The 20 coarsest cross stitch phrases


Cross stitch is back, but don’t tell your grandma unless she has a mean sense of humor.

The coarse cross stitch puts all the throw pillows and framed motivational phrases that adorn homes across America to shame. The new wave of embroidery is filled with swear words, memes, and even gangster rap lyrics. Think abrasive phrases surrounded by flowers, a trend Julie Jackson helped develop in 2003.

Jackson founded Subversive cross stitch after coming home frustrated from work one day and stitching “fucking” inside a fancy border that was originally intended for a newly married couple to put their name in the middle. “It made me laugh so hard, so I got him back to work,” Jackson says. “Some people got it, some didn’t.”

After her site took off later that year, fans and impersonators alike – en masse. Thanks to sites like Etsy and Pinterest and craft magazines like Screw up, the new spin on bitchy points caught on quickly. It is a relatively inexpensive hobby; embroidery thread often costs less than a dollar, and aspiring artisans don’t need to be experts. Cross stitch is paint by number fiber arts and sites like Jackson sell PDF patterns with easy to follow instructions.

Why is irreverent cross stitch so popular? “It’s unexpected humor,” says Jackson. “The old cross stitch is like ‘Hey, whatever’, but you put the f word on it, and it’s just a surprising and delicious thing that you have to take a second look at.” It’s also a good way to vent frustration or do something cathartic with a sharp object. “It’s so therapeutic. It just makes you laugh, ”she adds.

Check out the gallery above for a few examples, but be warned; it is not for the easily offended. And if you like what you see, take a needle and try it for yourself.


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