Cross stitch is back, but don’t tell your grandma — unless she has a wicked sense of humor.
Rude cross stitch puts to shame all the throw pillows and framed motivational phrases that adorn houses across America. The new wave of stitchery is filled with curse words, memes and even gangster rap lyrics. Think abrasive phrases surrounded by flowers, a trend Julie Jackson helped grow in 2003.
Jackson founded Subversive Cross Stitch after coming home in frustration from work one day and stitching “fuck” inside a fancy border that was originally meant for a newly married couple to put their names in the middle. “It made me laugh so hard, so I took it back to work,” says Jackson. “Some people got it, some people didn’t.”
After her site picked up steam later that year, so did fans and imitators — in droves. Thanks to sites like Etsy and Pinterest and craft-savvy magazines like Bust, the new spin on bitchy stitches caught on fast. It’s a relatively cheap hobby; embroidery floss often costs less than a dollar, and aspiring crafters don’t have to be experts. Cross stitch is the paint-by-numbers of the fiber arts and sites like Jackson’s sell PDF patterns with easy-to-follow instructions.
Why is irreverent cross stitch so popular? “It’s unexpected humor,” says Jackson. “Old timey cross stitch is like, ‘Eh, whatever,’ but you put the f-word on it, and it’s just a surprising, delightful thing where you have to take a second look.” It’s also a good way to vent frustration or do something cathartic with a pointy object. “It’s so therapeutic. It just kind of makes you giggle,” she adds.
Check out the gallery above for some examples, but be warned; it’s not for the easily offended. And if you like what you see, pick up a needle and try it yourself.