hang of some things. Right?

Well, you should know, that the significance of talent is overrated. It is definitely an advantage that allows you to have a headstart. But it is not a guarantee of anything.

One time I saw someone compare talent to starting a fire.

Imagine person A starting a fire with matches or a lighter. It will take them less time. While person B has to struggle only with wooden sticks to use so it will take them longer. But once the fire started, it will burn the same way. No matter what you had before – lighter or wooden sticks, it won't affect how strong your fire will be once you get there. Now other forces come into play and you have to take care of and protect the fire to keep it burning.

2. Practice, perseverance, patience

Don't confuse talent with mastery.

Talent provides you with a quick start, nothing more. But real mastery comes with 3 P's: practice, perseverance and patience.

The well-known embroidery artists you know didn't succeed purely out of talent and didn't give birth to their brilliant needleworks on the first try. There had to be a TON of practice, endless stitching sessions and countless stitches that were picked out and worked again before they brought to life their masterpieces.

The right mindset and hard work – they are the key components that give fuel to your fire.

Without this dedication and practice talent wastes away, because it's not being nourished as it needs to be. Meanwhile, even if you have no special abilities, you will certainly advance and progress in your skills as long as you keep practicing.

Devote as much of your free time as you can, be patient, give yourself the time and space you need to grow and you will get the result you dream of.

3. Perfection doesn't exist

You will always be able to find some faults and drawback in your works.

Yes, when you look at other's works, you might often think that they are perfect. It is possible for us to define the art of other people as such, because they strike us emotionally, pull some strings in our souls, that there isn't any other way to express your admiration other than “Perfect!”.

But that's not the same with you and your results.

Because we tend to be more self-critical and we usually have a certain idea in our head on how it should be and look like and we know very well the spots where the physical result doesn't match with what we imagined.

I don't mean that you shouldn't be critical of your work. By all means, if something throws you off, if you are REALLY unsatisfied with the result – work it over. Trust your intuition. It is better to redo a place in your needlework rather than scrunch your nose every time you look at it afterwards.

But it is important to understand that perfection is not really possible to attain. It is something out of our reach, we can't afford it.

Your journey in hand embroidery is a constant process of learning and polishing your skills. If you are satisfied with your work, that's all that matters.

4. Welcome the failures and screw-ups.

Take it easy on yourself. Know that you will screw-up big time and have smaller failures here and there.

It is normal. More like it is actually something to appreciate because nothing will give you a better lesson than a mistake.

So instead of scolding your carelessness (or whatever the reason for the failure was), how about patting yourself on the head and saying next time you will be more careful and do better? :)

It might surprise you, but you need the love from yourself as well.

I'm working now on a small series of new designs and I was sure I already had a pretty nice idea of what I want but I had to redo it around three times until I got the result that satisfied me. I did feel a bit stingy because I wasted a piece of nice fabric after deciding to work it all over from scratch rather than pick the stitches out again, but in the end, it was worth it. And I'm happy for those failures because they brought me to a better result.

So, welcome your mistakes and blunders. Think about what went wrong, where you stumbled and try to learn from it.

Also, making a mistake usually means you need to start over, and the more you stitch the more you practice. And the more you practice the closer you are to the mastery :) So it's a win for you anyway. 

Remember these 4 things next time you come across an amazingly talented stitcher and don't let the voice within to stop you from creating something equally amazing.

Rather, next time you see an amazing needlework try to look into it and think of what fascinates you in it.

Is it the theme? Or the colors? Or the technique? What is it that touches your strings and makes you feel things? Try to learn from that and master it. Because the author of that needlework also spent a generous portion of time and effort on their journey to the mastery and the least we can do is respect their efforts, appreciate their art and learn from them :)


  1. Wonderful! I think that we all should reread this from time to time to remind ourselves.

  2. I agree with most of this but there are stitchers with amazing talent from the get go, they have not needed to continually practice like many others, they were just born with the talent and every piece they do is beautiful.Of course if you practice you will get much better but never to quite the same degree

    1. Some stitchers have a headstart because they were already good at drawing and painting (I've been "researching" a little and asking some questions).

      That's why their first works are already very artistic. Their hands are used to similar movements, their eyes are used to detailed work, they taste in colors, shapes, sense of light and shadow is already developed.

      But their efforts in drawing and painting before picking up embroidery - are we about to undervalue all of that hard work just to say "they are too talented, we will never be like them"? :)

      As for some other amazingly skilled artists, after I've seen their first works, there is no doubt that they acheived their results with pure efforts.

      Personally, I believe in talent as a headstart, but in the end everything boils down to your own hard work.

      You will only conquer the mountain that you persist on climbing :) If you look at it from afar and sigh thinking "it will never be me", it will just stand there and someone else will climb it! :)

  3. Your words are encouraging and conclusions draw a very realistic picture how things happen in our life. I agree if you want to climb the mountain do it. It will take time, it won't be easy and at the same time there will be plenty of rewarding moments. Happy stitching!

  4. Love this article :) I totally agree with the 3 P's. When I first started cross stitching in 2011, I never imagined I would be where I am today. Surface embroidery still scares me a little lol and there are still many things I want to learn. But as you said it takes practice, perseverance and patience ;)

    1. Yup, you can do it with practice! Take it easy, you can work it smart and not hard ;)


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