Glom Talks: How Julie Jackson Mixes Needle Art And Snark To Create Subversive Cross Stitch

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We here at Glommable love a good twist on a beloved crafting technique. So we were so excited when Julie Jackson, needlepointing riot grrl/proprietress of subversivecrossstitch.com and author of Subversive Cross Stitch: 50 F*cking Clever Designs for Your Sassy Side, answered a few of our burning questions about her art—and her hilariously adorable brand of snark. 

Needle art and snark aren’t the most traditional pairing. How did Subversive Cross Stich begin?

I worked for a woman who was kind of a bully and made my life pretty miserable. So I went by a craft store one day looking for some art therapy. I bought a fancy floral cross stitch kit and made it my own by stitching “fuck” in the middle of all the flowers. It made me laugh so hard and feel so much better. There’s something about the expression being in in the midst of so much tradition, it’s unexpected. Which made my co-workers laugh, too, so I kept going. I was very lucky to have the idea go viral just about the time the whole DIY movement was getting started, so I decided to sell kits. And now it’s 12 years later.

Where do you get inspiration for new pieces?

Everywhere. I’m polling my most clever friends right now for holiday ideas. It’s really a constant awareness, I’m always thinking of what ideas would lend themselves to cross stitch. I have two volumes of ideas I’ve collected over the years. So much to do!

Has there been any backlash from old-school cross-stitchers?

Maybe behind my back but I haven’t heard any. As long as people get that it’s all in the spirit of fun, which they mostly do. I think it has become a movement, there are so many people doing their own versions of subversive stitching out there now, which I love and encourage. I guess the only criticism I get from old-school stitchers is that my designs are too simple. But that’s on purpose, to draw in and encourage people who have never stitched before. Now and then I try to throw in a pattern that’s more advanced.

What do you like most about cross-stitching as an art form?

The best thing is that it’s surprisingly very calming, kind of a form of meditation. People have been writing about the soothing effects of knitting and stitching lately, it’s very interesting and I totally agree. I make a joke in my book about it being compatible for OCD types, but it’s really true. I find that I turn to cross stitch when I’m going through something stressful and it’s always surprisingly healing. A great example of this is my “Fuck Cancer” piece–I get so many emails from people who are going through chemo or are spending a lot of time with a loved one in the hospital while stitching this design. They talk about how therapeutic it is to stab the material with the needle and stitch that message. I even had a customer stitch Fuck Cancer and bury it with her husband, which is just so incredibly moving.

What’s been the best part about Subversive Cross Stitch’s success?

Working for myself. It’s very hard work and it sometimes ends up being 24/7, but I don’t have a boss keeping me down just for sport. It’s surprising that having a snarky cross stitch business can be so overwhelming at times, but I really love what I do and I have the BEST customers. They’re always sharing their creations with me or telling me about a funny reaction someone had to a Subversive gift, they really keep me inspired.

All photos courtesy of Julie Jackson, subversivecrossstitch.com.

Glom on to Subversive Cross Stitch:

Order your copy of Subversive Cross Stitch: 50 F*cking Clever Designs for Your Sassy Side (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound)! And check out subversivecrossstitch.com to purchase kits, pdf downloads, and supplies.

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