You know us. We’re all about undermining the establishment. Especially when it comes to archaic needle crafts. You’ve likely seen some subversive cross stitch recently. It is everywhere. Traditionally, needle work was reserved for alphabet samplers or Home Sweet Home placards and seen as a little stodgy, by some. These days, the sky is the limit. Today, we’re branching out and we’re getting a little more colorful–trying our hands at subversive cross stitch. You can use them as adorable accent pieces throughout your home or, they make thoughtful gifts. And, unlike some other crafts, it is a pretty inexpensive proposition!
So, I have just a few elementary basics of cross stitching to show and explain. If you know them, you can conquer much in the cross stitch world.
The first pic is of some cross stitch cloth, a hoop, and a basic book with fonts and easy borders and such. The second picture is how to do a knot. You pick out your thread- it comes in 6 strands- you only use 2 strands. You thread the needle with one end and the other one, you wrap around your finger and roll off and then pull it, this creates a knot. I know, but you can do it. And speaking of knots, sometimes they happen when you don’t want them. To get rid of them, stick your needle in one of the hoops and pull and that will 99% of the time get rid of your knot.
When you are finished with your strands, turn your cross stitch over and run your needle up through your back back stitch and this will secure your thread. It may be that all you need is words— or it may be that you need a little something extra. I took it out of my hoop and framed it in this cute sparkly frame and BAM!
I have to say, that when I was talking about doing this with my Mom she was not impressed and warned me that once you wrote something down it was there forever… and that if the only words you can use are curse words then you obviously have a small vocabulary… and well, that’s all true but, sometimes you just gotta let that shit go!
The best subversive cross stitch is the one that both inspires and makes you laugh. Especially if it is placed prominently. So, as Coralie mentioned, choose your level of subversive-ness thoughtfully. For my example, I chose Sweet Brown’s classic, “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That.” It is both meaningful and makes me laugh. For you longtime blog readers who may think this post is starting to sound familiar, it is. I love love embroidery, but am busy busy. Doing a cross stitch project was something I didn’t have time for at the moment. So, I’m throwing back to when I made a subversive embroidery project a few years ago. For a fuller look on spray painting embroidery hoops, or using embroidery in gallery walls, be sure to check out my previous post, Spray, Girl: Bitches Need Stitches. Today, I’m just going to summarize some design basics.
First things first, sketch out/design your project. Play with fonts, scale, thread colors (and numbers), canvas color, and whether you need any fillers or other design elements on your piece. The internet is a great resource for fonts and decorative elements. I love the cross stitch, and think Coralie’s example is precious. The cross stitch really lends itself well to the subversive nature of a piece with its old-fashioned feel contrasting with the sauciness of the text. But the embroidery world is a big oyster full of all types of different fonts and techniques, and in my example, I chose to do back stitches as did the gangster ducks, at right. Additionally, part of the design process is planning how you are going to display the finished work. If you have a particular frame in mind (like Coralie did), or want to leave it in it’s embroidery hoop (like I did) these things will impact the design process.
Once you have your canvas medium (it can be simple linen, or any fabric of your choice, really) lay it out and transpose your sketch and frame size onto the canvas. I use a water-soluble gel pen (available in our store). Once you’ve got everything marked out, hoop up your fabric into an embroidery hoop and get to stitching.
For a more in-depth look into my “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” creation (and alternative uses of decorative embroidery) again, read Spray, Girl: Bitches Need Stitches. If you are interested in and new to stitching, may I suggest the book Embroidered Effects by Jenny Hart of the amazing website, instafeed, and store: Sublime Stitching. Her book is one I come back to time and time again and is (of course) available in our store. Also, if you like the look of subversive cross stitch but you ain’t got time for that, there are a million great vendors on Etsy OR check out the Subversive Cross Stitch website for kits and patterns.