Subversive Cross Stitch: Book review

Subversive Cross Stitch: Book review

Julie Jackson became so dismayed with her day job that disguising her contempt for her ‘idiot boss’ was becoming increasingly difficult. She decided that ‘art therapy’ was the answer. This need for a creative outlet and her general dissatisfaction with her life at the time manifested in, a website dedicated to cross stitch with a difference. You won’t find anything remotely twee or cutesy here.

Julie began by altering store-bought patterns and giving them a truly subversive twist; hugging bears became humping bears, angels became siamese twins, and ornate alphabet patterns were used to emblazon slogans in language your grandmother may not approve of!

Julie’s second book, Subversive Cross Stitch : 50 Designs for Your Sassy Side, celebrates more than 10 years of ‘delightfully snarky, in-your-face cross stitch with 50 full-colour patterns and 17 brand-new designs’. But be warned, if you are a lover of tradition this may not be for you and if you don’t agree with Barbara Holland that “Bad language is a pure and harmless pleasure. The reckless smashing of a taboo without hurting a fly” you may want to get your cross stitch fix elsewhere.

Don't be Such a Baby - Subversive Cross Stitch

Who is Subversive Cross Stitch for?

Subversive Cross Stitch offers a means of expression for those interested in the craft of cross stitch, but inclined to put their own slant on it. The book encourages deviation from the patterns included in order that they become a proclamation of your own personality; your frustration, anger or mystification with the world can all reveal themselves through the work you create in response to the tutorials in Subversive Cross Stitch.

Equally accessible for experienced cross stitchers or absolute beginners, if you need an artistic and psychological release, you may well enjoy exploring what this book has to offer.

I F***ing Love You - Subversive Cross Stitch

What’s covered in the book?

Julie gives a lot of practical advice and in the first few pages you’ll find:

  • A list of the tools and materials you’ll need to get started with the cross stitch patterns provided.
  • A talk-through of how to prepare the cross stitch fabric and thread in order to get stitching.
  • A basic tutorial of the cross stitch techniques you’ll need to achieve similar results to Julie; she makes this so easy you’ll be stitching in a matter of minutes even if you’ve never tried before.

The main bulk of the book is dedicated to the 50 cross stitch patterns or, as Julie describes them ‘designs for your sassy side’. Highlights include a chain of pretty flowers circling the words ‘You suck’, a snowman proclaiming ‘Welcome to the bleak house – enjoy your Holidays’, and 4 pink roses encasing the word ‘TITS’ in bold capital letters.

In the final section Julie actively encourages readers to make the designs their own. She believes striving for perfection can be suffocating and prefers her followers to invest time in experimentation. After all, Subversive Cross Stitch began by bastardising designs that had been the domain of steadfast stitchers for years until Julie came along!

Cheer Up Loser Subversive Cross Stitch

Our verdict

This book has its tongue placed firmly in its cheek. What’s appealing about the patterns featured is that they have a real sense of humour and irony about them. In many ways they pay homage to traditional cross stitch designs (there are daisy chains and love hearts a plenty) but the message they convey is the antithesis of everything this craft is traditionally associated with. Available in hard back from Amazon, would recommend Subversive Cross Stitch if you’re just getting started with this craft or you need inspiration to infuse shop-bought patterns with a bit of your own personality.

See Subversive Cross Stitch on Amazon

If you’ve enjoyed this review let us know by leaving a comment below.

Saturday 03rd, June 2023 / 12:51

About the author

Joseph Pitcher is the son of textile artist Sue Stone. He is an actor and voice-over artist and has worked at the RSC, the National Theatre, West End theatres and several other leading regional venues across the UK. Find Joe on Google

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One comment on “Subversive Cross Stitch: Book review”

  1. Sheryl says:

    I saw the book in the store, picked it up and leafed through it. Although the words did not bother me–who would you give any of these finished pieces to? Where would you hang them? I guess I am getting too old, but what is the point of putting all of that time into something like that only to hide it away where it would not offend anyone but the person you were thinking about while making it, and you would have to be pretty “ballsy” to give it to that person. I think publications like these are for shock value only. To each’s own…

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